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Why is Effort an Issue Before a USC v. UCLA Basketball Game?!

I hate to bring up last year but without a doubt the two worst games last year were against the "trogans."  The first time, It was not just that SUC beat UCLA, it is that they destroyed our basketball team in the worst loss in the history of Pauley.  The second time, it is not just that they beat us but they ended any realistic chance of UCLA getting to .500 by playing the stifling defense that UCLA use to be known for.  

Guys like Reeves, Malcolm, Honeycutt, Lane, and Anderson should have no problem giving maximum effort for this game.  Yet, that is what all the talk is right now.  Will UCLA put out effort for 40 minutes was a question every player had to answer this week.  

You are playing your crosstown rivals who swept and embarrassed you last year, how much more motivation do you need?  

Which brings me to 5 thoughts/questions I have for CBH off the top of my head that I would love to have him comment on.

1.  Why Washington, not UCLA, is best in PAC 10 right now

Washington just lost its starting PG to an injury and no one is worried.  UW is the deepest team in the PAC 10 and there is a reason why they are the only ranked team in the PAC 10.

Compare that to UCLA, Zeke Jones gets hurt and UCLA has to play a walk on in the game.  Now UCLA fans are on pins and needles as to how Zeke's finger is going to affect his play.  Here is the latest:

He will have to wear a splint, but isn't expected to miss any more game time.

He shot well at practice Tuesday, Howland said, making 41 of 50 shots in the 15-to-17 foot range.

2.  Why not practice the shots you take in a game?

The Zeke quote brings me to my second question, why the heck are we practicing 15-17 footers?  I remember hearing a speech from Coach Pittino years back that a team should only shoot layups or 3 pointers.  He was exaggerating to make a point but how about this, how many 15-17 footers does Zeke shoot in a game?  Why isn't he practicing 3 pointers if he is practicing outside shots.  I remember Oswego posting a shooting video a long time ago when they were practicing the same thing. 

3.  Why NEVER a Zone?

Okay, I understand why CBH does not like to play zone.  There are good reasons.  But an average in talent and small in size UCI team gave us problems by changing defenses.  Why not change to a zone every once in a while?  Last year, when UCLA went to zone for the first time against ASU, we beat them in part because of the shock of seeing a CBH coached team play zone. 

Why not play zone against SUC a bit?  All year SUC has struggled against a zone, as the fishwrap wrote in SUC's last game (emphasis mine):

USC is struggling against the Cougars' zone defense, as it does against against any zone defense,  

A zone may also help protect Smith from fouls against some of SUC's good inside players.  I am not saying go to zone often, I am saying it seems it would be a good idea to try against SUC at least briefly. 

4.  "Push It"?

As he was leaving Nestor was cynical about "Push it."  He expressed doubt and asked if we were going to run more than in the past.  After the exhibition games, I was among those saying this is a different UCLA team.  CBH is yelling "push it" all the time and the team is doing so. 

Yet, we are in the PAC 10 and does anyone really feel this team "pushes it?" 

5.  Effort

I am so sick of this.  I think it is why I wrote the other four points because I want to talk about anything else.  But this is the key point, why is this a discussion before an SUC game? 

Barn Cats, House Cats, Pussy Cats, Alley Cats, etc.  I don't care anymore on labels.  Is there going to be game this year where UCLA's effort is not an issue?  Even when we win.  I am getting sick of the quotes and discussion on effort but it is everywhere when you talk about UCLA.  In the last week Lane, Lee, Nelson and Honeycutt have all discussed effort.

  • Video of Honeycutt here on effort.
  • Video of Lane here on needing to be more aggressive and UCLA needing to stop turning it "off and on".  Also a comment from Lane here:

 Effort is something sophomore forward Brendan Lane said the Bruins can fix in 2011, and it’s something they will need to fix fast now that conference play has arrived.

"Everyone wasn’t playing as hard as they can the whole game," Lane said. "When we get down we say, ‘Oh, we have to turn it on,’ and it doesn’t really work every time. We can’t just turn it on and off like that."

And to close with this quote which is so true for both good and bad reasons:

"When I feel that our team needs a spark, maybe I amp it up a little bit," Nelson said. "But I do just need to play harder earlier and more often."

SUC is a tough match up for the Bruins.  Lazeric Jones may not be a 100%.  However, there is no excuse for any lack of effort against USC this Sunday. 

CBH needs to get it together.  He can coach the first game of a pair in the PAC 10 as he is now an incredible 38-3 in the last 41 (and two of those losses were under extenuating circumstances.)  But he is 2-5 in games with 6 or more days rest in the last two years, with two of those losses to USC.

While most things can be fairly discussed, two things should not be open to discussion for this Bruin team:

  • UCLA needs to beat USC
  • There should be no more questions about effort!

Go Bruins.