There is not much I can offer in terms of game observations on last night's season opener since I didn't get to watch a minute of that travesty. The box score gives us a decent glimpse of how agonizing and ugly it must have been for those who were at the game or were watching it on WWL. Going into this year I was hoping for a 20 win season and making into the tournament. However, after a box score like last night, it seems like we all would be well advised to recalibrate our expectations and wake up to a new reality in the world of Ben Ball.
The report from the LAT predictably is not pretty:
When asked what happened, a dazed Malcolm Lee said: "To tell you the truth, I don't know."
The final statistics told much of the story. The Bruins suffered a terrible shooting night that only got worse when Fullerton shifted mainly to zone in the second half, packing the paint.
The result? UCLA rushed its way through 84 shots, making only 31%, including five of 29 from three-point range.
"I can't remember one of our teams taking 84 shots, even though it was a double-overtime game," Howland said.
Looking at the box score I see ND playing 40 minutes and making 2 out of his 14 shots. He did get 14 rebounds I guess but when you miss that many shots that number seems to be somewhat irrelevant. The question I have is why does this guy continue to get so many mins, especially since RN sounded like was doing ok off the bench.
It also sounds like the Bruins couldn't handle the zone:
UCLA's poor shooting did not start at the end - the Bruins shot 5 for 29 from 3-point line and 26 of 83 overall - but the problem was certainly exacerbated.
Against a Cal State Fullerton 1-2-2 zone that caved in the post, UCLA did not so much settle for the 3s as much as they were forced into them. And when the ball went up, it crashed back down, thudding off the rim and into the arms of the Titans (2-0).
"Our 1-2-2 zone is designed for shooters to think they have a wide-open shot, but they really don't," Cal State Fullerton point guard Jacques Streeter said. "We did a good job of talking in it and getting out on the shooters."
Again it's hard for me to make any observations without having watched the game. So I will leave it up to others who watched this mess. It sounds to me like ML, ND and JA must have been forcing their shots. I see ML going 1 for 8 from behind the arc while ND went 1 for 9 and JA didn't connect on his 3 attempts. Those are ugly numbers and I think we will probably see teams zone us all season until ML and ND can make those shots. The other option could be for coach to give more mins to JK, RN, and MM more mins in the front court if ND keeps throwing blanks from the long range.
Anyway I am not going to lose sleep over this right now. It is going to be a long season no doubt and as mentioned above we are now living in a new reality this season in which Coach Howland is essentially starting from scratch in trying to build a tournament caliber basketball team. Forget placing 3rd in the Pac-10. Given the data points we now have from three contests, it sounds like it will be a huge struggle to post a winning record in this conference (even during its down year). So let's hope the kids who are in this team right now work their rear ends off and fight like their predecessors such as AA, JF and JS did when they arrived in Westwood. If they give it everything they have, the journey is going to be fun to watch. In the mean time we just have to buckle up and get ready for a painful roller coaster ride through the entire season. Like I said, it's a new reality in the world of Ben Ball.