Time and time again, Nikola Dragovic said the pending criminal charges were not affecting his play on the court.
His performance said otherwise: A .266 shooting percentage from the field, .205 from behind the 3-point line.
Now that phase two of the process is complete – after Dragovic pled not guilty on Monday to felony assault charges after a fight during a concert at Henry Fonda Theatre in Hollywood on Oct. 24 – he intends to put the issue in the back of his mind.
The lengthy wait between his arrest on Nov. 20 and his arraignment on Monday has taken its toll. And now there’s an even longer wait before his preliminary trial hearing, which is set for Feb. 1.
“It would be good if everything was over in a day or two,” Dragovic said. “I was kind of worried – I wasn’t sure what was going on, what I’d be charged with – but now that I have everything set up, I don’t have to worry about it. I’m not going to think about it as much as I used to.”
Details came to light last month about the incident, but Dragovic’s attorney, Jon Artz, said in a conference call with reporters on Monday that the defense has discovered new evidence regarding the case. During the concert, Dragovic’s roommate, Aleksandar Stanisic, got into an altercation with a man and his girlfriend, at which point the man slapped Stanisic across the face. Artz – who also said the victim admitted to his investigator that he was “jealous” – said that Dragovic and Stanisic then exited the premises and were waiting for their car when the man followed them downstairs and continued to argue. Dragovic tackled the man, who collided with a glass case, which shattered and lacerated his leg. Artz maintains that his client did not throw a punch and was not the aggressor.
Now comes the difficult part for Dragovic in once again putting his legal situation to bed for the time being.
“I didn’t think it affected me, but just now thinking about what’s wrong with my shot, maybe it did affect me,” said Dragovic, who is averaging 7.9 points per game. “Not that I’m thinking about it on the court. But for sure it affected my concentration and the time I had to put into it instead of putting it into my shot.”
Malcolm in the Front
Shooting guard Malcolm Lee had his second consecutive scoring outburst in UCLA’s 84-73 loss to Notre Dame on Saturday. Lee had 29 points on 11-of-17 shooting and 4-of-5 3-pointers, and chipped in four assists.
This, after scoring 20 points against New Mexico State on Dec. 15.
Lee actually preferred that performance more.
“It would be better for the team if I was scoring in the 20-21 range,” said Lee, who is averaging 15.1 points for the season. “But I was just trying to win. I was doing whatever it took – I felt like I had to try to take over. More ideally, though, is the lower 20s and getting my teammates involved.”
UCLA senior guard Michael Roll, who is second on the team with 14.5 points per game, came down with a case of the stomach flu, and his status for tonight’s matchup with Colorado State is questionable.