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UCLA BASKETBALL FYI

Ben Howland says Joshua Smith needs to grow up

Freshman center criticized referees and made an obscene gesture to fans after loss to USC.

January 11, 2011|By Ben Bolch

UCLA Coach Ben Howland said he admonished Joshua Smith for comments the freshman center made that were critical of the officiating after the Bruins' 63-52 loss to USC on Sunday, calling Smith's remarks "totally poor judgment."

"He has to be a big boy," Howland said Tuesday. "You cannot say something like that and not expect it to come back."

After fouling out for a second consecutive game, Smith said, "the refs were terrible. The one where I fell and [USC's Nikola] Vucevic fell on me, the refs said, 'Well, I had to call it because you fell.' They're giving me [ridiculous] answers. They're telling me this, this and this. I mean, I'm a guy who will own up to it when I foul."

Howland reviewed tape of the game with Smith and said there was only one call that could be questioned. Howland said Smith did not think another foul where he made contact with Vucevic was warranted.

"He was like, 'I don't think I fouled him,' " Howland said. "Yeah, your arm is coming right down and you're hitting him. So he was still in denial after seeing it and seeing that he's fouling.

"So he's got to grow up and learn that that's uncalled for and inappropriate."

When he met with reporters Tuesday, Smith apologized for his comments and acknowledged he had given the middle finger to a USC fan who had yelled a personal remark about his family after the game.

"After the game, with emotions all over the place, it just kind of happened," Smith said. "My parents have taught me well, but he said something personal where I just let him know how I felt, especially after a game we lost.

"I do regret it. I'm a bigger person than that."

Howland said officials can hold comments against players, influencing their calls in future games.

"When you get on their bad side, that's a problem," Howland said. "I've seen it happen with other players before. I don't think that's going to happen with Josh because he's too good-natured."

Tale of the tape

Point guard Lazeric Jones said trainers would tape his injured finger differently in the wake of his 0-for-7 shooting performance against USC. He wants more feeling around the fingertip.

"With this kind of covering it," Jones said of the way the middle finger on his right hand was restricted Sunday, "it kind of throws off my feel."

Jones also attributed part of his shooting struggles to taking too many contested shots, particularly early in the game. He finished with a career-low two points in 22 minutes in his first full game since he ruptured a tendon in his finger Dec. 31.

Etc.

Howland said junior guard Jerime Anderson had earned more playing time with his 11-point effort off the bench against the Trojans. "You want your [players] to do everything in their power to help their team win," Howland said, "and I think that's what Jerime is doing as well as anyone on our team right now." … Howland said sophomore forward Tyler Honeycutt would have his consent to declare for the NBA draft if he was projected as a top-15 pick after the season. "God bless him; I would love for him to do that," Howland said. "But you've got to go out and earn it and fight for it, and that's what we've got to get to."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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