UCLA should know where it stands and what it needs to do after opening the season in the San Francisco Bay Area against Stanford and California.
The Bruins had their chances to open the Pac-12 Conference with a win - plenty of them. ESPN.com blogger Peter Yoon counted eight opportunities - to be exact - for the Bruins to take the lead in the second half at Stanford. The Bruins didn't score once and never took the lead in the 60-59 loss.
"It was a disappointing finish," Coach Ben Howland told reporters after the loss. "We fought back hard and put ourselves into a position with the ball to be able to take the open shot, but we just missed it."
Cal (11-3, 1-0 Pac-12) won't be any easier of an assignment. Coach Mike Montgomery has three explosive guards leading the way. Southern California natives and sophomores Allen Crabbe (15.6 points per game) and Justin Cobbs (12.4 ppg) have been tremendous, along with senior Jorge Gutierrez (13.7 ppg) in giving the Bears a strong start to the season.
There are still a few more questions before 2012.
- Can the Bruins find more consistency as a unit on offense? Lazeric Jones has been consistent all season but that's it. Travis Wear and Josh Smith haven't been able to maintain consistency and freshman Norman Powell is averaging fewer than 17 minutes so it won't be easy for him to emerge as a consistent scoring threat.
- Should Jerime Anderson run more of the offense so Jones has more scoring opportunities? Jones is the starting point guard but Anderson is completely capable and often involved in driving the Bruins' offense. It could benefit the Bruins offense to offer Jones more "shooting guard" opportunities. Anderson also has 14 fewer turnovers this season than Jones.
- What tricks does Coach Ben Howland have up his sleeve? This is a Bruins team that will need some TLC from its head coach and ultimately, a few strategic maneuvers that make up for the team's inconsistencies we've seen so far this season. It will be interesting to see what Howland can do to help this team battle for the conference title - and in the short term, beat Cal.