For the third time in seven tries, UCLA opened its season with a loss. In one of the ugliest performances of Steve Alford’s three-year tenure, the Bruins choked away a double-digit lead against Monmouth in less than nine minutes — then fell in overtime in an 84-81 decision.
“Pretty disgusted in the way that we played, to say the least,” said junior guard Bryce Alford.
Added senior big man Tony Parker: “They played way harder than us.”
Both pointed to turnovers as the main cause, with the Bruins coughing up the ball 23 times to spur 23 points for the Hawks.
“It was a game where the whole time, we couldn’t control the ball,” Alford said. “A lot of that’s on me. … I can’t have a five-assist, four-turnover kind of night. That’s not something I can do.
“As a leader, as a point guard, as a guard that’s been here for three years now, I can’t have games where, as a team, we have 23 turnovers. That’s not acceptable.”
“We obviously have a ton of work to do, because we’re not very good,” he said. Alford also called his team’s guard play “atrocious,” and said that UCLA needs to figure out how to get to “average” before even being good.
This marks the Bruins’ third loss in their last seven season openers. They fell to Cal State Fullerton, 68-65, in 2009, and to LMU, 69-58, in 2011. UCLA went on to finish out 14- and 19-win campaigns, respectively.
UCLA men’s basketball landed a commitment from five-star power forward T.J. Leaf on Thursday, adding yet another top recruit to should be a top-five class.
“It just felt like home,” Leaf said on the ESPNU broadcast, pulling out a Bruin hat and shoe as he made his announcement.
The Foothills Christian and Compton Magic product is ranked one as the No. 15 prospect in 2016, and boasts a 6-foot-10, 205-pound frame that should fill out even more by the time he arrives on campus. Leaf originally committed to Arizona, but changed his mind and reopened his recruiting process in August.
The Bruins had offered Leaf a scholarship back in the summer of 2013.
“We connect really well,” Leaf said of UCLA coach Steve Alford. “I think we have really similar personalities. I just think he’s got a great basketball mind.”