Join Date: Jul 2006
Re: Official UCLA Bruins Thread:
Yahoo Team Report
The Bruins will be big this season. Real big.
The question is: Do they have enough little guys to make it work and contend for a Pac-12 title?
Coach Ben Howland has a physical squad in his corner again, led by 6-foot-10, 315-pound sophomore center Joshua Smith and 6-8, 235-pound junior forward Reeves Nelson. He also has 6-10 sophomore twins David and Travis Wear, transfers from North Carolina, and 6-10 shot swatter Anthony Stover.
How fun would it be for Howland to put all five on the floor at the same time?
The Bruins, of course, will keep at least a couple of guards on the court at all times. There are issues such as floor leadership, ball-handling, 3-point shooting, and perimeter defense that must be addressed.
The backcourt choices aren’t nearly so impressive. Senior point guard Lazeric Jones, who came to UCLA from junior college a year ago, was solid but unspectacular at the point last season. Senior backup Jerime Anderson, once an elite recruit, has been so-so and got himself into trouble with the law last summer.
When Tyler Honeycutt (12.8 points per game) and Malcolm Lee (13.1 ppg) took their wing skills to the NBA, the Bruins were left with more questions than answers at the shooting guard and small forward spots.
They brought in another junior college guard, De’End Parker, but he is more a jack-of-all-trades than a scorer. Sophomore Tyler Lamb hopes to improve upon a quiet rookie season, and freshman Norman Powell has big-time potential.
But there are no sure things at the wings.
Howland may go big with David Wear at small forward, and junior Brendan Lane could also get a shot there. Lane is merely 6-9.
“We’ll give up some things maybe defensively—I hope not too much—but we should be a very good rebounding team on both ends of the floor,” Howland said of the prospect of playing three big men at the same time.
I sense the lack of a legit sharp shooter (ala Mike Roll/Kapono) can hurt, but at the same time, Howland, being such a good defensive coach, will get enough steals turned into lay-ups.
Probable Starting Lineup: PG Lazeric Jones, SG Tyler Lamb, SF David Wear, PF Reeves Nelson, C Joshua Smith.
Lineup Breakdown: Jones is set at the point, with senior Jerime Anderson in the backup role. Things are far less certain at the two wing spots. Lamb gets the early nod at shooting guard, but freshman Norman Powell, an explosive player with great quickness, could work his way into the job. If Ben Howland chooses to go big, 6-foot-10 David Wear is the most likely candidate at small forward, but 6-5 JC arrival De’End Parker also could slide over from shooting guard. The strength of the team is inside, where 6-10, 315-pound sophomore C Joshua Smith has no natural predator in the Pac-12 and 6-8 junior Reeves Nelson plays with a ferocious motor.
Scouting The Newcomers: Twins David and Travis Wear lasted just one season at North Carolina before deciding to return home to southern California. Coach Ben Howland said David Wear will split time between small forward and power forward, while Travis Wear can play either power forward or center. Freshman G Norman Powell, regarded as the most athletic player on the roster, could become the fourth true freshman guard to become a full-time starter for Howland at UCLA. De’End Parker, a versatile, selfless 6-5 shooting guard, helped lead City College of San Francisco to the California state junior college crown. He initially committed to Cal, then changed his mind and signed with the Bruins.
• Sophomore C Joshua Smith (10.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg), who has good feet and hands for a big man, dropped about 10 pounds from the end of last season and weighs about 315. He said he wants to have the stamina to play 30 minutes a game this season, about nine more than a year ago, when he occasionally was foul-prone.
• Sophomore SG Tyler Lamb, who made only 20.5 percent of his 3-pointers last year as a freshman, has worked to remove the side spin from his shot.
• Senior PG Lazeric Jones (9.1 ppg, 3.7 apg) is recovered from injuries to his fingers and wrist that hampered him the second half of last season.