Ben Ball warriors are going to be playing in their regular game of the season tonight against Pepperdine Waves. Unfortunately the top line for this program is now Nikola Dragovic, who for the second consecutive year finds himself in the news wires around wrong reasons. Wanted to get something cleared up on this story from our previous thread. I wasn't sure whether a felony charge against him had actually been filed. Well at least according to the LA Times, it looks like the DA indeed filed a felony charge against him (which is now a different situation than the one he was in last time when the City Attorney decided not to press any charges):
Dragovic was informed this morning that the Los Angeles district attorney filed a felony charge against him. He turned himself into University of California police and Hollywood Division detectives soon after.
The charge could be even more serious given that Dragovic was arrested at the start of last season in regard to an altercation with his ex-girlfriend.
At the time, the city attorney's office decided not to file charges after meeting with the player and the alleged victim, though prosecutors reserved the right to revisit the case for up to a year.
That report was from November 20th. Haven't seen anything elsewhere in news outlets that contradicts the report that a charge has been filed against him. So if that is the case, I strongly believe Howland needs to keep him away from the court, until the charge has been resolved. He shouldn't be playing basketball until he has taken care of that issue. For now it looks like Howland has continued to suspend him for Pepperdine game. From the LAT:
Coach Ben Howland said Dragovic's suspension is day to day, adding: "We have to get more information that's going to be given to the appropriate people here on campus."
Dragovic was expected to attend UCLA's practice Sunday afternoon but would not be allowed to participate. Similarly, Howland said he would watch tonight's game in street clothes.
Team officials knew about the incident for weeks but seemingly did not expect formal charges.
Again as long as he has pending charges against him, he shouldn't putting on a UCLA uniform on the basketball court. I will include a poll below in this post on this question as well to find out what others think about it.
Moving on to the game (you can see how this Dragovic nonsense has already become a distraction) the Bruins are taking on a 1-2 Pepperdine team which just had a come from behind victory against Cal State San Bernardino:
Howland expects an opponent that will play both zone and man-to-man defense, an opponent that will show different offensive looks with Keion Bell and Mychel Thompson on the wings.
Bell became something of a YouTube hit this fall by leaping over five teammates to dunk at the Waves' preseason Blue & Orange scrimmage.
Guess here is that YT clip if you want to take a look:
I imagine Howland and his staff have been working away with our backcourt guys on working on their on ball defense last few days. Hopefully JA and ML will show some improvement from their previous outings (which has been kind of atrocious).
Howland is also looking to keep playing his freshmen:
With a UCLA basketball roster that includes five freshmen, coach Ben Howland knew there would be growing pains. Now that he knows, though, he has to be OK with them.
After pulling freshman forward Reeves Nelson - who had 11 points and six rebounds - in the season-opening loss to Cal State Fullerton, Howland admitted his mistake and played Nelson along with fellow freshmen Brendan Lane and Mike Moser throughout Friday's win over Cal State Bakersfield.
"First of all, inside with Reeves - Reeves has played the most of the freshman - he's done a good job," Howland said. "It was my mistake not to play him more minutes. All these freshmen are going to make mistakes. As long as they're trying their hardest and really, really playing with their heart that's something you just have to deal with. The experience they get is going to help them."
Getting to see more RN, BL and MM is music to our ears. BTW per the official TH is out 1-2 more weeks (with the stress reaction he suffered in his right tibia). Hope he is healing up all right.
I am looking forward to see how the team comes out and build on the chemistry it seemed to have found towards late fist half against Bakersfield as the offense seems to flow smoothly through JK. I think if we can continue to keep working on getting the ball down low, work it inside and outside, and show patience, the flow of this team will get even better. If we can combine that with better effort on defense from the backcourt we might get somewhere early this pre-eason. We will find out if they can take another step forward tonight.
The tip off for tonight is scheduled for 8 pm PST. We will throw up our game thread around 7 pm PST. See you there.