UCLA men's basketball's 7-0 start comes with an asterisk

You can use statistics to say whatever you want to say.

UCLA’s basketball team beat Northwestern on Friday to run its record to 7-0. Their Twitter feed boldly announced:

@UCLAMBB UCLA’s Steve Alford has become the program’s first-ever head coach to lead the Bruins to a 7-0 record in his first season at the helm”

Holy John Wooden!

Ah, but there’s fine print: UCLA has played Drexel, Oakland, Sacramento State, Morehead State, Chattanooga, Nevada and Northwestern. Not exactly a murderer’s row. More like misdemeanor alley.

Here’s a quick check on the other first-year UCLA coaches.

Ben Howland started 5-2. The two losses? No. 9 Kentucky and Michigan State (he also beat Michigan).

Steve Lavin started 4-3. That included one loss to No. 1-ranked Kansas and another to Illinois.

Jim Harrick started 6-1. The lone loss was to No. 8 North Carolina.

Walt Hazzard had a rough start, going 2-5. But losses included No. 2 DePaul and No. 8 St. John’s.

Larry Farmer started 5-2. His team played No. 7 DePaul and Notre Dame, and both were UCLA victories.

Larry Brown started 5-2. The Bruins lost to No. 4 Notre Dame and No. 11 DePaul.

Gary Cunningham started 6-1. The only loss was to No. 3 Notre Dame.

Gene Bartow started the post-Wooden era 6-1. He got to open the season with a loss to No. 1 Indiana, the eventual national champion.

And what about Wooden? He was the last coach to start his UCLA career 6-0 before losing to unranked Wisconsin in 1948.

Wow, losing to a Badgers team that finished 12-10? Why'd they keep that Wooden guy?


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