The No. 11 Bruins’ loss to Georgetown last night exposed many of this team’s flaws: Ben Howland has difficulty making in-game adjustments, the offense still isn’t meshing, and UCLA has no inside game to speak of. Georgetown will likely be a ranked team depending on how it does against No. 1 Indiana tonight, but the Hoyas — even with the duo of Otto Porter and Markel Starks — aren’t more talented than UCLA.
Shabazz Muhammad’s quote from last night about missing out sums up this team right now: “”It doesn’t feel good inside. I really wanted a shot at them. We’re really not ready yet.”
Is it time for fans to panic? Not quite, UCLA certainly doesn’t look like a Final Four contender. Some thoughts heading into tonight’s tipoff against Georgia, another unranked team.
Must-win? Yes. The Bulldogs kept pace with the Hoosiers for a most of the game, but they’re still a 1-3 team. Georgia has just one player — sophomore guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, an All-SEC freshman last year — averaging double-digit scoring, and they’re shooting just 36.3 percent from the field while allowing 43.4. Here’s guessing Jordan Adams goes for another 20 tonight.
Inside game: UCLA really doesn’t have much. John Thompson III talked up what a big team the Bruins were after last night’s game, but the Wears hardly ever play in the low post and Josh Smith still doesn’t stay on the court for long stretches. David Wear is out tonight with a back injury and Tony Parker sat out last night with back spasms, which reduces the low-post troops even further. The Bruins had success late in the game when they pushed a full-court offense more. Not sure if Howland plans to do that more against Georgia, but with the players he has, he probably should.
Freshman duo: Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson were the supposed to be program saviors this year. Tonight’s a chance to prove it. Neither is playing at 100 percent right now, what with Anderson’s bone contusion and Muhammad not being in full game shape, but they’ll both be in the starting lineup for the first time this season. That bodes well for offensive chemistry. By his own admittance, Anderson hasn’t played well recently and looks particularly out of place on defense. Still, he has preternatural passing instincts, and having him dish to Shabazz early could get the offense rolling.
(Not a major concern for the college game, but I have no idea what Anderson will do at the next level. He already can’t defend point guards, and doesn’t have the offensive skill to play forward.)
On a side note, Kyle Anderson’s father doesn’t think much of how Howland handles his son. Not a particularly volatile situation at this point, but Anderson going scoreless against Georgetown probably didn’t help the situation.