Ben Howland didn’t see what the fuss was all about.
The UCLA coach had presumed that Shabazz Muhammad’s entry into the NBA Draft was practically common knowledge. So when the media asked if the Bruins’ star freshman had played his final game at Pauley Pavilion on Saturday, Howland said yes.
On Monday, he clarified that he hadn’t received the information from Muhammad and apologized for speaking out of turn — while suggesting that a player of that caliber would still be better off going pro.
“I’m sometimes too honest,” Howland said. “It would have been better to answer that question differently the other day. I’ve never discussed it with Shabazz. It’s kind of obvious when a kid’s a lottery pick that they’re going to the NBA in this day and age. … Continue reading
After helping UCLA to a weekend sweep over ASU and Arizona, Kyle Anderson was rewarded with his first Pac-12 Player of the Week honor.
The freshman point forward scored a career-high 21 against the Sun Devils, grabbing 15 boards for his eighth double-double of the season. He’s in the midst of his most productive offensive stretch yet, averaging 16.5 points and 11 rebounds over his last four games. Anderson has also totaled 14 assists, six blocks and six steals in those outings.
Freshman swingman Shabazz Muhammad was also named Pac-12 Player of the Week on Dec. 31, the only other Bruin to do so this season.
Q: Larry Scott has been very active since becoming commissioner, expanding the conference from ten to twelve, creating the Pac-12 Networks, and bringing a tremendous amount of new revenue to each member school. Any idea that the next big thing from Scott will be?
A: Most pressing is getting a DirecTV deal nailed down, but that’s not exactly a “big thing” so much as a necessary one. Scott has said consistently over the past few months that the conference isn’t looking to expand, so the Pac-12 probably won’t be leading the country into an era of 16-team superconferences. What he might look to do next is push for some significant reform in the NCAA, especially as the institution’s enforcement policies look more and more like a joke. Scott has been candid about the need for change in the past, something he reaffirmed again on Saturday.
Q: What is the latest news on RB Craig Lee commitment status? Also, we heard of the great recruiting class UCLA had this year but did not hear of any high school seniors that flipped their commitment. Were there any? Continue reading
UCLA earned itself a solid 74-69 victory against Arizona Saturday night, a convincing win that keeps the Bruins controlling a share of the Pac-12 lead (game story here). The Bruins also clinched a first-round bye in the conference tournament, and will finish no lower than a third seed. Look for them to finally be ranked again for the first time since January.
Some notes: Continue reading
Ever since his hype as the nation’s top recruit, UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad has been almost universally regarded as a one-and-done — bound for the NBA Draft after his spending a season showing off his wares in college.
After the Bruins beat Arizona 74-69 in their last home game of the season, coach Ben Howland said he expected that to still hold true.
“I’m very much a realist now,” Howland said. “I knew going into this that it was a one-year deal. And it should be. He’s a lottery pick. He’s a top-five pick. When you have that going for you, it is absolutely the right thing for him. That was his last game at Pauley Pavilion, no doubt about it. Continue reading
UCLA controlled the entire game, never trailing after three minutes in a 74-69 win that keeps the team in control of its own destiny. Arizona closed to within three points in the final minute, but a clutch rebound by freshman Shabazz Muhammad all but sealed the victory. Muhammad went to the line and sank two free throws to cap the final score, serenaded by “One more year!” cheers as he did.
Muhammad scored a game-high 18 after being limited by foul trouble early, followed closely behind by Kyle Anderson’s 17. Four Bruins scored in double figures.
This is UCLA’s first season sweep over Arizona since 2008. The attendance of 13,727 is a stadium record.
UPDATE: Here’s the game story, as well as Jill Painter’s column on Shabazz Muhammad.
Asked this week what it was like watching film of his team’s loss to USC, Ben Howland didn’t mince words.
“It’s depressing,” the UCLA coach said.
The Trojans stunned the Bruins at Pauley Pavilion three weeks ago, debuting in the new stadium with a 75-71 overtime upset. It marked UCLA’s only consecutive loss this season, and sent USC on a four-game winning streak that made interim coach Bob Cantu a legitimate candidate for the full-time job.
Point guard Larry Drew II had the most pointed words that night: “When we play SC again, it’s going to be war.” Continue reading
Ben Howland, long known for his methodical halfcourt offenses, said he once used as many as 45 different sets.
In Saturday’s win at Stanford, the UCLA coach cut that number down to nine. After using around 18 to 20 for most of the season, he wanted to simplify the playbook even further for his young team coming off a quick turnaround.
Two days earlier, the Bruins had shot just 30.3 percent in the first half 76-63 loss at Cal. Against the Cardinal, UCLA shot 54.4 percent from the field.
“It’s all about execution and reading,” Howland said. “You have different reads: ‘If he trails me, I’m going to curl. If he goes ball side screen, I’m going to fade. If he fades, I have to shorten the pass. If he goes underneath, I have to re-screen.’” Continue reading
Shabazz Muhammad, Jordan Adams and Kyle Anderson all landed on the midseason watchlist for the Wayman Tisdale Freshman of the Year Award — a 12-man group selected by the U.S. Basketball Writers Association. The news isn’t a huge surprise given that the trio accounts for 52.7 percent of UCLA’s scoring and 45 percent of its rebounding.
Here’s the complete list in alphabetical order: Continue reading
No. 6 Arizona (16-1, 4-1)
Tipoff: 6 p.m. PT, McKale Center
TV/Radio: ESPN2, AM-570
At a glance: Freshman Shabazz Muhammad called this game a “gotta-win,” something that still holds true after Oregon held on to beat Washington State last night after trailing by 10 at halftime. The Ducks remain the only Pac-12 team undefeated through conference play, and will hold a two-game lead over the loser in Tucson.
Junior forward Travis Wear echoed those same thoughts: “I think we’re all feeling that way right now. … This is a big week for us. We’ve got to get two wins to keep us up there near the top.”
– Arizona has plenty of size with its freshman trio of Kaleb Tarczewski, Brandon Ashley and Grant Jerrett all measuring at least 6-foot-8 and 235 pounds, but gets rebounding contributions Continue reading