UCLA head coach Ben Howland likes to think that every game is a test.
And for his now-surging Bruins in this down-and-up season, perhaps that’s true.
But even he must be able to differentiate between the his last two opponents and the Richmond Spiders, against whom UCLA is hoping to build on its four-game winning streak at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow at the Los Angeles Sports Arena.
The UC Davis Aggies and UC Irvine Anteaters? Five-question, open-book quizzes.
The Richmond Spiders and their pinpoint precise Princeton offense?
A bit more complex, and Howland knows he is going to have to throw the book at them.
“We’ll be really tested in this game because they’re a very good shooting team from three,” Howland said. “They’re very good at spreading you out. We’ll have our hands full trying to guard the Princeton offense.”
The Spiders, who won the Atlantic 10 Tournament last season and advanced to the Sweet 16 in the NCAA Tournament before falling to No. 1-seed Kansas, have four players in double-figures, led by Kendall Anthony’s 14.2 points per game and Cedrick Lindsay’s 13.0 points and 4.3 assists.\
Despite losing three starters from a team that won 29 games – a year after Chris Mooney led the Spiders to 26 wins – Richmond could be just the tune up UCLA needs heading into Pac-12 play.
“Every test for us is a true test,” Howland said. “Hopefully we can show we’ve improved over the last two weeks since finals ended. This will be a very good test because they’re an outstanding program and have a very good team.”
(more after the jump_
Smith making strides
UCLA sophomore center Joshua Smith appears to be rounding into form, even though in some ways, that’s just about the opposite of what Howland wants.
Smith had his best two-game stretch of the year over the last seven days for the Bruins, scoring a combined 30 points and grabbing 17 total rebounds in the wins over UC Davis and UC Irvine.
“He’s being aggressive in terms of scoring and he’s done a better job of rebounding,” Howland said. “But the big thing is he’s getting himself in better condition. We’re doing extra each day and I think it’s helping him.”
Bumps and Bruises
Howland said that sophomore center Anthony Stover (eye) practiced on Thursday and was expected to be available for Richmond. … Junior small forward De’End Parker (knee) remains out and there still is no timetable for his return as Howland said, ‘He’s still insisting it hurts so much it’s hard for him.”