charnaw already fanshotted Joshua Smith's candid comments on the Sports Arena. I can't say I am really surprised by what Smith had to say. I had a feeling that players were going to have that kind of experience early on. It is going to be one of those seasons where our guys will have to suck it up a bit and forget the distractions around playing in a old, dilapidated arena (even though we saw it coming).
Now Smith made those comments at a weekly press conference yesterday as the Bruins are getting ready for their first exhibition game against Cal State San Bernardino at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario. So that is going to be a road game for the Bruins. Here are Jon Gold's top line notes from Coach Ben Howland:
* UCLA head coach Ben Howland was hopeful that De'End Parker (concussion) would practice today for the first time in nine days without contact. Parker has practiced just four or five times out of 16.
* Center Anthony Stover is still 10-14 days from practicing even without contact, Howland guessed, and said he's expected to miss the season opener at least.
* Howland said Tyler Lamb would likely backup at the point guard spot in the team's exhibition matchup with Cal State San Bernardino with Jerime Anderson suspended.
* Howland on playing the scrimmage against Cal State Fullerton and the exhibition with focus: "We actually played the scrimmage against Fullerton like a regular-season game. That's what we're trying to prepare for.
* On Norman Powell playing the point:
"His biggest issue with me is his ability to stay in front of the ball. He's athletic so he should be able to do it, and be better than he is right now. The other thing is better passing."
Howland's comments on Powell are interesting. I just hope he is not afraid to put in Powell for extended mintues and don't have a quick hook as soon as the freshman makes some kind of mistake. I would really like to see Howland try out a core of LJ-Lamb-Powell early on as much as possible because I think those three provide the most potential of combination of defense and athleticism early on.
I get the sense that Howland is in love with the Wear twins. However, now that Anthony Stover is going to be out for a while, pt for the Stovers will not be an issue at the front court. They will get time. So hopefully Howland will think about giving his talented freshman some legit PT early on and have him grow through whatever freshman mistakes he make in pre-season.
Going back to the issue of getting use to life without Pauley Peter Yoon had this note on UCLA's practice experience in the men's gym:
That court is 10 feet shorter than a regulation NCAA court, so spacing at practice is a little tighter and the Bruins found out last week when they played at the Sports Arena for the first time in a closed scrimmage against Cal State Fullerton, that extra 10 feet adds up during the course of a game.
"I thought that was the most noticeable thing for me against Fullerton was we really were sucking air," coach Ben Howland said. "And definitely a part of it is not playing on a normal length of court on a day in a day out basis."
Not surprisingly, Howland has the team running more in practice this week to try and make up some of the conditioning slack, but almost as much of a concern is the spacing of the players while running offensive sets. In the practice gym, players are that much more compacted by the boundaries of the court.
That's probably part of the reason why Norman Powell, De'End Parker and Anthony Stover have suffered concussions after collisions in practice and Stover is now out for at least two weeks because of a shoulder injury suffered in another collision.
"Everyone is a little bit more crowded," said forward David Wear. "[At the Sports Arena] you have to get out wider. When you run the lanes, you keep the right spacing because you don't want to be clustered in."
Well it's going to be a little while longer till we get to see our Bruins on TV (first pre-season game is against LMU on November 11). Until then if you live in the IE or the OC, you should definitely consider checking them out this Sunday afternoon (2:00 PST) when they take CSSB in Ontario. You can check out "Bruin Road Show" tickets option here.