November 11, 2010 |
It was almost impossible not to look. At some point during games at Pauley Pavilion, UCLA players would gaze behind the Bruins' bench in hopes of catching a glimpse of the man sitting in Section 103B, Row 2, Seat 1. That was the spot reserved for John Wooden , a constant presence until his health deteriorated in recent years. "I definitely looked at him when he was at the games," junior guard Jerime Anderson said. "It's hard not to notice that Coach Wooden is there.
November 8, 2010 |
It was a good thing the uniforms read "Westmont" across the front instead of, say, "Western Michigan. " Even a mid-major Division I team might have fully exposed the defensive breakdowns that UCLA suffered Thursday during an exhibition game against the NAIA Warriors. As it was, the Bruins' shortcomings were mostly obscured by a snappy offense that generated plenty of crowd-pleasing dunks and layups in a 95-59 victory. That's not to say the shoddy defense escaped the attention of Ben Howland , though.
November 4, 2010 |
UCLA basketball fans might have checked their tickets to make sure they had come to the right place. The Bruins scored 54 points by halftime. They pushed the pace, their coach loudly imploring his players to move quickly up the floor. They were never in danger of losing. A 95-59 exhibition victory over Westmont on Thursday at Pauley Pavilion won't exactly send shivers through the rest of the Pacific 10 Conference. But it certainly qualified as an upgrade over the display the Bruins put on this time last season, when they suffered a near-collapse against Concordia.
November 3, 2010 |
A year ago, the four letters most feared inside Pauley Pavilion weren't UCLA but NAIA. Tiny Concordia nearly upset the storied home team in an exhibition game, the Bruins needing a late three-point basket to pull out a one-point victory. It would have been easy to shrug it off as a bad game against an inspired opponent, except for the little matter of what transpired the rest of the season. UCLA finished 14-18 and did not reach the NCAA tournament for the first time in six years.
October 19, 2010 |
Lazeric Jones wants to make the rarest of transitions, from junior college player to UCLA starting point guard. Standing in his way is Jerime Anderson , the Bruins' incumbent starter who intends to retain his job. Somebody is going to be disappointed. Or maybe not. Said Jones: "Whoever's out there is going to be great. " Said Anderson: "I'm sure neither one of us will have a problem coming off the bench. " The politically correct discourse of media day has given way to a more spirited battle on the court in the Bruins' first five practices.
October 15, 2010 |
Joshua Smith didn't count calories Friday evening. He was too busy with a different kind of tallying. The mammoth UCLA freshman was a big hit during the Bruins' first basketball practice, leading his team with eight rebounds and three assists. "I was very excited with big Josh today," Coach Ben Howland said during a teleconference with reporters. "He's 6-10½ in shoes and he's got a 7-foot-3 wingspan. ? When he is planted on the block, you're not moving him. " Howland had expressed concerns about the 305-pound center's mobility but said he was pleased with his speed during limited up-and-down action.
October 14, 2010 |
Losing seasons at UCLA come around about as often as Halley's Comet and Jack Haleys. Last year's 14-18 record was only the Bruins' third losing season since 1947-48, and junior guard Malcolm Lee found it especially heart-wrenching considering it was the final season John Wooden witnessed before the coaching legend died in June at 99. "It was bad last year to have John Wooden pass on these terms," Lee said. "Everybody wants to redeem ourselves because UCLA is known for championships, not losing records.
February 28, 2010 |
There are days you just can't win. UCLA senior forward Nikola Dragovic, who was already dealing with a shoulder injury, stepped on a basketball during warmups and sprained his right ankle Saturday. Jerime Anderson, the sophomore guard with the Bruins' senior day desires in his hands, tossed an errant pass for a turnover with just over a minute left and the score tied, then threw a no-look pass out of bounds with 30 seconds to go and UCLA down by three. Dragovic's senior trip at the start and Anderson's sophomore slip at the end made Oregon's 70-68 victory at Pauley Pavilion seem almost predetermined.
February 27, 2010 |
J'mison Morgan trudged on, without going anywhere. This was game day, hours before UCLA was to play Washington. Morgan, a sophomore center and part of the nation's best recruiting class two years ago, according to Scout.com, was in a hotel fitness center, grinding away on the treadmill. "I need this," Morgan said, as he pushed his 6-foot-10, 240-pound body. The moment seemed symbolic for a UCLA season where the wheels have been spinning, yet with little progress. On that day the Bruins suffered a 29-point loss to the Huskies.
February 15, 2010 |
UCLA point guard Malcolm Lee will take the blame. This was a recurring theme. The Bruins are the gift that keeps on giving. Opposing teams are grateful for the assist. UCLA had 20 turnovers in a 68-64 loss to USC on Sunday. "I'll put the turnovers on me," Lee said. "They were just bad decisions. I have to read the defense better. "Bad plays feed off bad play." Lee, who is getting on-the-job training at point guard, had six turnovers. But it wasn't just the quantity, it was the quality.