Weekly Answers, Pt. 3

Check out the latest batch of weekly answers…

1) If you and Ralph Irvin ran the 40 – who would have the fastest time? – sp0tjones
I don’t know, but I think Sam Strong would beat us both.

2) Malcom Jones was clearly the most talented RB this year. Any idea why he rarely saw pt? What are the chances he transfers to another school? – djdan
I don’t know how you can say he was “clearly” more talented than Franklin when Franklin topped 1,000 yards. He battled injuries and fumbling issues early, but really, what’d you expect from him? And no, he’s not transferring.

3) How does the OL look for 2011? Keep up the good work. Thanks – Djdan
With Jeff Baca and Kai Maiava returning, and a projected bump-up by Chris Ward, I think it will be improved, but probably not drastically. A Sean Sheller return would obviously be a crucial piece, but so is developing sixth and seventh guys in the rotation, and that’s on Stan Hasiak and Wade Yandall. If either of them make the leap, then UCLA’s line will be adequate.

4) Jon, my hat went off to UConn’s WBB when they recorded their 88th and 89th wins. Knowing that 35 of our record-setting 106 NCs are in Women’s sports, in what context do you view UConn’s achievement? (ie. it should fall somewhere between “only-counts-in-Women’s-college-Basketball” and “greatest-streak-of-all-time”. – Rob M
It is an incredible achievement, particularly in this day and age, regardless of gender. As team sport streaks go, it’s up there. Comparing women’s basketball to men’s basketball, though, is like comparing golf to soccer. They are different sports. Until women’s basketball becomes above the rim or men’s basketball becomes below the rim, they will be separate.

5) Jon: What are your thoughts on the basketball team? What is the biggest surprise and the disappointment? – Legalsean
Before the season, I projected anywhere from 20-22 wins, and I think that’s about right. I said that there would be baffling losses, and there have been. I also said there was the potential for huge wins, and there have been. The biggest surprise to me IS the biggest disappointment: the inability to close out teams. This was a major problem last year – remember they went up by 10 over Oregon, Oregon State and I think Arizona State if I’m not mistaken – but I credited that to a lack of clutch scorers and atrocious chemistry. Now they have better scorers, better chemistry…and still can’t drop the hammer. Quite simply, that will need to change if they hope to have a realistic shot at postseason success, whatever that may be.

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  • Blue Bruin

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: the reason the team blows second-half leads is directly on Howland. Year after year, he instills the slow-down offense, and year after year UCLA watches its lead fritter away.

    THIS TEAM IS SIMPLY NOT GOOD ENOUGH TO RUN A SLOW-DOWN OFFENSE. One of two things invariably happens: someone jacks up a wild three, or someone penetrates and jacks up a wild shot in the lane.

    Does Howland seriously think UCLA is good enough to just toss the ball around for 30 seconds and then score at will? No, in most cases you need to work for a good 20-25 seconds to wear down the defense and get a good shot. When UCLA passes the ball around the perimeter, the other team gets to rest, then be nice and fresh for the 5 seconds it actually has to guard UCLA.

    It’s such a fallacy to think that simply running time off the clock is good strategy. Scoring is good strategy. You win games by outscoring the other team, not by putting the ball in a black hole. At the end of games, points are infinitely more valuable than time off the clock.

    Of course I’m not advocating UCLA shoot with 30 seconds left on the shot clock or be careless with the ball. But the team has to continue to play aggressive offense. If a good shot is available 15 seconds into the possession, take it, score it, and put pressure back on the opponent.

    Oh, that (above) and free throw shooting.

    Now there are those in this space who try to dispute the indisputable (my above treatise). Let’s hear it: bring on your pathetic defenses of Howland’s shoddy strategies~

  • Tony

    Jon, with regards to question five I believe you meant to say that your biggest disappointment was the “inability” rather than “ability to close out teams.” Thanks for your work and looking forward to more recruiting news.

  • Anonymous

    How was Malcolm Jones our best back? He’s slow and runs upright.

    Franklin is the best and was the most effective….CLEARLY.

    And both fumble, but Franklin is easily the #1 guy.

  • UB (Ultimate Bruin)

    Apparently, VB, Blue Bruin is under the misguided impression that Ben tells the team to run 30 seconds off the clock BEFORE running the offense. “Guys! Pass it around for 30 seconds and then look for an open shot. And for goodness sakes! DO NOT take a shot with 15 seconds left on the clock — even if your wide open!” Righhhhhhht. Take another pill, Blue. The issue is not the ability to score — if that were the case there would be NO LEAD to blow. The issue is once they build a lead, closing out the game. That has little to do with the style of offense. But, thanks for playing!

  • Bob

    Blue Bruin is so right about how Howland wants to finish games. It just drives me crazy game after game, year after year, having to watch 15 to 20 point leads dwindle. Howland takes the team out of there rhythm with his half court stall to use up the clock. The sad part is we see it and he doesn’t. There is nothing wrong with stomping on your opponent neck and winning by twenty five. Not to mention it’s a million times more fun to watch.

    Simple strategy: if what you are doing keeps failing then make the proper adjustment to succeed. Ben has a hard time with this. If you constantly get burned playing man on man then go to a zone. If you keep losing close games trying to run out the clock by stalling, then stop using the stalling approach and run your normal offense till the end of the game. With this Bruin team no lead is to big.

    By the way I’m not reading anyone out here is calling for Howlands head so why make stupid accusations.

  • Blue Bruin

    Who said anything about firing? Not me! And UB is totally missing the point, and clearly not watching UCLA games. Because Howland DOES tell the team to not initiate any offense for the first 30 seconds. That’s why the PG dribbles around aimlessly, then passes to a guy on the wing. Who promptly passes back.

    Anybody who’s even watched a few UCLA games in recent seasons knows this. Remember how Farmar just dribbled around at the end of games for no reason? Remember Collison doing the same thing? Remember Lee and Anderson doing it last year? Did you see Jones do it this season?

    Even the commentators on Fox Sports know it’s a fallacy. MacLean and Johnson are always complaining about it.

    Now back to the firing issue…Howland needs to make some serious changes to the way he coaches. He has serious flaws, among them this slow-down offense issue and the time out usage. Some things he does are utterly indefensible.

    And don’t trot out the three Final Fours excuse. Sure, it’s a great accomplishment, yet one that lives in the past. The past two seasons have been complete disasters, and this current one is on very shaky grounds at best.

    I wish I could have as much unbridled confidence in Howland as others. But I’m increasingly beginning to think he really lucked out with the collection of talent he assembled and those guys won in spite of him.

  • Bob

    VB seems to thinks you want Ben fired. But VB spills stuff just for a reaction, not because he has any thing valid to say.

    UB gives no reason for the constant failures of the Bruins holding on to leads, and then comes out with “thanks for playing” like he had all the answers. For real, no one is watching the games otherwise we wouldn’t see uninformed posts like this.

  • Djdan

    Hey Anon – I’m guessing he was “slow and upright” because the coaches laid into him after his fumbles. Following those early season mishaps his style completely changed and he went conservative. I just feel like he didn’t get a fair shot. Watch for it, if this kid gets a decent OL while he is here he will be scary good.
    Hats off to Franklin for his 1000, but Jones easily puts up yds in excess of that if he gets as many touches in the pistol.

  • Reformed Droog

    CBH has opened up his offense significantly over the current and last seasons. What has happened? The defense has suffered. No wonder he’s hesitant to make drastic changes. But our problems are not so cut-and-dry.

    Make baskets and stop the other team from doing the same. It’s not rocket science. Doesn’t matter if you score 15 seconds into the possession or 30 – if you don’t make a stop on the other end, your effort on offense is useless. (Free throws are especially helpful, guys…)

    I’m not advocating one way or the other, but the fact of the matter is that our players aren’t effective enough on either side of the ball to consistently keep a lead.

  • sidvicious

    Leads dwindle at the end of games because the other team shoots threes and our perimeter defenders suck. Not to mention we can’t hit clutch free throws. Neither are the fault of howland.

  • Bruintx

    VB is calling someone out for being negative and whining… that’s rich. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black!! LOL