Turmoil in the Pac-12: UCLA and Arizona


UCLA and Arizona; two teams picked by the majority of national pundits to be the Pac-12 champions this year, with Cal or Washington also thrown into the mix. While Washington showcased their ability last night in a 30 point win over Portland and California also has looked impressive early with a big showing against George Washington the other night, UCLA and Arizona look to be in trouble.

UCLA lost their first game to Loyola Marymount. The Bruins looked sloppy and it looks like they will struggle with their guard play all year long. Loyola Marymount then went and played Middle Tennessee and lost by a score of 58-51. Tonight at 8pm, UCLA plays? Middle Tennessee.

The Bruins have a lot going wrong on the court but there is more going wrong off of it. Shortly, after their loss to Loyola Marymount, Center Josh Smith tweeted, “Just lost to some straight bums lol.” He later apologized for that tweet.

However, that is just minor to what came next. There were reports coming out of LA that Reeves Nelson and Ben Howland were having a meeting about Nelson’s attitude and play. And that Nelson’s status on the team remained ‘uncertain’. Once again Smith opened his mouth and said:

"“I’ve talked to him, but there’s not really any information to tell me where he’s leaning, I want him to stay.”"

Smith seemed to be implying that Nelson was wanting to quit the team or was at least thinking about it. About 8 hours later Reeves Nelson was suspended indefinitely from the team. Ben Howland stated that it was because Nelson was not living up to the standard of the UCLA basketball team.

Nelson is arguably one of their best players and one of the few “veterans” on the team.

UCLA is in turmoil.

Arizona is also in turmoil but things are a little more tight lipped down in Tucson.

It all started when Arizona lost in a televised exhibition game to Seattle Pacific University. A fundamental team that was able to exploit Arizona’s weaknesses and show there was a lot of room for the Wildcats to improve.

Or did it really start there, it may have started when Derrick Williams left for the NBA draft and left no real replacement or even a go-to guy. The load of that responsibility was passed off to a freshman in Josiah Turner?

The freshman class was an impressive class but slowly all of them are proving they may not be as polished as many had thought. Josiah Turner the biggest prize in their 2011 class hasn’t been impressive at all on the court. Some say he is playing scared? Or he isn’t ready for the speed of the College game but all in all, he just doesn’t look ready.

He was slated to be the starting point guard, however, in their first 3 games (he only played in 2) he has only 7 points, 5 of which game on free-throws, 4 assists, and 3 rebounds. He is 1-7 from the field. Coach Sean Miller decided he need to teach his young point guard a lesson and didn’t play him at all against Ball State. Is that it? Just teach him a lesson, or is there something more?

Sidiki Johnson was another heralded freshman but has only logged 5 minutes in 3 games.  It looks has if Nick Johnson and Angelo Chol may be the only freshman that are even capable of contributing right away.

The Arizona Wildcats also look like they will have the opposite problem as UCLA all year. UCLA struggles in the guard position while Arizona needs a legitimate threat in the paint.

Through all the turmoil in Tucson, Arizona is 3-0 but will have their first real test later this week when they face St. John’s University.

Look for Cal and Washington to capitalize on their down opponents in the conference. This may become a two dog race for the Pac-12 title. Stay tuned, the drama is just beginning.