2007 UCLA Bruins Basketball Preview
The UCLA Bruins (30- 6 overall. 15- 3 Pac-10) took a trip to the Final Four last season in NCAA March Madness where they lost to the soon-to-be national champs Florida State 76- 66. The Bruins had a stellar regular season, finishing first in the highly competitive Pac-10. Coach Ben Howard (91- 41 in four years at UCLA, 259- 140 in 13 years) has taken the team from 11 regular season wins in 2004 to 30 last season.
In 2007- 2008, the Bruins led the conference in scoring defense, allowing a mere 59.4 PPG. They were 16th in the nation. UCLA was fourth in the Pac- 10 in rebounding margin (plus-3.1), turnovers (12.6) and assists (14.5). They hit field goals at a rate of .477 and threes at .371—solid averages. However, their free throws went in at a rate of only .666 while opponents hit at .694.
The Bruins may have the best frontcourt in the nation and a favorite of many when they bet on college basketball. Three reasons are forwards Lorenzo Mata (6.6 PPG, 5.4 RPG, 64.4 FG%), a senior, Alfred Aboya (4.1 PPG, 4.2 RPG, 50.0 FG%), a junior, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (8.2 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 49.2 FG%), a junior. All three offer fine defense and scoring potential. However, it’s the new guy on the team—freshman center Kevin Love—who looks to really be the difference maker. Love has fine moves, a good feel for the game and fine scoring chops. He’s an extremely skilled player.
It will be up to junior guard Darren Collison (12.7 PPG, 2.3 RPG, 5.7 APG, 47.8 FG%, 81.0 FT%) to make up for the loss Arron Afflalo (16.9 PPG, 2.8 RPG, 1.9 APG). It’s not so much the numbers, Collison can match those, but it’s the leadership and big play ability that he will have to master. The Bruins have depth across the court, including junior guard/forward Josh Shipp (13.3 PPG, 3.9 RPG, 2.6 APG, 46.9 FG%), who has a fine shot.
Can the UCLA Bruins win their 12th National Championship? The club has been included in the March Madness brackets 41 times and the Final Four 17. The fact is that this team is one of the best balanced in the nation. With a fine defense, some monster players and a smart coach, these Bruins could be number one when the final game is played.