The final score reads Kansas 73 UCLA 61. While many of us were expecting a huge blowout win for number 1 ranked Kansas this afternoon at Pauley, Ben Howland's Bruins hung in there for most of the game, they were ultimately out manned by an overpowering Jayhawks basketball team. Here is the boxscore.
The Bruins fell behind by double digits early due to familiar sloppy performance on both ends of the court. We were absolutely atrocious as we turned the ball over something like 10 times in first 11 mintues. JMM particularly looked out of place. He stood like a statute in the paint, looking helpless on defense and clueless on the offensive end. Luckily we settled down a bit with ML running the point, and thanks to the hustle and tenacity of freshman Reeves Nelson, they closed within 7 points by half time and got within 4 points in the second.
The complexion of the game totally changed when Reeves Nelson was fouled and essentially knocked out with a poke in the eye with 14:07 left in the second half. JA missed the FT (yes, Kansas picked our starting pg to shoot FTs when RN was knocked out) and our intensity and emotion never matched what it was with a healthy RN in the game. RN made a valiant effort by trying to return with PAA's orange goggles in the game but it simply wasn't enough. We didn't get the leadership, poise, composure and tenacity from our three seniors (particularly Dragovic and Keefe), as Kansas simply overpowered Bruins down the stretch for their first true road win of the season.
I guess I shouldn't be so harsh in my first few grafs. After all we kept it close when everyone expected a blow out. For a young team, I guess that is signs of progress. However, at the same time I think we should be careful about not getting comfortable with moral victories, because last time we did that we had our guys embarrassed by Long Beach State.
RN is obiously the story for our Bruins. He played like a classic Ben Ball warrior. He was playing like the tenacity we are used to seeing from forwards such as PAA, LMR, and LRMAM. He was gunning for every lose balls, playing defense with a passion, and serving as the emotional lynch pin for the entire team. He finished the game with 9 points and 7 rebounds (5 of which came on the offensive side). Clearly he has lot more room to improve. He needs to finish around the rim as he missed from what I counted 3 layups (which he probably should have dunked them on). He will get them sooner or later.
ML looks much smooter and effortless at pg than JA. JA had some encouraging moments today. However, he is still getting beaten on the lose balls and looking tentetive when the team needs him the most. Oh and speaking of tentetive, it's sad but I think we can officially be disappointed at Keefe's career at UCLA. It simply hasn't worked out for him in Westwood. I hope he makes the best out of his remaining games and get a degree which he will be able to use be successful in life. However, he is not getting it done on any facets of the game. He doesn't have the tenacity on defense. Neither is he aggressive on the offensive side. Meanwhile, the other senior forward Dragovic, who shows hustle and desire at certain moments, continue to hurt this team with hurried shots and vanilla defense.
I understand that Coach Howland values experience of his seniors. However, after what we saw today, now more than ever we need him to play young guys such as Honeycutt, Lane and Moser lot more so that they can learn through experiences.TH was rusty in his first regular season action as a Bruin. However, you can see and feel his potential. He finished the game with 3 points but he also had 6 rebounds, 3 of which came from the offensive glass.
In terms of raw numbers, I mentioned above how TOs killed us early on. We had 10 in the first 11 mintues. We did a good job of settling down later on as we ended up having a total of 15 for the game. Guess that is some kind of progress. We continued to be atrocious from the FT line making 11 out of 19. That's just not good and will probably us hurt lot more throughout the season. It's inexusable and kind of a joke when Kansas calls out our pointguard to the FT line.
At this point we have seen enough for our seniors to know that they simply don't have enough talent to lead this team to a winning record (again forget making the tournament for now). BTW the team is winless since Dragovic returned to our rotation. While we saw encouraging signs today, it will not matter if we suffer another loss in our next game, in which seniors burn up lot more availble mins, costing our freshmen valuable playing time to develop during the non-conference season.
We will have lot more on the game later. For now those are some of my intial thoughts. As I said, don't care much about moral victories. If there were signs of progress this afternoon, it will not matter much if we don't build on them in our next game.Thread away.