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UCLA Basketball Questions Starting to be Answered

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The scrimmage gave a peek and the exhibition should give us a better idea of what to expect under Mick Cronin.

NCAA Basketball: Colorado at UCLA
Cody Riley is my oddball pick to lead UCLA in scoring Wednesday night.
Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

I have read all the notes, tweets, and stories I could on the preseason showcase, particularly the 20 minute Blue and Gold scrimmage. Here are ten takeaways and questions for Wednesday’s exhibition between the UCLA Bruins against Stanislaus State at 7:30 pm PT at Pauley. The game will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks National and Los Angeles.

10. David Singleton’s Comeback

Singleton only scored two points in the scrimmage. He played on the team with Tyger Campbell so he would not have to play point. He looked a bit tentative. UCLA will definitely need him.

What to watch for at the exhibition: Does Singleton play any minutes at point? Is he limited physically coming back from his injury?

9. Prince Ali at Point Guard

The starting point guard for the gold team was Prince Ali. This team only managed 27 points with Ali as the leading scorer. If Ali has to play point for us this year, we are in big trouble.

What to watch for at the exhibition: Is Ali playing point?

8. The Impact of the Freshmen

Jake Kyman scored the first seven points of the game and Jamie Jaquez looked good on offense and defense. It sounds like the freshmen were playing defense. They could play bigger roles than might be anticipated and be ahead of other players. Kyman fits a need, three-point shooting and Jaquez is the one player who Cronin recruited at Cincinnati.

What to watch for at the exhibition: It will be hard to take much from a scrimmage, but it will be interesting to watch these two on defense.

7. Tyger Campbell Is Not Looking to Score

Tyger is playing hard on offense and defense even if he is not looking to score. Actually, a good description of Tyger would be he is the exact opposite of Bryce Alford. Joking, well, sort of.

What to watch for in the exhibition: Can Tyger run UCLA’s offense at a high level against an inferior opponent? If yes, does not mean a lot. If no, there are worries when the games count.

6. Shareef O’Neal Is Raw

He is not his Dad. People have to lessen the expectations on the kid. He is going to be good but he is not Shaq. The good side of that is that he can make free throws.

What to watch for in the exhibition: The exhibition won’t be helpful to Shareef because of the lesser athletes. However, the question to watch for is: Does he look comfortable as a power forward, especially on defense? I would rather see him have 10 rebounds than 10 points in this game.

5. UCLA’s Sustained Defense Effort

UCLA showed in the scrimmage that the defense will be better.

What to watch for in the exhibition: Can they sustain their defensive effort? In the scrimmage, there were some uncontested layups. Cronin hates that. Defense is harder than offense because it takes all five guys for a whole possession.

4. Will the Defense Create Turnovers and Offense?

Again, the scrimmage can only answer this in the negative. Ben Howland’s great defense did not necessarily create offense. That is not the only sign of a great defense. That said with the concerns about scoring for this team, it will be mildly interesting to watch.

What to watch for in the exhibition: Points off turnovers.

3. Chris Smith, Star?

At the scrimmage Smith was the star. He led everyone in scoring with 16 in a half and looked good doing it. Now, this was 20 minutes of basketball in a loose environment. Still a good sign.

What to watch for in the exhibition: Is Smith ready to play a big role on offense? I think the scrimmage will actually help us tell a little. Smith has the tools. Can he put it together on a consistent basis? If he looks good, it is another good sign.

2. Cronin’s Style

Mick Cronin started the scrimmage laid back and neutral. (He can’t coach only one side. So an assistant coached the blue team and another one the gold team.) He did not stay that way. He was coaching and talking a lot.

What to watch for in the exhibition: What is Cronin’s sideline demeanor like?

1. Go-to Guy

Who is going to score points on this team? The offense is a big question. An exhibition game or scrimmage won’t answer that, but it will give us another indication of where this is going.

What to watch for in the scrimmage: In the comments below, make your guess for who will lead the Bruins in scoring Wednesday night.

My ridiculous guess is Cody Riley. I think he may dominate inside for this game. I would not bet on anyone though, which is one of the fun parts of this team right now. The potential is there, but so are a lot of questions. It will be interesting to see what Coach Cronin does.