The alumni fans might've been in preseason form - half empty stadium - but at least the student section was as excited as I was for our team to erase the memories of last November, where we only had 2 regular season wins. We ended up starting the season 3-7. This year, we were hoping to get to 3 wins without any in the loss column. But, I guess the 8:30pm start time was too late for the alumni. Or maybe they were all allocating their Bruin support weekly quota for the ESPN game vs UW on Thursday night. Either way, they missed out on what Howland calls the best half of basketball so far this year, as well as what I'd call the worst half of basketball in 3 games.
- A great first half where we shot 54.8% (40 points) was followed by a 35% horror show where we only scored 17 to UOP's 20. Howland was ecstatic about our first half play and the best overall defensive effort we've had so far. So I guess I should be too. That 2nd half though, was the most frustrating game I've ever seen when we've had a double-digit lead.
- Looking back, Drew Gordon's expulsion a year ago was the best thing to happen to the UCLA frontcourt. Though he was the most athletic option we had this time last year, it turns out that getting Reeves Nelson significant playing time all last year will be the key to this season. Reeves may not have played vs a legitimate division 1 power forward yet, but he is posting astronomical numbers. 21 points, 14 rebounds vs UOP after a 20-11 performance the night before. No wonder he looked exhausted in the 2nd half.
- That said, why didn't Anthony Stover play in the 2nd half? He only logged 6 minutes in the first. Smith was in foul trouble and Nelson was tired. I didn't see anything from his time on the court that would lead to him being in the doghouse.
- Tyler Honeycutt is leaving UCLA after this year. No, I don't have inside info. He just is. I'm guessing he'll go somewhere in the draft between 14-24 first round. As disappointing as that is, at least he didn't pull a Jrue Holiday and jump ship after 1 underwhelming year. At least, it looks like he'll give us a full year of performances that should be up to his potential. 15 points (including 3-5 on 3s) and 15 rebounds on the night. Not bad. He's got to cut down on turnovers though - 4 TOs to only 3 assists.
- Zeke Jones is so much better than Jerime. So much better. 4 or 5 times he was able to find a crease and drive to the hole for much needed layups. It is slowly erasing memories of Jerime bricking layups last year.
- Tyler Lamb is impressing Howland with his defense. If that doesn't make you like this guy, I don't know what will.
- Josh Smith looked slow, unsure and undisciplined. Yeah, it was the 2nd night of a back to back, but how can he finish with 4 fouls and ZERO rebounds? We'll chalk it up to freshman inexperience.
I'm ecstatic that we'll be playing #6 Villanova next week at MSG on national TV. It'll be an early test - as long as Malcolm gets back. We could use the exposure. Plus, we'll always need these early season wins over ranked teams when it comes to March. Things are looking up.