UCLA head coach Ben Howland told reporters on Tuesday afternoon that starting sophomore point guard Jerime Anderson would be benched for tonight’s game at Cal after showing up late to a scheduled injury rehab session for his left groin.
Freshman forward Tyler Honeycutt will move into the starting lineup – his first start of the season – and sophomore guard Malcolm Lee will move from shooting guard to point guard.
The addition of Honeycutt brings an instant size increase and should help on the boards, as the 6-foot-7 Sylmar High product has a knack for grabbing errant rebounds. However, Howland harps on Honeycutt’s defensive shortcomings, as he still catches up after missing much of the summer, fall and early season with back and shin injuries.
“Athletically he has a hard time staying in front of the ball right now,” Howland said of Honeycutt. “His big challenge is going to be defensively, staying in front of the guy he’s guarding. He’s built so high – he’s two-thirds legs and one-third upper body. He really has to get low in his stance to guard people.”
Honeycutt’s first task won’t be an easy one: Golden Bears senior forward Theo Robertson averages nearly 13 points per game and almost four rebounds despite missing six early season games with a foot injury.
“I know he’s very athletic, I know he can shoot, I know he can get to the rack, he’s real strong,” Honeycutt said. “He’s a senior, and he has that experience.”
Experience is Honeycutt’s biggest shortcoming, though that can be said for many of the young Bruins.
With just eight games under his belt, Honeycutt said he was still hesitant on the offensive end, as he averages just five points per game.
“I’m just not comfortable yet,” Honeycutt said. “All the guys have played all year together, and I feel like kind of the new guy. I’m working myself back into the rotation. I’ll know when I go off for a big game.”
Before Honeycutt worries about the offensive end, though, UCLA simply will need him to play sound defense and rebound – two of their biggest needs.
“He gets in there, he mixes it up,” Roll said. “He’s a great offensive rebounder – he’s a lot taller; he’s just always around the bucket. Hopefully he can get us a couple extra possessions.”