So Ben Howland had his first media appearance of this off-season, offering up his usual hopeful sound-bites for next season. DC Bruins has a great roundup of it here.
Not surprisingly the focus is on Joshua Smith and his conditioning. It's one of the critical factors we have to be mindful of heading into what will be boom or bust season for Howland and UCLA basketball.
The question I have though and I haven't seen much discussed here or elsewhere in traditional media is how will Howland break up his mins next season?
Howland is going to get the benefit of what many considers is the number 1 recruiting class in America. He is going to get guys who will be ready to contribute at the college level (at least if the hype matches reality) from Day 1. If that is indeed the case, will Howland show the willingness to get away from his infatuation of going with "experience" over "talent." It's an issue we have seen play out badly for UCLA basketball in last four years.
If Bruins are to emerge as a National Championship contending program, I believe it will have to start with a true commitment to defense - the kind of defense that was the hall mark of teams led by AA, JF, RW, LRMAM and the other
Ben Ball Bruin warrriors.
If Bruins are to get back to same level, they will need a similar core and I am not sure if continuing with his obsession with the Wear Twins will do the trick. I wonder how the mins will break down with the infusion of new talent at the 3 and specifically at the 4 spot.
This is something we are going to keep an eye on and no doubt discuss it in lot more details once we start getting an idea of Howland's preferred lineups during the China trip. But for now, it's something to chew on as the offseason rolls on. Color me skeptical (not cynical). I have heard enough from Howland about his willingness to try new things - such as speeding up the game, playing zone when warranted or playing more talented guys. But at this point I am not interested in his talking points or his woulda coulda shoulda. He needs to produce results.