Bruin Bites: Stanford Hoops Edition

Shabazz Muhammad needs to work more on his defense and defensive rebounding - Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Notes on the game and the feelings toward Ben Howland

LA Times has their game day piece by the best UCLA covering reporter right now Baxter Holmes here. It focus on Kyle Anderson's rebound who has four double-doubles this year. Also of note is Shabazz Muhamad's continuing saga on learning defense from his statement "I know I can" to Howland defending him saying that he was never asked to play defense before this year. (The rise of AAU killing basketball?)

The Orange County Register has more on Shabazz and defense. Last important note is Tony Parker minutes may be limited by back spasms, not just Howland. They were around for the Legend series and came back this week. Parker missed practice Friday so we will likely only have seven players for a team with a lot of bigs.

Here is the link to the official preview on the UCLA athletics site that still shows a picture of Tyler Lamb on the landing page. It notes that four of UCLA starters are conference statistics leaders: points Shabazz (third), Jordan Adams (sixth); assists Larry Drew (first); and rebounding Kyle Anderson (sixth and first among freshman). It also notes that Shabazz is only the second freshman to score in double digits in every game he has played. Kevin Love did it for an entire season.

ESPN rightly focuses on the biggest worry against Stanford, rebounding and highlights Josh Huestis. UCLA has given up 20 offense rebounds in each of the last two games. While Stanford scored 42 in the first half against a good defensive Trogan team Thursday, they shot 27% in the second half and scored only 27 points in the second. I guess another big worry for the Bruins is the quick turnaround. This will be really only third time UCLA has played on two days or less of turnaround and the first time since November 20.

Meanwhile in other news the ranked UCLA Women Basketball Team beat Oregon 89-80 in their PAC 12 opener. The Bruins had five players in double figures and nine players played double digit minutes. (Imagine going nine deep in basketball.) They continued to justify their number 16 ranking.

On an aside which I have no idea what it means: in the likely to be nominated for an Academy Award Zero Dark Thirty there is a scene where Navy Seals are tossing around a football. The football clearly says UCLA on it.

Let's close with a quote from a fascinating statement in a story on Bruin Report Online that shows Bruins Nation is not alone in their feelings on Coach Howland as a poster named Russ Smith wrote (in italics) and BRO leader Tracy Pierson (the bold) quotes as summing up the feelings of most UCLA fans .

Obviously I've made it clear I want a new coach next season, which makes this season really odd to me. Ben Howland is a good coach. I've always said that, and you can see the impact of his coaching on this team...

...but I still very strongly feel he's the wrong guy for the program? Just an odd position for me. I love the kids on this team, want them to all have a great year and right now it looks like Howland has them moving in the right direction.

I almost find myself feeling guilty that I'm so convinced Howland has to be replaced after the season.

Now, I know that might be off-putting to some UCLA fans who want UCLA to retain Howland as the UCLA coach. But I think Russ represents the majority of the UCLA basketball fan community well.

Go Bruins.

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