When Steve Alford left the New Mexico Lobos last year to become the head coach of the UCLA Bruins he came into a team that was reeling from poor performances in recent seasons despite having the talent to succeed. He wasn’t an immediate hit with a lot of fans because, in all honesty, how much of the country actually paid attention to New Mexico except when the NCAA Tournament came around? UCLA wanted a big name coach, and Alford just wasn’t.
However, the Bruins have seen immediate success with him as coach and are 4-0 to start the season. They’ve only played weak teams but have won by impressive margins. UCLA most recently defeated their most difficult opponents so far, the Morehead State Eagles, 81-70.
Until the Bruins enter PAC-12 conference play they only face three 2014 Tournament capable teams. They face the offensively talented Missouri Tigers, the unpredictable Alabama Crimson Tide and the No. 6 Duke Blue Devils. No one would blame a first year head coach for losing all three of these tough matchups, but I don’t think Alford will lose all three. UCLA has the talent to compete and even win against Missouri and Alabama, and Alford is a good enough head coach to have something special planned for Duke.
These three games will be the real test for the Bruins and how capable they are of a deep run in the 2014 NCAA Tournament. UCLA still has a long way to go until March, but Alford looks like the real deal at head coach. The future is bright for the Bruins.