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D. Wear son
The Bruins' most obvious and irritating weakness is an underdeveloped, soft frontcourt.
In Pac-12 losses last year to Arizona State and Oregon, they were exposed on the interior and had their lunch eaten by Arsalan Kazemi and Jordan Bachynski.
This year's prohibitive favorite to win the league is Arizona, a team with several rows of tall, tough timber protecting the rim.
The Wildcats' backcourt with TJ McConnell is good enough to orchestrate a game, and wing-guard Nick Johnson leads the team with 16 points a night, but UCLA's guard rotation can play with anybody's in America.
With Arizona, the real danger lurks in the interior.
The forward, forward, true-center trio of Aaron Gordon, Brandon Ashley and Kaleb Tarczewski is 6'9'', 6'8'' and 7' high, respectively. They are a freshman, sophomore and sophomore, respectively. Then, off the bench, there is Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, a 6'7'' freshman.
Gordon—definitely Gordon—Ashley—oh yeah, Ashley—and Hollis-Jefferson—you better believe Hollis-Jefferson; maybe Hollis-Jefferson most of all—are ultra-athletic players. Tarczwewski is simply a redwood, which is enough.
Head coach Sean Miller compared the Wildcats' punishing frontcourt to a running football team like Stanford's that batters opponents into a weary fatigue they can count on late in games. To the Associated Press (via the Los Angeles Times), Miller said:
Sometimes the story line is a little different at halftime than it is at the end of the game because you can kind of wear that opponent down, and the carries that go for two or three yards in the first half break wide open in the second. You just have to stay with it.
UCLA's frontcourt of the Wear twins and Tony Parker, with Kyle Anderson at times forced into the post because of mismatched numbers, does not compare favorably to the Wildcats. It is not all that hard to imagine Parker fouling out in the first half or being sent to the bench for a long stretch because of the danger of fouling out.
The Wears, even at 6'10'', play at about rim level, and outside of a few scientifically unexplainable performances, they cannot be counted on defensively.
More and more it looks like freshman Wanaah Bail is a next-year player. For practical or imaginative purposes it may be time to stop inserting his strong 6'9'' frame into the lineup as a difference maker.
With Washington's frontcourt good enough to push Arizona deep into the second half before losing 71-62, Bachynski back at Arizona State, and Dwight Powell and Josh Huestis playing out of Palo Alto—to name a few—there is serious concern that UCLA's frontcourt might not have enough of the right stuff to hold serve at the very top of the league.