Kyle Anderson named to Bob Cousy Award watch list

Under Steve Alford, UCLA point forward Kyle Anderson said his ballhandling duties have increased “90 percent.”

On Tuesday, he was named to the 46-man watch list for the Bob Cousy Award, given each year to the top point guard in college basketball. Anderson averaged 9.7 points, 8.6 rebounds and 3.5 assists as a freshman, and was the only Pac-12 player to rank top-10 in both the latter two categories. Continue reading

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Basketball notes: Bruins behind in defense, rebounding

– Steve Alford said UCLA has been doing a lot of work using 15- and 20-second shot clocks, and is ahead of where they should be on offense — albeit turning the ball over too often. However, the team is behind defensively, especially on the backboard.

“Our two best rebounders have probably been Kyle (Anderson) and Tony (Parker),” Alford said, adding that the team has been much better on the offensive glass.

The Bruins were last in the Pac-12 last year with a -1.6 rebounding margin.

– Five-star power forward Kevon Looney was on campus for the last of his five official visits. He will announce his decision on Oct. 31, with Duke being the favorite. Continue reading

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Zach LaVine seizes UCLA’s unofficial dunk title

The Bruins have a new dunk champion. Last year, Norman Powell had clearly staked that title. Now, he’s been dethroned by true freshman Zach LaVine.

“The way he dunks the ball, no question,” sophomore Kyle Anderson said. “I wouldn’t put anybody in the conference up with him.”

According to Anderson, Powell may still be slightly better at finishing a stiffly contested dunk. When it comes to freestyling, however, LaVine has the edge.

UCLA’s point forward recalled a scrimmage at Pauley Pavilion over the summer. While sitting behind the basket, he watched LaVine turn rise up from outside the circle on a fast break, dunking under a defender before coming back up and finishing.

“It was one of the best dunks I’ve ever seen,” Anderson said.

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Basketball notes: Steve Alford talks guard rotation, schemes


UCLA officially started practicing this past Saturday, and the first 15 minutes of Monday’s afternoon session was open to the media. The Bruins didn’t do anything intensive to start, but freshman Bryce Alford manned the point while Kyle Anderson did individual drills at the other end of the court.

Anderson said he’s playing a lot more point guard than he did under former head coach Ben Howland, estimating the increase at roughly 90 percent.

Other notes: Continue reading

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How often will Kyle Anderson play point guard?

Before he lost his job, Ben Howland said Kyle Anderson would become a full-time point guard — at least on offense.

Over a month after UCLA made its coaching change, that’s no longer the case. Filling in the void left by Larry Drew II is still paramount, but the Bruins may help themselves more by utilizing the multi-talented Anderson all over the court.

“We’ve got to figure out what’s going to be best for the Kyle,” head coach Steve Alford said. “We’ve got to keep all that open as far as how many different ways we can play him.” Continue reading

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UCLA’s season ends with a whimper

AUSTIN, Texas — Without Jordan Adams, sixth-seeded UCLA closed out its turbulent season with a flatlined performance against No. 11-seed Minnesota.

The Bruins were the slated underdog all week long. Once the game actually began at the Frank Erwin Center, they did nothing but reaffirm that talk in a 83-63 loss. What started out as an ugly but mutually designed affair — the teams missed their first 12 combined field goal attempts — eventually turned into a Gophers rout.

Despite shooting 26.7 percent in the first half, UCLA stayed within 10 points at the intermission due to a surprisingly strong rebounding effort. The team ended up with a 42-36 edge on the glass, grabbing 19 offensive boards on 43 missed shots.

It wasn’t until Minnesota point guard Andre Hollins caught fire in the second half that the Bruins were completely sunk. The sophomore scored 23 points after halftime, and added nine rebounds to go with five assists.

Some notes from the game. Continue reading

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Muhammad leads Bruins in Pac-12 awards

Two days after UCLA won an outright Pac-12 title, Shabazz Muhammad became the eighth player in program history to win Pac-12 Freshman of the Year — sharing the honor with Arizona point guard Jahii Carson.

The star swingman, who ranked third in the Pac-12 with 18.3 points per game, is the first Bruin to win since Kevin Love in 2008. Muhammad also made the 10-man all-conference first team with senior point guard Larry Drew II, while freshman point forward Kyle Anderson was a second-team selection.

Muhammad and Drew both generated some talk for the conference’s Player of the Year Award, but that went to Cal guard Allen Crabbe. Oregon’s Dana Altman won Coach of the Year, and had his Ducks positioned for a conference title before losing the last two games of the season.

Muhammad and Anderson also made the All-Pac-12 Freshman team, but guard Jordan Adams missed the cut for the five-man list. He averaged 15.2 points per game, eighth best in the conference, and was an honorable mention for receiving at least three votes.

Here’s the full list of conference awards: Continue reading

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UCLA at WSU: What to Watch

UCLA (22-7, 12-4) at Washington State (11-18, 2-14)
Tipoff:
6:30 p.m., Beasley Coliseum
TV/Radio: Pac-12 Networks/AM 570

At a glance: A loss in Pullman would be inexcusable for a conference contender. Washington State hasn’t beaten UCLA in Pullman since February 1993, seven months before any of the Bruins’ four freshmen were born.

WSU has lost nine straight games, and 11 of its past 12. No other team in the conference has lost more than five in a row all season. The Cougars aren’t trending up either. Since one-point losses at home to both Oregon and Oregon State, they’ve lost their last three by an average of 11 points — allowing opponents to shoot 52.9 percent from the field over that stretch. Most comically, they’ve had 14.3 percent of their shots blocked, the worst mark in the country. Continue reading

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Howland softens comment on Shabazz’s NBA future

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

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