Over at California Golden Blogs, Avinash goes inside the numbers for UCLA's upcoming matchup against Bears. There is not much in there I can disagree with as he offers up the only bone for UCLA basketball fans:
The big thing that could help UCLA is if Jorge Gutierrez can't suit up, which would force Christopher and Robertson into more defensive assignments on the talented Lee and maybe stretch the Cal rotations a little more. That could open up Dragovic as a three point threat (he's very hot and cold with his stroke, but it wouldn't be shocking if he got going), slow the pace down and make Cal play a drag-it-out game. The Bears have to make sure they don't get sluggish in their offense and dictate the tempo--keep the ball moving, keep players moving, rotate onto their defenders, and show a similar effort to what they put up against the Cardinal.
Well Gutierrez is going to be out for tomorrow night's game but it is not going to matter much. I don't think Bruins have a prayer tomorrow night and honestly I am not really feeling all that inspired about watching a basketball team being led by Jerime Anderson and the Bricklayer from Belgrade.I know Anderson is hurt and it might mean we will see lot of Honeycutt but that doesn't give me a lot of confidence either. What exactly should we be looking forward to tomorrow night? What are the options:
- Our team can come out and play inspired basketball like they did against Notre Dame in the first half but then eventually melt after encountering the first signs of adversity
- Come out and look flat out of the gate both offensively and defensively and then get blown out and humiliated ala Mississippi State and Arizona
- Come out and play tough like they did against Butler and Kansas and then follow it up by laying egg at Maples Pavillion.
- Somehow pull out an "upset" but I don't think Jaron Rush is walking through that door.
Seriously, going into this game I have the exact same feeling as I was experiencing when I had to get ready for on those Dorrellian Saturdays to watch a Law Firm quarterbacked UCLA football team. It's hard to get excited to watch these guys but somehow Ryan and Patroclus will gather up their notes to discuss the Bay Area trip in tonight's podcast (6 pm PST). Some more thoughts after the jump.
Even without Gutierrez, the matchup against the Bears is going to be ugly. If you think our backcourt had a tough time against Arizona, I have no idea how the combination of Lee, Anderson and Roll will handle Randle (19.6 pg), Christopher (16.2 pg) and Robertson (12.9 pg). In our last two games, Howland tasked Lee with shutting down our opponent's key playmaker. The strategy worked against ASU as Lee was able to shut down Glasser, which effectively throttled the ASU offense. However, it blew up on our faces on Saturday when Fogg destroyed Anderson or whoever tried to get in his way.
Well if Fogg toyed around with the Bruins on Saturday (gulp) what exactly will Christopher do with either Anderson or Roll. The only solution I can think of here is if Howland decides to give Honeycutt loads of minutes early on at the expense of Anderson (and who knows it might happen given Anderson is suffering from a groin injury). And I am guessing defensively Howland might put Roll on Robertson because he is more of an outside shooter. Even with that aspect, I think Robertson should be able to handle Roll.
On the frontcourt, the Bears start junior Markhuri Sanders-Frison (6’7" 275 lbs.) and senior Jamal Boykin (6’8" 240 lbs.). If Bruins were to have any kind of shot we will need Dragovic (and Keefe) to D up against Boykin. I am not really counting on it (hey I never really hold my breath waiting for Drag to play defense).
If for some reason Dragovic goes off early on with his outside shot, Bears will probably bring Omondi Omoke who seems to be more of a defensive oriented player for Sanders-Frison. They also have a giant in Max Zhang (7’3" 240 lbs) who the Bear fans love watching like we used to with George Zidek back in the day. Either way, I don't really see the Bruin frontcourt having a shot against theirs even though their frontcourt might not be the strongest part of their team.
The bottom line is our guys can't defend the 1, 2 and 3. Lee can't guard Boykin, Christopher and Robertson at the same time. I don't see Howland mixing in any kind of zone defense in this game because he will be fearful of Cal shooters going off from the 3 point line. Perhaps I would be a little hopeful if we were a decent rebounding team and had shown consistent effort from our front court so far this season. But we don't have anyone in our team except for Nelson who has given us consistent effort in our front court and even Nelson gets lost a lot on defense.
Yeah, there is a chance Bruins will come out and play "hard" and show some "pride" early on but I don't see them sustaining that effort for the entire 40 minutes. They haven't done it for the entire season and I don't see them doing it all on a sudden with a current core in place. Still somehow I will be watching this game tomorrow evening and get ready to take my medicine with rest of Bruins Nation.
As I said above for more on this game and the Bay Area trip make sure to tune into BN podcast with Ryan and Patroclus tonight at 6 pm PST. They will have one of the guys from CGB crew sharing the Bear pov on tomorrow's game and more importantly I think their discussion on the state of our program in general is going to be very interesting. I am going to try my best to tune in. So should you.
UPDATE (N): Well as soon as I finished writing this I read A's post about Honeycutt starting in place of Anderson. It is somewhat comforting I guess but not sure how much. I think his matchup against Christopher is going to be rough but I guess still not as hopeless as Anderson taking him on. We will still have defensive issues with Roll and will have to cringe watching Dragovic playing anti-Ben Ball on the front court. GO BRUINS.