The UCLA Bruins have been a confounding mess all season and a season-ending injury hasn’t changed that outlook.
Throughout their Pac-12 slate, Jordan Adams held the UCLA Bruins together. Going through the NCAA Tournament without him will shut the door on any postseason optimism.
Watching the Bruins Pac-12 semifinal game against Arizona, Adams displayed why he is such an integral cog for the team’s success. He led the team back from a late 11-point deficit to pull out the win, all before breaking his metatarsal (long foot bone) on the game’s last play.
When it was all said and done, Adams finished with 18 second-half points, including 7-of-8 from the free throw line. But in the grand scheme, it had been for naught. It would be Adams’ last game this season.
In their first game without Adams, the Pac-12 Championship, the Bruins’ sorely missed their ball stopper in a 78-69 loss.
The Bruins’ team defense had already been the team’s Achilles heel, as they rank the 10th worst in the conference. The Bruins can put the ball in the basket, sure, but they’ll need to commit to improving their KenPom 65th overall defensive rating when it counts.
Throw in Adams’ ability to fill it up (he’s their second-leading scorer averaging 15.3 PPG) and UCLA has some adjustments to make before the tournament tipoff.
CBS Sports' Doug Gottlieb echoes those sentiments after hearing of Adams' injury:
Doug Gottlieb @GottliebShow
UCLA lost a lot w/Jordan Adams,Pac 12 had figured him out some,my guess is he would have had a big tourney--2013-3-17 04:24:40
The Bruins have fallen behind by double digits in every Pac-12 tournament game, so without Adams they cannot afford similar deficits in the Big Dance. They’ll need Larry Drew III and Shabazz Muhammad to carry a heavier leadership role and play outstanding defense to have a fighting chance.
Let’s not forget Adams’ replacement, Norman Powell, and his needed contributions in their starter’s absence. Powell was able to chip in 10 points and four rebounds in the Pac-12 final, but he will be playing more minutes than he’s accustomed to from here on out.
Good luck predicting the Bruins’ performance in your brackets; unfortunately, there’s not much hope for getting past the first weekend.
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