You can’t win all of them? UCLA did simply that for 2 dazzling months, discovering a method even when it was not at its greatest.
The enjoyable run lastly ended Saturday. The fifth-ranked Bruins’ 58-52 loss to Eleventh-ranked Arizona on the McKale Center snapped a 14-game profitable streak whereas shining an uncomfortably vivid highlight on some deficiencies.
This group lacks shooters. It’s additionally brief on gamers who can create their very own shot. Among those that performed Saturday, solely Jaime Jaquez Jr. and Tyger Campbell match that description, and groups are more and more discovering methods to counteract Jaquez’s strikes across the basket.
The fan overreaction to at least one loss for a group that continues to be in first place within the Pac-12 Conference standings was predictable. But it was additionally a reminder that some fixes have been wanted for some time now, even earlier than the Bruins (17-3 general, 8-1 Pac-12) stumbled for the primary time since late November.
Here are 5 methods UCLA may spherical right into a extra full group because it approaches the midpoint of Pac-12 play Thursday in opposition to USC on the Galen Center:
Move the ball
During the previous few weeks, it’s turn into excruciatingly apparent that offense — or lack thereof — could possibly be the Bruins’ undoing within the NCAA match. A sluggish first half in opposition to Washington State was adopted by an abomination of a second half in opposition to USC and 30 ineffective minutes in opposition to Colorado.
UCLA has gotten away from the zippy ball motion that led to so many straightforward baskets earlier within the season. Amari Bailey’s absence over the last seven video games due to foot discomfort is an enormous a part of this, little question. But whoever is on the courtroom must hold making the additional cross searching for a greater shot, even when it requires extra screening and off-the-ball motion.
Too usually, this group waits for one thing to occur relatively than making it occur, going deep into the shot clock earlier than forcing a low-percentage shot.
Get Bailey again
Based on how freshman guard Amari Bailey regarded in warm-ups Saturday, when he darted round with no hesitation on any of his cuts, he’s very near returning. It may occur as quickly because the rivalry sport this week.
Bailey’s return will clear up among the offensive shortcomings by giving the group one other elite passer in addition to somebody who can get to the rim in opposition to even the quickest defenders.
It can even permit David Singleton to renew his function as maybe the nation’s greatest sixth man, giving the group significantly extra punch off the bench.
Let the presses roll
The energy of the press stays monumental. Did you watch the ultimate two minutes Saturday?
That sequence throughout which the Bruins’ full-court press compelled turnovers on 4 consecutive Arizona possessions was a factor of magnificence. Do it extra usually.
UCLA has sufficient fast guards and bench depth to interrupt out that type of press throughout extra than simply pockets of video games. It doesn’t must do it for all 40 minutes, however extra stress can be doubly good as a result of it could additionally result in straightforward transition baskets for the slumping offense.
Two fouls isn’t too many
Coach Mick Cronin has steadfastly held to at least one rule within the first half: Starters who choose up two fouls get a seat on the bench till halftime.
It’s occurred repeatedly with Adem Bona and Jaquez, resulting in prolonged offensive lulls for a group that may’t afford them. Cronin doesn’t need his greatest gamers to danger fouling out, which is comprehensible, however the dropoff behind these two gamers is just too steep to take a seat them for prolonged stretches.
When Jaquez was referred to as for a cost in opposition to Arizona State that represented his second foul, sending him to the bench with 9:22 left within the first half, the Bruins led by three factors. They have been outscored by eight the remainder of the half with Jaquez on the bench, necessitating a second-half comeback.
It’s been an analogous story with Bona out provided that his backups, Kenneth Nwuba and Mac Etienne, have added so little on offense that it feels just like the Bruins are a person down on that facet of the ball each time they’re within the sport.
While Bona may want some safeguarding from fouling out, which he’s finished solely as soon as this season, Jaquez doesn’t. He’s picked up 4 fouls simply as soon as in 20 video games, demonstrating that he is aware of the way to play prolonged minutes with out fouling.
Get Jaylen Clark again on monitor
UCLA’s offensive woes have been compounded by Jaylen Clark’s prolonged taking pictures stoop.
Yes, he made the game-winning three-pointer in opposition to USC, however his pictures haven’t been falling with their regular regularity. Over the final seven video games, he’s making 32.9% of his pictures and 27.3% of his three-pointers.
The one-handed floaters aren’t getting into like they did earlier within the season and his struggles from lengthy vary have been a virtually season-long situation. There’s no straightforward repair right here, simply extra time spent engaged on his type and consistency.