Unlike the other two struggling powerhouses, UCLA is in the middle of a mixed up mess.
The Bruins have lost three of their last four games. The strange part about this stretch is that they beat Arizona on the road and then lost to Arizona State and, then, USC.
There’s plenty of talent on Ben Howland’s roster. But talent alone won’t get it done.
To prevent UCLA’s fall from becoming a free fall, the Bruins need to execute the following three steps:
Find Some Focus
Half the time, UCLA plays like they care and half the time like they don't give a rip about what happens in the game in which they are playing.
The Bruins lack of concentration and care at times is mind-blowing.
With the players they have, they should not be losing to teams like Cal Poly and, now as of last night, USC.
Keep the Ball in Shabazz’s Hands
Shabazz Muhammad is not only UCLA’s leading scorer, but also one of the most dangerous offensive players in the nation.
UCLA is 8-1 when Muhammad scores at least 20 points.
The 6’6” freshman SG doesn’t need help getting his own shots, but if I were coaching the Bruins, I would be looking to make sure that Muhammad gets plenty of touches and that one of the Wear twins set a bunch of picks for him.
Discover "Ben Howland" D
Most of UCLA's success under Ben Howland has been driven by defense.
The teams that made it to three straight Final Fours (2005-2008) could put the ball in the hole, but their trademark was shutting other teams down.
If this year's team begins to use their athleticism to lock down their opponents, look out.
If they focus more on trying to outscore their opponents, the Bruins could end up losing a handful of games and miss this year's March Madness.