UCLA Basketball Roundup: Bruins Dial it Back a Few Years

For those who watched the second half last night of the UCLA Pacific game, you would have thought that you were watching one of the CBH teams of past years with tough suffocating defense.   And CBH was very excited after the game:

The Bruins frustrated the Tigers into poor shot after poor shot, holding Pacific to 25 percent shooting, including 13 percent from 3-point range.

"I was really excited by our defense," said Bruins coach Ben Howland after UCLA allowed just one Tiger in double-figures. "We held them to 25 percent; what else can you say? This is a team that executes better than anyone you'll see.(Pacific's) Bob Thomason is not a good coach, but a great coach."

The "PUSH" Bruins were replaced by the "GET BACK" Bruins as CBH yelled get back often in the second half.

For at least one night, the scrappy, defense-minded style that made Bruins coach Ben Howland famous replaced the up-tempo transition game the Bruins are trying to employ this season and the good news is the Bruins haven't forgotten how to play it. . . .
"It's very comforting," said point guard Lazeric Jones. "We always come to games thinking that defense is going to win the game anyway. Today it just showed a little more because the offense got a little sloppy in the second half. Luckily, our defense, which is our stamp, came through in the end."

More on things other then defense after the jump.

Of course the media is going to obsess over the performences of Reeves Nelson and Tyler Honeycutt, both of which set career highs in rebounds.  Nelson also set his tied his career high in points causing the OC Register to gush:

Taking center stage at one of American sports' most-storied venues will be Nelson, who on consecutive nights at Pauley produced one of the most dominant performances so far this college basketball season.
In leading the Bruins (3-0) past the Tigers and Pepperdine on Monday night, Nelson scored a combined 41 points and grabbed 22 rebounds.

Nelson was equally effective at either post in a half-court set or getting out front in Ben Howland's new up-tempo game. The Modesto native even led a 3-on-2 break early in the second half that snapped the Bruins out of an otherwise frigid half. . . .

Nelson on Tuesday picked right up where he left off in a 20-point, 8 of 10 from the field, 11-rebound effort in Monday's 79-69 victory against Pepperdine.

He missed on a drive on UCLA's opening possession but then scored eight of UCLA's first 12 points. Nelson hurt Pacific both inside and on the perimeter.

While Honeycutt and Nelson were very good, they were not perfect.  Honeycutt made more TOs than assists and Nelson took some defensive series off it seemed.  However, they both dug deep in the second half -- hitting the boards and playing D, despite playing 37 minutes after a game the day before:

Honeycutt and Nelson both admitted to being exhausted after the game, and Howland said the players will have two straight days off for the first time since the preseason started.


"With all the combinations - Josh in foul trouble, us already being thin on the front, back-to-back nights - it all got to me," Nelson said. "But that's no excuse for how I played (in the second half)."

For more on the other players, check out Patroculus summary and the box score as the media makes it sound like it was all Nelson and Honeycutt.  While they carried us at times on the offensive end and with rebounding, this was a team effort on defense.  And BTW, UCLA seems to have found its PG in Lazeric Jones who looked like a PG with some timely drives and nice passes. 

This was a good win.  In my mind, the Bruins have passed the first two tests.  Beating the teams they are supposed to convincingly and winning back to back games at home.  These are things they could not do last year.  They are doing their best to make us forget last year.

And Ironically, if you do forget last year, UCLA has a chance in the NIT to replay its 2008-9 NCAA Tourney.  If Villanova wins tonight we will have a rematch with them in the NIT semifinals in New York.  Win or lose, there is a chance we will play VCU next, our first round opponent from that year's tourney. 

While the teams are different, in a sense it MAY be time to forget comparing this year's team to last year and start wondering where they rank compared to other CBH teams.

Good win, Go Bruins!

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