It's really hard to understand what's happening at UCLA, but it's starting to look like an implosion.
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Despite a not-bad roster and adding a sensational recruiting class, UCLA continues to struggle. Latest example: the Bruins lost to San Diego State Saturday night, 78-69 to fall to 5-3. Tyler Lamb and Josh Smith have both already left the team.
This is a program that, not too long ago, Ben Howland took to three straight Final Fours.
Mike DeCourcy thinks he's spotted the problem: Larry Drew II.
"The problem at UCLA is the decision to turn the team over to [UNC] transfer Larry Drew. Youâre going to throw his stats at me. I just know it. Heâs averaging 8.1 assists to 1.3 turnovers. Lovely. I know what I see. I see a player taking shortcuts on crucial possessions, particularly at the defensive end. My stat: Drew was 32-22 as North Carolinaâs point guard of record. He is 5-2 at UCLA. Thatâs 37-24 at two of the eliteâyep, thereâs that word againâprograms in the history of college basketball. He is who we thought he was."
Meanwhile, Tony Parker, who picked UCLA over Duke because he thought Duke didn't use big men well, is pulling 7.2 minutes per game and just 3.3 points and 1.3 boards per game.
Despite the departure of Smith, Parker didn't even get in the San Diego State game, the second time that's happened so far this season.
You may remember his remarkably indulgent ESPN announcement for UCLA, an excruciating hour during which poetry was read and raps were rapped.
If this keeps up, it may turn out to be his career highlight.
Meanwhile, in Durham, big man Mason Plumlee, rather than being what Parker thought he would be, is the focus of the offense and a national Player of The Year candidate, sporting a double-double average of 19.6 ppg and 11 rpg.