Balanced UCLA Men's Basketball Team Ready to Ball Out - NBC Southern California

Balanced UCLA Men's Basketball Team Ready to Ball Out

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Balanced UCLA Men's Basketball Team Ready to Ball Out
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    Thomas Welsh #40 of the UCLA Bruins dunks in the first ahlf against the Kentucky Wildcats during the 2017 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament South Regional at FedExForum on March 24, 2017 in Memphis.

    In his final season at UCLA, Thomas Welsh knows his role and really plans to let his game speak loudly for him this season.

    Welsh is one of the "veterans" head coach Steve Alford refers to and will lean on at various times this year. The Bruins have a great mixture of veterans and freshmen, that allows them to have a very deep roster, which will expand the rotation.

    Last season, the Bruins went with an eight-man rotation, however more depth allows the coaching staff to develop more schemes and design plays against opponents.

    "You're trying to blend the old with the new. That's similar (to last year), you're just doing it with more new," Alford said. "So with more new comes more personalities that you're dealing with and trying to figure out how that blends."

    Alford also brings in a very high level freshmen recruiting class that includes Jaylen Hands, LiAngelo Ball, and McDonalds All-American guard Kris Wilkes to name a few.

    "Obviously Lonzo [Ball] sets a very high bar," Alford said on LiAngelo Ball's role. "Knowing the family like I know the family, they all come from a championship pedigree. So, Gelo is not going to be any different from that. He'll figure his role and he'll try to fight and compete and extend his role as much as he can. He just has that championship DNA that all of them have."

    Last season's freshmen redeemed the Bruins program, which went 15-17 in 2015. This year's class is only focused on winning the Pac-12 and a National Championship.

    After working out with his brother and other NBA players in the offseason, Aaron Holiday exhibited more confidence and a laser sharp focus for this season. He's much more of a vocal leader and understands the speed of the game and how often it changes.

    The increase in leadership by Holiday has been tremendous, according to Alford, who praised his guard often during media day.

    "I feel like we just have a lot more heart than we did in the past," Holiday said. "No offense to the other teams, but we obviously are more athletic and we can get to certain places quicker."

    The Bruins have six non-conference games against Power 6 conference teams, and only one will be played in Pauley Pavilion -- a rematch of last year's NCAA second-round game against Cincinnati on Dec. 16. They also face a brutal Pac-12 schedule, but the Bruins understand that they have their destiny in their own hands.