Something I Saw

UCLA’s 79-69 win over Pepperdine last night was probably closer than it should’ve been – and if not for early and late turnovers, it would’ve been – but the Bruins got a good look at the potential of this offense.

For the first time in four games – I’m counting the exhibitions, even though I probably shouldn’t – UCLA shifted its style midway through a game, and really got a good dose of Joshua Smith.

So much of Smith’s high school domination was related to his size, and it really is impossible to ignore. People wondered what he would look like on the court, compared to older, more developed talent. He remains a beast.

Granted, Pepperdine is not a very talented team, returning nearly all its players from a 7-24 team.

But UCLA was feeding Smith, really going to him for an extended period of time. He responded.

With just under 11 minutes left in the game, Smith hit a free throw. Then he had a nice dunk. Then he grabbed an offensive rebound, and another offensive rebound and ensuing layup. Less than a minute later, another offensive rebound, another attempt, drawing a foul and hitting two free throws. Then another offensive rebound, another layup, offensive rebound and two more baskets, the last coming at 7:13.

In a span of about three-and-a-half minutes, Smith had 11 points and four offensive rebounds, and those two are tied together. When a big man does the dirty work inside, the perimeter players notice and reward him.

Smith wasn’t perfect – the fouls have to be cut drastically, especially with UCLA having only eight scholarship players available – but for the first time this year, he’s been highly effective. As a result, things opened up on the outside as well.

There were so many dimensions to the UCLA offense last night. Zeke Jones and Tyler Honeycutt driving. Smith and Reeves Nelson in the post. Honeycutt and Nelson transition, and even 3-point shooting from Brendan Lane, whose two threes were crucial.

Clearly, UCLA will face bigger and better bigs as the season progresses, but last night the Bruins showed different layers to the offense, and if that keeps up, they’ll be in good shape.

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  • bruin85

    thoroughly enjoy your blog and articles like this are the reason.
    Thank You

  • bruinstc

    I think you are underestimating Pepperdine. Their bigs were big. One was taller and one was almost as big. So Smith’s performance was all the more significant.

    There will be more talented competition in the future but Pepperdine’s bigs were sized to compete.

  • hogsman

    The second half was decent (first half was atrocious). They looked awkward at times, but that should change as the players get used to the new tempo and to each other. Based on what Jon said recently, it sounds like Carlino currently isn’t a good fit for the team’s desired style of play, but I hope he can work on his game and get there because they need some zone-busters on the floor.

  • Anonymous

    Ive never seen Carlino, but I’d love for him to get minutes from Anderson. Anderson is just a cancer to the offense. If he doesnt turn it over he’s disrupting the flow by being late on passes or just delivering the ball in difficult spots.