Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
Reading the postgame thread for Saturday's game versus Oregon and the ongoing debate between Nestor and Bruinponcho over JA and ND who kills us more made me think of the larger point, why does CBH play either one of them the way he does? I thought of this because even CBH knew it was wrong. To wit:
1. He started the second half with BL over ND. He knew that we needed BL's rebounding and defense more than we needed ND's potential shooting. (It may also have been because ND was hurting but I will give coach the benefit of the doubt.) All the arguments for starting ND in the second half (offense, senior day, etc.) didn't matter because CBH knew that BL was a better 5 for the Oregon game.
2. He twice pulled JA for MAH after JA was torched on defense. It is not that MAH is a great defender. But MAH is technically solid and was able to make it 5 on 5 on defense and limit Porter. Another time, he went big with BL, TH, and ND all in the game albeit briefly before TH got his fourth foul. He knew that JA was not up to it for this game.
Then why play JA and ND at the end of the game when it was on the line? The obvious reasons:
1. It is Senior Day. You want to have your seniors on the court and live and die with them on Senior Day. That works for ND but not for JA. If this was true Senior MAH was a must play. In addition to being a crowd favorite, MAH HAS hit the biggest shot of the season for UCLA at home to beat Washington.
2. JA and ND are part of the best team against OR for that game. There is no way coach could have thought that realistically. He didn't start ND in the second half because he knew BL was a better match up in this game. Maybe you can make an argument to go big with ND at 3 but BL must be in the game at 5 at the end. BL will be your 5th option scoring but that is okay because he can rebound (the biggest problem) and play down low, something OR does not defend well.
If you are not going "big" and keeping MR at 3, then two questions, why isn't ND down low as a 4(where he was 2-2 shooting) and how can you pick JA over MAH? ND was cold outside and with him at 5 we had no one down low. Neither JA or MAH are going to be the key scorer in the last minutes. If you have to chose who to shoot one shot for this game it would be MR (on the season and this day), TH recently (or to pass), and maybe even ML as he scored 18 and was able to slash through OR this game. You don't want anyone else shooting anything but a wide open shot. MAH could hit the wide open shot and would not throw the ball away. He knows this is MR's game and TH is the man.
Am I missing something? Or is Coaching playing favorites and stubbornly trying to prove he is right? Is that the biggest difference from old CBH of three final four runs from 2005--2008 and the current or new CBH?
On the latter point, a few examples starting last year.
1. DC at 1 only. DC is turning into a great point guard in the pros. Yet there is no talk of him starting at 2 guard when arguably the best point guard Chris Paul comes back for the Hornets. DC is only a PG in the pros. But he is a very good shooter (shot 52% from three and 51% from the field in various years at UCLA) and can score as shown by his games at the pro level. Why wasn't he a 2 sometime last year? JH was never comfortable as a 2 and it may have been better for the team to have the senior leader DC at 2 as the primary scorer. This is not an individual argument as all would agree DC is the better point than JH. But it seems that JH at point and DC at two, at least some of the time, would have been better for the team. CBH never did this, was it out of deference and respect for DC who shocked us all and came back for his senior year? New CBH may have thought that playing DC out of position at 2 may have hurt his pro stock because he was only going to be a 1 in the pros, good point but it had to hurt the team not to try JH at 1 with DC at 2.
Yet in the 05-06 season, old CBH did just that. He played the then raw freshman pg DC at point and moved his best offensive player, point guard Jordan Farmar, to 2 at times for stretches during the first final four run. Has CBH changed?
2. JA as point guard. IMO, JA did not look good last year. But putting that aside, I could never understand why he played JA at backup point over the now pro PG JH. How could JA be better than JH? Can anyone argue that ML at 2 a few minutes last year on defense alone was not a better play than JA at backup 1? Or how about MR at 2 last year.
Yet, this year JA was given the keys to the kingdom at point and played his way out of the position. Yes he has been hurting but he has attitude issues . Yet with the game on the line against Oregon, the ball was in JA's hands. Why?
Again in 05-06, CBH did not play his old starting point Cedric Bozeman a minute at that position. JF was the point and DC was backup. Bozeman was an all world Orange County PG when he came to UCLA and was the PG on CBH's first UCLA team but there was no way he was as good as JF or even a freshmen DC and CBH decision to move him to forward reflected that.
So why is CBH playing JA at PG when the game is on the line when he must know that JA can't do it right now?
3. ND in regardless of what he does plays the same minutes. Even ND defenders think that he plays too much and that CBH should bench him more. So why is he not pulled more? Why does he get away with so much?
In 2007-08, while not a perfect analogy, CBH had no problem benching LMR for KL. No one is going to argue that LMR is better than KL. But CBH rarely thought of playing KL at 4 and playing LMR at 5. Yet LMR was the starting Center for a final four team! KL is a 4 in the pros. LMR was a favorite in that he did everything he could with limited skills, yet he was not going to force LMR into games.
Then, why with the game on the line play ND out of position at 5 when BL was playing well against a weak team, has played and practiced 5 this season and most of all ND is not a 5?! CBH also knew the other problems with ND as evidenced by his quote earlier in the week about ND's shooting.
Why is CBH so determined to keep ND in the game out of position? There is no way the old CBH done that to force LMR in the game on Senior Day at say 4 or 3?
CBH needs to go back to being the CBH of the final four teams and not play favorites or be stubborn. I am not saying my examples are perfect but I am saying CBH knew it was wrong to play ND and JA the way he did against OR and did it anyway. Resulting in UCLA losing to a bad team.