Guess we all missed the warning signs last March, following the loss against Villanova:
Freshman forward Drew Gordon said Howland should reconsider his offensive approach to suit the talents of his team.
Gordon said he would like to see UCLA turn into an "up-and-down" team along the lines of the Villanova squad that pounded out an 89-69 victory in the second round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday.
"In all honesty, I think he's going to have to change a couple of things," Gordon said. "I think the mentality of the team next year is we don't work well in the half-court set. We're used to the run-and-gun. We're not programmed into slow-grinding it out there."
That was from Mark Saxon in the OC Register. I am guessing at the time lot of us probably dismissed that report as an attempt by a local reporter to accentuate the negative within the UCLA basketball program, and didn't post about it. If so, then it's a big warning sign perhaps we should have taken note of at the time.
Reading Gordon's comments though it is certainly stunning to see how this kid was so out of it. Think about it. A freaking freshmen was questioning the offensive approach of a head coach who had taken his team to 3 Final-4s, 2 Sweet-16s, and was the COY in 3 different conferences. BTW, it is hilarious to hear these kids and others talk about how they want to "run and gun" more, completely ignoring the basic concept that if they actually played fundamental defense and rebounded with intensity, that would lead the opportunity to run and gun it on the other end.
Lee said he would like to see the Bruins press more when they are playing defense, a ploy that was not particularly effective against Villanova.
"Just speed up the game a little bit," Lee said.
Well, not sure what Lee meant at the time. For now, I hope Lee is taking a cue from what happened to Gordon. Lee has the athleticism and physical tools to perhaps emerge as another version of RW and AA. However, he needs to get it through his head that if he wants to have the same legacy as those two Ben Ball warriors, he will need to start by learning to play Howland's "insider-the-jersey" defensive approach with intense on-ball defense. Frankly haven't seen any signs of that yet from Lee or Anderson this year. I hope they can find withing themselves the passion and intensity to play that kind of defense because if they don't it is not going to matter whether we play man-to-man or zone, we are going to keep struggling on the court.
As for current news, RN is banged up a bit but TH is on schedule to return for Kansas game:
LOS ANGELES - Freshman forward/center Reeves Nelson hyperextended his right knee yesterday and was unable to finish practice. He had an MRI late Tuesday night and the results that were revealed this afternoon were negative. He did not practice today and will miss tomorrow's practice as well. He is slated to return to practice on Friday, Dec. 4, two days before UCLA hosts No. 1 Kansas as part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. Nelson is slated to start his first collegiate game this weekend with the departure of sophomore Drew Gordon.
LOS ANGELES - Freshman forward Tyler Honeycutt returned to practice yesterday for the first time since Nov. 7 when an MRI confirmed (on Nov. 8) that he had a stress reaction in his right tibia. Honeycutt practiced for 30 minutes on Tuesday with full contact and for 45 minutes today. The plan is to increase his practice time by 15 minutes each day till Saturday when he will go for an hour and a half. He should be available to play for the Bruins when they host No. 1 Kansas as part of the Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series. Honeycutt has missed the first six games of the 2009-10 season.
Hopefully RN heals up soon. He seems like a tough kid. So my gut tells me he will be ready to go. We will have nothing to lose on Sun at this point. I just want to see these guys come out and play with passion, show all out hustle on the court by diving after loose balls, rebound their hearts out, and yeah play defense as it meant to be in Ben Ball. That would be a good restart for rest of the season.