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Does Ben Howland's Current Rotation Give UCLA Best Chance To Win?

bruinponcho wrote in our Notre Dame post game thread:

The main thing holding this team back is 1) solid offensive play, and 2) rebounding.

The wonderful thing is that the solution for both is the same: start TH in place of JA. ML goes for 29, MR goes for 19, and what does JA have, 1 point on 0-2 (including an airball by five feet) and 1-2 free throws. Hmm, which one doesn’t belong. Conversely, TH is a prototypical small forward who is a great rebounder. Remember, he played center in high school which shows with his craftiness around the rim. TH is also the perfect compliment to RN in that as much of a workhorse RN is, he is undersized. But with TH playing in the frontcourt alongside RN and ND, we suddenly become much longer and athletic. Plus, this will help out MR so he won’t be guarding someone much larger than him.

The other major issue is that our weakside rotations are awful. Sure MR is going to get beat off the dribble, but everyone does. The problem is that the rotations after someone penetrates are either too slow or non-existent leading to easy layups. This was the one thing that JK did bring to the table and without him there it is very noticeable. RN is getting better at this and got screwed on a couple of charge/block calls today.

I just want to zero in on point number 1 for now. I really think Coach Ben Howland owes more than a standard coachspeak explanation to the UCLA basketball community about his inexplicable but predictable rotation at this point of the season.

Right now from what I see (and I think majority here will agree with me on this point) we have 2 potential NBA talents on our roster. No, they are nowhere ready to play at the next level but if they do live up to their athletic potential Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt have a very good chance to join other Ben Ball warriors representing the four letters in the NBA. So, wouldn't it make more sense if Coach Howland shaped his rotation that optimized their minutes on the court? Instead, during the Notre Dame game on Saturday, we saw Honeycutt's minutes go down from his previous outing earlier in the week (TH logged 18 mins against Irish while putting on a show during 22 mins against the Aggies).

Despite the due criticisms we have directed towards Dragovic (who did shoot us out of the game early in the second half against Notre Dame), it's our point guard position currently handicapping our offense and not doing much to jump start our defense. Jerime Anderson might turn out to be a serviceable Pac-10 point guard some day but he is not getting it done. Wouldn't it make sense for our team if Howland has Malcolm Lee running our point, move Roll to the SG spot and slide Honeycutt to the 3? Wouldn't it make sense if that change is done during next couple of games so that the team is ready with that rotation by the time Pac-10 games started?

We have seen over the years how Coach Howland doesn't waste much time to take out his freshmen if they make any little mistakes on either end of the court. I don't understand how he doesn't treat his more experienced players the same way when they are making the same glaring, careless mistakes over and over again. I think it might make sense for Howland to cut down Anderson's mins to 15-20 mins a game and have him come off the bench to see what is going on and how Howland wants the game to be played. Yet, we are seeing in numerous occassion Howland keep calling on Anderson, who is committing the same mistakes over and over again.

So what gives? Is what Howland doing with his current rotation the best chance to win? Does having Jerime Anderson for almost 29 minutes on basketball court give UCLA basketball to best chance to win and build towards a foundation building season from here on out? I realize the title of this post is somewhat provocative. I do think Coach Ben Howland is always playing to win. I will not doubt his intentions. However, the current rotation is still not making any sense.