To say the first half of play by the Bruins tonight was uninspired would be an understatement. Blown assignments, lack of effort, bad passing, all contributed to the Bruins staring down an 8 point deficit at home in the middle of the first half. On the offensive end, the Waves' zone confounded the Bruins early and it looked like we were headed to yet another embarrassing loss in Pauley as the turnover count mounted. The Bruins finally showed some life and a little bit of effort in the last three minutes of the half to go on a 10-0 run, taking a 36-34 lead into halftime. Even then, the Bruins' lack of defensive intensity and rebounding led to little of the much talked about transition game we saw against CSUN on Friday night. It would take some big time adjustments by the coaches and in the attitude of our players if they were to take down a game Pepperdine squad.
Well, adjust they did. The defense picked up, our forwards stopped trying to cherry pick for outlet passes that weren't coming, and started rebounding, and the transition game once again revealed itself in the second half. A flurry of Pepperdine turnovers and bricks led to a 55-34 lead and the Bruins cruised to the end.
This is another one of those games that it's hard to gauge positive signs but very easy to see negative ones, and there were concerns throughout the game to be sure. Joshua Smith demonstrated his ability to be a dominant force on the perimeter and on the inside...when he's in the game. It's only been two (real) games and he's picked up cheap fouls that have limited his minutes in each. He's a freshman, and hopefully he'll find a way to control himself out there, because he's a game changer when he's on the floor and we're going to need his presence.
Tyler Honeycutt had some of us frustrated over his turnovers (5), but lost in the shuffle was an otherwise efficient and well rounded game with 16 points on 7-11 shooting, with 4 rebounds, 4 assists, and 3 steals. He's still going to have to cut down on the turnovers, because he's going to be counted on more than ever this year to be a playmaker, especially because...
...Jerime Anderson has yet to step up. Lazeric Jones was already ahead of him at his position by a pretty wide margin, but he may find himself without PT at all if he plays like he did in the first half. Oddly enough, the overpenetration that he is known for isn't such a bad thing if he's looking to shoot, but it seems every time he goes for a pass to anyone in any situation, it's just a disaster waiting to happen. On the other hand, Jones had an efficient game, while not necessarily impressive in the stat sheet, he showed the intangibles and ball security that we had been sorely missing last year. Brendan Lane put together a solid effort, especially in the first half when it looked like he was the only one with a pulse out there.
But at the end of the night, we've got to give it up for Reeves Nelson, who came up with some emphatic defensive plays and was assertive as usual on the offensive end.en route to a double double (20-11) on 8-10 shooting.
While the box score shows Pepperdine shooting 51%, they were far lower than that "when it mattered" which is a positive sign, but first half efforts like what we showed tonight will not cut it down the line when a more talented team will exploit that and put us in a hole we can't recover from. Overall, you'd have to say the night was a net positive, especially with the second half adjustments, but I hope our guys are staying after the game to get in some free throw practice (14-25).
Next Up: Pacific (Tomorrow, 8:30 PM PST)