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The UCLA men's basketball team has been ranked No. 11 in the nation by The Sporting News in its collection of preseason top 25 teams, as announced on Tuesday.
The Bruins went 19-14 last season and finished in a fifth-place tie in the Pac-12 Conference, sporting an 11-7 mark in league action. UCLA returns two starters (David Wear, Travis Wear) from last year's team and welcomes a recruiting class ranked No. 1, nationally, by ESPN.com and No. 2 by Scout.com and Rivals.com.
Other key returners for UCLA include juniors Joshua Smith and Tyler Lamb and sophomore Norman Powell, each of which played major minutes for the Bruins in 2011-12.
UCLA's talented incoming class features guards Shabazz Muhammad (Las Vegas, Nev.), Kyle Anderson (Fairview, N.J.) and Jordan Adams (Lawrenceville, Ga.), along with forward/center Tony Parker (Lithonia, Ga.).
The Bruins open the 2012-13 season in New Pauley Pavilion against Indiana State on Friday, Nov. 9. The game will be televised nationally on Fox Sports Net and is scheduled for an 8 p.m. tip-off.
The Sporting News - Preseason Top 25
3. Ohio State
9. N.C. State
13. North Carolina
19. San Diego State
22. Michigan State
23. Murray State
24. Notre Dame
25. Virginia Commonwealth
Former UCLA basketball player Jrue Holiday has been added to the 2012 USA Men's Select Team that will train July 6-11 against the 2012 USA Basketball Men's National Team during training camp in Las Vegas, Nev.
A three-year point guard with the Philadelphia 76ers, Holiday has become the 15th player USA Basketball has named to the USA Select squad. As a freshman at UCLA in 2008-09, Holiday averaged 8.5 points, 3.8 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game, starting all 35 games for the Bruins.
"In naming Jrue to our Select Team, we've added an athletic guard who can get to the rim and someone who is also a good 3-point shooter," said Jerry Colangelo, USA Basketball chairman. "Both of those skills will be invaluable in helping prepare out National Team for this summer."
Holiday, the 17th overall pick in the 2009 NBA Draft by Philadelphia, started for the 76ers in all 65 games in 2011-12 and averaged 13.5 points, 3.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.6 steals. He shot 43.2 percent from the field, 38.0 percent from 3-point range and 78.3 percent from the foul line. In Philadelphia's 13 NBA playoff games in 2012, he averaged 15.8 points, 4.7 rebounds and 5.2 assists while hitting 40.8 percent of his 3-point tries.
Holiday has two previous USA Basketball experiences. He was a member of the USA Junior National Select Team that rolled to a 98-78 win at the 2008 Nike Hoop Summit. Holiday registered 22 minutes as a starter in the game and finished with 13 points and five assists. One year earlier he was selected for the 2007 USA Basketball Youth Development Festival Blue Team that captured the silver medal.
Serving as co-head coaches of the USA Select Team are 2010 USA Basketball World Championship assistant coach Jay Triano and longtime Syracuse University assistant coach Mike Hopkins.
UCLA's men's basketball player Larry Hollyfield, who lettered on three John Wooden NCAA Championship teams (1971-73), and Bruin men's track & field jumper George Henry Brown, Jr., a member of the 1952 U. S. Olympic team, are among the inductees into the Compton Community College Athletic Hall of Fame on Saturday, May 26. The event will be held at the Lakewood Country Club beginning with a 5 p.m. reception and silent auction. The dinner and program follow at 6:30.
Hollyfield attended Compton College in 1969-70 before transferring to UCLA the following season. As a three-year letterman and 6-4 senior starting guard in 1972-73, Hollyfield helped lead the Bruins to three consecutive national championships and an overall three-year record of 89-1, including unbeaten 30-0 seasons in 1972 and 1973. During his Bruin career, he appeared in 71 games and averaged 7.9 points and 2.7 rebounds. In the 1973 NBA Draft, he was a seventh round selection by the Portland Trailblazers.
Brown attended Compton College prior to enrolling at UCLA in 1951. As a Bruin under head coach Elvin C. 'Ducky' Drake, Brown was the NCAA long jump (broad jump) champion in 1951 and 1952 and the USA Track & field long jump champion for three consecutive years (1951-53). Brown's Bruin best 26-3 Â¼ (1952) is No. 4 on the UCLA all-time long jump list, and he was a 2007 inductee into the UCLA Athletics Hall of Fame.
The puns on press row wouldn't stop as the UCLA stats team served notice that twin sophomore forwards David and Travis Wear were both going to finish with double figures in points and rebounds in a 64-54 Pac-12 victory over crosstown rival USC on Wednesday night at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
Bruins fans can pick their own fun name - whether it's a "twin double-double" or "double-double, double-double" but it was clear both Wear brothers wanted to atone after not playing their best in a loss to Cal last week.
David tallied his second career double-double (16 points, 13 rebounds) after having just one rebound against the Bears. Travis notched his first career double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
"I was hard on myself with how I played," David said. "I used it as motivation coming into Monday and Tuesday practices. I knew the only way I could turn it around is to play harder and come with a different mindset."
UCLA (15-11, 8-6) enjoyed another strong performance from senior guard Jerime Anderson, who finished with 14 points, five assists and five rebounds.
"He played good defense tonight," Coach Ben Howland said. "He did a good job leading tonight. He was positive, talking, talking to teammates in the timeouts. He was exceptional, and I was happy to see him go out with a sweep over our crosstown rival."
UCLA never trailed against the Trojans (6-21, 1-13), who are in last place in the conference, and led by as many as 23 in the second half. But Howland gave a lot of credit to the USC players and coaching staff for making the game competitive down the stretch. But UCLA made sure to give its home crowd, which featured a large presence from the student body, something to celebrate.
"It means a lot to get the sweep - that's what means the most to me," Anderson said. "I can't ask for anything more."
It was just one basket in California's 73-63 Pac-12 Conference victory over UCLA on Saturday afternoon at the Los Angeles Sports Arena but a quick up-and-down pair of possessions but it served as a microcosm for UCLA's tumultuous season.
Trailing big, trying to make something happen, UCLA guard Tyler Lamb pressed and missed a layup. As quick as his miss, California pushed the other way, only this time Allen Crabbe made his layup.
It was just one missed layup - the Bruins actually missed 12 total for the game - but it was a clear example of the Bruins coming up short in crucial moments.
"Disappointing, obviously," UCLA senior Jerime Anderson said. "We saw where we could have been and where we're at now."
UCLA (14-11, 7-6) is now at the point of no return in its season. Win the Pac-12 Conference tournament or don't reach the NCAA Tournament for the third time in Coach Ben Howland's nine years in Westwood.
The Bruins finished with a season-low seven assists, finishing with none in the first half. Bruins players pointed to those missed layups less than anything specific Cal did on defense.
"It was just a tough night," said David Wear, who finished with 10 points on 4 of 13 shooting and just one rebound. "Missed a lot of chippy shots around the hoop we normally make and we should make."
Wear took fault with his play afterward, calling it, "unacceptable to only have one rebound."
Cal (20-6, 10-3) used the pick-and-roll on offense and secured a 36-31 rebounding advantage to build a lead that grew to as large as 17 in the second half. Sophomore guard Justin Cobbs, who played high school basketball in Torrance, had a game-high 18 points and five assists.
Cobbs, Crabbe and senior Jorge Gutierrez all scored in double figures. Crabbe had 14 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Gutierrez finished with 13 points, five rebounds and four assists.
Lazeric Jones and Anderson led the Bruins with 16 points each. Josh Smith had 10 points and nine rebounds in a season-high 29 minutes.
Anderson spearheaded UCLA's best run of the second half, scoring nine of his points during a critical 12-2 run that cut the Bears lead to seven points. But the Bruins couldn't get closer.
"We had some turnovers at the end, they capitalized on them," Jones said. "That was pretty much it."
Senior guards Jerime Anderson and Lazeric Jones denied any bad blood with Stanford, which means the Bruins 72-61 Pac-12 victory on Thursday night over the visiting Cardinal at the Los Angeles Sports Arena showed the level of toughness the Bruins will need to finish the rest of the season on an upswing.
UCLA (14-10, 7-5) took over sole possession of sixth place in the conference while Stanford (16-8, 6-6) lost for the fifth time in its past six games. And the Bruins accomplished their 10th consecutive home victory by showing some real grit and determination.
"Lot of poise tonight," said Anderson, who finished with 12 points, six assists and three turnovers. "We grew from this game. They hit us with a lot of punches and we hit them back. Teams are not going to fold - ever. We need to take those hits and keep rolling and keep playing."
Anderson and Jones continued to thrive together as the pair helped UCLA pick up a season-high 15 steals. Jones finished with a game-high 21 points and six steals.
"We were upset we got that loss up there (at Stanford)," Jones said. "These two games (Stanford and Saturday's game against first-place California), we feel like they're in reach for us."
Coach Ben Howland called UCLA a "much improved team from when we played (Stanford) in late December," and said he was "proud of our poise.
"We held on and fought."
The Bruins had to overcome foul trouble for sophomore center Josh Smith, who finished with seven points and seven rebounds in 24 minutes. Howland touted the defensive play of Anthony Stover, who had four rebounds and three blocks in 15 minutes. Travis Wear, who missed the win at Washington State with a sprained ankle, came off the bench and added 13 points, five rebounds and three blocks. UCLA finished with 11 blocks.
"Yesterday was my first full day of practice so I didn't really transition (back into playing mode) at all," Wear said. "It's swollen but the pain is not that bad. It's definitely affecting my lift. There's just so much tape, it's like a cast on my leg and limiting my mobility a little bit."
Chasson Randle scored 16 points to lead Stanford but he also led his team with five of its 22 turnovers.
One of Stanford's turnovers set off what might be UCLA's play of the season. Anderson tipped the ball away from Stanford and Jones raced toward the sideline to grab the loose ball. Beating a Stanford player and avoiding going out of bounds, he threw a brilliant behind-the-back pass ahead to Anderson, who finished it off with a pleasing dunk to the roar of the excited UCLA crowd.
"That whole play happened because of Jerime," Jones said. "He tapped the ball loose and he was working so hard so you've got to reward him for it. I don't think I've ever made that pass before."
UCLA fans hope it's not his last of the season either.
There are college basketball junkies, and then there's Jeff Eisenberg. The Yahoo! Sports blogger covers all of college basketball for The Dagger. The former Riverside Press-Enterprise reporter and UCLA (class of 2005) alum took some time out of his busy schedule to talk about UCLA, the Pac-12 and what he thinks about the Bruins' season.
UCLA: So let's start with the obvious - What are your general thoughts on UCLA this season?
Jeff: Well, I think now that it's February, we have a pretty clear picture of what UCLA is: A middle-of-the-pack team in one of the worst seasons for the Pac-12 in recent memory. I think the expectation that UCLA could contend for the league title entering the season was based on Reeves Nelson having an all-conference season like last year and Joshua Smith continuing to make progress. Since Nelson is no longer on the roster and Smith has been erratic, the pressure has fallen on a backcourt that lost Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee a year earlier than expected. The result is a decent team but not one that can compete at the level where UCLA is accustomed.
UCLA: With two seniors, Lazeric Jones and Jerime Anderson, why isn't the backcourt more effective? Is there just too much pressure on them to perform, especially since Tyler Lamb and Travis and David Wear are all sophomores that didn't play much (or at all in the case of the Wear twins) last season?
Jeff: I actually think those guys have done a nice job this season given their talent limitations. Lazeric has been pressed into the role of go-to backcourt scorer, and he's performed well for the most part, averaging 13.3 points per game and raising his field goal percentage and 3-point percentage from last season. And while Jerime Anderson will never be what many hoped when he was a top recruit out of high school, he's turned into a dependable role player. The problem is UCLA has missed on some recruits in recent years, so the backcourt lacks the talent that Ben Howland has had during his best seasons.
UCLA: UCLA has suffered some real tough losses on the road. Stanford, Oregon and last week's meltdown in Seattle against Washington were all brutal losses. Should Bruin fans have hope they can figure this out and make a run in the Pac-12 Conference tournament -- or do you see these losses as more of an indictment on the team?
Jeff: The Pac-12 as a whole is so watered-down this season that I do think a run in the conference tournament is hardly out of the question. UCLA out-played Washington and Oregon for most of their games on the road before collapsing late, which, while disappointing, also shows that the Bruins are capable of beating anyone in the league. The key for UCLA will be to rally in the final seven games of Pac-12 play in order to finish in the top four in the league and secure a bye in the opening round of the conference tournament. It will make it a heck of a lot less daunting for UCLA if it only has to win three games in three days rather than four in four.
UCLA: Totally agree - the Pac-12 is interesting this year because it really lacks a dominant team, which should make the conference tournament an exciting one for fans of every team. You watch a lot of college basketball so I feel like you would have as good a feel for this as anybody outside the selection committee - how many Pac-12 teams do you expect to make the NCAA Tournament?
Jeff: I've predicted two would make it since the end of non-league play, and I'll stick to that here. The conference collectively has a 7-40 record in non-league games against teams in the top 100 of the RPI, which is just staggeringly bad, to be honest. Nonetheless, both Washington and Cal look like NCAA tournament-caliber teams to me in spite of their lack of non-league achievements. I expect Washington to win at least 14 conference games and Cal to win at least 13, which is probably just enough for both to eke out an NCAA bid regardless of what they do in the Pac-12 tournament.
UCLA: Wow. I've suggested that if UCLA wins seven of its last eight games and gets to 20-11, it could get an at-large bid. Is that an unrealistic expectation?
Jeff: Maybe UCLA has the slimmest of hopes if it wins seven of eight and then loses in the Pac-12 title game, but realistically, I just don't see it happening. The Bruins lost to every decent team they faced in non-league play, and the Pac-12 isn't strong enough this season to give them opportunities to make up for it. They have an RPI of 112 right now, which is nowhere near good enough. Ben Howland himself conceded last month that the Bruins' only path to the NCAA tournament is by winning the Pac-12 tournament. While gathering momentum in February and getting a higher seed is certainly important, I think he's right that UCLA's season will come down to three days in March.
UCLA: Do you see any specific thing the Bruins need - say more big games from Josh Smith - to make this sort of run a reality?
Jeff: The biggest thing UCLA needs is consistent play from Josh Smith. If he can stay out of foul trouble and score in the low post the way he did this past weekend against the Washington schools, that gives UCLA the best low-post threat in the league, it forces opposing teams to send double teams, and it frees up shooters for open looks. Besides that, I'd also like to see UCLA not be so reticent to go to a zone defense. Granted, Ben Howland wants this to be a man-to-man program in the long run, but the personnel on this team is better suited to zone. We saw further evidence of that Saturday when UCLA turned around the game at Washington State by playing zone for the final 15 minutes.
UCLA: And how do you feel about the Wear twins' progress this season?
Jeff: While I don't think the Wear twins will ever become stars in the Pac-12, they've actually progressed better than I expected this season. They both consistently play hard, they seem to be good teammates, and they can score in multiple different ways. Defensively, I think both have a ways to go, which is one of the reasons I think a zone is a better fit for this UCLA team than man-to-man. I also wonder if the fact that they both have such similar games is a disadvantage for UCLA since they're so duplicitous when on the floor together.
UCLA: So covering college basketball on a national level means you not only have to give that sort of analysis on the Bruins but about 300 other teams! How do you keep on top of not just one team or even one conference but the entire country?
Jeff: It's a challenge, but it's a lot of fun. I look for stories by talking to players and coaches across the country, by watching as many games as I can, and by reading stories written by the beat writers who follow the teams they cover closer than I can. What's great about my job is that with 300-plus Division I teams, there's always something fun to write about. That isn't always the case when you're a beat writer limited to covering one team of 12 players year-round.
UCLA: Well, it sounds like a lot of fun - especially if you like reporting and watching basketball! Any final thoughts on this college basketball season so far and what you expect from March Madness this year?
Jeff: I expect another wide-open NCAA tournament with plenty of surprises, which is hardly going out on a limb after seeing George Mason, Butler and VCU all make Final Four runs in the past six years. My pre-bracket Final Four is Kentucky, Ohio State, North Carolina and Florida. I'm sure that will look silly a month from now (or maybe a week from now), but I'll own it either way.
UCLA: Sounds like it's going to be a lot of fun for college basketball fans - as usual. Thanks so much for your time!
Read Jeff's work at The Dagger and let us know what you think about his opinion of UCLA and the Pac-12 in the comments below.
Even from television (where I watched), you could see the frustration on the faces of UCLA players. It was most apparent in the exasperated look of Joshua Smith.
I'm sure the sophomore who attended nearby Kentwood High wanted to win in front of family and friends - and he sure tried to make it happen with a career high 24 points to go with nine rebounds. Instead, he couldn't wrap his hands around the ball to attempt one last shot to try and force overtime after Norman Powell missed a baseline jump shot in the closing seconds .
It was a devastating loss. The Bruins took a double-digit lead before crumbling down the stretch. Travis Wear sprained his ankle and the starting forward isn't expected to play today at Washington State. Peter Yoon at ESPN.com specifically said the Bruins won't win the Pac-12 regular season championship after the loss.
It's a tough pill to swallow for Coach Ben Howland, his team and the fan base. One of the most challenging but rewarding things about UCLA is the expectation levels are sky-high. Not winning the conference is a letdown.
That doesn't mean this season can't be recovered, but it's definitely on red alert. The Bruins (12-10, 5-5) have nine games left and likely need to finish no worse than 8-2 to still have a shot at an at-large NCAA Tournament bid. That won't be easy with trips to Arizona, Arizona State and St. John's still on the schedule. The Bruins will also need to win at home against rival USC and NorCal rivals Cal and Stanford.
At the very least, UCLA should feel confident today in its trip to Beasley Coliseum in Pullman, Wash. The Bruins have won 18 consecutive games in the building, dating back to Feb. 6, 1993. I was still in high school - UCLA freshman Norman Powell wasn't born yet - and Ben Howland was still an assistant coach.
If UCLA wants to recover its season, it's got a long road in front of it, and it starts today.
The game will air on ROOT Sports Northwest. That channel is available on the DirecTV Sports Package (Channel 687) and DISH Network (Channel 426).
In addition, the game will air on Fox College Sports Pacific, available on the DirecTV Sports Package and the sports tiers of several cable companies, including Time Warner and Comcast. Check your local listings for the station in your area. FCS Pacific will also replay the game on Sat, 2/4 at 11:00 p.m. PT; Sun, 2/5 at 11:00 a.m. PT; and Mon, 2/6 at 8:00 a.m. PT.
UCLA's impressive 77-60 Pac-12 Conference victory over Colorado on Saturday afternoon at the Los Angeles Sports Arena sets the sort of example that makes parents proud.
The Bruins tallied a season-high 26 assists, which helped lead to their most dominant performance of the season. Senior guards Lazeric Jones and Jerime Anderson led the way again for UCLA (12-9, 5-4) as Jones finished with a game-high 17 points and nine assists. Anderson added eight points and eight assists.
"I thought we were patient," Jones said. "We made good decisions. Coach has really been focusing in practice on pushing it and making good decisions. We were aggressive penetrating but also knew when to push it and when to pull it out (and find open shooters)."
It wasn't just the senior guards who made an impact. Sophomore Tyler Lamb was lauded by Coach Ben Howland for having "one of his best games as a Bruin," after he finished with 13 points, six assists and three steals. Freshman Norman Powell added six points, including a 3-pointer to end the first half and give UCLA a 40-36 lead.
Howland touted Lamb's defensive performance against Colorado's leading scorer Carlon Brown, who was held to six points on 2-of-7 shooting and three turnovers. Lamb and Brown have known each other since middle school, even playing on the same AAU team, and Lamb said Howland challenged him before the game to slow him down.
"Lamb played great defense today on Brown," Howland said. "Tremendous, awesome job today. He really, really took the challenge on (against Brown)."
It wasn't just Lamb who accepted the challenge against Colorado (14-7, 6-3), which has been an impressive addition to the Pac-12 basketball ranks.
The front court played well too. Travis Wear finished with 14 points and seven rebounds while his twin brother, David Wear, had 11 points and three rebounds. Josh Smith added eight points, including one of the more bizarre plays of the season. Smith excited the crowd with a forceful two-handed slam but landed on the basketball and fell to the ground. Smith didn't suffer a serious injury, but it looked strange and potentially unlucky.
Even sophomore center Anthony Stover, who played just three minutes, made an impact. He had two blocks, including a crowd-pleasing rejection that drew a standing ovation. As Stover came out of the game soon after the block, he turned and nodded to the pleased UCLA crowd before taking a seat on the bench.
At every angle, it was as complete a victory as UCLA has delivered this season.
"This was real important for us," Howland said. Great team effort - we worked so hard in practice this week. They earned (it)."
Now, UCLA needs to apply that same formula to earn more conference road victories.
UCLA guard Jerime Anderson isn't looking at a sense of urgency as a senior moment. Nobody could blame him if he did - especially after the Bruins lost at Oregon State and Oregon last week.
Instead, the senior point guard took exception to the idea that he should be looking at the clock to his college career after UCLA's blowout victory over visiting Utah, 76-49, on Thursday night at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. The win was Coach Ben Howland's 200th victory at UCLA.
"I guess as a senior I don't have very much time left, but that's not how I'm looking at it," said Anderson, who had 13 points, three assists and three steals. "My sense of urgency is I want my team to win games. We need to get back into the race of trying to win the Pac-12. There's a lot time left. When my year is over, my year will be over. Until then, I am going to practice as hard as I can and I am going to play as hard as I can. Whether I'm a senior or a freshman, it should be the same for every player on the team."
Anderson answered the question with a bit of an edge. He didn't snarl or yell, but it was apparent he wasn't counting UCLA (11-9, 4-4) out of anything just yet. And his declaration came shortly after Howland praised his effort against the Utes (5-15, 2-6).
"Very efficient, solid defense," Howland said. "Jerime had one of his best games as a Bruin tonight."
Anderson was one of four Bruins to score in double figures, joined by Josh Smith, who scored a game-high 14 points, David Wear (13 points) and Tyler Lamb (10 points).
And there were plenty of highlights from the blowout win:
* The Bruins (11-9, 4-4) shot a blistering 58.7
percent from the field, including a light's out 73.7 percent after halftime.
* UCLA stacked a 14-4 run over final 6:35 of
the first half into a dominating 42-17 run during a stretch that lasted 18:05.
*UCLA outrebounded Utah, 34-23.
* UCLA made 9 of 16 3-pointers and held Utah to just 5-for-16 after it made its first three 3-pointers of the game.
"It was a real confidence booster for us," Wear said. "We had two really good days of practice and coming out and doing what we did in practice with high intensity for 40 minutes and not having any letdowns (was needed)."
Anderson said the Bruins can't suffer letdowns, such as the second half against Oregon, again.
"We have to refuse to let it happen the rest of the year," Anderson said. "We have a lead like that and should be able to keep it."
UCLA started the season as the favorite in the Pac-12 Conference men's basketball race and looks busy reminding everyone why - especially USC.
The Bruins crushed their neighbors, 66-47, on Sunday night at Galen Center. It was their third win in a row and pushed the Trojans (5-13, 0-5) to their sixth loss in a row.
Coach Ben Howland pointed to his teams' efforts in practice to improve their offensive execution and called a 44-19 rebounding advantage, "awesome."
"It's been our main focus since the Cal game - get better on the offensive end, which takes the pressure off of us," Howland said. "This is big for us to get a true road win and to beat our USC rivals. Both of those are big for us - no question."
UCLA took over during the first half, turning a 9-9 tie into a 37-19 halftime lead, using runs of 14-1 and 11-0 to take over.
"Being here and playing against those guys, once we started clicking, rebounds and pushing the ball one after another we were able to get the lead up to 15-16 points," David Wear said.
USC coach Kevin O'Neill called the Bruins a team that's "ever-improving," which should have Bruins fans beaming with excitement. Twins David and Travis Wear combined for 32 points and 15 rebounds, which shows their continued progression as players. And senior Lazeric Jones continued to grow comfortable with his move to the wing, adding 15 points and five assists.
"Right now we've found our niche a little bit," said Travis, who had a game high 19 points and eight rebounds. "We just need to expand on this and keep improving."
Now, the Bruins need to ride this momentum on its upcoming road trip to face Oregon and Oregon State and stay near the top of the conference standings.
Sometimes guys can be tough on each other - especially good friends.
Going bald? You've probably already heard it from your oldest friends. Wearing an ugly shirt is a sure-fire way to be on the receiving end of some trash talk from buddies. But Tyler Lamb was quick to deny giving teammate Josh Smith a hard time about putting on some extra weight during this past offseason.
"No, no, no, I'm not making Josh mad," Lamb said when asked if he or his teammates called him fat when he returned to campus this fall weighing well over 300 pounds.
Coach Ben Howland and the training staff have been working with Smith, whose improved conditioning during the course of the season has the Bruins believing he can continue to progress and cause problems for the opposition.
"So much attention from defense, the other guys," David Wear said about playing with an effective Smith. "He definitely opens a lot of guys on our team to get the ball in scoring opportunities."
Wear and Smith paired up for one of the most impressive offensive sets in the Bruins 75-58 win over Arizona State when they executed a textbook give-and-go for an easy bucket.
"I saw he was in the post and had his man sealed," Wear said. "I called for (the ball), gave him the ball and acted like I was going to go screen away and cut down the middle. I saw my man go to double and yeah, it was just a wide-open play."
Lamb used the phrase "commands attention" when explaining the impact Smith has on the Bruins offense. If he has that sort of presence for the Bruins on Sunday night, it could be another runaway victory.
"I hope he continues to take off from where he was (against ASU)," Howland said.
- Ben Howland is right - every game is a "must win" now: Howland used this very phrase with reporters earlier this week. He knows the Bruins need to win the Pac-12 Conference to assure a spot in the NCAA Tournament and now it's crunch time. They've passed the halfway point on the regular season and the Pac-12 won't be overloaded with at-large bids. Beating a 5-12 USC team that is winless in its first four Pac-12 games is most definitely a must-win.
- Keep going inside - early and often: Lazeric Jones might be the Bruins leading scorer and most dangerous offensive player - it's why Howland's decision to play him more on the wing is such a good one. But that doesn't mean UCLA shouldn't make Travis and David Wear and Josh Smith the focal points of the offense. Wear teams down and pound them with the size advantage. It should open things up for Jones and the rest of the perimeter players, which leads to our last statement.
- UCLA needs to make more 3-pointers to keep winning: The Bruins are averaging .345 as a team from behind the arc, good for 10th in the Pac-12, which isn't so good. The Bruins need to make more, preferably at a 40 percent clip, to keep winning.
This isn't just an exciting weekend for UCLA and USC fans - it's the sort of sports weekend that affects work production and has fans salivating all week.
Football fans are stoked with the NFL playoffs while the pro version of the LA championship happens Saturday night with the Lakers and Clippers facing off in Staples Center.
And there's a full slate of college basketball - with UCLA's trip to Galen Center to face crosstown foe USC wrapping up the weekend.
It comes for the Bruins after a sweep of the Arizona schools last week at Honda Center and a week of rest and practice.
"It's good from my standpoint," Coach Ben Howland said about the Pac-12 schedule that has UCLA taking the week off before playing USC. "It's an important week of practice. It's the last time we'll have four or five practices in a row before a game. We've got to utilize this."
Sophomore guard Tyler Lamb said playing in the crosstown rivalry was one of the reasons he wanted to attend UCLA and said he knew it wasn't just a big deal for the team, but for alumni too. Forward David Wear said he's fielded a few questions from his classmates too.
"A couple people were asking me what time it was at and are excited because it's USC," Wear said. "They wanted to go out and watch it."
For sports fans, it's just a fantastic finish to what is shaping up to be a fun weekend of viewing and cheering.
UCLA men's basketball coach Ben Howland isn't always given his due when it comes to his sense of humor. The intense, focused coach let loose a little bit during his weekly press conference in Westwood leading into Sunday's rivalry game at USC.
When a question came up about who the team's best dunker is - and if he cared - it lead to a room full of smiles after somebody asked him about his dunking prowess as a player.
"I was a 'use-the-backboard, fundamentally-sound, off-the-backboard, layup guy," Howland said before smiling and answering if it was by necessity or choice that he used his fundamentals instead of athleticism. "Both.
"I was also a tight shorts, tight short shorts guy. It's funny you go back and see the old games, just funny. There's so much material now on these shorts, you're just used to it now."
Associated Press sports reporter Beth Harris poked at Howland, mentioning that he's referenced that's how he attracted his wife Kim, which caused a room full of straight-faced reporters to chuckle.
And for the record, Howland agreed that freshman Norman Powell is the team's best dunker.
Bruin fans could get used to that sort of game.
UCLA capped a stellar week in Orange County with a 75-58 Pac-12 Conference victory over Arizona State at Honda Center on Saturday night.
And it started in the post, where sophomore Joshua Smith did his best to make up for missing Thursday night's win over Arizona due to a concussion. The 6-foot-10 center had his best performance of the season with 18 points and four rebounds in 21 minutes. Coach Ben Howland pointed out that Smith not only looked for his shots, he attacked the basket.
"He opens up everything for us," said senior guard Lazeric Jones about Smith. "There are a lot of cuts to the basket, wide open jump shots. Josh is a force, and teams have to help down on him or he can make them pay for it if they're playing him 1-on-1. And Josh is a good passer too, so for him to be aggressive can really help us."
He was accompanied by Travis and David Wear, who both followed up great games on Thursday night with another solid showing. Travis had 16 points and seven rebounds, five on the offensive glass. David had eight points and nine rebounds.
It wasn't just the post players who stood out. Jones and Jerime Anderson continued to give the Bruins (9-7, 2-2) multiple attack points. Jones had eight points, 10 assists and two steals, while Anderson had seven points, four assists and four steals. Tyler Lamb and Norman Powell both added nine points each as well. Powell and Smith paired for all 27 bench points for the Bruins, which only gave up six to the short-handed Sun Devils (5-10, 1-2), who suspended three players for their trip to Southern California and were limited to six scholarship players.
"Our players seized the opportunity," Howland said. "We had a great weekend. It was a positive step."
UCLA hasn't had the season it anticipated, just two games above .500, but it's an interesting time for the team, which is still in the thick of the Pac-12 race. Players and Howland both pointed to three strong practices early in the week that led to a pair of victories. Now, they'll rest for two days before having a full week of practice before playing rival USC at the Galen Center on Sunday, Jan. 15.
"I'm glad we've got a week off," Howland said. "They're starting school (again). We need this time.
"These practices will be real big in the weeks to come (for us)."
The Bruins need to turn those practices into more performances like their wins over Arizona and ASU to prove their coach right.
Branding partnerships are tricky - but when done well, it's as comfortable as a favorite T-shirt.
UCLA, John Wooden and The Original Retro Brand, a popular apparel company that takes pop culture graphics and couples them with super soft, nice-fitting T-shirts, announced its exclusive UCLA John Wooden collection earlier this week to coincide with the Wooden Classic on Thursday night at Honda Center pitting Pac-12 Conference foes UCLA against Arizona.
UCLA t-shirts touting Wooden's 10 national championships and the phrase "What Would Wooden Do?" are included in the collection. The brand already has cache with the student body, as it worked with the UCLA student section, "The Den," to create its official T-shirt for this season.
The coupling is so snug, the Wooden family worked with the company, which will donate proceeds from the collection to support the "Nell and John R. Wooden Scholarship Fund," which is awarded to a deserving UCLA undergraduate student each year.
"Coach Wooden's passion, work ethic and dedication to being a mentor to his players will never be forgotten and is a perfect fit for our brand," said Marc Herman, owner of The Original Retro Brand.
Branding is a tricky thing - especially for a program like UCLA - which currently partners with adidas to create its official apparel and team uniforms. In today's world of chrome and matte green helmets, it's more important than ever UCLA works with adidas closely to create the present and future look for Bruins fans, players and staff.
But pairing the iconic history of the UCLA basketball program, John Wooden, with a popular and trendy apparel line allows UCLA to honor its past without forgetting its focus is still on the future.
Any UCLA fans who haven't had a chance to see the Bruins during their OC portion of the Bruin Road Show should definitely make the trip for Saturday's 7:30 p.m. tip-off for the Pac-12 Conference game against Arizona State at Honda Center.
It's a great venue to watch basketball - one of the great mysteries in pro sports is how an NBA team has never moved here full-time - and the Bruins played well in their win over Arizona on Thursday night, so it should be an interesting game as the Bruins try to get back to .500 in conference play.
UCLA basketball fans got a chance to meet new UCLA football coach Jim Mora at halftime of the Arizona game. Mora told Bruin fans he wants to make them feel proud to be wearing UCLA apparel and even led the crowd in the traditional 8-clap cheer.
After Mora left the court, he ran into Arizona coach Sean Miller, who was headed back out to the court with his team, but stopped to shake Mora's hand and offer him congratulations on the new gig.
Lamb Looking More Like a Lion
UCLA sophomore guard Tyler Lamb is quickly becoming one of the more exciting players to watch on the Bruins. He might not be getting the attention seniors Lazeric Jones and Jerime Anderson get as primary ball handlers, but Coach Ben Howland pointed out Lamb's defense against Arizona's Eric Fogg and in previous games. Lamb is the Bruins' best perimeter defender, which is a point Howland makes on a regular occasion to the media. If he can improve his 3-point shooting, which is just over 30 percent this season, Lamb will quickly be more than a defensive standout for the Bruins.
Jones Moves To Wing
Lazeric Jones has become such an an effective scorer for the Bruins, they've moved him to the wing and used Jerime Anderson as the ball-handler. It's something we discussed in a previous post and it was an effective way to use the pair of point guards against Arizona. But that doesn't mean Jones isn't still getting used to the change.
"I've never played off the ball in my life," Jones said. "It's a lot different.
"I'm trying to get used to it. If it helps us get wins, I'll do whatever the coach tells me to do."
High expectations have followed David and Travis Wear throughout their basketball careers, and while UCLA coach Ben Howland has exercised patience with the twins so far, that time might be coming to an end.
After the pair bludgeoned Arizona and led the Bruins to their first Pac-12 Conference victory, 65-58, on Thursday night at Honda Center, Howland set their best performance of the season as a baseline level of expectation, noting he'd like to see "more rebounds hopefully, less foul trouble."
It was about all he could ask after Travis finished with a career-high 20 points, as well as five rebounds and three blocks, and David had 14 points and five rebounds. The pair did it without center Josh Smith, who sat out with a concussion suffered in practice Wednesday.
"We need our bigs to score down low," said senior guard Lazeric Jones, who added 13 points, five rebounds, four assists and three steals. "Games like this, when my jump shot is not falling, it didn't make a lot of difference for us because they were banging down low.
"We need them to do that."
It's clear from the rotation and performance on the court that UCLA's success this season will be placed in the hands of the Wear twins. If UCLA is going to rebound in the second half of the season and make a run at the conference title and an NCAA Tournament bid, their continued growth is a must.
"They do not have very much (college game) experience," Howland said. "They didn't play much as freshmen (and sat out last season due to transfer rules). They have game experience like (true freshman) Norman (Powell), even though they are older."
They didn't look inexperienced against Arizona, battling for position down low and leaving a strong impression on Arizona. Coach Sean Miller said they "were very good getting the ball inside," and forward Solomon Hill said their "length is a big part of their success."
"That was a big emphasis the last couple days in practice, making sure everything was going toward the hoop and no fadeaways or shying away from contact," David Wear said. "It was unfortunate that we both got in foul trouble, so we couldn't be as aggressive as we would have liked to be. But still we came and set the tone early that we were going to play hard, play aggressive and hold it down low."
Howland said the pair practiced well, and it was important for them to see that translate to a game. Now, they'll just need to keep performing at that high level - with a lot more rebounding and a few fewer fouls.
UCLA should know where it stands and what it needs to do after opening the season in the San Francisco Bay Area against Stanford and California.
The Bruins had their chances to open the Pac-12 Conference with a win - plenty of them. ESPN.com blogger Peter Yoon counted eight opportunities - to be exact - for the Bruins to take the lead in the second half at Stanford. The Bruins didn't score once and never took the lead in the 60-59 loss.
"It was a disappointing finish," Coach Ben Howland told reporters after the loss. "We fought back hard and put ourselves into a position with the ball to be able to take the open shot, but we just missed it."
Cal (11-3, 1-0 Pac-12) won't be any easier of an assignment. Coach Mike Montgomery has three explosive guards leading the way. Southern California natives and sophomores Allen Crabbe (15.6 points per game) and Justin Cobbs (12.4 ppg) have been tremendous, along with senior Jorge Gutierrez (13.7 ppg) in giving the Bears a strong start to the season.
There are still a few more questions before 2012.
- Can the Bruins find more consistency as a unit on offense? Lazeric Jones has been consistent all season but that's it. Travis Wear and Josh Smith haven't been able to maintain consistency and freshman Norman Powell is averaging fewer than 17 minutes so it won't be easy for him to emerge as a consistent scoring threat.
- Should Jerime Anderson run more of the offense so Jones has more scoring opportunities? Jones is the starting point guard but Anderson is completely capable and often involved in driving the Bruins' offense. It could benefit the Bruins offense to offer Jones more "shooting guard" opportunities. Anderson also has 14 fewer turnovers this season than Jones.
- What tricks does Coach Ben Howland have up his sleeve? This is a Bruins team that will need some TLC from its head coach and ultimately, a few strategic maneuvers that make up for the team's inconsistencies we've seen so far this season. It will be interesting to see what Howland can do to help this team battle for the conference title - and in the short term, beat Cal.
UCLA had its chances in its Pac-12 Conference opener at Stanford. Instead, the Bruins failed to take the lead once in the second half, despite numerous opportunities to do so.
It ended when senior point guard Lazeric Jones was blocked on UCLA's last possession, and the Cardinal held onto a 60-59 win.
We've been asking questions all season - but with the Pac-12 underway, we'll share some theories on what the Bruins will need moving forward.
should spend most of its time in a 2-3 zone defense.
Coach Ben Howland couldn't like what
he saw early, when Stanford used a 15-2 run against the Bruins' man-to-man
defense to take an early lead it wouldn't relinquish.
should use its hot-hand as a decoy late in the game.
Last night, the Bruins couldn't run a clean offensive set with the game on the
line because the Cardinal played great defense - and because the Bruins were so
obvious. Nobody doubted for a minute that Jones would get the ball, and sure enough,
Stanford was all over him and blocked his final attempt. UCLA is at its best
when it has multiple scorers, which means that's how the Bruins should approach
their most important possessions.
* David and Travis Wear need to make an impact every game for the Bruins to win the Pac-12. A combined 2-for-9 shooting performance isn't going to cut it. David did have a team-high eight rebounds but Stanford outrebounded UCLA, 38-34, overall. If the Wear twins can make sure they're scoring and rebounding every game, the Bruins will look back on this loss to Stanford as an important part of their maturation process.
There were times one might think UCLA basketball coach Ben Howland thought zone was a four-letter word.
Not on Friday night.
Howland had his team rely mostly on a zone defense that steered them to an impressive 71-63 victory over visiting Richmond on Friday night at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. The zone helped UCLA slow down a Richmond offense that made six of its first eight shots but only 18 of 54 for the game.
"We wouldn't have won the game without playing zone," Howland said afterward. "It's been good for us in the times we have to go to it. I'd rather play man, but the zone (worked)."
The zone defense not only helped UCLA defend, it helped them rebound too as the Bruins (7-5) finished with a dominant 42-30 advantage on the glass. On the offensive side, Howland said the team's motion offense made an impact, particularly in the second half when the Bruins shot nearly 62 percent from the field. Five Bruins scored in double figures for the second straight game and third time this season.
Senior guards Lazeric Jones and Jerime Anderson both had big games. Jones scored a team-high 16 points and finished with a career-high six rebounds. Anderson finished with 13 points, a career-high seven rebounds and six assists.
"I was able to pick my spots and attack aggressively," Anderson said. "We were able to get better shots as our motion offense gave us good looks against their matchup zone."
Anderson's dribble penetration opened things up for the Bruins big men, particularly Travis Wear, who scored 14 points. Joshua Smith added 11 points and five rebounds. David Wear had 12 points and seven rebounds, and Howland touted this as the twins' best game yet. Both looked more physical, particularly Travis, who scored 10 points in the last 5:03 to help put the Spiders (7-6) away.
"Post guys do a lot of their work down low, and I need to get used to that," Travis Wear said. "I need to work on sealing and being more physical every day."
Using more zone defense, moving to a three-guard lineup, the growth of twins David and Travis Wear and the dismissal of Reeves Nelson are all critical developments to this season. Friday's win over the defending Atlantic 10 champions required UCLA to show progress on the court. Richmond's Darien Brothers scored a game-high 25 points, making five 3-pointers and providing an example of why Howland recognized the value of beating a well-respected Richmond team that plays tough defense and runs the Princeton offense as well as any team in the country.
"That was a very important win against a good team," Howland said. "They're well-coached and hard to play against. Their style of play and strategies, you don't see that often."
It's particularly important as UCLA takes some time off for the Christmas holiday and returns to action on December 29 when it opens Pac-12 play at Stanford.
"We were definitely in a tough spot," Anderson said about the team's 2-5 start. "It was an adverse situation or the whole team.
"The difficulty and adversity helped us get stronger - we came together. Now we're really clicking out there."
Tonight's game against Richmond probably won't be an especially memorable one for the UCLA men's basketball team. Barring an abnormally exciting game, it's just a final nonconference tune-up tonight at 7:30 at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
But if the Bruins are able to play well and move forward, it could be seen as the turning point in a season that's been anything but tedious.
UCLA (6-5) can't turn the corner by beating Richmond, but if the preseason Pac-12 favorites do go on to win the conference, this game could be seen as the moment they turned the corner.
Coach Ben Howland told reporters during his pregame teleconference that the Spiders might run the Princeton offense as well as anyone in the country. Now, it's up to the Bruins to show the discipline and determination to shut it down.
There are a few remaining questions before we ring in Pac-12 play and the New Year.
How much better can the Wear twins get - and how fast can it happen?
- David and Travis Wear have both been hampered by injuries, so their progress, while quite impressive, could actually be better. Both are critical to the Bruins' goals this season but have room for improvement, especially on the glass. David is currently averaging six rebounds per game, while Travis averages 5.2 rebounds. Both should strive to be grabbing at least seven per game.
Should UCLA just accept Joshua Smith's conditioning will prevent him from being the dominant force he could be if in better shape?
- It's hard for me to question anybody's conditioning, but until Smith commits to a healthier diet and training regimen that helps him improve his stamina, he won't approach his immense potential. That means his teammates must understand he can't be relied on to be a scoring force. It also means the coaches must prepare accordingly. Give Howland and his staff credit for recognizing it and using a zone defense at times to give Smith (and his teammates) a chance to catch their breath on the defensive side of the court.
Has UCLA figured out what was going on with its perimeter defense earlier this year?
- If the Bruins have officially stopped giving up so many good perimeter looks, it means teams will have a much more difficult time scoring. Credit Tyler Lamb for getting healthy and stepping into the role of defensive stopper. Howland has pointed to him as a defense-first guard but that's not it. Norman Powell is making a great rebounding effort, while both seniors, Jerime Anderson and Lazeric Jones, are playing with urgency.
UCLA entered the season talking about its front court. Reporters and bloggers (including this one) wondered how teams could cope with the Bruins ability to put a massive front line on the floor.
Even after the dismissal of junior forward Reeves Nelson, the front court continues to drive attention. But while teams worry about the Bruins and their size in the post, it is their backcourt making people pay attention.
Freshman Norman Powell and sophomore Tyler Lamb both set career highs in points scored as UCLA defeated visiting UC Irvine, 89-60, on Tuesday night at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
Powell scored a game-high 19 points with seven rebounds, three assists, two steals and two blocks.
"He has so much potential," Lamb said of Powell. "He's learning more and more every day and works very hard"
Lamb finished with 17 points, four steals, three assists and three rebounds.
"Tyler Lamb is really playing well for us," Coach Ben Howland said. "And the stats don't always indicate it because he guards the other team's best player."
It was both shooting guards sharing time with seniors Jerime Anderson and Lazeric Jones, often with three of the four on the court at once, that led the Bruins to a dominant victory and has helped UCLA (6-5) during its four-game win streak.
Jones added 11 points and six assists while Anderson had eight points and five assists. The four helped UCLA finish with 22 assists against seven turnovers.
"Starting three guards helps that," Howland said. "We're getting use to each other and getting some experience. We're a fairly young team."
Howland said the team will continue to use the 3-guard lineup but also said he'll play some zone and go back to three big men lineups when the timing is right. Howland wants to make sure the team can be versatile with its lineup, which means he'll continue to mix and match.
The guards might have gotten most of the attention but the big men also played well. David Wear played well and had 12 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Center Joshua Smith had 12 points and seven rebounds as both helped UCLA outrebound UC Irvine, 40-26.
"I'm pleased with the rebounding and the margin there," Howland said. "I'm just glad we're playing well. Our guys are coming together. We have good chemistry and we're pulling for one another. That's fun. I enjoyed that."
UCLA men's basketball takes their Bruin Road Show to the Honda Center in Orange County today at 4pm to face Pennsylvania. It's the first of four games at the splendid OC venue.
UCLA should get on the horn and see what they need to do to have newly-signed Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim player Albert Pujols make an appearance at one of the Bruin games at Honda Center.
It's been a rough start for the Bruins, so who can blame me if I'm thinking Pujols might help the Bruins snap out of their funk during a 2-5 start?
Of course, Angel fans will have to wait until Opening Day of baseball season to celebrate their new addition. In the meantime, Bruin fans who are travelling to Anaheim shouldn't be faulted if they make a quick stop to Disneyland to find Tinker Bell.
For those who think spinning Tea Cups and slam dunks don't mix, here are a few other ideas of how to enjoy the OC.
* Skip Splash Mountain and head to Downtown Disney, which includes loads of entertainment and shopping. Plus, there's three hours of free parking, so you'll have some fun before watching the Bruins take the court.
* Bring your credit card and patience before braving the holiday crowds at OC shopping mecca South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa (and just off the 405 freeway).
* Not ready to break the bank? Then go hit up the Orange County Market Place and people watch while finding something unusual and cheap to bring back after the game.
If there's one thing we know after this week, the Bruin Road Show is a dramatic series.
Coach Ben Howland now faces the stiff challenge of making sure there's a heart-warming finish.
Howland dismissed Reeves Nelson from the team on Friday, setting up a new challenge for the Bruins (2-5) as the Road Show heads south to Orange County and a home game at Honda Center against visiting Pennsylvania (5-5).
There were several strong reports on this, including Beth Harris of the Associated Press and ESPN.com blogger Diamond Leung. It's hard to not see this break-up as a necessary one. Hopefully Nelson can learn from his difficulties and mature as a person and player from it.
UCLA will definitely miss his toughness and potential on the court, but Howland told reporters he also thought it could be a good opportunity for the team to overcome adversity and come together.
"Honestly, I think it will be a positive for our team, because the distraction of all this has not been a positive for our team," Howland said to media during a teleconference. "The negativity is not a positive for your team. When I suspended him the first time, the two practices we had very that were the best two practices of the year that we've had. Hopefully, this is going to be a unifying thing for our team."
Nelson's dismissal might be the main storyline for this Road Show, but its not the only one. Freshman Norman Powell suffered an allergic reaction to something he ate and was hospitalized for two days before returning to practice on Friday.
Losing is never fun, but losing like this is an entirely different matter.
UCLA squandered an early 11-point lead and turned what looked like a breakthrough performance into arguably its most frustrating effort as Texas turned the tables with a 69-59 nonconference victory on Saturday at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
This loss should nag UCLA (2-5) and the coaching staff like a flu that just won't go away. The Bruins looked like a new team early, playing aggressive on defense and looking ready to capture their first marquee win of the year with a 34-23 lead with 1:54 remaining in the first half.
Instead, the Bruins watched Texas bull rush by them with a 15-4 run during a span that lasted nearly four minutes at the end of the first half and start of the second.
It was an act of aggression that the Bruins couldn't effectively respond to and recover from. Texas guard J'Covan Brown, who led the Longhorns (5-2) with 22 points, said his team showed its physical side with lots of screens on the offensive end.
"We just wore them down," Brown said, despite limping out of the media conference room. "Coach told us to keep hitting them with screens and they'll stop trying to run through it. I know I hate it in practice when you have to hit screens constantly. It just wears your body down."
Texas freshman guard Myck Kabongo finished with 13 points and eight assists in the win. He said Texas made it a point to push UCLA into a corner.
"I could tell you one thing - basketball is not a physical sport. No one wants to get hit and we were hitting them," Kabongo said.
Bruins forward Travis Wear admitted Texas used a lot of clock on their offensive possessions, which made things more difficult for the Bruins.
"They were taking a lot of time off the shot clock, wearing us down," said Wear, who had 13 points and four rebounds in the loss. "You play defense for 25-35 seconds and your fundamentals break down."
That helped Texas shoot better than 70 percent in the second half, which they outscored UCLA by 16 points.
"Texas got behind in the first half and they were patient and kept running their stuff," Wear said. "We when we got down, we really didn't bounce back."
That's why this loss shouldn't be treated like UCLA just has to wash it clean. If the Bruins really want to rebound from their slow start this season - this should be a scar to remind them of what's necessary to prevent it from happening again.
The Bruins started three guards - Lazeric Jones, Tyler Lamb and Jerime Anderson - with 6-foot-10 forwards David and Travis Wear. The "small ball" approach paid off as the Bruins blasted off to a 17-6 lead, making their first six field goals as all five starters scored.
It was a good look, especially against an athletic Texas team that finished the first half on a 7-2 run to leave UCLA leading 34-28.
That's more like it.
UCLA put together its best performance of the season with a 62-39 clobbering of Pepperdine on Monday night at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
It was double-trouble for the Waves, who took a 1-2 shot from twin brothers David Wear and Travis Wear, who both had their best game yet since transferring to UCLA (from North Carolina). David tallied 10 points, seven rebounds and two blocks while Travis finished with eight points, 10 rebounds and three blocks. Senior guard Lazeric Jones led the Bruins (2-4) with 14 points, six steals and four assists. The twins and Jones all agreed the team came together on the defensive end after severe issues through the team's first five games.
"As a team, we came together a little bit tonight," Travis Wear said. "We helped each out on the defensive end. We played unselfish, and that's really going to help us out in the long run."
UCLA coach Ben Howland said the team played with passion, which helped the Bruins limit Pepperdine (3-3) to just 11 points in the first half. Pepperdine failed to have one player tally double figures in scoring or rebounding.
"We have to play with that kind of desire every time we play to be successful," Howland said. "Our team defense was by far the best effort we had all year."
Freshman Norman Powell had another solid performance for the Bruins, adding 10 points, including a pair of 3-pointers. Howland also pointed to Jerime Anderson and Tyler Lamb as major factors in helping UCLA improve its defensive effort.
It was a dominant 20-2 run during the first half that helped UCLA turn a 7-6 deficit into a 26-9 lead and an easy victory. The Bruins didn't give up much from the perimeter, holding Pepperdine to just 3 of 9 behind the arc and made up for a 36-35 rebounding deficit by forcing 15 Pepperdine turnovers while limiting themselves to just seven turnovers.
"Sometimes you got to get a win to know how to win," Jones said. "We did what we need to do to win, and hopefully we can continue to do this."
While Pepperdine isn't expected to finish at or near the top of the West Coast Conference, the Waves already won at Arizona State and at Texas San Antonio, so it was important for UCLA to defend its home court.
"We appreciate the fans who were here tonight," Howland said. "Those are true blue Bruins fans. 1-4 hasn't happened around here in a long time, and they came out for an 8 p.m. game on Monday night."
More important, UCLA had its first win it could really build off after taking some lumps in the EA Sports Maui Invitational (besides a win over Chaminade).
"We learned we've got a long way to go," David Wear said. "We needed to play harder - we didn't match our opponents' intensity. Tonight, we got together.
"We dove for loose balls and helped teammates out. We showed how good we can be."
The good news for UCLA fans is college basketball season has barely started and the Bruins have enough talent for Howland to straighten things out before the Pac-12 schedule gets underway in late December.
The EA Sports Maui Invitational continues for the Bruins with today's game against Chaminade. It's a great chance to get things turned around and prepare them for a matchup against Kansas or Georgetown on Tuesday.
Just in case things get too hectic between tip-offs, we'll ask questions that should be answered during both games:
When will Reeves Nelson start making good decisions and be the leader he should be for the Bruins?
Howland must be practicing the mantra, "patience is a virtue," my personal favorite, with Nelson. He gives the junior forward a second chance and is rewarded by seeing Nelson miss the team bus for the airport trip to Hawaii. Go read more about it at LATimes.com, which is covering the team live from Hawaii this week. Opining is best left for Twitter, but Nelson should know Howland is giving him every chance to grow up. Not every boss is so tolerant.
Will Howland have UCLA play a zone defense?
He alluded to it in the postgame media conference after the loss to Middle Tennessee State. "We probably should have changed it up and gone to zone," Howland said. "It's something we'll have to think about." Of course, he then went on to talk about how to handle ball screens but with 6-foot-10 David and Travis Wear and 6-11 Joshua Smith, a 2-3 zone could cover a lot of ground. Of course, zone defenses are usually beat two ways - strong dribble penetration and perimeter shooting - both major issues for the Bruins during the first two losses.
Is a big-name opponent going to force the Bruins to take notice their season has started?
OK, Chaminade isn't a big name - but the game on Tuesday will be against another elite program. Is that sort of challenge the spark this team needs to figure things out? Clearly, winning back-to-back games in Hawaii with a win over one of those two teams would turn this season right back around.
"I acknowledge there are corrections that need to be made and I'm grateful to Coach Howland to have this opportunity to improve and work on being a positive for our team," Nelson said. "I appreciate the support of my teammates and will be there for them as we move forward."
While Nelson works himself back onto the team, let's take a quick look back at Tuesday night's loss and see what answers we got from the game.
LOWDOWN LOOK BACK
We wanted the following questions answers before the game:
Can Joshua Smith dominate against another big body?
*He sure can on the offensive end, where he collected all nine of his rebounds. But until UCLA figures out all of its defensive issues, we won't know the complete answer.
How much will Jerime Anderson's return help UCLA with its perimeter defense?
*Not at all on Tuesday night. After the Blue Raiders made 10 of its 11 3-pointers, UCLA opponents have now made 20 of 26 shots behind the arc.
Who will emerge as a rebounding force during Reeves Nelson's absence?
*Middle Tennessee State shot so well on Tuesday night, there weren't many rebounds to grab on the defensive end. Nobody besides Smith stood out on the glass, which means the Bruins are still looking for another presence on the glass to join their sophomore center and Nelson.
The Blue Raiders improved to 3-0 after shooting a sizzling 71.4 percent from the field. MTSU made 35-of-49 field goals and flirted with the NCAA record book before missing out despite making an impressive 10 of 11 3-pointers. UCLA doesn't track defensive field goal percentage but if it did, it's hard to imagine they've surrendered worse under Coach Ben Howland, who called the score embarrassing.
This UCLA season didn't wait long to go into hyperdrive. Between the stunning loss to Loyola Marymount last Friday and Monday's suspension of junior forward Reeves Nelson, there's no question the Bruins will need to put all of it aside against Middle Tennessee State in tonight's 8 p.m. EA Sports Maui Invitational opening round game at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
Nelson's suspension means the Bruins will go without their top returning scorer and rebounder against the Blue Raiders, who won at LMU on Sunday. UCLA head coach Ben Howland said UCLA played poorly in the loss and called the suspension of Nelson, "a very disappointing situation for Reeves and our basketball program."
If not for Nelson's suspension, there might have been more hubbub about Joshua Smith admitting and apologizing for an immature tweet after losing to LMU. He deleted the tweet, which read "Just lost to some straight bums lol" according to the Los Angeles Times.
Now UCLA must put it all behind and focus all its attention to a Blue Raiders team that Howland told reporters looks quite advanced with an experienced lineup that starts four juniors and senior center LaRon Dendy, who transferred from Iowa State.
"We'll have to have a great effort," Howland said in his Monday press conference. "They're very experienced, well-coached and extremely athletic. They're impressive watching them on film."
THE LOWDOWNIt will probably be a long road to return to the national rankings after dropping out this week but UCLA can get it started right away with a win tonight.
Three things we want answered:
Can Joshua Smith dominate against another big body?
* Dendy is 6-foot-10, 235-pounds and is averaging 15 points and 7.5 rebounds in the Blue Raiders first two games. Smith struggled in the opener against LMU.
How much will Jerime Anderson's return help UCLA with its perimeter defense?
* LMU made 10-of-15 3-pointers against UCLA, so it's vital the Bruins do a better job preventing Middle Tennessee State from getting open looks from behind the arc.
Who will emerge as a rebounding force during Reeves Nelson's absence?
* If Nelson is out for an extended period of time, UCLA will need several players to improve their rebounding after finishing with just one rebound more than a significantly shorter LMU team.
On the Blue Raiders: Middle Tennessee State is 2-0 with wins over Austin Peay and LMU, which it toppled 58-51, on Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles. Dendy is joined by Marcos Knight in averaging 15 points and 7.5 rebounds in their first two games this season. JT Sutton, a 6-8, 230-pound forward is another strong rebounding presence. The Blue Raiders play in the Sun Belt Conference.
UCLA head coach Ben Howland: "We had a lot of mental breakdowns defensively, and offensively, we took a lot of shots that were not great shots."
Bruin center Joshua Smith was plagued by foul trouble in the first half and finished with just five points in 16 minutes of play. He quickly picked up two fouls in four minutes of action and played just six minutes total in the first half.
Howland and the Bruins will have to quickly rebound from the loss, as they host Middle Tennessee State on Tuesday. "The bottom line is we've got to study film and learn from this because we have another game Tuesday against a team that is equally tough," he said.
*LMU took control of the game with a 12-0 run early in the second half after UCLA had taken a 42-41 lead. The Lions' run gave them a 53-42 lead, and they never led by less than five points the rest of the way.
*The Lions' bench outscored UCLA's, 17-9, led by C.J. Blackwell, who had nine points, all from three-pointers (3-of-4 from three-point range).
*UCLA guards were a combined 6-of-23 from the field
UCLA already has a crosstown rival, so some might think it's opening with a crosstown patsy in Loyola Marymount. After all, the Bruins are 15-2 overall against LMU and haven't lost to the Lions since a stunning 40-34 defeat in 1941.
Three things we want answered:
Nelson has the mental attitude and talent to really give LMU serious trouble on the glass. Now we just need to know if his ankle (X-rays were negative) is ready as well.
* What impact will not starting Joshua Smith have against a smaller LMU team?
The Lions aren't listing a probable starter taller than 6-foot-8, nor heavier than 220 pounds, which means Smith would have a 2-inch height advantage and 80-plus pound weight advantage in the post to start the game. Either way, Smith should be a dominant force against a smaller LMU team.
* How much will UCLA miss Jerime Anderson?
The senior guard is serving out the remainder of his two-game suspension, leaving the Bruins without a true backup point guard. Tyler Lamb will need to run the team when Lazeric Jones is resting.
On the Lions: LMU isn't the tallest team, which means the Bruins should give them a lot of trouble with their length. The Lions are also missing their best player, senior forward Drew Viney, who has a foot injury that will keep him out until December. Junior guard Jarred DuBois should be a familiar name for Los Angeles high school hoops fans, as he played at Westchester High School. DuBois played in only six games last year due to injury but should be a leader on both ends of the court for the Lions this year.
"What the UCLA fan sees, feels, associates with game day, we've skewed toward our tradition and history in the past, and we'll continue to have that as a focal point," Mitchell said. "But there are a lot of 18-to-22 year-olds (that represent UCLA basketball fans), and we have the opportunity to do some different things (to attract them to games)."
"The DJ will be in the student section (on Friday), so we'll see how that works," Mitchell mentioned. "We'll change based on what gains traction."
It's not just DJs and free T-shirts, which cheerleaders will be throwing to fans at home games either. Ken Weiner, senior associate athletic director of business operations, said UCLA has worked diligently with the Sports Arena to update the venue and make it feel like UCLA's home court.
Weiner said the outside of the venue will have blue lighting, the team will use last year's Pac-10 Tournament court with updated UCLA decals and logos, and even the old chairs of the Sports Arena will be updated to represent UCLA.
"They've upgraded the venue for us," Weiner said before showing a picture on his mobile phone of a new scoreboard being put together. "We're doing everything we can to make it home."
Howland said he was impressed with the work done on the home team locker room when UCLA hosted a closed scrimmage against Cal State Fullerton at the Sports Arena last week. And while Howland knows it's not going to be the same as playing games on campus, he appreciates some of the history between UCLA and the Sports Arena.
"Coach Wooden was coaching there before Pauley, so I kind of like that," Howland said. "Hopefully, we become tougher mentally because we're on the road. It should make us tougher."
Joshua Smith didn't start for the Bruins, but he definitely finished in their 80-72 exhibition victory over Cal State San Bernardino on Sunday afternoon at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, Calif.
The 6-foot-10, 305-pound sophomore scored a game-high 26 points and grabbed seven rebounds for UCLA, which opted to bring Smith off the bench to help avoid picking up early fouls. But once he did get in, the Bruins knew their exact point of attack.
"Our offensive thought is always to feed it into Josh," said sophomore forward David Wear. "I don't think anybody can guard him inside 1-on-1."
Wear also touted Smith's performance at the line after he made 14 of 18 free throws. UCLA used its size advantage to get the line 41 times, making 33 of them on the way to victory. Smith said he's focused on making sure he doesn't fade away from the line and following through on the shots.
"Every time I go out there, we all know our job and my job is to help my team the best way I can," Smith said. "I just want to go out there and make sure I'm sealing, posting and passing. I got mad at myself when looking at my field goals. There were a few tip-ins and if I put a little more on them, I would have gotten some and-1's."
Junior forward Reeves Nelson also had a strong performance with 16 points and 10 rebounds. UCLA head coach Ben Howland credited him with making a pair of 3-pointers and mentioned his vocal leadership as well.
"I've never been a player that puts too much into points," Nelson said. "But rebounds are something you can control with effort and position. I am definitely trying for double-digit rebounds in every game."
That's likely music to Howland's ears, who wants to use his team's size advantage all season. The Bruins took home a 40-30 rebound advantage, including an 18-11 advantage on the offensive glass, against a team Howland called a "good test."
He wasn't kidding either. UCLA needed a pivotal 9-0 second-half run to regain control after CS San Bernardino took a 60-58 lead with 7:33 remaining.
"It was good to see our guys fight back," Howland said. "We've got to be a better defensive team. We'll get together and watch this as a team. We will not beat a lot of people on our schedule until we play better defense."
The rust showed for UCLA, which started David and Travis Wear, who were playing their first college game in over a year after sitting out last season (due to transfer rules).
But both David and Travis each showed glimmers of why Howland is so excited to have them as part of the program. David took a charge on one end that fouled out starting guard Tre Brewer. Then, he followed it up with a big 3-pointer on the offensive end. Travis added 10 points in 15 minutes.
"I was too excited," said David, who started at small forward. "I thought way too much. I just wanted to get this first one out of the way."
And now that it's out of the way, David and the rest of the team will get a chance to see how much excitement is building among the UCLA faithful on Friday night, when the Bruins open the season with Loyola Marymount at the LA Sports Arena.
But log into the Cal State San Bernardino men's basketball website and their promo page for Sunday's exhibition game with UCLA leads with a giant, all capital letters headline of "WHAT IF ..." and I don't think any of us need Coach Ben Howland to tell us what it means.
Of course, Howland and the coaching staff know the drill by now. Every team UCLA faces, especially nonconference foes, will give the Bruins their best game. That means UCLA can't overlook any team, even in an exhibition game against a Division II program that leads their website with the name of a classic comic book.
If you're too lazy to drive (or just too far away): Go high-tech and watch the game on a live video stream from UCLABruins.com. For five bucks, get your hoops fix and get an early look at this Bruins team.
Three things we want answered:
*How does Travis Wear's right hand look? After spraining it during practice this week, Wear returned to practice on Friday and looked ready to go.
*How much of an impact can Tyler Lamb make on the defensive side of the court? Howland has great confidence in his defensive abilities, which likely means he'll emerge as an on-the-floor leader for the Bruins.
*How big can the Bruins go? Howland will likely start 6-foot-10 David Wear and Joshua Smith, with the 6-5 Lamb and the 6-8 Reeves Nelson. Lazeric Jones will run the point and will be the small fry in this bunch at 6-1. Don't be surprised if Howland plays both Wear brothers with Lamb, Nelson and Smith - just to see how small they'd make the Coyotes look.
On the Coyotes: CS San Bernardino is one of the better Division II programs in the state, although it's coming off a disappointing season. The Coyotes have four transfers, including Pablo Genero, a 6-10 Spanish player who spent last season playing for South Plains Junior College in Texas. Genero's size should be useful against the Bruins, especially considering Theron Laudermill, a 6-7 center, is the Coyotes lone returning all-conference player.
Pick your favorite cheesy rock ballad about touring. Add it to your preferred mp3 player (or CD player for those of you still working that device), and bring it along for the ride. Sunday's exhibition game against Cal State San Bernardino at Ontario's Citizens Business Bank Arena is just the beginning of a Bruin basketball season that in some ways will feel more like a rock tour.
The Bruins won't play in Pauley Pavilion this year while it undergoes renovations, so they'll be on the road again and again.
The good news is the Bruins have a great bunch of groupies - err fans - (I'm talking to you UCLABruins.com blog reader!) and there's no reason not to make these traveling home games a fun event. So we'll try to share a few tips and tricks about the trip to Ontario for UCLA's 2 p.m. tip-off against San Bernardino.
Of course many Bruin fans and students can take advantage of the buses available from Jackie Robinson Stadium, but for more of the road trip vibe, here are some tips on this first road trip.
- Make sure you give yourself plenty of time. Sure Google Maps suggests a travel time just over an hour from those on the Westside, but if you're going to travel that far, why miss tipoff?
- Since you're going to give yourself some extra time, do something fun in Ontario. For starters, hit the massive shopping area, Ontario Mills, which is within walking distance from the arena. Who knows, you might even find some new UCLA gear to wear!
- Who doesn't love tacos? One of my personal favorites, King Taco, is listed by Yelp.com readers as the best place to grab a few tacos (or burritos) before or after the game in Ontario.
- Enjoy free parking at the game! That's right - Citizens Business Bank Arena offers free parking, which means you can spend more on concessions at the game.
Plus, think about this trip to the Inland Empire, home of former UCLA star point guard Darren Collison, as the first of several exciting trips to take while following around the Bruins like they're your favorite local band hitting the road.
UCLA has plenty of changes coming this basketball season. The Bruins are playing their games off campus, starting several new players and adding a pair of two new conference foes in Colorado and Utah this season. But the pressure of playing for a program that strives for nothing short of championship excellence remains the same.
The Bruins were picked to win the Pac-12 in the conference media poll that was revealed as part of the Pac-12 Media Day on Friday at the LA Live complex in downtown Los Angeles.
"Our team always has high expectations," Coach Ben Howland said at the event. "It's the expectations we put on ourselves that matter most. It's always nice to be picked high, but that doesn't guarantee anything. It's where you finish."
UCLA, with 14 first-place votes and 421 overall, was named the favorite, ahead of California and Arizona, who were the other teams earning first-place votes.
The media have selected the Bruins seven previous times and were correct five times, including the Bruins' last two conference titles in 2006-07 and 2007-08.
Howland and senior guard Lazeric Jones talked to the media about a variety of things, including recruiting, Derrick Rose, the additions of Colorado and Utah and the Wear twins, who are both expected to play serious minutes after sitting out last season after transferring to North Carolina. Here are some highlights:
Howland on the Wear twins:
"They're very similar, actually. It's interesting. Dave - they're the same size. They work out. Everything they do together. It's unbelievable. These guys take every class together. They share the same bedroom. I mean everything's together. They're really close. But what I'm most impressed about them in their work ethic."
Howland on Colorado joining the Pac-12:
"Yeah, they're 5,000 feet above sea level. That affects you. They've got a great home-court situation because of that."
Howland, whose phone began ringing mid-answer, on texting and tweeting more after the NCAA changed its recruiting rules:
"I don't mind texting. That's fine. I think it's good for us. Having to keep track of every phone call you make and write it down is very, very difficult. You see, I'm trying to tweet right now. I apologize. That was my trainer trying to update me on the MRI (to Anthony Stover). I won't take it now, but I'll let you know right after."
Jones on his relationship with Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose, who attended the same high school:
"I mean, we're just really good friends. We don't talk too much about basketball. It's more like back in high school and things like that."
Jones on playing in the Sports Arena and so close to rival USC:
"It was different. But it was alright. The fact that we're right by SC is kind of weird. I was talking to somebody earlier about us getting booed on our home games, but it will be a different experience."
The UCLA men's basketball team had their private time during a closed scrimmage with Cal State Fullerton on Thursday at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. That doesn't mean Coach Ben Howland hopes it stays that way at the Bruins temporary home.
"Our guys work hard and our coaches work hard and they want support for our team," Howland said in a teleconference after the scrimmage. "The students are where it all starts. They're the group that makes a home court advantage. They're rambunctious and loud and into it. I love our students and we need them. I'll do everything I can to reach out to them."
Howland said he's planning to visit with different student groups to ask for their support of the team.
UCLA men's basketball coach Ben Howland got a chance to see his team in a live-game scenario against Cal State Fullerton on Thursday afternoon at the Los Angeles Sports Arena. He couldn't say much about it, per NCAA rules, but it was clear he liked the scrimmage format.
"It's really good, I really like it," Howland said of the private scrimmage format that allows two Division I teams to play a private scrimmage with no reported score or statistics. "It was a dress rehearsal for a real game. We had the team going through warm-ups, we used Pac-12 officials, and there were media timeouts. We played it as a normal game."
Howland didn't use the word education, but it was clear that's what his staff was focused on for the scrimmage. With no official stats or score, it was a chance for Howland and his staff to ascertain what needs to be worked on before the season starts in two weeks with Loyola Marymount.
"The team is aware we've got to get a lot better," Howland said during a teleconference on the drive back from the Sports Arena. "We've got a lot of work to do. I'm going to go home and watch the tape now."
Howland talked about defensive issues in transition and off-the-dribble defense, both typical early-season problems. Offensively, Howland said the team hasn't focused on it during the first batch of practices this preseason and has a long way to go in building out offensive plays for the season.
UCLA men's basketball coach Ben Howland is used to the rabid attention his team gets throughout the season and beyond. But on Thursday, he'll get to experience something that's a little different from the norm for UCLA.
He'll get to coach a game that nobody can watch. NCAA rules allow for men's basketball teams to conduct a practice scrimmage against another Division I team but forbid anybody from watching it beyond "athletic department staff members and those individuals necessary to conduct the practice scrimmage."
So when UCLA scrimmages Cal State Fullerton at the Los Angeles Sports Arena Thursday afternoon, they'll do it under lock and key.
"Sorry you guys can't come tomorrow," Howland said during a media teleconference on Wednesday evening. "Even Ryan Finney (UCLA basketball's sports information director) can't come. It's sort of amazing."
The NCAA rules are so strict, UCLA won't be able to share a score nor any statistics from the scrimmage with any media outlets. Pac-12 rival Washington and head coach Lorenzo Romar (who served as an assistant at UCLA in the mid 1990's) ran into some troubles with these rules when he mentioned a scrimmage between the current team and a team of former Huskies (many currently locked out of the NBA). The Seattle Times reported Washington "positioned ushers and closed the curtains around the main floor (at Edmundson Pavilion) to keep the scrimmage private."
Howland won't need to put a curtain up around the Sports Arena court and isn't that worried about getting the team situated while Pauley Pavilion undergoes renovations. No fans can come Thursday, but the Bruins play 14 games this year at the Sports Arena, and Howland does hope to see lots of Bruins fans make the trip for those games.
"The athletic department is doing everything it can to help people get to those games and support our team," Howland said. "I think we'll have free buses for students and buses for a nominal fee from Jackie Robinson Stadium so they can be bused down and back."
The buses won't be running tomorrow but Howland is clearly more focused on using his time during the preseason to coach and prepare this group of players to become a team. Having a chance to face off against Cal State Fullerton, even with nobody else around to see it, will be an invaluable learning opportunity.
"Playing against a Division I team with Division I athletes is a good thing," Howland said.
By Bob Holtzman
Basketball fans know injuries are part of the game and bumps and bruises should be welcomed during the preseason, as players fight and scrap their way toward the season. But the injuries suffered this preseason by the UCLA men's basketball team have coach Ben Howland calling it something else.
UCLA suffered a pair of concussions last week, keeping sophomore center Anthony Stover and junior guard De'End Parker out of practice. Stover returned on Wednesday, only to suffer a subluxed left shoulder that will keep him out indefinitely. Howland said he'll undergo an MRI in the next few days to determine the extent of the injury.
While the Bruins wait to hear the result of Stover's MRI, they're also waiting for Parker to recover from what Howland called a "severe concussion."
"It affected him to where he was having troubles with light and sound and he missed a midterm," Howland said. "(Wednesday) was the first day he's felt better since Saturday - the first time he was at practice and watched. We're hopeful to have him back somewhere toward the beginning to middle of next week. There's a whole protocol before he can be cleared to play."
While Parker is out, Howland said David Wear has spent most of the time playing the small forward position and that he has also used with a three-guard lineup in practice.
The Bruins officially begin practice Oct. 13.
Senior guard and team captain Lazeric Jones is ready for the start of practice. "I'm just excited, anxious to get started," he said. We've been working hard the whole summer for this. I feel really good about the team and how we look. We play in the summer vs. all the pros right here on this floor. Coach John Wooden held his practices here so hopefully some of his winning ways can rub off on us too."
Another player ready for the start of practice is sophomore forward Travis Wear. Travis, along with his twin brother David, played at North Carolina during the 2009-10 season. They transferred to UCLA last year and participated in practices but could not play in the actual games because of the transfer rule.
"Sitting out last year wasn't very fun," Travis said. "I got to work on my game and everything, but you want to get out there and actually play in games and see how much you have improved. I finally get to do that, to get out here and play with these guys, so I'm just really excited."
Travis and David prepped at Mater Dei HS and are from Huntington Beach. They understand the UCLA historical significance of practicing in 'the Old Men's Gym.'
"Coach Wooden coaching here, all the Bruin greats that have played in here, just the legacy this place has is amazing," Travis said. "All the top NBA players that have come in here to play during the summertime - Magic Johnson, countless others. Just to be able to get on this court that so many others have played on, it's going to be fun."
Ken Norris, longtime director of the athletic video department, and Joe Plonsky, earned a Bronze Telly in the category TV for Documentary for their production of "In His Words." Norris (producer) and Plonsky (editor) produced the retrospective on legendary icon John Wooden that was shown at the conclusion of the memorial service for Coach Wooden on June 26, 2010. The documentary included numerous clips of interviews of Coach Wooden, interspersed with photos that traced his life from start to finish.
Founded in 1979, the Telly Awards is the premier award honoring outstanding local, regional, and cable TV commercials and programs, the finest video and film productions, and web commercials, videos and films. Winners represent the best work of the most respected advertising agencies, production companies, television stations, cable operators, and corporate video departments in the world. Awards are presented in the Silver and Bronze categories.
The article states that 83 current or former players have career rebound averages of 9.0 or higher, led by Wilt Chamberlain (22.89).
The Pac-10 (now Pac-12) has produced five players with NBA career rebound averages of 9.0 or higher and they are all from UCLA - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Swen Nater, Bill Walton, Kevin Love and Willie Naulls.
In fact, according to the article, UCLA has produced more players in this category than any school in the nation.
To read the article, click here.
Mark Spears of Yahoo! Sports wrote an outstanding feature about their return earlier this week. To read the story, click here.
Five of the Bruins returnees were starters in the NBA this past season. They are (in alphabetical order): Trevor Ariza, New Orleans Hornets; Baron Davis, Cleveland Cavaliers; Kevin Love, Minnesota Timberwolves; Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Milwaukee Bucks; and Russell Westbrook, Oklahoma City Thunder. To see their stats from the NBA, click here.
Davis was the No. 3 selection in the 1999 NBA Draft; Westbrook was the No. 4 selection in the 2008 NBA Draft; Love was the No. 5 selection in the 2008 NBA Draft; Mbah a Moute was the 37th pick in the 2008 NBA Draft and Ariza was the 43rd selection in the 2004 NBA Draft.
For good measure, 1995 NCAA Player of the Year Ed O'Bannon, who led the Bruins to their 11th NCAA title, is also in school, having attended first summer session as well. He was the No. 9 selection in the 1995 NBA Draft.
The column focuses on Howland's ability to produce NBA-ready players and turning negative comments into positives.
To read the column, click here.
Carl Kraushaar, the starting center on Coach John Wooden's first two UCLA teams (1948-49 and 1949-50), has passed away. Kraushaar passed on Thursday, July 21st of natural causes surrounded by family in Newport Beach. He was 84 years old.
A transfer from Compton College, Kraushaar led the Bruins in scoring (9.35 points) as a junior in 1948-49. UCLA set a school record for 22 victories (22-7) under first-year coach Wooden and won the PCC Southern Division, then lost to Northern Division champ Oregon State in the PCC playoff.
As a senior, he earned All-PCC honors and was the team's third leading scorer (8.5), as UCLA again set a school mark for victories (24-7). The Bruins won the school's first-ever PCC Championship and UCLA advanced to the NCAA Tournament for the first time in its history.
"(Wooden) was a real pleasure to play for," Kraushaar told the Daily Pilot in 2003. "He was a wonderful coach and a wonderful person. Those were his first two years at UCLA. I couldn't have made a better choice for a coach."
Kraushaar was selected in the 1950 NBA draft by Rochester in the eighth round. He turned down the opportunity to play professional basketball and decided to get into teaching and coaching, later moving into various administrative positions. Kraushaar coached the UCLA Freshman team in 1950-51 while obtaining his teaching credential. He began his teaching/coaching career at Excelsior High School in 1953, capping his career as a Vice Principal at Norwalk High School and retiring in 1987.
Kraushaar was married to his late wife, Frances, for 45 years. He is survived by four grown children -- twin sons Karl and Kurt, daughter Kandis and son Kory, five grandchildren, two of whom played volleyball at UCLA (Kris and Kent), and three great grandchildren.
A memorial service is scheduled for
Friday, July 29 at Voyagers Bible Church in Irvine at 1:00 pm.
Normally held in Pauley, Hoop Farm is happening in the John Wooden Recreation Center.
To read about Farmar's camp, click here.
Love was interviewed by Fox Sports West's Courtney Jones and talks about how he stays in contact with people at UCLA and the team's prospects for the future.
Click here to watch the video.
Collison, now the starting point guard for the Indiana Pacers, had this to say about how his game evolved under UCLA head coach Ben Howland:
" I think Coach Howland made me realize the physical attributes I have, as far as quickness. I knew I was quick, but he used to always to express, "You're extremely quick." I'd be like, "Okay, I know that." And he'd be like, "No. Seriously. I don't think you know how quick you are." That says a lot, because once you believe your physical attributes, that's all the things you can rely on, as far as the NBA. You're either real quick, or real athletic, or you can really shoot the ball. I definitely started understanding how quick I really was and using it more to my advantage."
To read the entire story, click here.
The story covers his decision to return, his feelings about being older than his classmates, having to leave his family from Monday night through Thursday night to commute to Los Angeles and living with his parents while attending classes.
To view this outstanding piece, click here.
The Rose Bowl project is scheduled to be completed prior to the 2013 season, but a lot of work will have occurred by the 2011 opener versus San Jose State. The new video board is up and looked great at the Gold Cup soccer finals and some of the end zone tunnels have been widened. More work will be completed in the next nine weeks.
To see the latest on the Rose Bowl renovation, click here. Make sure to check out the photo galleries.
The Pauley Pavilion project is on schedule to be completed in the fall of 2012. During the holiday weekend, take a few minutes to check PauleyCam by clicking here. The camera takes a new shot every 15 minutes from the roof of the Wooden Center, located across from the northeast corner of Pauley and has a time-lapse feature.
Here are some interesting outtakes from Jon Wilner's College Hotline column in the San Jose Mercury-News. To read the whole column, click here.
Action: UCLA forward Tyler Honeycutt and guard Malcolm Lee picked in second round of NBA Draft.
Reaction: Time for another quick rant: No, Ben Howland's system doesn't allow for gaudy statistics and SportsCenter-worthy highlights, but his players understand the game, they're tough, and they play defense ... and this has been the case for years. The notion that his coaching style would adversely affect UCLA players in the NBA and negatively impact recruiting -- a notion first proposed by the Lavin camp, by the way -- has always been nonsense.
Action: The Arizona Republic's Doug Haller lists the best basketball teams of the Pac-10 era.
Reaction: Haller has Arizona '88 on top, followed by UCLA '95. I'd flip 'em -- the Bruins, who won 19 in a row to end the season, were the best team of the era and would have been a matchup nightmare for the Wildcats in a hypothetic showdown. Otherwise, it's tough to find fault with Haller's list. Well done.
One is a story by Jon Gold of the Daily News which discusses Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee. In the story, Lee has a couple of interesting quotes:
"Being able to be controlled on offense, not really take unnecessary shots, letting plays develop - I think that's what gives UCLA the edge," Lee said. "At UCLA, we have the opportunity to execute plays. When we get into the NBA, we execute a lot better and the floor is a lot more spread."
To read the entire story, click here.
It is no surprise to Bruin fans that UCLA had the most active players - 14 - in the NBA this past season. To see the list, click here for the Bruins in the Pros page. Each player name is linked to his NBA.com page. For a PDF summary of how the 14 Bruins did during the regular season, click here. For a summary of their UCLA careers, click here.
Real Clear Sports ran a story discussing which schools have produced the most NBA talent. To read that story, click here.
In addition to an interview with Malcolm, Jazz personnel, including GM Kevin O'Connor, talk about Malcolm and about the job Bruin head coach Ben Howland does to prepare his players for the NBA.
To watch the video, click here.
The highlight of Saturday's UBAA event is the premiere of "The Wooden Event," a 20-minute feature with a never-before-seen interview with John R. Wooden, as well as exclusive commentary from his Bruin players, including Hall of Famers Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and Bill Walton, as well as Jamaal Wilkes and Marques Johnson.
"The Wooden Effect" was produced and directed by Point Forward Productions, a film company established by UCLA men's basketball alumni, including Marques Johnson, his son's Kris and Josiah Johnson and Quinn Hawking.
The event is from 3-6 p.m. and will take place at a private residence in the Brentwood area of Los Angeles. Confirmed RSVPs include UCLA Chancellor Gene Block and Bruin athletic greats Rafer Johnson, Ed O'Bannon, Lucius Allen, Tyus Edney and Earl Watson.
The UBAA's Legacy Scholarship Campaign is helping to preserve the legacy of African-American students at UCLA. UBAA's goal until 2012 is to raise at least $500,000 each year which will be matched 3:1 by the University. UBAA hopes to get more alumni involved in this effort to continue African American Legacy at UCLA. UBAA is a 501 (c)(3) tax-exempt non-profit organization. As such all gifts are tax deductible.
To view the commencement video and his acceptance speech click here.
UCLA alum Russell Westbrook, in his third year with the Oklahoma City Thunder, has earned All-NBA second team status for his spectacular season.
During the regular season, he averaged 21.9 points (13th in the league) and 8.2 assists (ninth in the league). He was the only NBA player to average over 21.0 points and 8.0 assists.
In 10 playoff games, he is averaging 24.6 points (eighth) and 6.6 assists (sixth).
To read the official release, click here.
For the second consecutive year, Rivals.com has put together a formula to determine which schools have enjoyed the most combined success in football and men's basketball since the 1998-99 school year, which is when the "BCS era" began.
UCLA is ranked among the Top 10 schools in this ranking.
To read the story, click here.
UCLA Athletics was saddened to learn of the passing of Bruin basketball alum and NCAA champion Edgar Lacey on March 22. He passed while sleeping at his home in Sacramento.
Here is the information we have on his funeral. It will be held this Friday, April 8, at 10:00 am at Calvary Chapel in Downey, located at 12808 Woodruff Avenue.
Lacey, 66, was a sophomore starter on UCLA's 1965 NCAA championship team, averaging 11.6 points and a team-high 10.2 rebounds. As a junior, he averaged 13.6 points and 9.1 rebounds but missed the final eight games due to a knee injury. Lacey also missed the entire 1966-67 season due to knee surgery. In 1967-68, he averaged 11.9 points and 7.9 rebounds in his 14 games.
Today's edition of Salt Lake City's Deseret News has a nice article on the friendship between Utah Jazz guard Earl Watson and RSL goalie Nick Rimando.
The two pro athletes became friends while attending UCLA and have stayed friends despite different career paths that have intersected in Salt Lake City.
To read the article, click here.
John R. Wooden Weekend tribute is set to take place during FOX Sports Net's nationally televised productions of Saturday's Arizona at UCLA and Sunday's Washington St. at Washington men's basketball games.
The following highlights will be featured in each telecast:
- A series of originally produced vignettes honoring Coach Wooden
- Replicas of Coach Wooden's "Pyramid of Success" will be distributed to all fans in attendance
- Coaches from all four teams will be asked to wear "pyramid" lapel pins to symbolize their participation and tribute to the weekend
Arizona at UCLA
Saturday, February 27th at 1PM (PT)
Washington St. at Washington
Sunday, February 28th at 7PM (PT)
FOX Sports West
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, the greatest player in the history of college basketball during his UCLA career and the leading scorer in NBA history, is a multi-talented individual.
He has authored several books, and he has now produced a documentary titled "On The Shoulders of Giants" which tells the story of the Harlem Rens basketball team.
The documentary is now available through "Video on Demand" through Comcast, Time Warner and Cox cable systems.
Here is an except from Leonard Maltin's review of the documentary: "Their actual name was the Harlem Renaissance, but they were known to their many fans and admirers as the Rens. To understand their significance, and the history they made (much of it lost or forgotten) you have to understand the broader picture of race in America during the first half of the 20th century, and the unique culture of Harlem. To do this, Abdul-Jabbar and Morales corralled the most impressive, diverse and in some cases surprising array of interview subjects imaginable, including Maya Angelou, Dr. Cornel West, Bill Russell, Charles Barkley, Wynton Marsalis, Bob Costas, the late John Wooden, Spike Lee, Samuel L. Jackson, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Julius Erving, Jerry West, and Herbie Hancock, to name just a few! They all make significant, even eloquent, contributions to the story of a remarkable group of men who comprised the first all-black professional basketball team in America."
To read Maltin's entire review, click here.
To view a CBS news story about the documentary, click here.
The UCLA men's basketball team is featured in one of ESPN's national commercial promoting its college basketball package.
The commercial was shot late last October and features the Bruin team on a bus, returning to campus. Many of the Bruins, including head coach Ben Howland, have closeups in the 30-second commercial. Its theme is "ESPN: The Home Court of College Hoops."
To see ESPN's official YouTube link, click here..
Bleacher Report has put together a list of the Top 100 Men's Basketball Players of All-Time.
Seven UCLA Bruins are included on the list, including No. 1 Kareem Abdul-Jabbar and No. 3 Bill Walton.
In addition, Coach John Wooden, who was an outstanding player at Purdue, is listed at No. 35
To check out the feature, click here.
The 2011 NBA All-Star Game is scheduled for Feb.20 at Staples Center.
It's not too late to vote for your favorite Bruins for a spot on the team. Russell Westbrook is currently seventh among Western Conference guards and Kevin Love in 10th among Western Conference forwards.
Westbrook is averaging 22.4 points and 8.1 assists while Love leads the league in rebounding (15.5) and is averaging 20.6 points per game.
To vote, you must sign up at NBA.com. Click here to go to the voting page.
Junior guard Malcolm Lee has a strained patellar tendon in his right knee. Lee sustained the injury early in the second half of the Montana game (Dec. 5) when he was fouled while going up for a layup.
Lee is listed as day-to-day and will be reevaluated on Wednesday, Dec. 8 when UCLA, which began final exams today, returns to practice.
Friday night was another big night for UCLA alums in the NBA.
Kevin Love had a game for the ages, finishing with 31 points, 31 rebounds and five assists in Minnesota's win over the Knicks. It is the first time in 28 years that an NBA player recorded a 30-30.
Russell Westbrook celebrated his 22nd birthday by scoring 36 points and adding seven assists and seven rebounds in Oklahoma City's win over Portland.
Jrue Holiday had 11 points and 13 assists for Philadelphia and Darren Collison had 13 points for Indiana.
Several of UCLA's 14 alums in the NBA enjoyed spectacular outings on Tuesday night.
Indiana guard Darren Collison led his team to victory over Denver with 29 points and six assists. DC made 12 of 14 shots from the field, including four of five from three-point range.
Minnesota forward Kevin Love enjoyed a great night in a close loss to the Lakers at Staples Center. He finished with 23 points, 24 rebounds (11 offensive) and five assists.
Arron Afflalo had 17 points in Denver's loss to DC's Pacers and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had 10 points and eight boards in Milwaukee's win over the Knicks.
Matt Barnes had nine points, four boards and three assists in the lakers' win. Trevor Ariza had 12 points, six rebounds and five assists in New Orleans' win over the Clippers.
UCLA freshman center Joshua Smith (sprained right thumb) completed a full practice today and will be reevaluated tomorrow and is listed as a game-time decision for the Bruins exhibition game against Cal State Los Angeles in Pauley Pavilion on Nov. 9, 2010 (tip-off slated for 7:30 p.m.).
Bruin sophomore forward Reeves Nelson (strained right hip flexor) missed his second straight practice today and will not play in tomorrow's exhibition game.
Neither will freshman guard Matt Carlino (concussion), who took a hard fall in practice today. He will be reevaluated tomorrow, but will not play in the final tune-up before the Bruins open the season at home with Cal State Northridge on Nov. 12.
Video of tonight's men's basketball exhibition game versus Westmont will be streamed by BruinTV. The feed will be what the fans in Pauley Pavilion are watching on the video board. Audio will accompany the video feed.
To sign up for the game, go to http://www.uclabruins.com/allaccess/index.html?media=205580 or click here.
The cost for the video stream is $6.95 per game. Other games scheduled for Bruin TV are the exhibition versus Cal State Los Angeles on Nov. 9, the regular-season opener against Cal State Northridge on Nov. 12, the Dec. 5 Montana game (free, Prime Ticket will televise at 9 pm), and the Dec. 22 contest with Montana State.
The HDSA Sports Memorabilia Auction ends on Friday, Nov. 5, 2010. You can bid now on eBay for the chance to win autographed memorabilia from LeBron James, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, Luke Walton, Josh Powell, Eric Gordon as well as past UCLA players. All proceeds from the auction will benefit Huntington's Disease patient care and research at UCLA. These items are from the LA Hoop-A-Thon that took place in Pauley Pavilion on Aug. 28, 2010. You can find these items by clicking here.
Several Bruin alums made their 2010-11 NBA season debuts on Wednesday night. Overall, their are 14 Bruins on NBA rosters, nine of whom played for head coach Ben Howland.
Listed below are the Bruins who scored at least 10 points, plus other key stats.
Arron Afflalo scored 22 points (eight of 11 from the floor, including three of five from three-point range) in Denver's 110-88 win over Utah. Darren Collison had 14 points and seven assists in Indiana's two-point loss to San Antonio. Jordan Farmar had 10 points and four assists in New Jersey's 101-98 win over Detroit. Ryan Hollins had 10 points and four boards in Cleveland's victory over Boston. Kevin Love had 11 points and 10 rebounds in Minnesota's one-point loss to Sacramento. Russell Westbrook had 28 points, 10 rebounds and six assists in Oklahoma City's 11-point win over Chicago.
For a list of all 14 Bruins in the NBA, as well as links to their NBA.com pages, click here..
Today is John Wooden's 100th birthday. Unfortunately for those of us at UCLA and Bruins everywhere, Coach passed away just over four months ago, on the evening of June 4.
Today at 5 pm, the UCLA students will celebrate Coach's birthday in the building named in his honor - the John Wooden Center. There will a video shown, the same video that was played at the end of the John Wooden Memorial Service on June 26 in Pauley Pavilion. There will be some speakers and members of Coach's family will be in attendance.
Coach's passing is still felt by people all around the city, the country and the world.
There have been many tributes to Coach today. Here are links to a few:
UCLA Head Men's Basketball Coach Ben Howland is hosting the UCLA Basketball Coaching Clinic in legendary Pauley Pavilion and in the Hall of Fame Press Room in the J.D. Morgan Center on Saturday, Oct. 30, 2010. The clinic is open to basketball coaches at all levels (high school, junior college, etc.).
Registration begins at 8:30 a.m. in the J.D. Morgan Center. The clinic will include lunch and will culminate at the end of UCLA's team practice.
Fees are $50.00 per coach or $180.00 per staff (up to 4 people). In order to receive the staff discount, a check must be received prior to Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2010 made payable to UC Regents.
For more information, you can write to UCLA Sports Camps, P.O. Box 24044, Los Angeles, CA 90025. Or you can call 310-206-3550 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
To view the flyer for the clinic and for the on-line registration form in PDF format, click here.
To register on-line, click here.
The men's basketball team is having its annual open walk-on tryouts this Friday, Oct. 1, 2010 on the floor of legendary Pauley Pavilion at 6:45 a.m.
A physical and proof of medical insurance is necessary to participate in the tryout. The doctor must use the physical form that is provided by the UCLA Athletic Department, which can be picked up at the men's basketball office from Arielle Moyal on the second floor of the J.D. Morgan Center. Next day appointments for physicals can be scheduled at the UCLA Arthur Ashe Student Health and Wellness Center.
For more information or to inquire about the tryouts, call the men's basketball office at 310-206-6276.
UCLA alums Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love have been playing for Team USA in the FIBA World Championships in Turkey.
Earlier today, the USA defeated host Turkey, 81-64, to win the title and Westbrook played a key roll. He was the team's third-leading scorer with 13 points in his 24 minutes, making three field goals (two three-pointers) and all five of his free throws. He also grabbed six rebounds - second on the squad - and passed for three assists.
During the nine-game tournament, Westbrook was the USA's third-leading scorer, averaing 9.1 points per outing. He was third on the team with 12 steals and 23 assists (2.6) and averaged 2.3 rebounds per outing.
Love averaged 5.7 points and 4.9 rebounds despite averaging just 8.9 minutes per game. He was the team's No. 3 rebounder.
Here is a link to the cumulative stats of Team USA.
Chauncey Billups scored 15 points and handed out five assists in the USA's 89-79 quarterfinals victory over Russia in Istanbul, Turkey on Sept. 9, 2010. Kevin Durant's (Oklahoma City Thunder) 33-point scoring outburst and the USA's wear 'em down defense were the difference Thursday night as the U.S. grinded out an 89-79 victory over Russia (5-2) to advance to the 2010 FIBA World Championship medal round semifinals. Durant's 33-point performance, which came on 11-of-19 shooting from the field and 8-of-9 free throw accuracy, tied for the third most all-time by a USA player in World Championship action.
The USA improved to 7-0 with the hard fought victory and next meets undefeated Lithuania (7-0) on Saturday in a medal semifinals match. Lithuania easily handled Argentina 104-85 in Thursday's other quarterfinals contest. The USA defeated Lithuania 77-61 on Aug. 21 in an exhibition contest in Madrid, Spain, and the U.S. is 0-1 all-time in World Championship games versus Lithuania having lost 84-82 in the 1998 World Championship.
Aiding the USA's winning effort Thursday night with 15 points and five assists was Chauncey Billups (Denver Nuggets). Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) added 12 points and three steals, while Lamar Odom (Los Angeles Lakers) worked the inside and recorded 12 rebounds and two steals to go with six points.
The U.S., behind seven Durant points, took an early 15-9 lead. Russia countered late in the first period with a 7-0 run and the first quarter finished in a draw 25-25.
Russia outscored the Americans 10-5 over the second quarter's first 5:12 to grab control 35-30. Following a USA timeout, the U.S. came to life and assembled a 12-0 run that saw it move ahead 42-35 with 1:08 in the quarter. At halftime the USA owned a 44-39 lead.
John McMullen of the Sports Network writes an interesting story that appeared in the Miami Herald on the NBA in which he names five young players in the league that are ready to take the next step in 2010-11 and three of the five are Bruins.
He names Kevin Love at No. 1, Jrue Holiday at No. 2 and Darren Collison at No. 5.
The link to the story can be found here.
ISTANBUL, Turkey (Sept. 2, 2010) - Behind Eric Gordon's (Los Angeles Clippers) game high 21 points, 13 which came in the second half, the United States dominated Tunisia (0-5) in the second half and closed out preliminary play at the FIBA World Championship with a perfect 5-0 record after handling Tunisia 92-57..
The USA again featured a balanced scoring attack with 11 players scoring. Gordon led the charge for the red, white and blue behind 7-of-10 shooting overall, 4-of-7 from 3-point, in 25 minutes of action. Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) added 14 points in 18 minutes; Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) was also credited with 14 points, andStephen Curry (Golden State Warriors) accounted for 13 points and drained 3-of-5 3-pointers.
The win concluded the USA's preliminary round play and the Americans next play on Monday against Angola (2-3), the No. 4 seed from Group A. Medal round quarterfinals action is slated for Sept. 8-9, with semifinals scheduled for Sept. 11 and the gold and bronze medal games will be contested Sept. 12.
"In practice we have to get better. In these next few days, we have to get better. We have had eight games in 13 days and coach would tell you that when you have a lot of games, there is slippage. So we have to take care of slippage but I know our guys want to take care of that. Hopefully - I think we are going to play Angola - on Monday night, we need to be ready for that and remember it's one and done. If you don't win, you can't win it. It's kind of like the NCAA tournament," USA and Duke University head coach Mike Krzyzewski said.
With Group B's number one seed already assured regardless of the final preliminary round game's result, the USA was sluggish in the game's first two quarters.
The U.S. trailed 8-6 with 4:26 left in the opening quarter after Tunisia's Marouan Kechrid connected on his first of his five made 3-pointers. Durant pumped in the first five points of a 13-3 USA surge that saw its lead increased to 19-11.
With Coach Krzyzewski going with a different five to start the second period, Gordon pushed the U.S. ahead 22-13 with a drive and an ensuing free throw after being fouled. With 7:06 left in the second quarter, following two consecutive baskets by Curry, the USA was up 28-18.
Powered by a balanced scoring attack that saw all 12 USA players register points, including a team best 13 points from UCLA alum Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves), the Americans took control early and sailed on to post an 88-51 victory over Iran (1-3) Tuesday night atAbdi IpekciArena in Isanbul, Turkey. The win improved the U.S. record to 4-0 in preliminary play and guaranteed the squad Group B's number one seed for the medal round and Eighth-Finals.
"That's what we wanted to do," saidLamar Odom on the U.S. earning the number one seed for Group B."We came out, focused on our goal, attained it and now it's time to move on."
The U.S. concludes preliminary play Thursday versus Tunisia. The medal round eight-finals, which features the top four teams from each of the four preliminary round groups advancing, will be played Sept. 4-7. Quarterfinals action is slated for Sept. 8-9, with semifinals scheduled for Sept. 11 and the gold and bronze medal games will be contested Sept. 12.
"We were a little bit fresher today. In our last game, when we played Brazil, that was our sixth game in 10 days in three countries. I just thought we were tired, more mentally than physically. No U.S. team has ever played six games in 10 days in three countries," said USA mentor and Duke University's Hall of Fame coachMike Krzyzewski. "I thought as the game moved along, we got better in the game and we're hoping we can do that again.
"It's just a long race and people want to judge you by every game instead of looking at your body of work. Our kids have done a good job, and they did a good job again in a hard-fought game today."
Earlier today, UCLA alums Kevin Love and Russell Westbrook helped the USA improve to 2-0 with a 99-77 win over Slovenia at the FIBA World Championships in Turkey.
Love grabbed a game-high 11 rebounds and added 10 points, making four of seven shots, in his 13 minutes. Westbrook tied for third on the squad with 11 points, making five of seven shots, and added four rebounds and two assists in 21 minutes.
To read the AP recap, click here.
UCLA alums Russell Westbrook and Kevin Love both played well in today's 106-78 victory over Croatia in its first game of the FIBA World Championships in Turkey.
Love led the USA with 10 rebounds. He added seven points and two assists in his 13 minutes. Westbook finished with 10 points, making all four of his field goal attempts. He added a team-high (tied) four assists and three rebounds in his 16 minutes.
For more information, click here.
The Sporting News College Basketball Yearbook, set to hit newsstands in September, will feature UCLA's Malcolm Lee on the cover.
The yearbook picks UCLA to finish second in the Pac-10 Conference behind Washington. It also ranked UCLA's 2010 recruiting class as second in the Pac-10 behind Stanford.
Additionally, sophomore forward Tyler Honeycutt was named to the five-man All-Pac-10 team and he was selected as the Pac-10's Best Athlete.
The Bruins were also projected as a No. 11 seed with Oklahoma State, Louisville and Arizona in the 2011 NCAA Tournament.
The UCLA women's basketball team is ranked at No. 20 in the Sporting News' Preseason Top 25.
In his most recent blog on ESPN.com, Jay Bilas has an outstanding piece about the UCLA basketball program and the fine job head coach Ben Howland has done in Westwood.
Here are a couple of outtakes:
"Excuse my French, but the perceptions about UCLA's style are absolute crap. Howland has been a winner everywhere he has been, but especially at UCLA. He guided the Bruins to three straight Final Fours while placing numerous players in the NBA. While there is no argument that a team like North Carolina plays a different -- and faster -- style under Roy Williams than Howland does at UCLA, there is no empirical evidence that the style difference negatively affects the NBA future or draft status of Bruins players relative to Tar Heels players. In fact, the evidence suggests the opposite."
From later in the column:
"This preposterous urban myth about UCLA and Howland is just that, a myth. It is based upon a perception that Westbrook and Holiday are having better pro careers than they did college careers, and that the only "logical" explanation must be that Howland held his stars back. That is nonsense. The more likely explanation is that Howland is not kissing the tails of those believing themselves to be influential in the summer basketball culture, and they are spreading nonsense about Howland and his offensive philosophy."
You must be an ESPN Insider to read the entire column. Here is the link.
MADRID, Spain (Aug. 21, 2010) - The 2010 USA Men's World Championship Team overcame icy cold shooting in the first half, but never gave up and rebounded in the second half to earn a tough 77-61 victory over Lithuania on Saturday night inside the Magic Box in Madrid, Spain.Kevin Durant (Oklahoma City Thunder) led all scorers on the night with 15 points, while Rudy Gay (Memphis Grizzlies) and Player of the Game Russell Westbrook (Oklahoma City Thunder) checked in for 14 and 12 points, respectively.
The U.S. will face defending world champion Spain tomorrow night at 9:00 p.m. local (3:00 p.m. EDT live on ESPNU with a rebroadcast on ESPN2 at 11:00 p.m. EDT), before heading to Athens for its final exhibition game against Greece on Aug. 25 at 7:00 p.m. local (12:00 p.m. EDT live on ESPN).
Danny Granger (Indiana Pacers) drove to the hoop to give the U.S. the lead for good, 50-49, at 2:29, but it was a play involving a fast-breaking Gay 20 seconds later that really turned the tide. AfterRajon Rondo (Boston Celtics) disrupted a shot by Lithuania, the U.S. got the ball and Gay was streaking down the court when he was intentionally fouled by Mantas Kalnietis. In the confusion that ensued, Linas Kleiza was called for a technical. Gay sunk both his free throw tries and thenEric Gordon (Los Angeles Clippers) stepped up to take the two for the tech and swished in both of his tries to push the USA advantage to 54-49.
"That helped us a lot," said Gay. "Those four straight foul shots really got us into position where we can play and be the aggressor."
Granger's basket and the four free throws were the start of a game-deciding 17-0 run that was capped by a Westbrook layup that left the U.S. in control 65-49. The USA held Lithuania to a single free throw over a span of 7:25 as the USA's opponents finally knocked down a three with 5:19 to play.
"I think the key for me and the rest of the team is coming out and having a defensive mindset and I think that was a key for me, just coming out and defending," said Westbrook, who knocked down 4-of-5 from the field and hit both of his 3-point attempts. "I think if we defend our offense will take care of itself, we'll be able to get into the lane and kick it out for open shots. I was just able when they kicked it out to knock down some shots, then try and get into the lane and get everybody else some shots as well."
In today's Los Angeles Daily News, Jill Painter has a nice column about UCLA Athletics' plans to recreate John Wooden's condo den in the Hall of Fame and the birth of Coach's first great-great grandchild.
To read the colum, click here.
Two UCLA Bruins are involved in a five-man, four-team trade today. It has been reported that the Indiana Pacers have acquired Darren Collison and James Posey from New Orleans. To complete the trade, the Pacers have dealt Troy Murphy to the New Jersey Nets, who sent Courtney Lee to the Houston Rockets, who sent Trevor Ariza to New Orleans.
Additionally, Mustafa Abdul-Hamid has signed a contract to play professionally in the Serbian National League for the team, HEMOFARM STADA, the leading team of the Adriatic Basketball League (2005 Winner, Final Four regular participant, twice semifinalists of ULEB Cup, semifinalist of Euro Cup, and one of the best teams of the Serbian National League in the past five years). The team is based in Vrsac, Serbia.
Bill Dwyre of the Los Angeles Times has written a powerful column on the efforts of UCLA men's head basketball coach Ben Howland and his family to raise funds for the fight against Huntington's disease.
The illness, which has no cure, took the life of Kim Howland's father four years ago. In addition, it could potentially affect the Howlands' children.
To read the column, click here.
NBA champion Jordan Farmar will host his third annual reunion luncheon at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA for approximately 80 pediatric patients and their family members who participated in his Making Dreams Come True program during the past three basketball seasons. Farmar will also visit additional pediatric patients at their bedsides and deliver goodie bags.
The carnival-themed event will include lunch, game booths and a build-a-stuffed animal station. A basketball court will also be set up on the outdoor terrace for kids to shoot hoops with Farmar.
Saturday, July 31
â€¢ 12:30 p.m.: Jordan Farmar arrives.
â€¢ 1-2 p.m.: Farmar visits with patients at bedside, delivers goodie bags.
Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA, 5th floor pediatric terrace (map)
757 Westwood Plaza, Los Angeles, Calif. 90095
Since its inception in 2007, Jordan Farmar's Making Dreams Come True program has allowed patients and family members to attend a Lakers game and participate in a meet-and-greet with Farmar and other players after the game. A former UCLA basketball star, Farmar established the nonprofit Jordan Farmar Foundation to support charitable programs that build values, develop character, create opportunities and promote positive attitudes, with an emphasis on youth sports programs. Farmar, who won two NBA championship rings with the Los Angeles Lakers, will join the New Jersey Nets for the 2010-11 season.
Amy Albin, UCLA Health Sciences Media Relations, 310-794-8672
Please call media contact to arrange parking.
Both weekends against the Arizona schools (home and road) have flipped, so UCLA is now hosting ASU on Thursday (Feb. 24) and Arizona on Saturday (Feb. 26). The Bruins will travel to Arizona on Thursday (Jan. 27) and Arizona State on Saturday (Jan. 29).
The final amendment is the only actual competition date to change. The Bruins' contest at California has been moved from Saturday to Sunday (Feb. 20).
Incoming freshman guard Tyler Lamb had arthroscopic surgery today on his left knee to remove a loose body and is expected to be out of commission for 3-4 weeks.
On Saturday, UCLA hosted a memorial service for the late Coach John R. Wooden. Over 50 members of Coach's family, hundreds of UCLA basketball players from all eras, invited guests and members of the public were treated to stories about John Wooden, the family man and mentor, from some of his players as well as his Pastor and University officials.
Here are some of the stories written about the service:
UCLA website (includes photo gallery):