UCLA coach Steve Alford indicated Tuesday that he would have input on the length of the suspension being served by the three freshmen who admitted shoplifting from stores inside an upscale mall in China earlier this month.
Freshmen LiAngelo Ball, Cody Riley and Jalen Hill have been suspended indefinitely while the matter is being reviewed by the school’s office of student conduct.
“When that process ends,” Alford said, “I’m sure the administration will then bring me in and then whatever they’ve decided, obviously then I weigh in and there will be a resolution to it.”
While Alford acknowledged he didn’t know when a ruling might come, he said “I don’t think we’re talking about months.” The timetable could be accelerated because the players’ admission of guilt absolves UCLA officials of having to conduct a lengthy investigation.
“Most of it is pretty much taken care of,” Alford said, “as far as knowing what happened.”
The players will miss a seventh game Wednesday when the No. 25 Bruins (5-1) play Cal State Bakersfield (4-3) at Pauley Pavilion.
Alford said the players have been focused on getting caught up on schoolwork after missing a few extra days of classes before returning from China. They are barred from practice but can use the workout facilities.
Coaches have kept tabs on the players, but Alford chuckled when asked if he was monitoring whether the players were staying in basketball condition.
“No. … Not from a basketball standpoint,” Alford said. “I’d say 98% of the communication is, ‘Are you in class? Are you doing what you’re supposed to do academically?’ That’s really what the communication has been since they’ve been back.”
All Hands on deck?
Alford said the availability of freshman point guard Jaylen Hands for the game against the Roadrunners would likely be a game-day decision. Hands missed UCLA’s 87-63 victory over UC Irvine on Sunday because of a sprained left foot he sustained last week against Wisconsin.
VS. CAL STATE BAKERSFIELD
When: 7 p.m. Wednesday.
Where: Pauley Pavilion
On the air: TV: Pac-12 Network; Radio: 570.
Update: No. 25 UCLA (5-1) is playing at a faster pace than it was last season, even with point guard Lonzo Ball now starting for the Lakers. The Bruins’ average possession length is 14.2 seconds, a tick faster than last season’s average of 14.5. “You want to play fast,” Alford said, “but you can’t be hurried up to where you’re taking contested shots.” UCLA is making only 65% of its free throws, well below the 75% threshold Alford seeks. Cal State Bakersfield (4-3) may be even more wobbly legged than the Bruins, having just returned from the GCI Great Alaska Shootout in Anchorage, where it played three games in four days.
Follow Ben Bolch on Twitter @latbbolch