UCLA Basketball Preview: More on "Hugeness"

Will Shabazz dominate now that he has lost the freshman 15? - Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

As Nestor wrote Dan Guerrero seemingly doubled down on his calling the win over Texas "huge" when he talked about UCLA "turned a corner" with the win. Guerrero added: "We want to compete for a Pac-12 title and make a run in the postseason." Maybe we are just "mean" here at Bruins Nation and let's just look at the "huge" win before discussing the next "big" game against Prairie View A & M.

Looking at the "huge" win objectively through numbers, the RPI, the key number for determining where a team is seeded or if they make the NCAA tournament.

1. UCLA beat Texas which as of yesterday had an RPI of 115. If the top 68 teams go to the NCAA and the next 32 to the NIT that means Texas is probably eligible for the CIT Tournament or one of those lesser tournaments. So this is a HUGE win for our chances at "postseason" play.

2. I say that because the average RPI of the teams we have beaten this year is 202, including an overtime win against #265 UCI. (Although when you get below 270 we can dominate as we did 100-70 over #273 ranked James Madison.) So I think in the context of this season thus far, this is a "huge" win.

3. Also Texas is one of three teams we beat this year with a winning record, the others being Cal State Northridge, which is ranked #218 in RPI and Indiana State #154. So in relation to our wins over teams with winning records, Texas is "huge."

But before I can even give Dan mock credit for these huge wins, even if ones checks are red from too much Chianti, another number sticks out.

We lost to a team with a losing record. A team with an RPI of 231! Even in Dan's rosy scenario of Texas being a "huge" win, any way you look it at it, Cal Poly was a "huger" loss.

And Prairie View A & M is not going to help with an RPI of 255. So to be clear: a win against Priarie View is not going to mean much but a loss would hurt UCLA's chances at the CIT.

But there are some small possible good signs going forward. Shabazz has lost the freshman 15.

Shabazz Muhammad recently waged his own battle with the "Freshman 15."

No more Skittles or In-N-Out Animal Style fries for UCLA's top recruit, whose weight swelled to as high as 235 pounds this fall before he swore off those favorites. Missing practice time and playing time with injuries and an NCAA investigation didn't help either. . . .

"I couldn't do much (before), I was so out of shape," Muhammad said. "Now I can do multiple things on offense and defense, come off screens and stuff like that. I can really see how my game's going to be if I continue to get in shape."

What is also interesting in the stories about Shabazz's problems is who helped Tony Parker and Jordan Adams, two players who came to UCLA pudgy, lose a little weight. Kyle Anderson led a breakfast club:

Because he didn't arrive on campus out of shape, Muhammad wasn't a part of "breakfast club" that helped his fellow freshmen shed weight throughout the summer.

Gee, I wonder if Anderson should be captain? But Ben is determined that Anderson is not going to lead from the captain spot or point guard position but instead more of a point power forward:

Having grown up as a point guard in New Jersey, Anderson came to UCLA with intentions of continuing at point. But with senior Larry Drew II locked in at the position, Bruins Coach Ben Howland has played Anderson at power forward for the past few weeks - a move that his family agreed had been a tough transition.

. . .

But for the first half of UCLA's game with Texas last weekend, Anderson looked like he belonged at his new position. He made aggressive moves in the paint. He fought through contact and posted up - all while still maintaining his distributive ways with the ball. Things just seemed to click.

And Howland remains steadfast in his decision that Anderson can be effective in UCLA's offense as a forward and not a point guard - an experiment that will be monitored as the Bruins take on Prairie View A&M Saturday.

"I think he's a hard guard for another team's four-man because he's so clever with the ball," Howland said. "He has point guard skills."

I guess a cynical fan will say at least this will keep UCLA from playing two Wears at once. More objectively, Anderson best position on Defense is power forward and on offense he could be deadly as a high post.

Switching to Priare View A & M for the preview for this Saturday's game. They are all over the map. They have lost a game 44-39 and won a game 42-40 but won their last two games scoring 81 and 107 points.

Senior Point Carl Blair is clutch having led PV to a win over Houston with some last second free throws and a buzzer beater in a win over Navy. He is one of two players averaging in double figures. However, he is also averaging four turnovers a game and shooting just 20% from three. This would be a good game for Larry Drew II to show his commitment to defense because pressuring Blair should lead to good things for UCLA.

PV's leading scorer is Jourdan DeMuynck. DeMuynch is listed as a 6'6" guard but is the number two rebounder in addition to being the leading scorer. DeMuynck is bad from three(25%) and a bit streaky, scoring 27 in a big win over Houston but going 6-16 in a low scoring loss to TCU.

6'11" Power Forward Jules Montgomery--originally from West Hills, California -- is the leading rebounder. He is not strictly an insider player as he is willing to go outside to shoot a three, although only at a 29% clip.

The starting shooting guard is the three point specialist, Ryan Gesiakowski. Ryan is averaging almost 6 three attempts a game, making two of them. This is almost all he shoots. If we go man to man it will be interesting how Jordan Adams does guarding such a one dimensional player.

The last starter is Josh Eleby. Josh is another big at 6'10" and plays the post. Josh is strictly an inside player who does his damaging close to the basket and is shooting 62%. Will Josh give Travis Wear and Tony Parker problems as did Texas's big guy? Josh is flawed in that he really only shoots. He is not a good rebounder and the only other thing he is good at is fouling, having been in foul trouble most games.

The team seems to cry out for a zone but expect UCLA to work on their man to man.

Regardless, this should be an easy game for UCLA. But a loss, not a win, would be "huge."

Go Bruins.

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