Off to an inauspicious 0-2 start in conference play for the first time since the late Walt Hazard paced the sidelines, UCLA will need to make noticeable changes to its approach if it intends to compete in the Pac-12 this year.
While there’s no shame in suffering defeats against two of the conference’s premier sides on the road—one of which was decided by a single point—the manner in which the Bruins conceded those games should be constructively criticized.
UCLA simply could not buy defensive stops in either game’s second halves and relied too much on a single player to do most of the heavy offensive lifting. Be it zone or man, the Bruin defense is still a sluggish work in progress, and with few cupcakes left on the schedule, it will be tested every week.
To lay all the problems UCLA faces at the feet of Ben Howland is a surprising overreaction Bruin fans are now forced to make in lieu of an easy, obvious villain.
While it’s true that this is Howland’s team with Howland’s handpicked players, there are too many factors contributing to the Bruins' struggles for the remedy to be his removal. Any talk of a replacement for Howland is premature, especially with his team slowly turning the corner.
To read too much into losses at Stanford and Cal would be a mistake, but to ignore the lessons they taught would be a far greater one. To that end, here are a handful of suggestions for UCLA if it wants to entertain a winning Pac-12 season.