As a sophomore, Norman Powell mulled a transfer before then-head coach Ben Howland was fired. Looking back, can you blame him?
The 6-foot-4 guard ranked seventh among UCLA players in offensive rating in 2012-13, and 62nd in the conference. He last touched the ball on 14.5 percent of the team’s possessions, behind even little-used big man Tony Parker.
This year, Powell is the 12th-most efficient offensive player in the conference, four spots behind leading Bruin scorer Jordan Adams. The main difference has been taking more shots closer to the basket, but just how much his shot preference has changed is astounding.
Over three seasons, here are his percentage of shots taken at the rim, his field goal percentage on those shots, and how many of those shots are assisted:
Norman Powell scored a season-high 21 points in UCLA’s 83-73 win at USC last night, 10 of which came in the first 7:08 of the second half as part of his team’s 27-6 run.
It’s not the first time the junior has played the spark plug role this season. In a 70-68 win at Oregon, he scored eight of UCLA’s first 10 points of the second half. In a 69-56 win at Colorado, he scored 19 and forced Buffs guard Askia Booker into early foul trouble.
What made his latest outing a bit different was the return of his shooting stroke. He entered the game shooting 18.4 percent from beyond the arc, but made 2-of-4 against the Trojans. It was the second time this season that he drained multiple 3-pointers.
His eight field goals on Saturday were also a single-game record for a UCLA player in the Galen Center, which was built before the 2006-07 season.
Powell’s improved play has come with increased playing time — though why that uptick hadn’t come earlier is still a pertinent question. The guard has played at least 30 minutes in three of his past four games. He had only cleared that mark in two other games: the first two of the season, against Drexel and Oakland. Continue reading →
UCLA’s sloppy start in 83-73 win over USC on Saturday reminded head coach Steve Alford of their collapse against Oregon State last weekend. The Bruins shot 37.1 percent in the first half, while allowing 59.3 to the Trojans.
“I didn’t like the looks on (our) faces,” he said.
Alford chewed out the team in the locker room, specifically harping on Jordan Adams, Norman Powell and Kyle Anderson — the team leadership — for their lack of defensive effort.
“We don’t get chewed out much, but we felt it,” Adams said.
On its most recent road swing, UCLA hardly looked like the second-best team in the Pac-12.
It lost at Oregon State, a team that has finished eighth or lower in four of head coach Craig Robinson’s first five seasons. It barely held on at Oregon, a team that had dropped five of its first six conference games.
And yet, it entered Saturday night 2.5 games behind Arizona and half-a-game ahead of a third-place quartet. In retrospect, the preseason talk of a vastly improved conference was perhaps overblown.
Despite its recent hiccups, the Bruins sauntered into the Galen Center and — after a sloppy start — smacked around rival USC in an 83-73 victory. Continue reading →
Another trip, another split. For the second time in conference play, UCLA squandered a chance to claw up the standings by dropping the tail end of a road series.
The Bruins fell 71-67 at Oregon State, and t here were few excuses available this time. The loss at Utah last month — one that followed a win at then-No. 21 Colorado — came with an additional flight from Denver to Salt Lake City; Corvallis is less than an hour’s drive from Eugene. The Utes’ Huntsman Center is among the rowdiest venues in the conference; Gill Coliseum draws an average of 3,897, the second-worst showing in the Pac-12.
And to top it all off, coach Steve Alford had an extra day to prepare heading into an 11:30 a.m. Sunday tipoff.
Just about everything that could have gone wrong did. After holding the Beavers to 35.3 percent shooting through the bulk of the first half, UCLA’s zone defense began to crack. Continue reading →
UCLA forward Tony Parker has tripled his playing time, going from 6.3 minutes per game as a freshman to 18.9 as a sophomore.
Other than that, he said, there isn’t anything else new about his second go-round with the Bruins.
“I play,” he said. “That’s the difference. That’s the only really big difference, is I play.”
That alone has been enough to keep him patient. Parker insisted this week that he isn’t frustrated by his up-and-down season under first-year head coach Steve Alford, one captured in his performances this past week: a career-high 22 points against Stanford, followed by 0 points against Cal.
He committed two fouls in 85 seconds on Sunday against the Bears, and said he should have adjusted his play more quickly to what the officials were calling. Continue reading →
UCLA’s Thursday trip to Oregon will pit the Bruins against the team most capable of matching their pace. The Ducks are 21st in the country in adjusted tempo, second in the conference to Steve Alford’s squad (15th).
“They play a lot of guards,” Alford said. “They usually have four guards in their lineup. Sometimes it looks like they have five guards in their lineup. … Our transition defense is going to come to a test.”
Oregon, which has lost four of their last five, rank 15th in adjusted offense — five spots above UCLA — but rank 130th in adjusted defense. Only Washington and Oregon State are worse in the Pac-12.
Point guard Kyle Anderson was named Pac-12 Player of the Week, becoming the first UCLA player to earn the honor this season.
The sophomore averaged 15.0 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.5 assists in the Bruins’ wins over Stanford and Cal. He now has 11 double-doubles this season, including a triple-double against Morehead State in November.
Despite the recognition of Anderson, UCLA remained unranked in the latest Associated Poll. The team received 39 points in voting, which would place it 28th in the country if rankings extended past the top 25.
Junior guard Norman Powell has steadily improved every part of his game since he arrived at UCLA, but his most dramatic jump this season has come on offense. Still the team’s best man-to-man defender, the San Diego native has bumped his 2-point shooting to 66.4 percent, up from 57.8 last season and 40.5 the year before that.
In conference games, the Bruins rank seventh inside the arc at 48.3 percent, a middling performance that stems at least in part from the roster’s dearth of dominant big men.
Arizona, first in the category, has three starters making more than 56 percent of their 2-point shots. The only UCLA player that clears that mark besides Powell is Tony Parker at 59.8 percent. David Wear and Travis Wear average 52.8 and 46.9 percent, respectively.
Powell scored 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting in Sunday’s 76-64 win against Cal, an unspectacular but crucial contribution across 30 minutes — the most he has played against a conference opponent.
Head coach Steve Alford talked about Powell’s “breakout year” after the win, pointing out his propensity for driving down the lane and drawing fouls.
That becomes more important in the context of the team as a whole. UCLA’s 37.7 percent free-throw rate ranks just 10th in the conference, and 245th in the country. Powell’s 36.8 percent isn’t exactly hauling that number up, but besides Kyle Anderson (50.0) and Jordan Adams (49.4), he is the best option for generating trips to the line. Continue reading →
UCLA is now tied for second place in the Pac-12, after a 76-64 win over Cal that saw one big man disappear and another rise.
Three days after scoring a career-high 22 points against Stanford, sophomore Tony Parker was a non-factor early on, picking up two fouls in 85 seconds and sitting most of the first half. He picked up his fourth foul with 11:58 left in the second half, and headed to the bench again.
He finished the game with a rebound, an assist and a missed shot.
His team hardly missed him. It was David Wear who starred, shaking off an illness earlier this week to score a career-high 18 points. He hit 6-of-10 from the field, including two 3-pointers, as well as four free throws. He added seven rebounds. Continue reading →