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UCLA Basketball News Roundup: The Real Story May Be the Bruins’ Secret Scrimmage

Moses Brown was awesome. The competition was not.

Moses Brown looked good in last night’s exhibition game.
Don Liebig/

In his postgame article, Markybcool gave the positive side of the game last night. He made valid points especially on Moses Brown where a bit of hyperbole is definitely in order. Of course, the pessimistic side is that you need to remember who we played: a bad D-II team. How will the UCLA Bruins fair against a Division I team? After the game, Alford may have let slip some info about UCLA’s secret scrimmage, which reveals part of the answer (emphasis mine):

There was a lot of energy, especially defensively. I thought where we improved tonight was we turned some people over and that’s what we have to be able to do, and we took care of the ball. Those are two things I didn’t think we did a very good job with in the scrimmage.

The latter comment is really interesting. So, in the scrimmage against Pepperdine, we struggled with turnovers, both creating them and making them. That is not a good sign.

Tracy Pierson over at Bruin Report Online has a story titled Team Looks Big and Athletic in Worthless Exhibition. Pierson notes that “without [the injured Tyger Campbell], UCLA is really without a true point guard on the team.”

He also takes the more pessimistic spin on what happened, but what I think is most important is his take on the point guard situation:

While some commentators feel you don’t need a point guard in college basketball anymore, we tend to disagree; of course, you can play without a point guard, but in transition and in the halfcourt offense you will lack that player whose job primarily is to create and set up opportunities for his teammates.

Pierson also discusses David Singleton’s play and how he acted as a de facto point.

Perhaps the other player besides Brown that stood out was freshman guard David Singleton. He looked good on both ends of the court – on offense being the back-up point guard behind Hands and looking more natural at it in spots. He was looking to set up teammates and pass the ball when he was functioning as the de facto point guard.

This was one of the more fascinating aspects of the game. In his first presser, Steve Alford said Chris Smith was the backup point guard. He played zero minutes there last night. Is this because the Pepperdine scrimmage was a disaster? All the backup minutes went to Singleton. And Singleton looks to have both the right skill set and mentality. Singleton has been playing point for the last week or since the secret scrimmage. In discussing Singleton,Alford said (again, emphasis mine):

Yeah, and I haven’t been able to look at all of this, but then four assists and zero turnovers. Losing Tyger [Campbell] for the season, we’ve kind of had to see how that was going to work. Who could give Jaylen [Hands] a blow here and there and play backup [point guard]? David, over the last week, has really grown. He played in high school and the thing I like about David is he cares about doing it right. He’s not a guy who forces a lot of things. He just makes really good basketball plays. Tonight, he was really good—no turnovers, four assists, makes all of his shots. He can really extend defenses, which is going to be good for us. We can play him with Jaylen as well, so I think there’s been some good growth with what he’s been able to do in the last week playing a different position.

The other interesting player last night was Cody Riley. Cody was limited last night in minutes as he has been banged up. Cody may not have played in the scrimmage. While his stat line is not as glowing as Moses or Singleton it was damn good. In 16 minutes, he had 9 points, four rebounds, 2 steals, a assist, and a block. He also hit a three. He could be the stretch four that Alford loves.

I think Tracy is a bit pessimistic on Riley but still sees him as the eventual starting four. He writes this about Riley:

He’s thinned down from a year ago, when we glimpsed him in the exhibition game before he and Hill were suspended for the season, and now looks far more capable of guarding opposing power forwards. He has a little more offensive game than Hill, but both aren’t exactly refined, accomplished low-post scorers, so you’d have to hope the guy who gets the most minutes at the spot is the one who can rebound and defend the best.

Of course, the stars were Prince Ali and Moses Brown. That said, let’s close with Moses’ 20 points, 13 rebounds, and 4 blocks in just 20 minutes. Here’s a video recap of last night’s game, courtesy of UCLA Athletics.

After the game, Brown said, “I had a lot of fun out there. Getting to play with some of my teammates and experiencing the court at Pauley Pavilion – it was a dream come true basically.”

In an interview with the Pac-12 Network’s Don MacLean, Brown said, “I definitely had a good time out there. We came out here and a lot of fun.”

In response to a question from MacLean about whether he’s always been a good runner, he said, “Yeah, me and my Dad use to run track all the time.”

Thanks to UCLA Athletics for also sharing the video of Don MacLean’s interview with Moses Brown.

Go Bruins!