Alford Era Begins With a Win But Program Still Lacks Excitement

Posted by Brendan Mulvihill (@themulv) on November 9th, 2013

The Steve Alford era officially began at UCLA in front of a sparse crowd at Pauley Pavilion, as the Bruins kicked off their regular season against Drexel last night. Alford’s team held off the Dragons, 72-67, in a game that was not decided until the final minute of play. While the new coach was extremely positive about his team’s performance and ability to dig out a tough win, there still seems to be lack of urgency and excitement around the UCLA program. On the opening night of college basketball at a program with the history and tradition of UCLA, there should be electricity in the air. Unfortunately, that was not the case at all.

It's a New Era in Westwood (Don Liebig/ASUCLA Photography)

It’s a New Era in Westwood (Don Liebig/ASUCLA Photography)

Alford needs to bring some fire to his program, his players and the fan base. He seems to be re-instilling a defensive toughness back to the Bruins. They held Drexel to 38 percent shooting overall and forced mostly jump shots. However, there isn’t a killer instinct in this team. It’s still early in his tenure, but that is something to keep an eye on as we move towards conference play. UCLA let Drexel hang around in this game, particularly coming out of halftime, but the Bruins will not be able to do that against the better competition in the Pac-12.

Alford has a talented group of young players led by Kyle Anderson and Jordan Adams. Anderson has officially taken over at the point guard position and put up solid numbers recording his ninth career double-double with 12 points and 12 rebounds. He added seven nice assists to only one turnover. The Bruin offense looked generally uncomfortable in the half court, though. Anderson had some success posting-up the smaller guards from Drexel but did it very infrequently. He also did do an excellent job of keeping the Bruins calm as Drexel made its run in the second half. He certainly has the nickname Slo-Mo for a reason. It will be interesting to see how he takes advantage of his size at the point and to see how he handles pressure defenses.  Overall, he did a very nice job running the offense, though.

Adams had a tough shooting night, but he is without a doubt a pure scorer. Coming off of an injury last season, he did not look tentative at all. He ended up going 4-of-12 from the field but still led the Bruins in scoring with 16 points. He looks to score every time he has the ball in his hands. The Bruins have a go-to guy in close games and Adams certainly didn’t disappoint against Drexel. He got to the line several times late in the game and was able to help UCLA get the victory in their opener. As he gets settled back into regular play, he will be a tough player to stop.

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