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Numbers To Note

Time to switch gear back to Ben Ball. Amidst all the football recruiting excitement, I didn’t have much time to delve into the stats and reports from the LMU game. Thanks to Tele for all the highlights and Tydides for the insta analysis on what sounded like just another typical methodical and efficient win over an overmatched opponent.

Ty was absolutely right that we can’t really take too much out of these games and the most important part of it was the experience our young cubs got in game situations. Tracy Pierson from Bruin Report Online was impressed with what he saw from our Fab-5. From his LMU review (which wasn’t behind a subscription firewall):

It’s interesting to watch, say, when on the court are Holiday, Anderson, Roll or Lee, guys who are superior passers. Against the zone, with a combination of those players in at the same time, UCLA passed the ball well, finding teammates moving without the ball, trying to find the open space. They got a number of very good looks within 5-8 feet, and even though, say, the finisher couldn’t finish the easy look, for the basketball purist that was good basketball. Even though it might not have resulted in a basket, that is better to the basketball purist than the ball dying on the perimeter, without any ball or player movement and then someone hitting a desperation shot with a few seconds left on the shot clock. Because, in the long run, when Morgan or Gordon are better at finishing inside, the half-court possession that creates an easier look from superior passing will be more productive.

And heck, even if it isn’t, the basketball purist in me would rather watch a half-court possession where ball movement cuts up a zone and the shot is missed than poor ball movement and the last-option, three-point attempt is made.

It’s a great sign for the future of UCLA basketball. With some young guys on the roster who pass well, UCLA has the potential in the next few years to be a very good passing team in the half-court.

Sounds like I missed out on a fun night. While games like that might not be fun for casual/bandwagon fans who are always looking for up and down, showtime hoops, I love watching us in these kinds of games that allow freshmen to play a little relaxed without being afraid of getting yanked after first mistake. Per the LA Times report, Coach Howland was intent on giving his freshmen warriors a lot of time in this game no matter what the score was. He had a set plan in terms of minute allocation and he stuck with it:

"I'm not planning on tinkering with anything," he said. "We'll just come out and play hard."

The starters remained in the game for the first six or so minutes, at which point reserves made their way onto the floor. Howland stuck with his bench even as Loyola Marymount stayed within striking range.

Freshmen such as J'mison Morgan and Malcolm Lee got quality time.

"Any time those guys get minutes," senior guard Darren Collison said, "it's going to be good for the program."

Down by 15, Loyola Marymount continued to play hard in the second half, sending UCLA center Alfred Aboya to the bench with a bloodied nose. They also stuck to the zone defense, packing the lane, which accounted for UCLA's shot selection.

Except for MR, Bruins didn’t shoot so well. But I am not all that worried about it. Especially not going to lose sleep over JH and DC going 1-10 from behind the arc. That is not going to happen all the time.

Besides JH the other freshmen looked pretty solid per Tracy:

In his increased minutes, Morgan looked like he has improved defensively. Despite Howland saying he was late on his hedge, he looked far better doing it in this game than anytime this season. There was also one sequence where Bobo got two blocks in a row after staying on his feet and allowing the penetrator to commit. It’s something he didn’t do earlier in the season. He’s still a project in terms of moving his feet and beating his man to the spot in the post, but there seemed to be general defensive improvement from Morgan.

Gordon, in his 14 minutes, was effective, pulling down 8 rebounds and getting opportune putback dunks.

Anderson seems to be settling down more with every game, even though it’s tough to take too much from it since he’s not being defended by superior D-1 talent.

LMU might not have gotten the scouting report that Lee can shoot. Left open he hit 2 of 4 three-point attempts. He also had a very athletic drive to the basket in which he drew the foul. He, also, seems to be settling down and making fewer poor decisions.

Speaking of making fewer poor decisions, at least from the box score, it appears we were very patient on offense as we committed only 9 TOs.

Also we held the Lions to 25 percent shooting:

LMU shot 25 percent (13 of 52) from the field, was 1 for 17 from 3-point range and was outrebounded 49-35.

"We did a pretty good job defensively," Howland said. "You can't argue with the numbers."

Not really considering the numbers are overwhelming in our favor in pretty much all the categories.

Bruins get back in action tomorrow night against Mercer. Per Howland they are going to be working on shooting, as JH and DC were off the mark from the beyond the 3 pt line:

"I didn't like how we shot it from three," Howland said. "We'll come back (today) and not practice, but actually do a bunch of shooting. We're a better shooting team than that. (Guard) Jrue Holiday was 0 for 6. He's a better shooter than 0 for 6 from three."

We will find out how the practice paid off tomorrow night.