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Pac10 Men's Basketball Preview - UCLA

TwistNHook:  What the heck happened to our beloved Ben Ball Warriors?  

OhioBear:  Clearly, they miss Michael Roll

Avinash:  I don't know. They seem to be good to me again. Aren't they?

OhioBear:  I haven't seen them, but didn't they lose to Montana?

Avinash:  I mean, they're not great, but they did take the Jayhawks to the wire. They beat BYU, a team that romped up Arizona. So the talent is definitely there. It might not show up night in, night out, but against us it'll be more than potent enough.

First, Josh Smith is legit. He's the best offensive rebounder in all of college basketball (24.8% rate, an absurd amount). At 6'10, 305 lb, he is impossible to deal with, and pretty much the best way to stop him is to hack him (60% at the line). I imagine with Cal's cadre of bigs, we're going to be seeing hack-a-Josh if we can't take on him one on one.more 

Tyler Honeycutt is fast evolving into one of those great Bruin swingmen that we always hate to deal with. Good shooter, good rebounder, decent passer, good blocker. Allen Crabbe (who I suspect will get the assignment), is giving up about three-four inches to him. That should be great. 

Reeves Nelson is back, although I'm less worried about him. He's been inconsistent all season and Sanders-Frison stopped him last year. Harper Kamp should be able to do the same. 

Malcolm Lee hasn't picked it up at the point, but he's not turning over the ball like last season, so that's a start. Lazeric Jones is their designated three point shooter--he and Honeycutt are hitting about 40% from downtown this season. Not good, not good.

UCLA was a good matchup for us last year (and how we fouled up that first game against them last year will always haunt me). They are a terrible matchup for us this season. There's too much length and athleticism for us to combat for forty minutes.


Kodiak:  After three years of being in the Final Four, I think Ben Howland's program finally succumbed to a combination of too many early departures, the loss of steady role-playing veterans, and some recruiting misses.  He had a great run from Collison -> Westbrook -> Holiday...but simply didn't have that fresh out of the box start PG last year.

They still don't have great guard play, but it's a lot more solid than it was last year.  Honeycutt looks like he's taken that next step.  Lamb hasn't done much, but he was one of the most touted frosh guards out of HS.

Nelson is crafty and I think he's tougher to deal with now that he has that big monster inside.  In the games that I watched, the only thing stopping Josh Smith was a lack of conditioning.  By the time he plays us, I'm sure he'll be in game shape.  Um.  Paging Robert Thurman?

Sadly enough, Howland is a legit coach.  He knows how to teach defense and instill toughness.  We're really going to struggle to score on them.  And, they're athletic enough to really make us pay in transition if(when) we turn it over.


TwistNHook:  Their team might be better than last year, but they don't believe they are back to their mid 2000s glory years:


Just 16 days ago, Montana upset an unfocused UCLA, 66-57, at Pauley. Howland reminded his team of the Montana loss within minutes of the Bruins' 86-79 upset of No.16 Brigham Young in the Wooden Classic on Saturday.

But the Bruins, who do not have any seniors on their roster, apparently didn't get the message.

"I think we got up to a big lead against a team that we didn't consider as dangerous as a BYU or Kansas and we got lackisdasical," UCLA forward Reeves Nelson said.

UCLA led, 28-14, with 5:51 left in the opening half only to find its lead shrunk to 36-29 at halftime. The Bobcats then opened the second half with a 17-7 run, taking a 46-43 lead with 15:10 remaining.

Then Howland had his meltdown.

"We could tell he was (angry)," said guard Malcolm Lee, who finished with a game-high 18 points.

The Bruins responded with jumpers from Honeycutt and Lee, which in turn seemed to jumpstart the UCLA defense.

"A lack of focus," Lee said later, explaining the Montana State comeback. "Our sense of urgency was down. We're not good enough to take any team lightly. We just had a mental let down."

Where do you all see UCLA ending up in the Pac10?

NorCalNick:  UCLA's season should be interesting because it comes down to a question of how many games their big men will win and how many games their guards will lose for them.  It's rare for a team to have three 6'8'' or higher forwards all averaging double figures, but that's what UCLA has.  But Malcolm Lee, Lazeric Jones, Jerime Anderson and Tyler Lamb don't inspire a ton of confidence. 
So I'll put UCLA down tentatively for 5th place, and I'll be really looking forward to watching Honeycutt, Nelson and Smith take on Vucevic and Stepheson of USC in the battle for best front court in the conference.

Avinash:  6th. Not sold on the Bruins. They're a wildly inconsistent team. USC is better than them, so are the Washington schools, so is Arizona. 

I feel someone will slip past them. Hopefully it's us.