UCLA Basketball: Good, Bad and Ugly from Bruins' Disappointing Start

Tim Keeney@@t_keenContributor IDecember 10, 2012

HOUSTON, TX - DECEMBER 08:  UCLA Bruins head coach Ben Howland waits on the court during the game against the Texas Longhorns during the MD Anderson Proton Therapy Showcase at Reliant Stadium on December 8, 2012 in Houston, Texas.  (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
Scott Halleran/Getty Images

Well, this wasn't supposed to happen.

The 2012-13 season was supposed to be the year of the Bruin. Ben Howland was bringing in the top-ranked recruiting class in the country, led by Shabazz Muhammad—who was supposed to take over the world—and Kyle Anderson—who was supposed to be the next Magic. 

Josh Smith was supposed to be in better shape. The North Carolina trio of David Wear, Travis Wear and Larry Drew was supposed to take the next step.

It was Final Four or bust.

Well, bust it is. 

After losses to Georgetown, San Diego State and—wait for it—Cal Poly, the Bruins sit at 6-3 with their best win coming against a horrible Texas team by two points.

Let's take a look at what has gone right and what's gone horribly wrong for the Bruins so far. 

The Good: Jordan Adams

UCLA entered the season with the No. 1 ranked recruiting class, but it wasn't because of Jordan Adams.

It was because of Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and, to a lesser extent, Tony Parker, whose commitment ceremony thing is probably still going on. 

Yet Adams, the lowest-ranked of all four players coming out of high school, has easily been the best. 

The Atlanta native is averaging a team-high 17.8 points per game in just 25.6 minutes per contest. That's 27.8 points per 40 minutes, which is good enough for 10th-best in the nation.

Not only is he scoring a lot, but he's also doing it in an efficient manner with a field-goal percentage of 49.0 and a true-shooting percentage of 65.2, both of which lead the team among players who get significant minutes. 

At 6'5", Adams is quickly establishing himself as one of the better wing scorers in the country. He doesn't get to the rack all that often, but his mid-range game has been nearly automatic while his three-point game, albeit inconsistent, is dangerous. 

Also deserving of a mention here is Larry Drew II. 

He was an utter bust at North Carolina but has quickly surpassed expectations in L.A. He should probably stop shooting the ball (37.7 percent from the field), but he's running this offense flawlessly.

His 4.6-to-1 (74-to-16) assist-to-turnover ratio is 11th-best in the nation.

The Bad: Kyle Anderson

Kyle Anderson is slow. 

Of course, everyone knew that coming into the season. They just noted that the unique 6'9" freshman with the skills to play point guard has always played in slow motion. It's simply part of his game. He plays under control and it works for him.

But his lack of quickness is starting to look like a problem—not a skill. 

Through nine games, the highly touted recruit is averaging just 7.1 points and 3.3 assists (to 2.1 turnovers) in 28.1 minutes per contest. Even worse, he's shooting 35.8 percent from the field, 10 percent from long range and 53.6 percent from the free-throw line.


Anderson looks too slow to play point guard and doesn't shoot like a true wing (although the 7.9 rebounds per game are nice). That's going to be a problem. 

The Ugly: Disintegrating Team

First Tyler Lamb leaves. Then Joshua Smith

It's a good thing the Bruins entered this season with quite a bit of depth, because they are quickly falling apart at the seams. 

Lamb was still recovering from knee surgery and Smith's poor conditioning meant he could only play in short spurts, but they importantly brought a veteran presence to a team made up of mostly newbies. 

With those two gone and Tony Parker failing to make an impact, the Bruins are suddenly down to a seven-man rotation. That might be fine if Muhammad or Anderson were living up to their almost-too-high expectations, but when you have seven players in the rotation, inconsistency is hard to overcome. 

Honorable mention for this category has to be the defense. The Bruins gave up 78 points to a Georgetown squad that was part of this barn-burner, and they're giving up 0.931 points per possession, which is 107th in the country.


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