Bruins have another day to prepare for their second matchup against Southern Cal this season. From what we have read this week, there is no reason to believe the results are going to be any different. It already sounds like the Howland's Bruins are not playing to win as Tyler Honecutt is just talking about competing against the Trogans:
"When a team beats you, you kind of have something to prove, especially when you have an embarrassing loss like that," said freshman forward Tyler Honeycutt, who is averaging 10 points and 7.5 rebounds in his past four games. "We're definitely not trying to do that again.
"We want to show we can compete with USC."
Yeah, that should fire everyone up. Ben Howland for his part doesn't seem to have any credible answers for Bruins problems. He is trying to push the line about how going on the "road" (10 miles East) will be good for the Bruins:
"At home, you want to get going, you want to make a shot, you want to hear the roar of the crowd," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said. "Being on the road, it's us against the world. It forces you to play good and smart as a team.
The problem is that Bruins haven't played "smart" most of the season. They have played probably one good game the entire year and that came against Washington State at home. Otherwise, almost every game this year has been marked with stretches of listless, impatient, defenseless, ugly and unwatchable basketball in which players seemed to be going through the motions.
He tried to explain Bruins feeble performance against Cal by jointly blaming Roll and Ragovic. Yet as the LA Times pointed out, it was Roll who showed some effort against Cal, while Howland's BFF stunk up the joint yet again:
Howland blamed impatience, in part, for a 28-point swing against the Bears -- UCLA blew a 14-point first half lead. The Bruins shot 47% for the game, but made only nine of 21 shots in the second half.
"We took a number of ill-advised shots," Howland said. "As soon as it got tight [in the second half], Mike Roll took a bad shot. Nikola Dragovic took a bad shot. Those are the guys who are expected to be our leadership. They have to calm us down and make sure we get a good one."
Still, the poor-shooting defense is contradicted by the fact that UCLA leads in field goal percentage in conference games, shooting 49%. While Dragovic was a dreadful one for eight from the field against California, Roll made nine of 14 shots and was the only Bruin in double figures with 20 points.
Still, Howland insists a better effort is needed. "They are our two best shooters, and we want them to take shots," he said. "But we want them to be patient and take open shots."
Making matters for us, James Keefe is injured again and will most likely be out tomorrow night. So I guess we can look forward to another 30+ minutes of Ragovic tomorrow jacking up "ill-advised shots" while not bothering to play any kind of defense on the other end of court without worrying about being benched by his head coach. Rago doesn't have any answers:
"The whole season started off bad with the legal issues I got myself into," Dragovic said. "There was a lot to deal with, school, the next quarter. I couldn't get into the gym as much. That is all my fault. But I'm still trying to bounce back."
Yeah, that should really fire everyone up and get Bruins out to the Costco Center. Thankfully we just have 8 or 9 more games (I am guessing we are getting bounced either in first or second round of the Pac-10 tourney) of this mess to deal with.
From reading and listening to our coaches and players, I don't see the results being any different than what transpired last time when Malcolm Lee was left saying this:
One reason for UCLA's poor performance, at least according to Lee: USC's advance scouting.
"They really had our plays scouted really well," he said. "The second half they forced us to go more in motion; they were defending our set plays really well. It can be a little frustrating, because it feels like they know what we're doing. Man, we have to have a counter for that."
Doing the same thing over and over again will not bring different results tomorrow night. It's nice that some of our guys are looking forward to "competing" against Just$C in "basketball," but they should know that talks of "true moral victory" is going to mean as much as the empty words we have heard from this team the entire season.