The UCLA basketball team has played a few games on the "road" this year. Unfortunately, as far as the NCAA selection committee those games are considered "neutral court" games. This weekend the Bruins take their talents on the road for the first time. Usually this wouldn't be that big of a deal, but there are a few factors going against the Bruins this weekend.
First, this UCLA team has now played 15 games and have yet to play a true road game. I know Ben Howland the Bruins are usually playing most of their non-conference games at home, but to be this deep into the season and not have at least one road game under their belt is pretty ridiculous. Isn't the preseason used to get your team prepared for the rigors of a full Pac-12 season? Apparently they were more concerned about picking up wins, and a loss or two, against cupcake teams. Sometimes you have to go on the road to prepare yourself for road games in the conference season.
Second, the 3 best players on this team have been and will probably continue to freshman. Freshman who have yet to play in a hostile environment like what they will see this week at Utah and Colorado. They don't exactly know what it means to have a couple thousand fans screaming at you during a free-throw down the stretch to expand the lead in a close game. I know that these 3 players probably played in front of some big crowds in high school, but this isn't high school anymore.
Third, I don't think Ben Howland could have asked for a better start to the conference season. Opening at home against two decent middle of the pack teams and picking up two wins. Then, going on the road to play at Utah first before taking on Colorado. The Utah game is somewhat of a trap game as the Utes are not expected to be near the top or even the middle of the Pac-12. After that they play a Colorado team that has tons of talent, but loss two games out in Arizona last weekend. They are a little desperate and a desperate team is either very dangerous or self-destructive.
Finally, UCLA is continuing to improve and they look are finally looking the part of a team ready to make that next step up and challenge for the Pac-12 title. Arizona is still the class of the conference, but don't be surprised to see UCLA right there with them. If only we could get Tony Parker back healthy and let him prove what kind of player he was hyped to be. He could be an important asset near the end of the conference season and heading into tournament time. All I know is that I am beginning to have a little faith in this team that I thought I had completely lost after the Cal Poly loss and Josh Smith transfer. Go Bruins!Back to the UCLA Bruins Newsfeed