UCLA Basketball vs. the Ducks Preview: "An Extra Dose of Chippy"

Let me just come right out and say it, UCLA should beat the Oregon Ducks at home tonight.  I don't care if Zeek is hurting or any other factors.  This is a game this team should win.  While Oregon has some good players, it is hard to make a credible argument that they are better than UCLA at any position.  IMHO, the only way UCLA loses, has to do with "cool."  Either UCLA thinking they are "too cool" now that experts are talking about them being back in the tournament or"losing their cool."

Let's talk about the second one first.  Reeves Nelson had his worst game as a Bruin the first time UCLA played Oregon this year.  He complained after the game:

"They were just doing a lot of cheap shots," Nelson said after the Bruins' 67-59 win at the Matthew Knight Arena on Saturday. Then he called out Singler, Oregon's undersized forward, saying he's "probably the dirtiest of them all."  . . .


It's not the first time Nelson has come out swinging after a game. Last year at Stanford, Nelson was called for a contact technical foul, after which Andrew Zimmerman was awarded four free throws. After the game, Nelson said he was "just boxing out'' and had grown tired of the "cheap shots" by the Cardinal.

 Reeves is not the only Bruin to complain after the game.  The big man backed him and also lost his cool a bit when he got a technical foul against Oregon:

Bruins center Joshua Smith also criticized Singler.

"I have nothing against him, but on a couple of plays he was doing some dirty stuff," Smith said. "I'm not trying to call him out, I'm not trying to say anything about him but some of those it's like 'Come on, it's a game, we're not trying to hurt each other, we're both out here trying to play.'" . . .

Smith picked up a technical foul with 1:50 remaining Saturday after game officials thought he was taunting a Ducks player. . . .

"I didn't say anything to the player," Smith said. "It was just aggression and I got the rebound and I was just like, 'Let's go.' And I think the ref called it because I was kind of just yelling and (the official) didn't really hear what I said.

"And it was kind of directed at the player a little bit."

 

And this is what Oregon wants.  They know they are small, they have to do their best to get under your skin.   They have to be tenacious and frustrate you, physically and mentally.  This Oregon writer's take is interesting (emphasis mine).

When he[RN] and Singler got tangled once during a rebounding situation, Singler put on a community-theater-caliber acting performance — and it worked; Nelson was whistled for the foul.

. . .

Some of the more comical sequences Saturday came when Oregon guard Garrett Sim, who is listed at 6-1, tried to guard UCLA’s gargantuan Joshua Smith, 6-10 and, uh, 305 (335?).

Sim backed into Smith, tried to push him around, and was instead flicked away like a gnat. He annoyed the big guy, and eventually, Smith was called for elbowing Sim.

. . .

Also, the Ducks probably need to play with an extra dose of chippy. These guys need to annoy opponents, even aggravate them. It’s the necessary ingredient for Oregon to have a decent shot to beat anyone.

 

To elaborate further on the aggravate strategy.  As an Oregon State player describes them (emphasis mine):

"I wouldn’t call them dirty," Johnson said. "They’re playing harder than you if you’re getting bumped around. They’re a feisty little bunch of dudes. ...

"There’s more trash talking than in other games. They go after us a little more. They’ll say stuff we can’t say up here. They bump us more and you can feel their elbows in our backs more than other games. It’s just more intense."

No excuses.  You know it is coming.  Josh knows he is going to get a bad foul call and needs to deal with it.  As 66 pointed out last game when Smith got back and did not complain after a bad call.  He is going to need to do more so tonight against the "chippy" Ducks.  Reeves you need to keep your cool and do what your team needs from you to win.  Keep in mind Reeves as we go forward that is going to mean more rebounding and defense and less scoring. 

Moving on to not being "too cool": yes, Bruins you are winning the games you are supposed to win.  You just got the biggest win for the student body in a couple years by beating U$C and an important one for the alumni beating the Lizard's Red Storm.  Yes, people are talking about you being invited to the Big Dance.   But keep in mind Bruins, it could all come apart in these final weeks.  

This team has played like house cats too much of the year. Because of that as I wrote yesterday the statistics don't look like like a second place team.  Part of the reason is this team has had too many close games.  California, Arizona State, UC Irvine, etc. are all games that should not have been that close.  As the old saying goes, you keep playing with fire you are going to get burned.  UCLA needs to take care of business or these chippy determined Ducks will beat them.

Moving on to the match-ups:

Guards

First off, if we wanted to I think all our guards could post up Oregon's guards on a regular basis.  They have five guards who play 3 spots and three are under six feet.  The entire bench that plays is guards.  Sims is the best three point shooter and has played well in some of their recent wins as the two guard.  That said I assume we will start three guards and I think Jerime will do fine with him.   

The starting PG is Jonathan Loyd.  Healthy Jones should have no trouble with him but Malcolm Armstead comes off the bench and plays a lot and has been effective.  He is a good defender and leads them in steals.    If Jones is not healthy, Armstead could bother him. 

Bigs

Joevan Catron is playing well and leading Oregon in scoring and rebounding.  He did not play in the first UCLA game.  He is one of those strong relatively short  (6'6") stocky bull type players that can use his body to his advantage.  Reeves will have to continue to be defense first when he is matched up with him.  The other true big Tyrone Nared is a good offensive rebounder with some athletic ability.  He is not strong though and is thin.  We need to keep him off the boards better than we did last time in the first half. 

The last player is Oregon's most important EJ Singler, brother of Kyle Singler.  EJ is the same kind of player as his brother, just not as good.  I am hoping Malcolm Lee covers him a lot because Tyler may have some problems with him.  He is the key to Oregon.

Keep your cool Bruins and don't think you have won anything yet (because you haven't). If UCLA does that, this game should be no problem.

Go Bruins!

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