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UCLA Basketball: Cronin Talks Youth Versus Experience

UCLA is young in contrast to Thursday night’s opponent

NCAA Basketball: UCLA at Washington
UCLA’s other true freshman, Jake Kyman, had a good game Sunday
Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Tomorrow night, the UCLA Bruins face arguably their toughest home game this season. Coach Cronin, in his media availability, today discussed how the Colorado Buffaloes are a “very veteran” team. They have played together and grown together. Cronin expressed admiration for this and how it was a “blueprint” for other schools to keep a class of players together for years.

As an aside, I get that as a model. I’m just not sure it works for the Bruins as UCLA will attract some very elite players that will move on quickly.

Coach Cronin also talked at length on Kenneth Nwuba, who is redshirting this season. Kenneth is very strong and has a great upper body. Coach Cronin joked if he looked like Kenneth he would “hang out all day on Venice Beach with his shirt off.” Kenneth is working on foot speed, lateral quickness, and basketball skills. Cronin explained how it is difficult it is to say how he is progressing without seeing him play in competition.

According to Coach Cronin, Tyger Campbell is likely going to play Thursday. He is coming off a thigh bruise that is a tricky injury. “We are better team on offense when Tyger is on the floor” but he is a freshman and it is tough for freshman to play a lot of minutes. On other side, Colorado’s point guard “McKinley Wright never comes out.”

Coach Cronin also discusses how the Pac-8/10/12 has been “second to none” at guard play. A lot of current guards in the Pac-12 are really good, according to Cronin.

Cronin went into some detail on David Singleton struggles. He was “out of shape” when the season started and kind of “thrown in there” after recovering from injury. “It has been a tough year for him” getting back into shape.

Another aside, this explains why Singleton was limited so much early in the season in his minutes. He was just not in basketball shape.

Cronin also discussed the true freshmen at some length. According to Cronin, Jaime is being asked to do a lot and he is “worried about him wearing down.”

Jaimie is obviously a Cronin favorite and it seems like Cronin is basically saying he realizes he is asking a heck of a lot of a freshman.

Cronin had an interesting take on the other true freshman, Jake Kyman. Jake “needs to find a way to get some fouls on defense.” What Cronin was saying is that Jake needs to be more active on defense and, for example, take some charges. He also stated that Jake does a good job on the mental aspects of defense, such as staying in front of his man. On offense, he has to remind Jake he is “more than a three-point shooter.” He has a “nice pull-up game.” He emphasized that both Jake and David have always had the green light.

Regardless of what you feel about Cronin, you have to admit he is pretty candid in his interviews. For UCLA fans, it is a hopeful sign that the two players that are arguably most overachieving preseason expectations, Jake Kyman and Jaime Jaquez Jr. are both freshman that were not tainted by the Alford experience.

Of course, this won’t help much against a veteran team with a ten-year coach tomorrow night.

The video of Coach Cronin’s interview is courtesy UCLA Athletics.

The player interviews are here. Chris Smith, Jake Kyman and Jalen Hill are the players interviewed this week. They mostly they talk about the Kobe Bryant tragedy and what it means to them.

Go Bruins!