The early part of the college basketball season is typically marked by extremes. The No. 22-ranked UCLA men's basketball team probably isn't as dominant as it looked in its first four games, nor is it as bad as it looked in the first two games of the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament.
But in the Bahamas, the young Bruins got a wake-up call. Against less formidable competition in its first four games, UCLA had averaged 95.2 points per game. After three games here, that average has dropped to 84.3, despite an 88-point performance Friday in a win over Alabama Birmingham.
A look at some of the Bruins' key issues:
The stronger defenses, like Oklahoma's and North Carolina's, made UCLA play in the half court and turned the Bruins' speed against them by forcing rushed mistakes.
UCLA's 2-to-1 assist-to-turnover ratio after four games was in the top 10 nationally. In three tournament games the Bruins had 34 assists to 46 turnovers.
Isaac Hamilton endured an especially rough patch against Oklahoma and North Carolina, shooting shot three for 19 with two assists and 11 turnovers.
Depth, especially in the backcourt, has always been an issue for the Bruins.
Even though UCLA has participated in several blowouts, bench production remains low. Before the tournament, the bench averaged 13.25 points per game. That figure was eight per game in the two losses.
The Bruins have missed on several guard recruits recently, but Coach Steve Alford still expected to add transfer Jon Octeus this season. Octeus, though, was denied admission.
"It's just an unfortunate deal that happened," Alford said of the depth issues. "So we're dealt with the cards that we're dealt."
In the front court, at least, Thomas Welsh was a pleasant surprise. He had 20 points for the tournament.
Free throw shooting
The Bruins took a step back at the line this week, and the bar wasn't set that high. They hadn't shot well at home, 68%. In the Bahamas they went 57 for 90, 63%.