Arizona Thoughts: Small Slivers of Hope, But Way Too Many Questions

Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N

There are some reason for optimism for the Arizona game tonight.

1.  The first Arizona game was the last time we did not play primarily zone defense for a game and the only PAC 10 game we did so.  The lack of zone definitely hurt that game.  It also showed why we could never play M2M primarily again.  For we lost to Arizona despite accomplishing our number one defensive goal: ML completely shut down Arizona's then leader Nick Wise.  However, JA got burned so bad by Kyle Fogg, that Fogg set his career high of 25 points almost 2 and 1/2 times his season average.  As a result, we never played M2M as a primary defense again.  

So Arizona has not seen our zone yet and maybe that will help in this game.

2.  First game of the weekend twofer in the PAC-10 has been very good to us.  We have lost just one time, in overtime to Oregon, on the first game of a two game series in the PAC 10 this season (6-1 overall).  That includes beating first place CAL on the road and second place ASU.  This proves that the sleepless CBH can still conjure up a good game plan with some time to think (of course, forgetting the $C debacles.)  

Also, Arizona may not be the worst match up for us.  They have lost twice to the least athletic teams in the conference, WSU and ORST, the only two teams UCLA has beat twice in PAC 10 play this year.  This is not an athletic UCLA squad either and maybe this argues for playing a MAH more.

3.  TH.  TH is becoming amazing.  Something no one commented on that I have seen is that in the OR game TH led the team with a UCLA season high 9 assists.  (Maybe he was being too unselfish as he only shot 4 times.)  The game before that he had the UCLA season high in block shots with 5!  In our long glorious history, how many players have done that in back to back games?  Even the most pessimistic UCLA fan must admit that TH has been a joy to watch develop this year.  Don Maclean calls him the toolbox because he can do it all and it is truly deserved nickname.

The good news is TH can do it all, the bad news is he may have to for us to win.  More after the jump.

For in this long difficult season, there are always reasons to be pessimistic about any game, a few of the current problems.

1.  PG follies.  The  problem with ML at point guard was shown this weekend in a positive way and maybe, just maybe, a good sign for the future as well.  ML was moved back to his  natural 2 guard position and he played well:

"What I noticed is my mind-set is different when I'm at [shooting guard]," Lee said. "I don't know why."
Lee believes he undergoes a personality change when running the team as point guard.
"I think subconsciously I become more passive," Lee said. "When someone else runs the team, my instincts are better."

Part of the reason for being passive is obvious and proven statistically.  If ML is the PG he will have to make 4 or less TOs for us to win as we have lost every PAC 10 game in which he has made more than 4 TOs.  He becomes passive as point to not make turnovers.  But if not ML at point, the who?

There may be an answer for next year on that question.  One of the top high school point guards, Ray McCallum has  UCLA on his final four list  and has stated:

"I want to be in as a freshman and make an impact, not be a role player or a team guy. I want to make my name known as a freshman."

Well, Ray, if you are as good as they say, you can be UCLA's starting PG next year and make a big difference right away.

2.  What is going on behind the scenes?  First CBH calls out JA for not working hard in the off season  then   Bobo Morgan gets suspended.  Is the team coming apart?  Two ugly losses this trip leave the possibility of UCLA being in the play in game next weekend for the PAC 10 Tourney.

3.  The position of doom, UCLA Center.  Gordon transfers, RN hurts both eyes, JK has a season ending shoulder injury, BL sprains his ankle, Bobo gets suspended, ND turns his ankle stepping on a ball and hurts his shoulder in his two games as starting 5, etc.  CBH I am begging you please do not ever play TH at center as we can't afford to lose him!

And now after all this the answer may be to play BL more. CBH has admitted:

against Oregon, Lane made all four of his shots, finishing with eight points and five rebounds in 23 minutes on a sprained left ankle.
"Brendan, in retrospect, should have played more minutes" this season, Howland said this week. "He did a great job on a sprained ankle. He tries hard. He makes mistakes, but when the mistakes are from trying hard, you can't fault the kid."

There is a lot to think about and unfortunately way too many questions for a UCLA team this close to the end of the season.  CBH said his goal for this team was a winning season.  That seems highly unlikely but it is all but impossible without winning the game tonight.

At a minimum, CBH needs to show some of that Thursday magic and make sure his team plays hard.

<em>This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of BruinsNation's (BN) editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of BN's editors.</em>

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