Random Thoughts on the Texas Game

I started to post this under the front page post but it got too long and I didn't want to detract from Nestor's analysis. So, I'll tuck it in a FanPost.

As much as I hate losing games, and as much as I hate losing games to any Texas team, and as much as I wanted to fly my UCLA flag here -- deep in the heart of Texas, I am not upset about this early season loss to a more mature and experienced team.

As I said in the game thread, last night, if we meet the teams we are losing to now, in the tournament, we will beat them. They are playing cohesive basketball -- based on experience. We are not -- because of inexperience. That will change.

I haven't looked at the play-by-play, but my impression, while watching, was that our starting 5 stayed in the game and that the "slump" we had was while the young guys were playing. That is to be expected. They have to play to grow and now is the time to let them play -- even if it makes winning these games more difficult. We want to win these games but we don't have to. We have to win the Pac 10 games.

I am going to repeat this mantra until mid season -- we only have two players with significant playing time. We do not have a rotation in which the players have spent much time playing together. This will change.

Our freshmen are not in Ben Ball shape. That is not a criticism; that is a reality based on the fact that they have young, untrained bodies. Our players make significant improvements after a year in the program and in the weight room. Poster boys for what second year CBH players looks like? Westbrook and KL -- who unfortunately is not playing his second year here. There is a very noticeable difference between the size of our freshmen and juniors. There is also the "conditioning issue". I love Morgan -- but he clearly could not get down the floor fast enough on D or O. (At the beginning of last year, neither did KL.)

AA2 is a true warrior and should be the "blue collar" inspiration like we got from LMR. Not the most talented but ferocious. He does need some help inside, both on the boards and for clean up scoring. LMR and KL had LRMM. AA2 is not getting that consistent help. Right now, only JK has the body to go in and bang -- and he has, some. Morgan is big enough, but not yet fast enough. The rest of the freshmen inside guys are not as wide.

In Nestor's post, he quotes DC saying that he and JS cannot carry the team. I can see how one can read DC's comments in the wrong light -- but what I think he's saying to the freshmen like JH is "don't defer, step up and take your shots." In another part of Nestor's post we see that there is concern that the young guys are deferring to DC. I think this is his way of saying "step up" we need you. That's leadership. I do not see him whining or saying "I don't want the ball so much". I see it differently. I see it in a positive way.

I think it shows a lot of character for JH, who is truly gifted and being told he is a "one and done" to defer. Did anyone see OJ2 defer, ever, last year?

Nestor, I'm not so sure about JH on the point. I understand your reasons but he did play point a bit last night, with DC on the bench, and he seemed a bit lost and indecisive. That too will change during the season as he gains confidence and steps up. But, right now, I think we need DC running the show even if the cost is some loss in his scoring productivity.

We win or lose on D and this loss was on our D. Again, not a complaint because we had kids playing D who have not had significant minutes playing college BB. Yes, JH had trouble with guarding the best shooter on the floor, but I think we have to expect that. He's a freshman. Remember KL's early D? It wasn't pretty; and CBH pulled him at critical moments, early in the season, to put in the more experienced LMR. JH will be there soon.

As many noted last night, in the first half we were a step behind. And, all year it seems that we are giving up open 3's. Is that a function of the moved line and the difficulty it creates for our "hedging" D?

Speaking of 3's, we made a bunch of 2's that were inches away from being 3's. That, too, might have been the difference in the game. With no knowledge of this whatsoever, I speculate that the players sense the 3 point distance instinctually -- they don't look for the line -- and our guys used last year's instincts and figured they were shooting 3's which by this year's distance were 2's.

FT's -- I just don't get how kids who can make such difficult or long shots cannot sink a FT. If AA2 can improve, so can everyone else. This has to be a priority. Shouldn't this be learnable? Easier to learn than the other things they are called upon to master? (Sincere question because I can't hit the backboard with either a FT or a jump shot.)

Finally, I might be biased because I bleed Blue and Gold, but I love the character of our kids -- especially the young guys. They are humble and team oriented. For kids with such incredible pub coming into this program, they seem to have their egos in check. I would rather struggle with them, at the beginning of the season, than have a kid who deliberately punches someone in the nuts to slow him down. I love the fact that our kids can give intelligent, articulate answers to questions. They are Bruins, baby Bruins for a while, but they will grow and by mid-season, for some, we will see the promise. And, by next year, for all, after a season with CBH and the weight room, they will reach the potential we all know they have.

I really wanted to fly my flag this morning. But, I'll trade this morning for flying it during a long run in the tournament like I've had the last few years.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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