UCLA Basketball: Report Card for Bruins Midway Through Pac-12 Play
At the midway point in Pac-12 play, UCLA holds a 6-3 record with sole possession of second place in the conference.
It’s been a conference season rife with ups and downs for the Bruins, marked by a blazing start with a decimation of USC, a hard-fought loss to No. 1 Arizona and a pair of poorly played road losses the Bruins wish they could redo.
UCLA gears up to begin the second half of conference play like it did the first when it takes on USC on Saturday.
Here’s the Bruins’ report card at the midway point.
Travis Wear: D
Conference Stats: 5.3 PTS, 53.7% FG, 100% 3PFG (2-FOR-2), 3.7 REB, 1.6 AST, 0.4 BLK, 0.7 STL
Two factors have spoiled Travis Wear’s senior season:
1) He got a late start thanks to an appendectomy, which never really allowed him to get into the swing of things, and 2) his style of play, like brother David’s, doesn’t mesh well with Alford’s run-and-gun system.
UCLA doesn’t need him to put up the same offensive numbers that he did in his junior season, but it needs more than 5.3 points and 3.7 rebounds from its starting forward, who is averaging 22 minutes per game.
Through nine conference games, Wear has only once scored more than seven points in a game (at Oregon, 12 pts.) and has simultaneously only had four games in which he pulled down more than three rebounds.
Additionally, after establishing himself as a shot-blocker in his sophomore (1.2 bpg) and junior (1.0 bpg) seasons, Wear hasn’t made any noise on the defensive end.
David Wear: C-
Conference Stats: 6.9 PTS, 43.1% FG, 42.9% 3PFG, 3.8 REB, 0.4 AST, 0.2 BLK
With his prolific jump shot, David Wear has the potential to be a versatile forward, but his inside game is lacking tremendously.
Wear can shoot the three and has above average mid-range game, but that’s not what UCLA needs from him, as the team relies on its guards to inflate the score.
Although this is his final conference season, Wear still lacks the physicality to be effective in the paint, which leaves UCLA with a considerable void in the middle of the floor.
After a few seasons, Wear has proven incapable of delivering the presence on the boards and on the defensive end that the Bruins need.
Bryce Alford: C+
Conference Stats: 8.3 PTS, 35.1% FG, 37.0% 3PFG, 1.7 REB, 1.9 AST, 1.1 STL
The expectations for Bryce Alford’s conference season were set high after he scored a season-high 20 points, including 4-for-6 from beyond the arc, in UCLA’s blowout conference opener against USC.
However, like LaVine, Alford hasn’t brought the boost the Bruins need off the bench so far in conference play.
After establishing himself as UCLA’s go-to three-point shooter in nonconference play, Alford’s numbers from downtown have dropped significantly, brought on by an 0-for-11 spell over five consecutive conference games.
As impressive as Alford has been commanding the team as backup point guard, he’s struggled on the road so far.
The 6’3” freshman didn’t score in his first three road games, only recently scoring nine points (all on threes, 3-for-5) in UCLA’s loss to Oregon State.
As he and LaVine continue to garner experience playing in conference, the Bruins hope they’ll be able to play more integral roles on the squad.
Tony Parker: C
Conference Stats: 7.2 PTS, 60.0% FG, 4.0 REB, 0.1 AST, 0.7 BLK, 0.7 STL
Tony Parker has had a few good performances so far in conference play, but he continues to grapple with the same troubles that have stunted his development at the collegiate level.
Parker had a dynamite career-high 22-point performance against Stanford, but he’s been very uneven in his performances, which was evident when he followed up his career-high game with zero points against Cal.
The 6’9” center’s scoring average seems impressive, but it’s inflated by his 22-point game, and it’s otherwise 5.4 points per game in conference play.
Parker’s defense continues to gradually improve, but he still struggles to establish proper defensive position, which has forced him into foul trouble in conference play.
Through nine games, Parker averages 3.7 fouls per game; additionally, he’s averaged a foul every 4:51 and has fouled out three times so far.
Norman Powell: B
Conference Stats: 10.7 PTS, 53.5% FG, 22.2% 3PFG, 2.9 REB, 1.4 AST, 1.2 STL
Norman Powell has played an integral but largely undervalued role on UCLA for the past two seasons, and that was the same story for the first half of conference play this season.
Powell has upheld his excellent, game-changing defense through conference play and has also been a game-changer on offense with his vicious drives to the rim.
As effective as the junior guard is attacking the basket, he’s become more of a one-trick pony in conference play so far, as his shooting outside of the paint has been poor.
Zach LaVine: B-
Conference Stats: 9.9 PTS, 42.1% FG, 40.6% 3PFG, 2.9 REB, 2.1 AST, 1.4 STL
Zach LaVine has followed up an electrifying nonconference stretch with very erratic performances, particularly on the road.
The high-flying freshman guard has only been a fraction of the energy boost in conference play that he was for his first stretch of college games.
LaVine has had some scattered double-figure performances through nine conference games, but he’s hit a snag in his last three games, shooting 3-for-17 from the field and 1-for-8 from deep, while averaging a mere 3.7 points.
As UCLA continues through conference play, LaVine will have to play a more consistent role off the bench.
Kyle Anderson: A-
Conference Stats: 16.0 PTS, 48.1% FG, 43.8% 3PFG, 8.7 REB, 6.4 AST, 1.6 STL
There’s nothing Kyle Anderson can’t do on the offensive end, which is why he’s the most versatile offensive player in the conference.
Through nine conference games, Anderson has been UCLA’s most consistent offensive agent and has had some standout performances.
Some of his most stellar performances (e.g., his 28-point game against Utah) have been complemented by 10-assist games that have propelled the Bruins to big victories.
As Anderson continues through conference play, he’ll need to become more careful to protect the ball, as he’s gotten careless in a few games (e.g., nine turnovers at Oregon), but he’s been excellent for the Bruins so far in conference play.
Jordan Adams: B+
Conference Stats: 14.3 PTS, 37.1% FG, 35.9% 3PFG, 6.2 REB, 1.4 AST, 2.4 STL
Adams began conference play with a bang, a 21-point performance in UCLA’s shellacking of USC.
But he hasn’t maintained the same consistency in conference play that he did in nonconference play.
He continues to bolster the Bruins by hustling all over the court, evidenced by his recent spike in rebounds and continuous defensive pressure, but his shot has been off during conference play.
With opposing teams centering their defensive approach on shutting down Adams, the 6’6” guard hasn’t been the offensive force that he was last season and in the beginning of this season.
This was blatant in UCLA’s most recent loss to Oregon State, in which Adams went 0-for-9, only the second game in his career without a made field goal.
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