Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Hoop Dreams- Cash Nightmares

Another winless night of basketball puts me at 5-9-1 on hoops for the season. According to my calculations, that's...well, that's not good at all. I've missed my last two over/under picks by a combined 70 points or so, which is pretty impressive actually. Luckily, I've only been wagering small amounts while I try to get a feel for things. I may have to revert to coin-flipping.

UCLA had their season opener in the NIT against Reggie Theus' New Mexico State Aggies, winning by double digits. The Bruins' backcourt looks pretty good. Jordan Farmer, aka "Goat Boy" still has his occasional Marbury moments where he fires up a 3 at the beginning of the shot clock without running the offense; but overall, he's effective at managing the game both offensively and defensively. Arron Afflalo looked so good tonight that now I have to worry about him turning pro early. He's worked on his outside shot and is now a weapon from distant. Cedric Bozeman at the point forward will provide all kinds of matchup problems for opposing teams. He can take larger guys outside and beat them off the dribble, or he can post up and find open cutters. Until Josh Shipp gets healthy, freshman Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will be getting a lot of minutes in the low post (they're not saying Booo, they're saying Mooooooute). A prince of his village in Cameroon, Mbah a Moute originally considered going to Georgetown before later being swayed by UCLA. I'm still working on a nickname for him- so far all I've got is "Prince of Dunkness," but I'm hoping I'll find inspiration as the season goes along.

Where the Bruins will have problems all season is at center. The duo of Michael Fey and Ryan Hollins won't be confused for Lew Alcindor or Bill Walton. Heck, they won't even be confused for George Zidek or Jelani McCoy. George Mikan would be rolling in his grave if he saw these guys playing the center position. Heck, you could dig ol' George out of his grave and prop him up in the low post and he'd be more of a presence than Fey and Hollins. Unless Hollins has some sort of awakening, this team looks no better than 3rd in the Pac-10.

For what it's worth (zero), here's my forecast for the top half of the Pac 10:
1. Arizona- lost a lot but Hassan Adams and Mustafa Shakur make for a formidable backcourt.
2. Washington- plays an aggressive, pressing, wide open style of ball that I really like.
3. UCLA- Afflalo hitting from outside. Shipp rebounding inside. But oh that center position.
4. Stanford- I know they're #13 preseason and that Chris Hernandez is a gunner, but after that, I'm not so sure about this squad.
5. Cal- Best froncourt in the Pac-10, hands down. Leon Powe is a manchild in the low post.

...Thursday, UCLA plays Temple in round 2 of the NIT. If the Bruins are favored by double-digits, I'd take the Owls. As long as Temple is able to keep UCLA from getting out on the break, I think their trademark zone will limit UCLA's scoring. I just hope that if John Cheney decides to break a UCLA player's arm, he goes after Lorenzo Mata.


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