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UCLA BASKETBALL FYI

Bruins are put through their paces

Ben Howland, upset about turnovers in the team's last two games, makes the players run . . . and run . . . and run in practice.

January 13, 2010|By Chris Foster

There was a fundamental assessment on how tough UCLA's practice was Monday.

"[J'mison Morgan] threw up," forward Tyler Honeycutt said.

Added forward Reeves Nelson: "Everyone else just had their legs sucked from underneath them."

The short version:

Coach Ben Howland was unhappy with the 23 turnovers the Bruins had against Stanford on Saturday.

The director's-cut version is the concern that the Bruins are working on basic fundamentals midway through the season. In a Pacific 10 Conference race that is anyone's to win, or lose, the basics are going to matter a whole lot more.

"You look at our first four [conference] games and we're shooting the ball well, but the turnover differential is 69-39," Howland said. "So 30 more turnovers. That's a big number."

Worse, Howland said, was the fact that in the Stanford game, "so many of the turnovers were not forced by the defense but came from bad decisions by us. If we have 15 turnovers instead of 23 we give ourselves a chance to win.

"When you go too fast, you make bad decisions. One time Nikola [Dragovic] had a steal and tried to throw long. It was not even close to being open. They got a steal and came back and hit a three."

It was the most turnovers by UCLA since the Bruins had 24 against Prairie View in the 2008-09 opener. The Bruins won that game in a rout.

Howland's message Monday was not so much a verbal one.

"It was a track meet for us," Nelson said.

Whether it was an effective teaching method won't be seen until the Bruins play USC on Saturday. But the message was being received.

"We play, get a water break, then go again," Honeycutt said. "For every turnover, you ran. If you had four turnovers, you did four up and downs. We'd have a water break and go again."

The intense training certainly had one target, freshman point guard Jerime Anderson.

Anderson had only two turnovers in the Stanford game. Although Malcolm Lee had seven, Anderson's habit of leaving his feet, then trying to pass, is something player and coach are trying to erase.

"You have to realize that if you keep making the same mistake over and over, you're not a very good learner," Howland said. But he added that "the passes Jerime made at Stanford were good."

Anderson said he realizes the flaw in his game.

"In high school, I was able to get away with a lot more things," Anderson said. "On this level, players are too quick, too fast and too talented. I see more and more watching game film . . . [and] I have to remember what coach says. I don't want this to be the reason I come out of the game."

Anderson healthy, happy

Anderson is over the bout of strep throat that slowed him last week. But he probably will continue to come off the bench for now.

After starting 13 of the first 14 games, Anderson played as a reserve against California and Stanford. He had 11 points, making four of six shots, in the overtime victory over the Golden Bears. He had six points and four assists against Stanford.

Anderson said the role change was not a big deal.

"I go in there and run my team, that's the goal whether I'm starting or coming off the bench," Anderson said. "I see the team out there while sitting on the bench and I know the things I need to do to help. I think I can make different adjustments quicker."

USC week

Howland downplayed USC's self-imposed ban on the postseason, even though the Trojans have lost consecutive games since the penalties were announced.

"Believe me, we will get their best game Saturday," Howland said. "That's part of the rivalry."

Still, Honeycutt was in a self-reflective mood regarding the Trojans' woes.

"I almost went there and I'm kind of glad I didn't," Honeycutt said. "That has to be a tough thing."

chris.foster@latimes.com

twitter.com/cfosterlatimes

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