As I said in my first comment on BruinsNation, I have been away from LA the last few years--following my Bruins from afar while serving in the military. My first home football game back in LA was...the Texas game. So I haven't been as enthusiastic about the gridiron this year.
That does not extend to basketball. Since CBH took over I have followed this program. That said, of the last three years, this is the season I am far and away the most excited for. I believe Josh has a chance to average 25 ppg and Reeves could average a double double. I think LJ will keep defenders honest with 2-3 treys per game, and Tyler Lamb will develop as the season progresses.
That said, I still see one weakness. In 2005/6, the player who I believe singlehandedly took us to the Final Four was not a starter (Ryan Hollins playing the best twelve games of his career at the very end helped too). It was DC.
Coming off the bench, he always provided a spark, primarily based around his blazing speed (he has a six, seventh and eighth gear), excellent handling and good outside shooting. I still remember when he came in to spell Jordan Farmar how the game took on a different tempo, and this always destroyed the other team. He provided a definite spark, and when JF left, I didn't mind too much; we had DC. And DC was replaced by RW, who provided another amazing spark off the bench in 2006/7.
So who are our candidates for "Darren-Collison-esque Game Changing Sixth Man" (DCGCSM) this year? I see a few options, though for different reasons:
1. De'End Parker or Norman Powell. One plays the small forward; one plays the shooting guard. One comes from a community college; the other comes from high school. They both have raw talent, and scoring ability.
However, I think De'End may end up starting at the three spot if D. Wear (sorry if I got the wrong wear at the three, I cannot tell them apart yet, and I am a twin) cannot defend that position. This leaves it to Powell if he matures and picks up the faster pace of the college game. The growth and development of these two players could be tremendous in providing our team with multiple scoring options. But I don't see them as that "DGCSM"
2. A or Both Wear Twins. Not much to add, except that if Josh begins starting, then one Wear will move to the bench. Same if Da'End takes over the three. However, this could mean that at the first substitution, CBH brings in an additional set of twin towers for Reeves and Josh--a set of twin towers that can bomb three point shots. Again, they were rusty against CSUSB, but if they get the feel for the game again (and learn to stop clanking shots off the rim) they could provide a spark off the bench. A spark of height. This is a possibility for "DGCSM".
3. Josh Smith. This assumes he still is not starting, coming in around the 16 minute mark of each game. Josh will score--I will take bets on that 25 ppg comment above--so ironically this means the offense has to work before he enters the game. That said, to go deep into the tournament we need Josh to start and play 30+ minutes a game, which disqualifies him from the DC circa 2005/6 spot.
4. Anthony Stover. He will provide a defensive spark, but until I see it I don't see him providing another look on offense. Hopefully he proves me wrong, but I still see a low single digits offense. no "DGCSM" chance.
5. Jerime Anderson. I believe Jerime can redeem himself. I believe he can provide the DC roll of a spark of offense off the bench. However, I believe to redeem himself, he has to provide that offense. He won't be able to do it the same way, but he can do it by commanding the offense when LJ isn't on the floor, avoiding stupid, stupid turnovers, and sparking the offense by driving to the rim. He also needs to shoot well. If he can pare that with long down defense a la AA, RW or Malcolm Lee, even better. Essentially, he needs to play exactly like LJ when LJ isn't on the floor. As a senior, he should have developed these skills the way we all hoped and expected.
If he does, than he can grab the "DGCSM" mantle. If he does, I believe we will have a strong UCLA season, with a Pac-12 banner (the first) and a deep tournament run. Am I saying our season depends on Jerime Anderson? Not exactly, but he could definitely take us there by being the leader, DGCSM, Ben Ball Warrior, and Bruin we need off the bench.