UCLA Basketball: How to Salvage a Season

Most people would grade the Bruins season so far at about a "C-" or so.  Ben Howland's grade would be much lower than that for most UCLA fans.  And yet here we are 9 games into the season and while the struggles, troubles, transfers, and early season losses have been major issues this season is hardly a failure.  The best thing about having a young team is that they are bound to get better somewhere along the line.

We all saw what Shabazz, Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams could do at the end of a game when trailing to win a small-BIG game.  Those three finished that game like they needed that win and they sort of did.  Another loss at this point would not have ruined the team, but it definitely would have made those critics even louder.  If there is one thing that this UCLA team needs more than anything it is confidence.  They look like a team that is timid and afraid during big moments.  At least until Saturday's game that is.

My biggest issue with this team is still that they do not get out in transition as much as they should.  The talent that they put on the court should be able to average 80 points a game rather easily.  Also, giving them free reign to run when they please would give them confidence and allow them the adequate time to adjust to playing defense against other college talents.  Ben Howland has always had my support, but I think he needs to adapt to his team rather than make players adapt to his system.

It's the age old question.  Should the coach who has always won a certain way adapt to his players in order to win more games?  We have all seen it before.  Top talent can't get on bored with what a coach is trying to do and therefore the team struggles.  I think that these UCLA players are not afraid of what Ben Howland is trying to do.  They know his track record and what he has done for a lot of NBA talent.

I still see a lot of room to improve, but I don't see any more Cal Poly collapses happening.  I think something happened in that Texas game that kick-started a new start to the Bruins season.  It is now time for the rest of the 5 players who see playing time to step it up.  Namely, Norman Powell.  Talk about a guy who is freakishly athletic and a pretty good 3-point shooter and he can't score at least 10 points a game?  He is wildly inconsistent and if he can be the 3rd scorer on this team then I see them getting back into the top-25 sooner rather than later.

9 games into the season and there are more unanswered questions than there were before the season.  That is not usually a good thing, but let's all be thankful that the hardest part of the season is over... Hopefully.  We get to see UCLA play one more big time game before they start the Pac-12 season and that game will be against Missouri on December 28th.  Until that game the Bruins must improve in all aspects of the game if they want to win.  8 count please!

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