I wish I didn't have to think about UCLA basketball for rest of the season. For the first time in years I am finding UCLA basketball unwatchable and boring. Yet I can't help myself from caring about it. It's the same feeling that made me watch every single root-canal during the dark days of CHP. Of course I am not comparing Ben Howland to that poser in any way in terms of their coaching acumen. However, I am certainly starting to feel the same sense of utter apathy when it comes to UCLA hoops.
All right I will start with some exciting news. Our prolific point guard is making his return to the lineup. This means a little breather for some starters in the rotation:
"I expect to play him some minutes, but he’ll come off the bench behind Mustafa (Abdul-Hamid)," UCLA coach Ben Howland said Friday. "With both those guys, and I have confidence in both of them. I think we can shorten the minutes a little bit for Mike, Malcolm and Honeycutt, which should be good for us."
Roll logged 44 minutes in Thursday night’s 71-66 overtime loss to Oregon. Honeycutt played 40 minutes, and Lee 37.
Howland has been trying to find a way to get his regular players fewer minutes, but he hasn’t had a chance to do it since Anderson went down with a hip flexor.
Really? Howland can't find anyone on his roster that could cut down the minutes just a bit (even by 5-10 mintues) of superstars such as Ragovic. LOLOL. Okay.
Anyway, Anderson's return is all the excitement I can muster up for this pm, as the Bruins are going to take on probably the least exciting (but a well coached) basketball team in Oregon State this evening. Oregon State will be licking their chops after a tough win over Southern Cal. Even though the Bruins unquestionably have the better talent (enough to pull together at least a winning season) and matchup well against the Beavers, this will be their best chance to beat the Bruins in a long time. So they are going to be a little fired up.
Facing the Beavers will mean having a way to figure out their 1-3-1 zone and their slow and deliberate Princeton offense. Speaking of handling the zone, Howland had this to say about his starting pointguard Malcolm Lee:
"I think it helps him a lot [to play point]," Howland said when asked if he recruited Lee to be a point guard. "Is he a natural? Russell Westbrook wasn't a natural to begin with. He is in the NBA now, starting at the point."
Lee was not available to talk to the media about his development as a point guard, but Howland's take was that Lee still had to "learn to keep the ball low and keep himself low, because he's going against guys, like last night, who are 5-6 and 6 foot."
Lee did have six assists in the game and turned the ball over only twice. He had six turnovers against Washington State last Saturday.
Howland also had some hilarious comments about the need for our team to show patience against Oregon State after what transpired on Thursday night:
"We saw how the lead dissipated. A bad foul on a three, a couple quick shots," Howland said. "In basketball it's always about time and score. We're up 29-20 and we jack up a shot with 25 seconds left on the shot clock with a guy in our face.
"We lost a little bit of the focus in what we were doing to get good shots."
Early on, the Bruins were mixing it inside and outside and working against the Ducks' zone defense by getting the ball into the lane and then passing it back out. Oregon seemingly flipped a switch, though, frustrated UCLA into rushed shots and threw a wrench into the Bruins offense.
Uhm coach that is pretty good analysis but it'd be nice if you actually did something to hold the guys accountable who were jacking up those shots to take us out of the game. Otherwise, as usual these post game reflections ring hollow and appear utterly pointless. Certainly given the track record this season, it doesn't project any sense of confidence that the team will actually do something to address those issues because Howland keeps going back to same maddeningly frustrating rotation over and over again.
Meanwhile, on the other hand it is going to be interesting if the Bruins try to defend the Beavers with a 2-3 defense. AndyPanda from BuildingTheDam blogged this in recap post following the victory over the Trojans:
Oregon St. managed to make USC play the game in their style. Much of the game, it was necessary to check the jerseys to determine which team was which. The Trojans' 2-3 zone defense allowed Oregon St. to play at their preferred pace, though, and USC struggled to solve the Beavers' defense all night long. And OSU, being much more familiar with the style of play, was much the better at it that the Trojans, normally more a man-to-man, up and down the floor type of team.
Hmm. I imagine Coach Robinson has taken a pretty good look at how Cal and Oregon shredded our 2-3 with constant attacks on you know who. I am expecting more of the same all afternoon long as we know that Howland is not going to make any in-game adjustments to fix that situation (desperately hoping for his Matt Barkley to go off from the 3 point line).
As far as Oregon State is concerned their best player is Calvin Hayes. I imagine the Bruins are going to key on him in attempts to bottle him up. Haynes is the only decent 3 point shooter in their lineup as he is scoring at 45% clip from behind the arc. Other than him, they don't have much going on in the roster. As mentioned above, this is a game Bruins should be able to win on the road because we have more talent on our roster. However, we also have a team the core of which is rotten with players who are mentally soft, defensively challenged characters with low basketball IQ. Freshmen players like Nelson and Honeycutt will be able to do only so much.
Perhaps they will able to come through a get a win today to get a split on this road trip. However, it is not going to mean much considering they might not win another game on the road rest of this Pac-10 season and struggle to get splits at Pauley. As I said, I wish the season ended and we could finally look forward to a team with the current group of seniors (then again it won't be that great considering the terrible job the staff has done in getting the players ready with meaningful when they will need to step up next season).
The game thread will go up about half an hour before tipoff scheduled for 4:30 pm PST. I am sorry I couldn't make this hoops game day roundup all feel good and peachy. If you need some sunshine re. our team today, use the fanpost feature to stir up your own koolaid cocktail.