UCLA Bruins Basketball: Steve Alford Passing Early Tests

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

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.

Taylor Sturm is an SEC Basketball Writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @TSturmRS or add him to your network on Google

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