June 25, 2003
Last season marked the first time in 55 years (1947-48) that UCLA had a losing record (10-19 overall/6-12 Pacific-10, sixth-place tie). At the conclusion of 2002-03, Ben Howland, who in four years at Pittsburgh directed the Panthers to collegiate prominence and was the consensus 2002 National Coach of the Year, was named the Bruins' new head coach.
Despite the losing record, UCLA did play its best basketball at the end of last season, winning four of its last six contests. The Bruins entered the 2003 Pac-10 Tournament with a two-game winning streak and in the quarterfinals of the Pac-10 Tourney, UCLA upset No. 1-ranked Arizona, 96-89 in overtime (it was the fourth consecutive season the Bruins had beaten the nation's No. 1 ranked team). But in the semifinals, UCLA, after leading by 12 points with 3:43 left, dropped a 75-74 decision to eventual Pac-10 Tournament champion Oregon.
From last season, the Bruins return four key performers, all who started at different times during last season -- 6-7 junior guard/forward Dijon Thompson, 6-9 senior center/forward T. J. Cummings, 6-6 junior guard Cedric Bozeman and 6-11 sophomore center Ryan Hollins, along with four other lettermen who also saw considerable playing time -- 6-1 junior guard Ryan Walcott, 6-0 senior guard Jon Crispin, 7-0 sophomore center Michael Fey and 6-8 junior forward Josiah Johnson.
The Bruins next season will also return five other lettermen who had playing minutes, led by 6-3 junior guard Janou Rubin, along with two redshirts from last season, led by 6-8 freshman forward Matt McKinney.
Newcomers to the active Bruin roster will include: 6-2 junior guard Brian Morrison, who sat out last season after transferring to UCLA from North Carolina and incoming 6-8 freshman forward Trevor Ariza, who last season earned second-team Parade Magazine All-American honors and led Westchester HS to its second consecutive Div. I CA State title.
Bruin losses from last season include: 6-8 forward Jason Kapono, the school's all-time three-point producer (317), who ended his UCLA career as the school's No. 3 (tied) scorer (2,095 points); 6-4 guard Ray Young, who started the Bruins' final eight games at point guard and ignited UCLA to five wins in those last eight contests; and 6-7 junior forward Andre Patterson, who started 21 of 24 games, averaged 7.5 points and 5.5 rebounds and led the Pac-10 in FG% (60.8). Patterson was dismissed from school on April 10 for academic reasons.
New UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland and his Staff
Howland, the 12th head coach in Bruin history, is known for taking down programs and turning them into winners. His reputation is based around accurate shooting teams (in 2003, Pittsburgh led the Big East in FG%/50.6 and assists/17.85) that also play tough man-to-man defense (in 2003, Pittsburgh led the Big East in scoring defense/59.2, scoring margin/+15.7 and rebounding margin/+6.6).
Last season at Pittsburgh, Howland directed the Panthers to their second straight Big East West regular season championship, a 28-5 overall record, No. 4 ranking on the final AP poll and a berth in the NCAA "Sweet 16" for the second consecutive season. In 2002, Howland was named the consensus National Coach of the Year and led the Panthers to a No. 9 national ranking, a 29-6 overall record (most wins in school history) and an NCAA "Sweet 16" berth. Overall in four years at Pittsburgh, Howland was 89-40 and led the Panthers to the 2003 Big East Tournament Championship and to the 2001/02 Big East Tournament Championship game.
Before Pittsburgh, Howland was the head coach at Northern Arizona for five seasons (1995-99). His last three NAU squads all won over 20 games and earned two Big Sky regular season titles. In 1998 Howland led the Lumberjacks to the school's first ever NCAA Tournament bid and in 1999, NAU became the first school in NCAA history to lead the nation in both field goal (52.3) and three-point (44.5) shooting percentages (from 1997-99, NAU led the NCAA in three-point shooting-1997, 41.9; 1998, 43.0; 1999, 44.5).
"I am honored to be the head basketball coach at UCLA and I am grateful to (UCLA Athletic Director) Dan Guerrero for giving me this opportunity," Howland said. "Having grown up in southern California as a Bruin fan, watching the televised replays of the games was special to me. To now be the head coach of this program is something I dreamed about but never thought possible.
"I have an appreciation for what these four letters mean in the world of basketball," he said. "We should be competing for the Pac-10 title and a high seed in the NCAA Tournament year-in and year-out and I look forward to the challenge."
Howland has assembled one of the nation's top staffs. Joining him as Bruin assistants are:
-Donny Daniels for the last three seasons was head coach at his alma mater, CS Fullerton. Before that, he was an assistant coach at Utah under Rick Majerus and the Utes reached the NCAA Tournament eight times in 11 seasons and were national runners-up in 1998.
-Ernie Zeigler came to UCLA with Howland from Pittsburgh, where he served on the Panther staff for the last two seasons. Along with extensive international and AAU coaching experience, Zeigler was also on the staffs at Bowling Green and Kansas State.
-Kerry Keating for the last two seasons has been an assistant coach at Tennessee under Buzz Peterson. His 14-year collegiate career includes stints at Tulsa, Appalachian State, his alma mater Seton Hall, Vanderbilt and Wake Forest.
-Chris Carlson is UCLA's Director of Basketball Operations, a post he held for the last two years under Howland at Pittsburgh. With extensive administrative basketball experience, Carlson has also worked in media relations and was on the coaching staffs at Northern Arizona and his alma mater UC Santa Barbara.
Howland on the Bruins
"During our spring individual workouts, I was impressed with our team's work ethic and attention to detail. There was progress in the classroom, in the weight room and on the basketball court," said Howland.
UCLA in 2003-04/The Bruin Nucleus
UCLA's top four returnees for next season will be:
-6-7 junior guard/forward Dijon Thompson (Inglewood/Redondo Union) -- started 17 of 28 games, including the final 15, he's UCLA's No. 1 returning scorer (14.0, 15th in Pac-10) and No. 2 rebounder (4.7), who was second on the team in minutes played (29.6) and led the Bruins in steals (1.5, 8th in Pac-10) and was third in assists (2.8). Thompson scored in double figures 20 times last season, including seven games of 20 or more points. His career-highs last year included 26 points vs. Washington (3/8) and 11 rebounds in UCLA's 76-75OT victory over California in Pauley Pavilion on Feb. 20. In that contest, Thompson's 16-foot fall-away jumper with 6.2 seconds remaining in overtime was the winning basket and he recorded his first double-double (20 points/11 rebounds).
-6-9 senior forward/center T. J. Cummings (Homewood, IL/Homewood-Flossmoor) -- Cummings, the son of NBA and DePaul great Terry Cummings, started 16 of UCLA's first 17 games and appeared in all 29 contests. He averaged 23.4 minutes and is UCLA's top returning rebounder (4.9) and No. 2 scorer (10.3). Among regulars, he was second on the team in FT% (65-80, 81.3, 7thT in Pac-10). He scored in double figures 16 times. At the Pac-10 Tournament off the bench, he had 18 points, five rebounds and two blocks in UCLA's overtime win over No. 1 Arizona and in UCLA's home loss to USC on Jan. 8, Cummings had 13 points and a career-high 14 rebounds (second career double/double). He has the most career appearances (94, including 23 starts) on the team.
-6-6 junior guard Cedric Bozeman (Los Angeles/Mater Dei) -- a McDonald's high school All-American, Bozeman's collegiate career has been hampered by injury. Last season, he missed the final eight games with a right shoulder injury (instability, required surgery at the end of the season) and as a freshman in 2001-02, he missed seven early season games (right knee, cartilage surgery). As a sophomore before he was sidelined with the shoulder injury, Bozeman started 17 of 21 games and averaged 26.0 minutes, 7.3 points, 3.0 rebounds and 3.2 assists (No. 2 on the team/his 1.42 assist/turnover ratio was No. 9 in Pac-10). Bozeman's two free throws with 4.9 seconds left gave UCLA a 71-70 win at Georgetown on Feb. 8, snapping the Bruins' nine-game losing streak.
-6-11 sophomore center Ryan Hollins (Pasadena/Muir) -- one of UCLA's three, two-sport standouts, Hollins last spring qualified in the high jump (7-0.25 personal-best) to the NCAA West Regional and also is a finalist for the 2003 USA Men's Basketball Junior World Championship team. Last season as true freshman, Hollins started the Bruins' final 14 games and in that stretch, averaged 6.4 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.2 blocks (in Pac-10 games only, he was No. 6 in the Pac-10, 1.14) and shot 62.3 (33-53) from the floor. Inserted into the lineup on Jan. 30 in UCLA's home loss to Oregon, Hollins responded with 11 points, a season-high 11 rebounds and a Pac-10 single-game best seven blocked shots. In 2003, Hollins earned Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 Freshman honors.
Considerable Playing Time from 2002-03
Four players fall into this category:
-6-1 junior guard Ryan Walcott (Phoenix, AZ/Shadow Mountain) -- last season as a sophomore, Walcott appeared in 27 games and started nine consecutive contests in the middle of the season at point guard. He averaged 21.5 minutes and 3.9 points and led the Bruins in assists (3.3,10thT in Pac-10/his 1.70 assist/turnover ration was No. 6 in Pac-10). In UCLA's home loss to USC, Walcott had seven points and career-high 11 assists.
-6-0 senior guard Jon Crispin (Pitman, NJ HS) -- 2002-03 was his first at UCLA after sitting out the 2001-02 season following a transfer from Penn State. As a junior last year Crispin played in 23 games (started one) and averaged 8.4 minutes, 2.3 points and shot 90.0 (9-10) from the foul line.
-7-0 sophomore center Michael Fey (Olympia, WA/Capital) - as a true freshman last season, Fey appeared in 20 games (started three) and averaged 8.0 minutes, 2.3 points, 1.6 rebounds and shot 55.2 (16-29) from the field.
-6-8 junior forward Josiah Johnson (Los Angeles/Montclair Prep) -- son of Bruin and NBA great Marques Johnson, Josiah in 2002-03 played in 19 games and averaged 10.2 minutes, 1.8 points and rebounds and shot 85.7 (6-7) from the foul line.
Bruins Also Return Five Other Lettermen
UCLA's five other lettermen who could figure in the rotation mix are (with 2002-03 statistics)
-6-3 junior guard Janou Rubin (Union City/Logan) -- 10 games/5.1 minutes/2.1 points/0.9 rebounds/50.0 shooting percentages (8-16FG/4-8 3pt.FG/1-2FT).
-6-6 sophomore forward Marcedes Lewis (Long Beach/Poly) -- seven games/3.7 minutes/1.3 points/0.6 rebounds. Another two-sport standout, Lewis will contend for the starting tight end position this fall on the Bruin football team after lettering last year as a true freshman.
-6-3 sophomore guard Quinn Hawking (Brea/Anaheim) -- five games/2.2 minutes/ 0.8 points/0.2 rebounds. Quinn is the son of noted southern California college and high school basketball coach Bob Hawking.
-6-10 senior center John Hoffart (Davis, CA HS) -- five games/2.4 minutes/0.6 points/0.0 rebounds. Hoffart transferred to UCLA in 2000 from Cal Poly-SLO.
-5-10 sophomore guard Gene Barnes (Novato/The Branson School) -- four games/2.3 minutes/0.0 points/0.5 rebounds. Barnes missed most of last year with a back injury.
Available for duty this year, after redshirting last season, will be 6-8 freshman forward Matt McKinney (Santa Ynez HS), another Bruin two-sport standout, he played last spring on Al Scates' Bruin men's volleyball team, and 6-1 freshman guard Ike Williams (Murrieta/Murrieta Valley). McKinney, one of the nation's top prep volleyball players at Santa Ynez HS, as a senior (2001-02) in basketball averaged 22.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and 1.3 blocks and shot 51.0 from the field.
Two newcomers who should be immediate contributors for UCLA in 2003-04 are 6-2 junior guard Brian Morrison (Redmond, WA/Lake Washington), who sat out last season after transferring from North Carolina, and 6-8 freshman forward Trevor Ariza (Los Angeles/Westchester), one of the nation's top high school players in 2002-03.
Morrison as a sophomore at North Carolina in 2001-02, playing both point and shooting guard, appeared in all 28 games and averaged 7.1 points, led the Tar Heels with 42 three-pointers, was third on the team with 72 assists (2.6) and shot 75.7 (28-37) from the foul line. As a freshman at Chapel Hill in 2000-01, Morrison played in 32 of Carolina's 33 games, averaging 3.0 points, 1.1 rebounds and 1.2 assists and shot 37.8 (17-45) from three-point range. On Dec. 23, 2000, when North Carolina defeated UCLA 80-70 in Pauley Pavilion, Morrison scored seven straight points, including 1-2 from three-point range and added an assist.
Ariza, who played under the legendary Ed Azzam at Westchester HS, in 2003 led the Comets to their second consecutive CIF Div. I CA State title, a 32-2 record and finished the season rated No. 5 in the U. S. (USA Today). A second-team prep All-American (Parade Magazine) who played all five positions last season, Ariza averaged 22.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 3.0 steals and was the Cal-Hi Sports Mr. Basketball State Player of the Year and the Los Angeles Times' Boys' Basketball Player of the Year. Ariza appeared in the 2003 EA SPORTS Roundball Classic, held at the United Center in Chicago on March 31, showcasing the country's top senior prep talent.
2003-04 UCLA Schedule
It's a tough one, featuring nine NCAA Tournament teams (14 games) from a year ago, along with two NIT representatives.
Three teams from last season's NCAA "Elite Eight" -- Kentucky (at the Wooden Classic in Anaheim on Dec. 6), Michigan State (Dec. 20 in Pauley Pavilion) and defending Pac-10 regular season champion Arizona (Jan. 17 in Pauley Pavilion/Feb. 14 at Tucson); "Sweet 16" Notre Dame (Feb. 28 in Pauley Pavilion) and five other NCAA participants -- Vermont (Nov. 29 in Pauley Pavilion), 2003 Pac-10 Tournament Champion Oregon (Jan. 4 in Pauley Pavilion/March 6 at Eugene), Arizona State (Jan. 15 in Pauley Pavilion/Feb. 12 at Tempe), Stanford (Jan. 22 at Palo Alto/Feb. 21 in Pauley Pavilion) and California (Jan. 24 at Berkeley/Feb. 19 in Pauley Pavilion).
St. John's (Jan. 31 at Madison Square Garden in New York City) won the 2003 NIT title (and beat the Bruins last season at home 80-65 on Jan. 11) and UC Santa Barbara (Dec. 17 in Pauley Pavilion) also played in last year's NIT (Howland was an assistant coach at UCSB from 1983-94).
"This is one of the toughest schedules in America," Howland said. "We are going to be put to the test right at the start of the year and the overall competitiveness of our schedule, both nonconference and conference, will continue throughout the season."