March 7, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; UCLA Bruins forward Travis Wear (24) needs to pass more next year to avoid situations like this and improve on his meager 13 assist for the season. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
As this is a relatively calm week in the news for basketball (Go UCLA Baseball), I thought I would focus a bit on the statistics from last season. Please note that I start with the premise the statistics show that this was a mediocre team last year. I don't think anyone could seriously arguing that our current team of returnees could beat our incoming freshman and incoming transfer Larry Drew.
The premise for the team should be no returning player's position is safe, nor should they be guaranteed a spot in the rotation with 11 scholarship players. Of the returning players, only one has shown an ability to consistently play at an elite level and that was Josh Smith in 2010-11. With that in mind, here is a breakdown of a key stat or two of the returning players.
David Wear was leading rebounder on the 2011-12 Bruins. However, his rebounding rate of a rebound every 4.5 minutes was the worst of any recent leading UCLA rebounder. For comparison, the rebound rates of the leaders of the last four years:
- Reeves Nelson in 2010-11 averaged a rebound every 3.4 minutes
- Tyler Honeycutt in 2009-10 averaged one every 4.2 minutes
- Alfred Aboya in 2008-09 averaged one every 4.4 minutes
- Kevin Love in 2007-8 averaged one every 2.8 minutes
UCLA needs more rebounding out of the power forward position if it is going to be an elite team again. David Wear either needs to really step up or step aside.
An overweight Josh was still a statistical powerhouse. He led UCLA in field goal percentage, rebounds per minute, free throw attempts, points per minute, etc. But of course there is one other stat that really tells the tale. In the category of fouls per 40 minutes, Josh Smith was the second worse player for UCLA since 1977. Josh averaged 7.4 fouls per 40 minutes. Yes Josh needs to lose weight but that is not the only thing keeping off the floor.
Josh has to learn that just because he does have relatively quick hands he should not be going for the steal. Howland and UCLA have to do a better job of working the PAC 12 referees to protect Smith from some of the foul calls he gets for just being big. (Coach and JD Morgan back in the day were relentless in this category. While Wooden never cursed, he did make his opinions know to the referees when he thought his players were being treated unfairly. Morgan in his own fashion worked the referees as well.)
UCLA needs Smith on the floor more and all efforts should be made to help make that possible.
Tyler Lamb improved his shooting percentages by 8% for FG and 15% for three from his freshman season. Of course the problem is he was so bad in 2010-11, his improved percentages are merely okay not great. The other problem is he had 75 turnovers more than any player besides Lazeric Jones. Tyler, like Zeek, was widely inconsistent last year. He scored 26 points against a good Cal team on the road but could only manage 6 against Arizona at home and had only three points in a loss to Middle Tennesee and a win against Richmond two games before the Cal game.
Maybe the best indication of Tyler on offense was his game at St. John's. Tyler had 18 points to lead UCLA scorers but he also had an outrageous 8 turnovers.
Can an elite team have someone who is so inconsistent playing so many minutes?
For Norman Powell the statistics that stand out are his shooting numbers but not the normal ones. 49% of Norman Powell's shots were three pointers. Norman Powell shot five times as many three pointers as Free Throws. In half the minutes Norman shot more threes than Jerime Anderson, the best three point shooting guard. The only player in recent UCLA history who had a higher percentage of his shots as threes was Michael Roll.
I am a Powell fan but he is nothing like Roll. Roll was athletically challenged but a great shooter. Powell is athletically gifted and still developing as a shooter. The statistics here don't lie, Powell needs to go to the basket more and stop standing behind the three point line. Another sign of Powell's lack of aggression is Powell shot the same number of free throws as offense adverse Anthony Stover in over twice as many minutes.
Norman Powell needs to go to the basket draw fouls and take advantage of his athletic ability. He cannot afford to spend his sophomore year as a three point shooter.
Anthony was incredible at blocking shots. In so few minutes to block as many shots as he did is truly noteworthy. But after that statistic Anthony gets in some trouble. Even on the defensive side. Anthony averaged a pathetic-for-a seven-footer rebound every 5.6 minutes.
But of course his biggest issues are on the offensive side. His free throw shooting and field goal percentage of 33% stick out. But what is also noticeable is he only took a shot every 15.7 minutes. Coupled with the fact Stover only played 8.4 minutes a game, you really could make an argument that opposing defenses did not even have to bother covering Stover. Stover went 7 game stretch during the PAC 12 where he did not attempt a shot and he played an average of 13.25 minutes in four games of the "shot-less" streak.
The statistics make a case that Stover needs to learn to play some offense and rebound to play more minutes. Blocking shots alone is not enough.
Travis Wear's offense numbers look good at first glance. 53% field goal, 79% free throw shooter and 43% three point shooter. But there is one offense number that should alarm everyone, 13 assists for the season. In the four seasons before him the starting power forward had:
Even though Travis had fewer minutes, he just did not pass enough for his position. How will Travis adjust next season if he is the fourth of fifth option in the offense?
In addition to all these statistics keep in mind that last year's mediocre team lost its MVP in Lazeric Jones. Jones in turn was the fifth best player on the team the year before. Howland needs to consider starting from scratch this season.