Monmouth is interesting opponent for UCLA. It is an unbalanced team but does have a decent guards and is guard heavy. Extremely guard heavy.
A great example of the latter is in their final game last year against Iona. They started three guards. Off the bench Monmouth played no forwards or centers and 7 guards (really 4, 3 were garbage time). So this may be a decent test. Coach King Rice is former Dean Smith player at North Carolina and goes fairly deep. Expect to see a lot of guards.
Monmouth was also decent on D, ranking 46 in the country in Field Goal defense and holding teams to 40%.
A Few Monmouth Player Highlights
Point\Lead Guard. 5'8" Justin Robinson was an All-MAAC player last season and led Monmouth in assists, points and minutes. He is the team captain and leader. He is a legitimate player who could be playing at "big" school if he was not so short (despite his height he was still third in rebounding for Monmouth). It will be interesting to see how Aaron Holiday does against Robinson and will be a much better test than Cal State L.A. While Robinson does not have the length of a Pac-12 point guard it will be good to watch him play against a legitimate D-1 experienced quick guard.
Combo guard. 6'2" Josh James led Monmouth in assists in 2013-14 and was hurt after 13 games last year. He is not a good outside shooter and is definitely a guy who likes to penetrate and attack. He may run the point.
Small forward/Power Forward, 6'6 Deon Jones was an All-MAAC third team player. Deon Jones is listed as a guard but he is a small forward who sometimes plays a lot of power forward. He led Monmouth in rebounds two years ago and was second last year. That said he does have guard skills. He can shoot a three but he is much better off the drive and drawing fouls, see this game winning highlight. Jones has also led Monmouth in free throw attempts the last couple years. This may create some interesting matchup issues on defense for UCLA. It should be interesting to watch all our bigs match up with Jones.
- Will Parker get dragged out to cover him? Can Parker cover him? This is a much quicker player who is comfortable on the drive. Seems like an impossible matchup for Parker.
- What about Alex Olenenski? Should be good to see how Alex can rebound against him. If Alex is ever going to play three for real this is probably a good test.
- For Jonah Bolden, a thing to watch will be fouls. Jones is a relatively savvy veteran who can draw fouls. How will the raw Bolden do?
Of the bigs, well 6'10"Center Zach Tillman started 29 of their 33 games and averaged 14.7 minutes a game. He is not really a factor. Maybe someone new will step up.
That sums up Monmouth. Good guards, decent D and no bigs.
Can UCLA's Big-Big lineup work against a guard heavy team? How will it work on defense? Of course, Monmouth is probably a good team to zone as they don't shoot the three very well and UCLA likely has a big advantage on the Boards. However, man-to-man matchups could be interesting to watch.
Monmouth is a game UCLA should win but is a step up from the exhibition level. It is a game that may be better test of Big-Big UCLA basketball.