UCLA hoops notes

Heartbreak is not just forgotten in 42 days.

The last time the UCLA basketball team saw Stanford, the Cardinal were erasing a Bruin win with one swipe of the arm, as Josh Huestis blocked a Lazeric Jones jumper with three seconds left to preserve a 60-59 win on Dec. 28.

Unfortunately for UCLA, the conference opener was not a forgettable one.

“We had it at the end and we let it slip,” sophomore guard Tyler Lamb said. “It was a good game, both teams played hard – but if we cut down on some of our mental mistakes, it’s a different game.”

The Bruins (13-10, 6-5) committed 11 turnovers and shot 4-of-15 from 3-point land as they could not capitalize on an even worse performance by the Cardinal (16-7, 6-5), who committed 14 turnovers and shot just 34.5 percent from the field for the game.

“We’re not worried about what the games going to be like; we already know what the game is going to be like,” sophomore forward David Wear said. “They already know how we’re going to play – we got the scouting report on them, they got the scouting report on us – so you basically just have to go out and try to execute a little bit better than you did the game before.”

The Bruins aren’t just worried about themselves, though.

Bitterness remains from the last battle, and only a win will make it go away.
“It bothers anybody any time you lose,” UCLA head coach Ben Howland. “Hopefully it motivates you to bounce back and want to get that sour taste out of your mouth.”

Powell’s Fouls
UCLA’s offense may be executing offensively better than any team in the conference – the Bruins lead the Pac-12 in field-goal shooting percentage and 3-point shooting percentage in conference play – but the team is struggling with the simplest of shots.

At just 65.6 percent from the free-throw line, UCLA ranks sixth through 11 games.

“We’re all really good free throw shooters, so it’s frustrating when you get into the game and we’re shooting 50 percent some games,” Wear said. “It’s frustrating to get into games and not make our free throws.”

UCLA’s foul shooting has been downright foul, but Howland wants one Bruin in particular to get more attempts.

Or one, for that matter.

Freshman guard Norman Powell has zero free throws attempted in 205 minutes in conference play as he has settled for jumpers without attacking the rim.

“He’s got to attack and want to get hit and want the contact,” Howland said. “I mean the bottom line is 205 minutes without a foul shot is something he’s got to improve at. It’s not enough. Not even close. Good scorers get to the foul line and we need Norman to learn how to do that.”

Smith feasts in Apple State
Sophomore forward Joshua Smith got a little home cooking during the Bruins’ two-game Washington swing, and it tasted good.

Smith had 24 and 19 points against Washington and Washington State, respectively, his two biggest scoring outputs of the season.

“I’m always motivated to go home and play well,” Smith said. “Last year I thought I played alright. Feeding off the crowd a little bit, a lot of people talking mess – I’m a competitor and I was out there trying to be aggressive.”

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  • Anonymous

    We couldn’t finish at the end. It sounds like a familiar theme the last 2 years. Howland has to go. Guerrero has to go.

  • FleeingHomework

    @Anon 8:32 Guerrero and Howland? Why stop there? Let’s get rid of Block, and eventually the whole university…not. BN has to go. Especially away from here.

  • bruin4good

    Anonymous: Get your a$$ back to BN … your Kool-Aid-drinking-back-scratching-Nestor-licking-non-insight adds notign to the conversation here. Your pathetic-we’ll-keep-saying-it-until-it-comes-true-no-matter-how-many-years-it-takes mantra-chanting is about the most embarrassingly juvenile behavior I’ve ever witnessed in a public forum. The self-delusion that your circle-jerking group has an iota of ‘power’, a jot of insight, or a clue as to what the pulse of true Bruin fandom is hilarious … you are talking to yourselves … no one else is listening, and if they are, they’re laughing … at you! EGt real … you are fans only of yourselves!

  • Steve Smithers

    Amen to that, bruin4good….those guys are worthless.

  • Anonymous

    Gotta re-post my comment from the 7th. More appropriate after Anon 8:32 comment above:
    ——————
    There have been a lot of bad statements against Coach Howland. There are some things I don’t like about his coaching either. Like a terribly unimaginative offense against a zone (although this year has been a bit better). And not playing more zone with the talent he currently has.
    I told my wife while watching the Washington game that we were in trouble as soon as he started playing to NOT lose with an 8 point lead and started stalling. As soon as you hold the ball out front all momentum dies and their defense only has to play for 8 seconds.

    That being said I think he is still a keeper. He had a lot of trouble with his team this year and had to basically rebuild and become a guard oriented team when at the start everyone thought UCLA was going to be front court dominate. Since then we have become more balanced and even have been leaning toward front court dominance since the Wears and Joshua Smith have become more comfortable and dependable.

    I want to point out that if it weren’t for 3 points (Stanford and Wash games) we would be in a 4-way tie for first in the PAC12. Unfortunately those three points are having a big impact.

    Some have said that the 3 final fours are not based on his coaching but the talent on the teams. Isn’t it part of coaches job to recruit? Those same people complain that part of the problem now is his recruiting ability. So give him the credit he deserves for those successes, At the same time give him a bit of slack for needing to scramble because of (1) losing many top players early to the NBA (2) Dealing with head cases on the team the last couple of years. I know his judgment wasn’t PERFECT in recruiting! (3) coping with some players not being personally accountable for their physical conditioning and responsibility to their team.

    Sure Coach Howland isn’t perfect – who is? He has great integrity and in spite of what many nay-sayers think he is a good to great coach. His history and track record at other schools and impact in the NBA are a testament to his abilities.

  • Support

    Gotta agree with Anonymous. Landing Shabazz and Parker in a refurbished arena will save Howland for another year, but after that… it’s time to go if results are not seen. His weaknesses are known and he is too head strong to change (or only willing to adjust at a snails pace).

  • Support

    Gotta agree with Anonymous. Landing Shabazz and Parker in a refurbished arena will save Howland for another year, but after that… it’s time to go if results are not seen. His weaknesses are known and he is too head strong to change (or only willing to adjust at a snails pace).

  • Maze

    @Fleeing, bruin4good, and Steve: +1, +1, and +1

    “we’ll-keep-saying-it-until-it-comes-true-no-matter-how-many-years-it-takes”

    Spot on!

    I certainly don’t mean to hijack a basketball post, but Murshed “Nestor” Zaheed registered “FireDorrell.com” as a domain name (which ultimately morphed into Bandwagon Nation DOT com) within DAYS of Karl Dorrell’s HIRING. (Think he has a bit of a complex?)

    At any rate, good luck to that ne’er-do-well cult-like band of blowhards.

    Thanks again to Jon Gold for the coverage…greatly appreciated!

    GO BRUINS