What a difference nine months makes. In March, at the end of one of its worst basketball seasons ever, UCLA fans and boosters were calling for the head of Coach Steve Alford. Some even hired a plane to fly over the Westwood campus towing a banner with a message to that effect.
That’s all in the past, though. Let bygones be bygones. With a couple of superb freshman leading the way, Alford and UCLA have turned things around fast, much to the delight of the UCLA fan base.
The Bruins are 11-0 and ranked No. 2 in the country. They vanquished mighty Kentucky in Lexington, they’ve got Pauley Pavilion rocking again and they are generating buzz about capturing the school’s first national championship since 1995.
The Bruins aren’t the only team in town that’s off to a flying start, though.
The USC Trojans have not had a lot of success on the hardwood in recent years, but like UCLA they are undefeated this season. The surprising Trojans are 9-0 in spite of losing their best player, forward Bennie Boatwright, who’s out for six weeks because of a knee injury.
Daily News and Orange County Register columnist Tom Hoffarth says it’s truly a college hoops resurgence in LA this season:
“You have to almost go back to the 1960s and the 1970s when the both had great national teams. To have them both in the Top 25 at this point is I think really a surprise for both of them,” Hoffarth says. “To see where they take it from here is going to be very, very interesting, especially as there will be fewer and fewer undefeated teams. They may be (among) the last two or three left standing come the first of the year.”