Get inside March Madness with SI.com's Luke Winn in the Tourney Blog, a daily journal of college basketball commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
3/26/2008 10:32:00 AM
Scouting The No. 1 Seeds: UCLA
SI.com asked an assistant coach from a former UCLA opponent to break down the Bruins using material from his actual scouting report. Here's what he had to say:
"UCLA is not a scoring machine, and the stuff they run is simple -- but they execute it all really well, by setting hard screens and being very physical. That's what makes them difficult to guard. At the end of day, though, they are not a very good outside shooting team. [Darren] Collison can get it going a little bit, but [Josh] Shipp has been struggling. [Russell] Westbrook is an average shooter at best, and [Luc Richard] Mbah a Moute doesn't shoot it well. Defensively you have to make sure you protect the paint and make them shoot as many contested jump shots as possible.
"Where they're phenomenal is when you turn it over and let them come at you fast in transition -- that's a guaranteed bucket. And if you let them beat you on the boards and get out in transition, that's a bucket, too. You have to take away all of their easy opportunities to score, and really clog the paint and make them beat you from the outside, preferably by having Mbah a Moute and [Alfred] Aboya take jump shots.
"You want to play [Collison] straight up -- don't make the mistake of sagging off of him -- and know he's going to use on-balls [screens] to create penetration, and he'll step behind the screens and shoot threes, too. Whoever you have guarding Aboya, or Mbah a Moute, or Westbrook should be a help guy [on Collison]. Shipp has lost his confidence a little bit, but you don't want him to get it back against you, so play him out to the three-point line and make him a driver. He's not very quick or effective off the dribble, and that way, you're just pushing back into the pack in the lane, where you have everybody clogged in.
"In their offensive sets, Shipp is the one they consistently run plays for to get open jump shots. Collison gets most of his offense going through on-ball [screens]. And all the post plays are run for [Kevin] Love. They have a couple of misdirection [plays] where they swing the ball away from him and then bring it back, and he resets his post position. You need to be physical with him and try to push him off the block. And if your defense is packed in, like I said before, you'll have other guys hovering over to double-team, either on the backside if you're fronting him, or doubling from the front if you're playing behind. Those two fadeaway shots he hit to beat Texas A&M, you want him taking those all day. Those are so much better than the two-footers that he'll always make -- and get fouled on plenty of times too.
"The flip-side of this is you aren't going to score on them that easily, either. So it becomes a rugby scrum, or a boxing match where you punch and continue punching. Because everything Mbah a Moute isn't offensively, he is defensively. He gets after it on defense. Westbrook gets after it, too; Collison gets after it, Mata gets after it. All those guys who aren't good on offense are great on defense. What UCLA is trying to do is overwhelm you physically in every phase of the game: denial, on the ball, setting screens, getting through screens, bumping cutters, hard shows on on-ball screens.
"More than anything, it becomes time-consuming to score against them. The No. 1 way you can do it is to get to the foul line, so you have to go right at them. If you shy away and shoot jump shots, you won't ever score. If you go back and look at the games they lost, they always have guys foul out. And in games that [opponents] shy away and take all jumpers, it's like blood in the water. They play just like the Detroit Pistons or the Knicks of old, in that they're programmed to be aggressive on every player. The detriment of that, though, is if they run into a ref with a tight whistle and get in foul trouble, they're just going to keep fouling you. They can't just turn that aggressiveness off mid-game, so you'll end up shooting 30 free throws. But sometimes, if you've got a West Coast crowd in their favor, the ref will start feeling bad because he's sent the other team to the line for 30, and might start compensating.
"Collison and Westbrook are such good defenders because they have great quickness and size, and long arms to create deflections. But when you're trained to be the attacker, as they are, when somebody attacks you, you're going to foul them. You want to put them in situations where they have to foul. Westbrook, especially, is really good if you're in passive mode, but when teams are aggressive and square up and go at him, he'll reach from behind, he'll get beat. When somebody is being the aggressor against him, it's hard for him.
"In the post, UCLA has one of the more aggressive double-teams in college basketball. The second guy just runs over to knock the snot out of you. You've gotta be able to handle that. They've got guys like Aboya, Mata and James Keefe coming off the bench, and they don't care if those guys foul out. They're just going to go at you. And a lot of times they catch teams off-guard because they're so physical. UCLA can end up almost training the refs that way; because they come at you so hard and so frequently, how can the ref tell anymore what should be a foul and what's just good defending?"
UCLA is the most vulnerable of the top seeds left because it's almost a lock that they're going to win by less than 10. This gives any team they play an opportunity to go on a late run, get a little bit of luck, and make a late shot to win. You saw it all year long and almost against A&M.
ucla isn't going to lose any close game as they get the benefit of the refs every time. They should have lost their last three regular season games (AZ, Stanford, Cal) as well as the PAC 10 Championship game (Stanford again) and that win against A&M was marred by the last second no call. I'm not trying to discredit UCLA as a good team because they are obviously very good, but I am saying that you are going to have to beat them by 10. Just look at their three losses. The only one by less than 10 was to Texas.
Watch the entire A&M game and you can see that the officials called a poor game for both sides. Sure, a foul should have been called on the last A&M play, and that would have put a 60% free throw shooter at the line to tie the game by making both shots. UCLA shut down A&M during the last 10 minutes, so OT would also favor UCLA.
Bad foul calls even themselves out, and most of the game UCLA had the calls go against them. I wish the incompetent refs would have called a foul on UCLA to stop the hysteria and false notion that UCLA was "given" their victory.
Let's see, UCLA got WEST CONFERENCE, playing at home, and nearly losing to a weak Big 12 team like A&M.
If they manage to bribe the officials as they did in the A&M game into the tournament against Texas (which plays in San Antonio), it'll be a BLOW OUT WIN (20+ points) for Texas. They'll find out they're not in Cali anymore!
@3:33 - Too bad your book doesn't count in the office pools across America.
Its not UCLA's fault that calls were or weren't made.
They just play hard until the whiste is blown.
Overall, this is a pretty good scouting report. UCLA definitely applies the "Death by a Thousand Cuts" strategy. Banking that the refs will make only so many foul calls a game as to not jeopardize the flow of it.
I'm honestly begging every sports fan and every "sports analyst" to watch the ENTIRE game of UCLA vs Texas A&M again. There were SO many poor calls/no calls that went against both teams, especially in regards to A&M against Love. There's pictures all over the internet of A&M players wrapping Love's arms behind his back so all Love can do is try and bite the ball in place of grabbing it for a rebound. I counted 7 times that this clear foul wasn't called. See how many you can count. Additionally, that final no call was indeed a foul. Again, bad calling ALL AROUND. I hate it when people that claim to love the sport just jump on an ESPN bandwagon and only watch the final 30 seconds of the game.
I notice you're not contesting the awful calls against Stanford and Cal. They stole the game from Cal twice, and the Stanford games were some of the worst-called games I've seen. When a team wins 3(5 if you count A+M and AZ) games crucial to tournament seeding/survival on horrible officiating in the span of a couple weeks....it goes from coincidence to bias. UCLA gets pretty much every call of significance, and they get away with murder. Just ask Cal.
You people are really ignorant....stop crying about the officiating....if all those teams (Stanford, CAL, A&m) were so superior to UCLA, how did they allow double digit leads to evaporate and let UCLA "Do them" at the end of the game? The refs did not take the games from anyone....UCLA beat those teams because they wanted it more.
Dont be ignorant.....UCLA is better than your team....accept it!!!
UCLA's weaknesses have been exposed all season. Regardless of a few bad callson each side, until the calls start being made on Love consistently (he gets away with many hooks and blocks), UCLA will get away with bad calls AND being able to keep their biggest point contributor on the floor without foul trouble.
The only reason UCLA is even above .500 is because of the refs. The refs guarantee them 30 points every game. The refs love UCLA because they are from LA, and the media is based in LA and paid them off, and I like to whine because my team is out and/or I'm scared of playing UCLA.
For all the crybabies on here whining about UCLA getting all the calls: I can't wait until the Bruins beat your team (if they haven't already). Why would you actually take time out of your day to read an article and voice your opinion about a team you dislike? I personally hate the Boston Red Sox--but you won't find me posting negative comments about them. After all, who cares? Y'all need to get a life! If only you punks worried as much about the real highway robberies (i.e. King George II's theft of the 2000 election)!
1. As someone who follows UCLA very closely, the scouting report is excellent and very accurate. 2. Refs at the A&M game were making bad calls on both sides, many early calls went against UCLA that were not even close to fouls. Yes, the last one probably was a foul. But many were not called against A&M that should have been. 3. At least have some guts and post as something other than anonymous, David excepted. 4. As for UCLA's perceived "weakness" or "bribing" of the officials, we'll settle this on the court, and over the next two weeks the scoreboard will tell the tale. See you in San Antonio.
"UCLA is the most vulnerable." "The refs are mean." "Wah wah wah." That is all I am hearing from all the UCLA haters. Get a new tune. UCLA most weak, huh? I know UNC had a tough season at the incredibly powerful ACC....oh, wait, scratch that. Regardless, get over yourselves, and your jealousy. "That was a foul." Hey, traditionally, college refs are terrible no matter what conference, what game, what coast, etc. Good coaches accept that. Great coaches make adjustments. The fact that I am even justifying some of these responses about the refs makes me sick. If UCLA is weak, they will lose. If UCLA can come back in the tournament and win, then they must be doing something right. And, if someone responds that the something they are doing right is "bribing" the refs....again, get over yourself, move out of your mom's basement, and get a life.
No comments about anything but UCLA? Well, now we know where the hate is! Best thing about these scouting reports, though, is analysis of how NC can be beaten. Really looking forward to that-- even more so than somebody beating UCLA!
I can't believe all of these comments regarding "ref calls". Stop whining. UCLA wins, period. They don't control the refs, and find a way to win. They hit free throws when they need to. They hit the critical shots when they need to. Stop whining.