UCLA forward Gyorgy Goloman ready for full workload after injury

UCLA’s Gyorgy Goloman has barely played as a sophomore, having lost the first half of the season to a leg injury. According to Steve Alford, the 6-foot-11 forward will be shouldering a much heavier workload moving forward — starting with tonight’s 8 p.m. tipoff at Oregon State.

“No limits now,” said the Bruins’ third-year coach.

Goloman had been diagnosed with a stress fracture in his right leg back in October, and his recovery took longer than the team had initially expected. He was only cleared for six to eight minutes in his season debut against USC last week, and ended up seeing the floor for two minutes in what turned out to be an 89-75 loss at Pauley Pavilion.

ANALYSIS: Why have the Bruins struggled so much on defense?

While he may not contribute big numbers — having averaged just 1.3 points and 1.5 rebounds in 10.8 minutes off the bench last year — his presence gives the Bruins more lineup flexibility, with the length to position himself at the top of the team’s zone defense.

“He’s got the basketball IQ,” Alford said of Goloman. “He understands positioning. I’m hoping that helps, because we’re struggling with the understanding of positioning, being in the right position, and doing it consistently enough.

“We’ll get a stop or two, and then we’ll have three times where they score. … Those things just can’t happen. You’ve got to have the demeanor of a team where, if someone scores two times in a row on you, stop it.”

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UCLA’s Keith Erickson to be inducted into Pac-12 Hall of Honor

Keith Erickson (right) stands next to Jim Cleamons as part of a 40th anniversary ceremony for the 1972 Lakers championship team. Erickson also helped UCLA to national titles in 1964 and 1965, and will be inducted into the Pac-12 Hall of Honor this March. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Archives)

Keith Erickson (right) stands next to Jim Cleamons as part of a 40th anniversary ceremony for the 1972 Lakers championship team. Erickson also helped UCLA to national titles in 1964 and 1965, and will be inducted into the Pac-12 Hall of Honor this March. (Michael Owen Baker/Staff Archives)

Former UCLA star Keith Erickson will be among the 12 players inducted into this year’s Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Hall of Honor.

The 71-year-old was part of the Bruins’ first two NCAA championship teams in 1964 and 1965, and also earned a spot on U.S. men’s volleyball team that finished ninth at the 1964 Summer Olympics in Tokyo. Drafted in the third round of the 1965 NBA draft, the El Segundo native embarked on a 12-year career that included a 1972 title run with the Lakers.

He retired in 1977 with 7,251 points, 3,449 rebounds, and 1,991 assists for four different teams.

Erickson will be inducted to the Hall of Honor on March 12, before the Pac-12 Tournament championship game at the MGM Grand Garden Arena.

He will be joined in Las Vegas by Arizona’s Salim Stoudamire, Arizona State’s Art Becker, Cal’s Brian Hendrick, Colorado’s Scott Wedman, Oregon’s Luke Ridnour, Oregon State’s Jim Anderson, Stanford’s Kim Belton, USC’s Sam Clancy, Utah’s Vern Gardner, Washington’s Isaiah Thomas, and Washington State’s Keith Morrison.

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Q&A — 1/15/16 Answers

Q: Why is our basketball team so wildly inconsistent this year?

A: The Bruins aren’t very good on defense, which I’d attribute to both the abilities of individual players as well as lackluster coaching. That puts them in a bad spot whenever they fall into scoring droughts; we saw that against USC, when every second-half comeback attempt died because the Trojans responded with quick, easy points. UCLA’s offense has also become very dependent on Bryce Alford’s shooting. When he’s not hitting baskets, everything else bogs down. When he is, however, it’s a difficult team to stop.

Q: Looking ahead to the 2016 season the roster should be filled with talent. What do you think the starting five will look like after T.J. Leaf and Lonzo Ball make it on to campus? If Ball ends up starting, which current guard do you see Coach Alford moving to the bench?

A: Since no one on the team looks NBA-ready, let’s assume that none of them makes a bad decision to turn pro early. In that case, I’d expect the starting lineup to look something like:

C — Thomas Welsh, Jr.
F — T.J. Leaf, Fr.
G — Isaac Hamilton, Sr.
G — Bryce Alford, Sr.
G — Lonzo Ball, Fr.

Since there’s no way Alford will send his son to the bench — and since Hamilton will also be a senior — Aaron Holiday in a sixth man role probably makes the most sense. But I could also see a scenario where Hamilton becomes the leading scorer of the second unit. Continue reading

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Three thoughts after UCLA’s 89-75 loss to USC

UCLA’s 89-75 loss to USC sows more doubt about the trajectory of Steve Alford’s third season with the Bruins. (John McCoy/Staff)

1. How much can UCLA improve its defense? There was little dispute about the main reason behind the Bruins’ 89-75 loss to USC on Wednesday night, one that stands at one of the ugliest home efforts of the Steve Alford era.

The team gave up 89 points and allowed the Trojans to shoot 45 percent from beyond the arc. The Bruins rank last in the Pac-12 in the former category, and eighth in the latter. Combine that lackluster defense with a potent but inconsistent offense — and a very tough schedule — and you get an average scoring margin of just +2.6. Every other team in the conference is above 4.0, and six are in double digits.

What’s the solution? Alford hinted at potential lineup changes, saying that freshman forward Alex Olesinski — who didn’t play at all against the Trojans — could get more minutes. The third-year coach also mentioned sophomore Gyorgy Goloman, who returned from a stress fracture in his leg and saw the floor for two minutes in his season debut. But both are role players who have combined for just 526 career minutes. It’s difficult to imagine them being able to transform the team’s defensive performance within the next month or so. Continue reading

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