UCLA Basketball: The Uncertainty Principle

Larry Drew II #11 then of the North Carolina Tar Heels permitter defense is why he will be starting this year. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

Don't worry I am not going to try to discuss the real uncertainty principle but I am going to discuss the UCLA basketball version: when is a point guard a point guard?

First came this news:

UCLA coach Ben Howland said that North Carolina transfer Larry Drew II will start at the point. "That's going to happen,'' said Howland. "He's our most indispensable player.''

But what does that really mean? According to Wikipedia:

A point guard has perhaps the most specialized role of any position - essentially, he is expected to run the team's offense by controlling the ball and making sure that it gets to the right players at the right time.

If you watched the China exhibition against the Shanghai Sharks that role was played by Kyle Anderson, especially in the second half. However, the ball was usually brought up the court by Drew and in some cases against the Sharks' zone, Anderson was in the high post. But even then it often seemed that Anderson was the guy who "making sure that it gets to the right players at the right time."

Early this summer, when Tydides and I discussed lineups, we only differed on one thing: who will defend the point. I picked Drew because I thought he could best do what Howland said UCLA would go back to doing (emphasis mine):

Howland said the Bruins will "get back to pressuring the ball," and intends to get away from the plod-and-post tempo that produced a 19-14 record last season.

And that seems to be the reason for Drew. As Eamonn Brennan explained on ESPN (emphasis mine):

Now UCLA coach Ben Howland has given Drew II the keys to his offense; the point guard will run the show in a lineup that will require a deft and balanced touch. This doesn't seem to make much sense until you consider Drew II's talent as a perimeter defender; Howland loves great perimeter defenders.

Bingo. Eamonn gets it. Drew will start at "point guard" but will he really be the point? Look this is September, I could be way off. Heck, Kyle may be ruled ineligible (no, there is no news there).

ESPN also has an interview of Larry Drew II. Drew says the normal niceties and on the question about Larry Drew II from North Carolina to today:

I'm still a playmaker. I'm still all about getting my teammates involved. Obviously this year, with the players we have, we have a lot of offensive firepower, so I think that's definitely going to work itself out over the course of the season. So I've just been constantly working on everything: getting stronger, my jump shot, everything.

When you look at Larry Drew's lines in the three China exhibition games you see something interesting. As far as assists, Kyle and Larry had the same number for three games: fifteen. But keep in mind Drew has been playing in Howland's system for a year now after transferring, while Kyle literally just started and even had that delayed by a thumb injury.

But the more interesting stat for three games Larry Drew shot 5-11. Drew never took more than four shots in a game and every other scholarship player had at least one game where they shot 10 or more times.

If you are looking for a UCLA point guard to compare Drew's style to, at least in these games, it would be Cameron Dollar. By that I mean Larry looks like a guy who wants to play defense more than shoot.

So yeah, maybe Larry will be the starting guard, but assuming that Kyle Anderson actually plays for UCLA, I bet the offense will run through and the assist leader will be Kyle Anderson.

Of course, I wish the real uncertainty would end and that Kyle and Shabazz will be declared eligible.

Go Bruins!

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