UCLA goes tomorrow night against Eastern Washington. Eastern Washington is a team that played competitively against Gonzaga and Oregon until their starters fouled out. However, Washington State and Cal State Fullerton (who UCLA beat in a scrimmage) blew out the Eagles. Also, of note the Eagles blew out UCLA's next opponent UC Davis.
So what does this mean? This is a team that should be capable of staying close to UCLA for a while but UCLA should ultimate beat. However, a lot of things about this team are still in flux. It is hard for me to predict the matchups or much of anything else.
A couple of UCLA player notes. First on Norman Powell:
"I've got to continue to use Norman Powell more," Howland said. "He played 12 and he played good so we've got to keep giving him some minutes."
Powell will be tested this week to figure out the exact cause of his allergic reaction, but first must take a final exam that he missed while in the hospital.
Jones, Smith and backup center Anthony Stover all left the Honda Center with minor injuries. Stover sprained his ankle, Smith tweaked his knee and Jones pulled a groin muscle. UCLA plays again Wednesday, the wounded have some time to recover.
We will let you know tomorrow any updates on the injuries. Jones has been beat up most of the season but it is nothing compared to last year when he hurt both hands.
The more interesting issue is the minutes.
We played zone a lot against Penn last week. An added bonus of zone is Joshua Smith can stay on the floor when he does not have to chase people on defense. Smith had arguably his best game of the season against Penn due in no small part to this.
However, the five UCLA starters in the Penn game all played 30 or more minutes. If Powell is going to get more minutes, someone needs to sit a bit more. Personally, I think it should be Tyler Lamb whose shooting woes (unlike Jones) are continuing and whose defense has been problematic. I am hoping Tyler can turn it around, but the stat I would really like to see for the Eagles game is Powell 20+ minutes. Of course, Powell was coming off being sick against Penn, so CBH may be planning on playing him more anyway.
As far as the bigs, it seems excessive to play the Wears 30 minutes each a game. However, Stover did tweak his ankle which may have limited him in the second half and maybe 17 minutes is all Josh can go right now. Also the Wears were able to do some damage against a small Penn team.
So what does Eastern Washington bring to the table, well let's start inside.
At the post will be an interesting battle of the foul champs. Bruins fans you think Smith gets in foul trouble, check out LaRon Griffin who has 40 fouls in 9 games fouling out of 5 of them. The only game he was not in foul trouble was against something called Linfield. When he is in the game he is a good inside player who rebounds, block shots, and can score in close.
The other big is Senior Cliff Ederaine. Cliff will be an interesting match up for the Wears if we go M2M as his coach claims:
He is a tenacious rebounder and can take other big guys off the dribble. He's a good off-the-ball defender and has strength that is better than his weight. He has proven he can play the power forward or center position in this league
Translation, he is an inside only player but more moves than a strict post. Eastern Washington is better than Penn inside and it will be interesting to see how the Wears do.
The team leader is the other forward is 6'6" JC transfer Collin Chiverton. Chiverton can score from anywhere on the court and twice this year has made 6 thrre pointes in a game. He is not limited to playing outside and is a true shooter having shot the ball more than 20 times this year three times. I am worried if Lamb can handle him if we go M2M.
Jeffery Fobres is the three point specialist and the starting two. He is hitting them at 45% (while only 41% overall). Need a body on him. Last is the PG Cliff Colimon. He had 8 assists vs. Gonzaga and his fouling out of both the Oregon and Gonzaga games hurt Eastern Washington's chances. He also had 6 steals in the blow out loss to Washington State. He does shoot a lot from three and can get hot but hopefully the Bruins have learned their lesson and this will not be a repeat of Ireland and LMU.
The SPTR may play a bit of a role in the game tomorrow. As there is a big drop off for the Eagles bench. However, hopefully UCLA will not need the help and will increase to 2-0 in the post Reeves era. A win tomorrow will almost guarantee UCLA gets to 500 as UC Davis will be an easy game.
Of course nothing has been easy for this team.