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UCLA BASKETBALL FYI

Bruins want to take their best shots against zones

Players know they'll see a lot of them after struggling with Fullerton's 1-2-2 zone in season-opening loss.

November 20, 2009|By David Wharton
  • UCLA guard Malcolm Lee makes a shot while being fouled by Cal State Fullerton's Aaron Thompson during the first half of their game on Monday.
UCLA guard Malcolm Lee makes a shot while being fouled by Cal State Fullerton's… (Danny Moloshok / Associated…)

If UCLA forward Drew Gordon were preparing to play his own team, he knows what kind of defense he would run.

"Yep," he said. "I'd play zone."

This after the Bruins struggled against Cal State Fullerton's 1-2-2 zone in a season-opening loss on Monday, a game in which they hurried through 84 shots, making only 31%.

So it's no surprise the team expects to work on attacking the zone before tonight's game against Cal State Bakersfield. Or that UCLA Coach Ben Howland wants more passing and better selection to whittle the total shots to about 60.

"We were just very anxious, very amped up," he said. "We've got to be more patient."

With UCLA needing to show quick improvement, expect other changes.

The big men have vowed to work harder at setting screens and Howland said he would use his bench more freely to avoid another situation such as Monday's when starter Michael Roll played 49 of a possible 50 minutes.

Also, every player reported for 30 minutes of shooting before the regular practice on Thursday.

"You've always got to make some shots for a zone to get stretched out and then have more driving lanes and more post opportunities," point guard Jerime Anderson said. "I think we'll do a little bit better against the zone this game coming up."

To the point

Anderson shouldered much of the blame for his team's sluggish start.

"I know what I did in that game and I know what I didn't do well," he said. "I feel like for our team to be successful, I've got to be a little more successful."

The sophomore shot one for 11 and had three turnovers against three assists.

Howland stuck by his starter, pointing out that Anderson missed a large chunk of the preseason because of a lingering groin injury.

"He's still catching up conditioning-wise, skill level-wise from missing those five weeks," Howland said.

"If he's able to stay healthy and work hard, he's going to continue to improve throughout the year."

New face

Among the players who figure to see more playing time tonight is forward Reeves Nelson, who impressed with 11 points and six rebounds in 12 minutes on Monday.

Several times this week, Howland has expressed regret at not using him more.

"I'll do pretty much whatever it takes for the team to win," Reeves said.

"And if that's what I have to do, come off the bench and have some hustle play and score some points and get the rebounds, that's what I'll do."

Drink up

Guard Malcolm Lee said he was paying more attention to fluid intake and eating bananas.

Against Fullerton, his shooting percentage dropped from 50% to 15% after he began suffering cramps in the second half. It is a condition he has battled since his AAU days.

"I'm just trying to prepare myself for all these minutes I'm about to play," he said.

"I've got to keep hydrating myself and make sure my muscles have all the stuff they need so they won't cramp up."

david.wharton@latimes.com

twitter.com/LATimesWharton

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