In our first Crossing Enemy Lines for the basketball season and we talk to Lead Editor Carlos Sandoval of GoJoeBruin.com
1. Explain Cal Poly and why UCLA lost that game?
In the context of this season so far, Cal Poly, a loss, made sense. UCLA hasn’t been able to defend the three-point line all season and Howland was still terrible with his rotations, while also terribly misusing his freshmen, often having them sit on the bench. UCLA also had issues rebounding — again, a season-long thing — and watching Travis and David Wear (twin centers that transferred from UNC) has been a pain, if only when on the court at the same time.
2. Does Ben Howland have a chance to save his job?
It’s early, so yes. Do I think he will? Not a chance. UCLA has serious issues that are not fixed in the long-term — athleticism, thin, eight-man rotation, etc.– and Howland has not adjusted well in-game, often sticking with a stubborn gameplan. He’s done for.
3. How will Howland be remembered at UCLA if he is fired after this year?
He’ll be remembered for his three Final Fours, for his reputation for producing NBA talent, for “Ben Ball Warriors” — which were unheralded, scrappy players — and for the immense amount of players that left the program early.
4. In a weak PAC 12, who should be UCLA’s competition for a championship?
The Pac-12 in 2011 is not the same as the pac-12 in 2012. It’s improved significantly and most of the teams in this conference look competitive. Look no further than the worst team in the PAC in Utah, which is now 7-2 and just beat a Boise State team that was on the cusp of a top-25 ranking. But it’s clear that Arizona’s going to win this conference and UCLA might just be a middling team, once again.
5. Who is the player Texas should watch out for?
Jordan Adams. I almost said Shabazz Muhammad, and although that’s obvious, Adams is clearly the best player on this team, which is shocking if you consider he was the fourth-most heralded recruit in UCLA’s 2012 recruiting class, which had four signees. He’s a helluva shooter and very aggressive offensively. Jury’s still out about his defense, though.
6. Game prediction?
UCLA loses. Texas’ defense is up there with the best of ‘em and although UCLA’s offense is definitely potent, it’s nowhere near elite. UCLA’s defense is about as bad as it gets so even Texas should be able to put up serious points.