Sydney University Lions were really basically kitty cat size as UCLA won easily 123-76. (You can watch a replay at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s3z8Z9JAq9I&feature=youtu.be .) The symbol of the size difference may have been Aaron Holiday (UCLA’s shortest player) towering over a 5’3" inch Aussie. The size difference inside was even bigger and more important. UCLA had 18 blocked shots and won the rebounding 58-33.
While we hyped the start of the Ball era, the players of the game may have been Ike Anigbogu and TJ Leaf. Ike had a number of thunderous dunks, some nice blocks and other scores inside. TJ was even better. He scored on threes, dunks, runners, and filled the lane on the break. He also showed some nice handles and passes with his 21 points. He was the player of the game.
Ball missed a number of dunks and after making his first three did not factor as a scorer. He had some nice passes though.
Welsh hit his first five shots in the first quarter and along with Bryce in third quarter looked like he could score at will. Hamilton also scored a number of points.
A few other quick tidbits:
The starting lineup was Aaron Holiday, Bryce Alford, Isaac Hamilton, Gyorgy Goloman, and Thomas Welsh. The three freshmen were the first subs.
As far as the five questions we asked before the game.
Ball showed flashes with good handles and some nice passes. He missed a number of dunks and layups though. An okay but not great debut.
Holiday was point whenever he was in the game. Even when he played with Ball. It was interesting to watch.
There was no 1-2-2 or 3-2 defense this game. Was not needed but Alex Olenski did play some three and UCLA at times was huge on the court.
Ike looked raw but he also looked good. He dominated the paint and had some nice finishes with emphatic dunks. He looks like he will be a force on the inside but some caution as he was playing against midgets. Really overall encouraging though.
Despite the score and the low shooting percentage from the Lions, UCLA’s guards were awful on Defense at times. Hamilton was blown by a number of times. Ball had a nice steal or two but also got beat off the dribble. Holiday struggled at times with a midget. The interior defense was good because the size differential was so extreme as shown by the 18 blocks. But despite the score and everything else the guard defense was terrible.
The bottom line though is that this game was TJ Leaf and Ike’s. Leaf showed he can score anytime from anywhere. Ike showed he can dominate lesser competition. While the focus in the off season has been on Ball tonight was all about the other Freshmen.
Update: Here is a link to the box score.