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UCLA BBall Roundup: "Huge" Improvements II

Now that Howland is temporarily over his Wear crush, he needs someone else to fawn over, and who better than his other captain?


Most mainstream outlets are attributing some sort of significance to UCLA's sudden three game winning streak. Since we can't depend on the MSM to maintain any kind of perspective in their reports, it's up to us to remind them that those three wins came against less than stellar competition. If you're this far into the season, and your last two opponents have recorded a grand total of four division I wins between them, I'd hope that any declarations based on those games have some heavy qualifiers attached to them.

Baxter Holmes of the LA Times starts things off:

And UCLA basketball fans marched with hurried steps into Pauley Pavilion, clinging to thick jackets zipped up tight.

Winds of change?

Perhaps. The UCLA team that teetered early on seems to have drifted away, replaced by a squad that's growing steadier and gaining confidence with each passing day.

It wasn't a flawless UCLA victory, though, as the 49ers (4-7) kept within striking distance until midway through the second half, cutting UCLA's lead to seven points with 9 minutes 15 seconds left.

I suppose that's fair. I don't want to come down too hard on him for lack of perspective given that on this one he was the best of the bunch. For instance, ESPN's Peter Yoon offered up this stinker:

What it means: UCLA continues to show signs of improvement. Although the interior defense left a lot to be desired (consider: Long Beach scored 38 points in the paint and 49ers center Dan Jennings had 27 points on 13-of-15 shooting), the Bruins fared well in playing man-to-man against a very athletic and battle-tested team.

Fared well in playing man to man... So I guess Jennings just magically was able to establish deep position and receive the ball all game long on accident then. That's obviously got nothing to do with our M2M and our interior defense down there being awful at all. It's not like they shot 48.3% against our primarily man defense last night or anything. Oh wait...

But that's nothing compared to the slobbering Howland did over Larry Drew II which inspired two separate articles. I would think maybe Jordan Adams' big game on offense and activity on defense would have deserved some praise, or he and Shabazz Muhammad's offensive run that finally put the 49ers away. But no, it's all about the captain and our still underwhelming defense:

The statistics will show that Jordan Adams and Shabazz Muhammad led the UCLA Bruins to an 89-70 victory over the Long Beach State 49ers on Tuesday. But in coach Ben Howland’s mind, Larry Drew II sparked it.

And if UCLA is to continue to build on its recent success and get back to being the type of team many had pegged the Bruins to be this season, Drew must continue to fuel the fire.

This is after comparing Drew II to Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook earlier in the week. As laughable as that is, he does have a point. That kind of pressure on the other team's point guard is what we used to have and is a big part of a successful man to man scheme. Unfortunately, not getting that point guard pressure isn't the reason his man defense is garbage. He's getting beaten from the perimeter every which way right now and his interior defense is shoddy. Other teams don't need to initiate from the point when they can beat us so many other ways. It doesn't take a genius to see that the tail is wagging the dog here. Howland needs Drew II to do well if he has any shot of implementing a not-embarrassing man to man scheme. Maybe if we all focus on how well Drew II is doing now, we'll all be distracted from how poorly the rest of his man defense is faring.

Whatever. At this point it's not worth getting upset over Howland's continued favoritism. That's just the way he is and he might as well get fired doing what he does best.