Travis Wear discusses state of UCLA’s frontcourt

Even someone who didn’t watch a single UCLA basketball game last season can gain some sense of Travis Wear’s playing style. Just take a look at the stats.

Despite standing at 6-foot-10, 230 pounds, Wear attempted 70 percent of his shots on 2-point jumpers. No other Bruin took above 54 percent. While he averaged a respectable 42 percent on those shots, one of his goals this offseason is to gain strength to better play down low.

Head coach Steve Alford hasn’t explicitly told Wear he’ll play center, but the rising senior doesn’t see much of an alternative.

“Obviously, you look at the bigs, you have me, Dave (Wear), Tony (Parker) — we’re all going to be guarding fours and fives,” he said. “Somebody’s going to play the five at some point. It’s gonna happen.”

How much Travis Wear actually does shift his game inside likely depends on the development of Parker, the team’s lone true big man at 6-foot-9, 270 pounds. After a freshman year that saw him go from a touted recruit to a constant benchwarmer, he mulled a transfer but committed to staying at UCLA under the new coaching staff.

So far, his performance has been positive. The addition of full-time strength coach Wes Long is helping him trim down. Assistant Ed Schilling stresses ballhandling at the beginning of each workout, ensuring that every player — no matter what size — builds those same skills.

“It’s a fresh start for him,” Wear said. “He’s working hard. He’s really doing everything he has to, doing 100 percent in the workouts, doing extra conditioning with Wes so he can get in better shape. From everything I’ve seen so far, he’s looking good.”

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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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Wear not worried about Mbakwe

Minnesota ranks eighth in the country in rebounding margin. UCLA ranks 251st. On paper, it’s a tremendous advantage, and one reason the No. 11-seed Gophers are widely considered favorites over the sixth-seeded Bruins on Friday night.

But forward Travis Wear, who will be tasked with some low-post defensive duties, isn’t too worried about the opposition.

Minnesota’s Trevor Mbakwe is a 6-foot-8, 245-pound forward who led the Big Ten in rebounding. Wear said that the team had already been “battle-tested” against the big men in Pac-12, adding that he had more trouble against slower 7-footers such as Arizona State’s Jordan Bachynski and Washington’s Aziz N’Diaye. Continue reading

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Short-handed UCLA falls short of Pac-12 tourney title

Without shooting guard Jordan Adams, UCLA couldn’t do enough to beat Oregon for the Pac-12 tournament championship. As Adams sat at the end of the bench with a broken right foot, the Bruins lost 78-69 and failed to put together one strong, late rally.

UCLA cut the Ducks’ to two points with 12 minutes left to go on a 3-pointer by Larry Drew II, but proceeded to give up a 6-0 run over the next 90 seconds. It went the rest of the way down between six and 12 points — save for a 19-second stretch that saw the deficit shrink to four.

Oregon won its first tournament title since 2007. No team has won both the regular-season and tournament championships since the Bruins did so in 2008.

– UCLA’s seed for the NCAA tournament will likely drop due to Adams’ absence. The NCAA selection committee often account for injuries in their decision, and the Bruins being without their second-leading scorer could weigh heavily. In 2000, top-ranked Cincinnati missed out on a No. 1 seed when Kenyon Martin broke his leg. In 2009, St. Mary’s missed the tournament despite 26 wins because point guard Patty Mills hadn’t shaken off rust after breaking his hand. Continue reading

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UCLA 66, Arizona 64: Notes and quotes

UCLA pulled out a big 66-64 victory against Arizona to advance to the Pac-12 title game, but the cost was a season-ending broken foot for Jordan Adams (story here). The freshman guard erupted for 18 second-half points, including 13 straight, as the Bruins beat the Wildcats for the third time this season.

Tomorrow’s 8 p.m. tipoff (ESPN) pits UCLA against Oregon — a tough matchup for the Bruins even with Adams.

More notes after the jump. Continue reading

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Adams out for season with broken foot

UCLA freshman guard Jordan Adams is out for the season with a broken fifth metatarsal in his right foot. He had scored a game-high 24 points to carry the Bruins to a 66-64 win over Arizona in the Pac-12 Tournament semifinals.

Adams injured the foot trying to defend Solomon Hill’s last shot, and told teammates as he limped off the court that he suspected it was broken. He suffered a similar injury two summers ago.

“It’s horrible,” forward Travis Wear said. “His toughness and his shot, and what he brings to this team, it’s going to be hard to replace. The way, he’s been playing, it sucks.

“He came out and he put us on his back. To hurt your foot on the last play of the game, with what we have coming up, it doesn’t get worse than this.”

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UCLA at Washington: Halftime update

Washington holds a 31-30 lead at halftime, but UCLA surprisingly holds a 20-16 edge on the boards. Another anomaly? Point guard Larry Drew II only has one dime for the Bruins, who are very much in this game despite five assists against seven turnovers. Forward Travis Wear’s right foot looks healed and he leads the game with 10 points.

UCLA is only shooting 1 of 6 from 3-point range, but the Huskies are just 2 of 6 at the free throw line.

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Parker looks to shine against Sun Devils

Opportunity is knocking for Tony Parker.

At 6-foot-9, 275 pounds, Parker is UCLA’s lone true big man — an asset that, if developed, would solve one of the Bruins’ most glaring woes. He’s yet to become that frontcourt salve, a combination of poor health and inconsistent play keeping him off the floor.

That changed a bit Sunday, as he pick-and-rolled his way to eight first-half points in a 75-59 win at USC. When UCLA tips off against Arizona State at 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, the freshman will get another chance to earn minutes.

“It’s just teaching him to play with physicality,” coach Ben Howland said. “He’s got a great lower body. He’s got good strength. He’s got good hands.”

The downsides? His defense, while improving, isn’t where it should be. He dribbles too often in the low post, giving opposing defenders a chance to block his shot. Continue reading

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UCLA at USC: What to Watch

UCLA (19-7, 9-4) at USC (12-14, 7-6)
Tipoff:
12:30 p.m., Galen Center
TV/Radio: Fox Sports Net/AM 570

At a glance: Ben Howland is just 13-9 against USC, and another loss would mark the third time he’s suffered a season sweep against the Trojans. USC has only swept the Bruins six times in the past 52 years.

Also at stake is UCLA’s chance at a Pac-12 championship. Should they lose on Sunday, the Bruins would fall into fourth place in the conference — trailing Oregon and Arizona (tied at 11-4) as well as Cal (10-5). Continue reading

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