Tag:Ben Howland
Posted on: December 4, 2009 4:31 pm
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State of the Bruins Union

I was under the false assumption that last year was our blip year – a predictable dip following three consecutive Final Four appearances. Observant Bruins fans could see the flaws in last year’s team: uneven play on the road, difficulty containing dribble penetration, long dry stretches on offense, lack of rebounding. Those same flaws are alarms this year.

I’m a proud UCLA alumnus and will always support the school and athletic programs. I’m not unrealistic about where the basketball program is, where Ben has taken it from or what the possibilities are for the school moving forward. But, we’ve had six full season of Benball and, undeniably, the man can coach defense. I’ve yet to see the consistency on offense that it will take to clear the last hurdle.


Everyone recognizes that winning the NCAA title is equal parts talent and luck, but a huge part of that equation is the ability to score. It amazes me that UCLA still struggles facing zone defenses and the team goes on long scoring droughts if the defense isn’t causing turnovers. That is not just this year, that has been a common theme during Howland’s tenure. The only season the team was machinelike on offense was with Kevin Love at center. If the Bruins intend to play from the inside out, fine, just recruit more refined players at the post. Outside of Love, Howland's M.O. appears to be to find physical players to play the 4 and 5 that rebound and can play his type of defense.

Developing an offensive identity is every bit as important as garnering one on defense. I’m not certain it’s all about a lack of talent, the Bruins have had several players move on to play professionally so the that cannot be the sole reason for the choppy play. Our floor spacing and movement off the ball isn’t very good – that’s a coaching issue. Again, I respect CBH and what he’s brought to Westwood. In no way, shape or form would I want another coach at the helm. UCLA has the same caliber athletes UNC, Kansas and Duke has, let’s be unafraid to play offense like those teams do.

The departure of Drew Gordon from the program is a direct result of UCLA's recent success self-recruiting players that didn't fit Howland's original blueprint. Those early teams, the Final Four teams, were self-less, hard working, hungry and opportunistic. The latter versions have an air of entitlement that permeated the program and quickly ate away at the team's heart. The Bruins cannot win without talent, but what types of players the team recruits is equally important. It appears the reason Gordon left was his frustration with his role, but he was also upset with the lack of opportunities to run the floor and play an up tempo brand of basketball. It's something that figures to rear its ugly head again, and, more importantly, not allow the program to attract the type of athlete's it needs to hang championship banner number twelve.

Posted on: November 11, 2009 1:28 am
 

Observation from Humboldt State game

The offense flowed, as expected, with the return of Jerime Anderson and Michael Roll. Malcom Lee was in foul trouble and couldn't find his groove. Roll was the best player on the floor. Drew Gordon looked really nice on the offensive end, displaying a nice touch out to 15 ft and some quickness. Troubled by the lack of defensive pressure and the inability to rebound against Humboldt.

Hard to gauge how this performance will translate against CSUF, but the Bruins played a bit loose with the basketball and lacked intensity. Sure that aspect will improve next week. Overall, this team will be a work in progress.

The freshman will need some time to learn their roles and get some confidence. Look for UCLA to lean heavily on Roll, Dragovic and James Keefe. Keefe showed some flashes of what he's capable of during the contest. The loss of Tyler Honeycutt (out a month with stress fracture in leg) could be offset by Keefe if JK can play anywhere near his ability. Maybe the increase in minutes will allow him to relax and play his game. He's much better than he's shown.

Little disappointed in Lee to be honest. He's been in foul trouble both games and not shown too much offensively. He is an outstanding talent and very skilled player. Coach Howland expects a big year from Lee. Anderson looked okay, his handle still concerns me against pressure. At times he appeared tenative, perhaps he's not 100% healthy. This team will go stretches where it looks really ugly on both ends. It's youth will likely unveil itself when it's forced to play a physical half court game (Kansas, Mississippi State).

Reeves Nelson looks like he's ready to contribute early - he has more athleticsm than his press clippings detailed. Moser, Stover and Lane (coming off ankle) didn't show much in this contest. The loss of Honeycutt will affect the team on the offensive end and hurts the bench depth. UCLA is really thin in the backcourt. Abdul Hamid is a very heady player that can give Anderson a breather, but he will struggle with quick guards. 

The team really needs Bobo Morgan to get healthy and take up space in the paint. Without him the Bruins will be small up front and have trouble keeping teams off the glass. Let's hope the Bruins can enter the season without suffering any more injuries - they need to practice and get comfortable playing with one another. Coach Howland will have these guys playing up to their potential by January, but the first two months might determine the Bruins at-large chances more than compiling double digit wins in, what is expected to be, a down Pac-10 Conference.

Posted on: October 14, 2009 1:31 pm
 

UCLA Basketball Preseason Outlook

Great article in Slam Magazine about the UCLA Baby Bruins. Click on link:

http://www.slamonline.com/online/co

llege-hs/college/2009/10/young-guns

-2/


UCLA is being slept on by the national media and that is a blessing. The team figures to have some growing pains early, but will develop some depth by the 2nd half of Pac Ten play and the NCAA tourney. The Bruins will be a long, quick, athletic team that will smother teams on defense and run a little more than earlier versions of Coach Howland's squads.

The season hinges on the development of Jerime Anderson at PG and the health of J'Mison Morgan and Drew Gordon. Incoming freshmen Tyler Honeycutt and Mike Moser have the versatility to play on the wings, and Reeves Nelson projects as a more skilled version of Alfred Aboya. Seniors Mike Roll and Nikola Dragovic will be required to space the floor on offense and when James Keefe returns from his bum shoulder his experience and rebounding will be a big lift.

Malcolm Lee is a truly great player, it will be up to him to grab the reins and take this team over. I've stated that this might be the best UCLA team in Howland's tenure in terms of overall athleticism and skill level, but they might be a year away.

Posted on: October 14, 2009 1:31 pm
 

UCLA Basketball Preseason Outlook

Great article in Slam Magazine about the UCLA Baby Bruins. Click on link:

http://www.slamonline.com/online/co

llege-hs/college/2009/10/young-guns

-2/


UCLA is being slept on by the national media and that is a blessing. The team figures to have some growing pains early, but will develop some depth by the 2nd half of Pac Ten play and the NCAA tourney. The Bruins will be a long, quick, athletic team that will smother teams on defense and run a little more than earlier versions of Coach Howland's squads.

The season hinges on the development of Jerime Anderson at PG and the health of J'Mison Morgan and Drew Gordon. Incoming freshmen Tyler Honeycutt and Mike Moser have the versatility to play on the wings, and Reeves Nelson projects as a more skilled version of Alfred Aboya. Seniors Mike Roll and Nikola Dragovic will be required to space the floor on offense and when James Keefe returns from his bum shoulder his experience and rebounding will be a big lift.

Malcolm Lee is a truly great player, it will be up to him to grab the reigns and take this team over. I've stated that this might be the best UCLA team in Howland's tenure in terms of overall athleticism and skill level, but they might be a year away.

 
 
 
 
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