This is a crucial season for head coach Steve Alford at UCLA.
The fan base always has high expectations, but the Bruins failed to live up to them last season, missing the NCAA Tournament with a highly talented roster.
This season, with a loaded recruiting class and experienced returning players, the Bruins are expected to compete at the top of the Pac-12 and make a run in the NCAA Tournament.
Unfortunately for Alford, he has already lost two players this offseason that would have been important role players.
The first was Kobe Paras, who failed to complete his conditions of enrollment at UCLA, re-opened his recruitment and committed to Creighton.
The second and more important departure is Jonah Bolden.
Bolden informed coaches on Tuesday that he plans to play professionally (SNY is reporting that he will play in his native Australia), forgoing his final two years of college eligibility.
The 6’10” forward was ruled as a partial qualifier and lost a year of eligibility in 2014-15. The NCAA was not fond that Bolden left Australia in the middle of his senior season of high school to play for Findlay Prep in Nevada.
Bolden returned to the court last season and averaged 4.6 points, 4.8 rebounds and 0.9 blocks per game. He has the ability to stretch floor (without much efficiency from deep), has good length to protect the rim, and is a decent rebounder.
Without Bolden, the Bruins will have to rely on T.J. Leaf, Ike Anigogu, Gyorgy Goloman and Alex Olesinski at the four slot (the latter two will receive very little minutes unless someone gets hurt).
Leaf, a 6’9″ five-star recruit from California, has great offensive ability because of his high skill level, soft hands, superb footwork, ability to knock down mid-range jumpers and effective hook shot. He’s not explosive but he has good enough mobility to run the floor and pick his spots.
The problem with Leaf is he isn’t exactly a great three-point shooter (although he can develop it), and more importantly, he doesn’t have the defensive prowess and strength to impact the game defensively like Bolden does.
Anigogu is another five-star recruit who’s primary position is center. However, at 6’10”, the California native can play next to Thomas Welsh in the team’s “bigger” lineup. Anigogu is the one player that can make up for the loss of Bolden on the defensive end. He’s long, athletic and can block shots with the best of them.
The issue with Anigogu is at the other end of the court, where he is not very effective at this point in his development. He has decent touch and an improving hook shot, but he has no range on his shot and will likely be a project on offense at the college level.
Ultimately, losing Bolden is not the end of the world for UCLA, but it’s not a positive development.
Remember this is a make-or-break year for Alford.
The Madness is Underway
As we inch closer to selection Sunday, many conference tournaments are underway finding teams who will automatically make the NCAA Men’s basketball. Here are the teams that currently in the tournament:
Atlantic Sun: Liberty
Big South: Gardner–Webb
Horizon: Northern Kentucky
Missouri Valley: Bradley
MEC: Fairleigh Dickinson
Ohio Valley: Murray State
Summit League: North Dakota State
Summit League: Saint Marry’s
Out of the 32 conferences with automatic bids in the tournament, 12 of them have been clinched. All the until selection Sunday the remaining 20 conferences will have their tickets punched. Who will that be? Stay tuned!
Tennessee Basketball Ranked 4th In (Early) Preseason Top 25
A school built on football lure now has a thriving basketball team to get behind. In a early CBS basketball poll, the Volunteer squad is ranked 4th in the preseason. This should bring relief to a fan base whose struggled with a lackluster football team in recent years.
Under Coach Rick Barnes (SEC Coach of the year 2017) the Vols went 26-9 last year, won a share of the regular season SEC title and reached the final of the SEC tournament. Tennessee should return most of their pivotal pieces for the 2018-19 season.
Admiral Schofield (2017-2018 ALL SEC second teamer) who tested the NBA waters has returned for his senior year to play along side Grant Williams (SEC player of the year) and Kyle Alexander. If they can stay healthy along with the supporting cast, this team has a legitimate chance to reach the final four.
According to Andy Katz, “Tennessee is the team to beat in the SEC this year,” and did I mention Coach Barnes recruiting is nothing to take lightly. Recently committed 5 star combo guard, Josiah James added his name to the class of 2019 and pushed the Vols recruiting into the top 10 nationally.
Although it’s too early to tell how this season will play out its certain the hype is warranted and reaching heights it hasn’t seen since the Bruce Pearl era.
Could it be!? Tennessee – a basketball school?
Follow the journey when the Volunteers tip off against Louisiana Lafayette on November 9th.
Papa John’s Founder John Schnatter Resigns as Louisville Trustee
Papa John’s founder John Schnatter, who is also a prominent University of Louisville booster, submitted his resignation to the school’s board of trustees Wednesday after reports surfaced about his use of the N-word during a conference call.
Louisville board of trustees chairman J. David Grissom announced Schnatter’s resignation stating that he believed “[Schnatter’s] comments, while inappropriate, do not reflect his personal beliefs or values.”
Additionally, Papa John’s announced Wednesday evening that Schnatter had resigned from the company’s chairman seat.
Papa John’s issued the following statement in the aftermath of the story breaking.
“News reports attributing the use of inappropriate and hurtful language to me during a media training session are true,” the statement read. “Regardless of the context, I apologize. Simply stated, racism has no place in our society.”
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