The Drexel Dragons almost ruined Steve Alford’s debut for the UCLA Bruins, almost.
UCLA started off red-hot, as the two highly touted freshmen guard Bryce Alford (yes, as in coach’s son) and forward Zach LaVine lit up the floor with some great two-man play. A couple jumpers had the Bruins out in front by double digits and maybe looking like a certain No. 22 for the first 15:00 of game time.
Drexel would not be detoured however, as the experience and scoring abilities of senior guard Frantz Massenat and junior backcourt mate Damion Lee began to bring the Dragons back late in the first half.
As the second half rolled along, Drexel continued to cut the lead to four, but UCLA seemed to have the answer every time and never relinquished the lead. Lee had a golden opportunity on an out of bounds play to tie the game with 8.0 seconds left, but ended up six or seven feet beyond the three-point line when he caught the ball off of a perfectly executed double screen and came up woefully short, airmailing it out of bounds.
Massenat finished with 20 and Lee with 17 for Drexel, who kinda looked like they’re a team to watch for in the Colonial Athletic Association. Meanwhile Kyle Anderson led the Bruins overall with 12 points, 12 boards and 7 assists. The aforementioned LaVine had 14 and Jordan Adams scored 16 to pace UCLA’s scoring effort.
The Bruins won the game but have a few major concerns to deal with as they move forward. First, they only played seven players in the basketball game, including the two true freshmen, so depth is a serious issue.
Second, Jordan Adams has to become more consistent for them. All the talent in the world, but he doesn’t actually look confident when he shoots the ball. He did find a way to lead UCLA tonight and one would surmise he’ll have to raise his level of play (not necessarily scoring the ball but in efficiency) as the season goes on for the Bruins to keep their top 25 ranking. Bruin fans are hoping that’s just a case of adjusting to the new system.
Lastly (at least for this piece), rebounding is once again a major issue for UCLA. Drexel out-rebounded them 39-38 in the basketball game. Size is not on the Bruins’ side and that will hurt down the road.