#53 UCLA: 2010-11 Basketball Preview
Overall Rank: #53
Conference Rank: #4 Pacific 10 Conference
2009-10: 14-18, 8-10
2009-10 postseason: none
Coach: Ben Howland (166-72 at UCLA, 334-171 overall)
UCLA needs to forget about last season and look towards the future. With such a young squad, the future should be a lot closer to what everyone has come to expect from Coach Ben Howland and the Bruins. Yet, the future may not be too far off either if everything comes together as it could. There are a lot of questions, but in a weak Pac-10, UCLA has the talent to make a serious run at the conference title and an NCAA berth.
Key Losses: F Nikola Dragovic, F Drew Gordon, F James Keefe, G Michael Roll
UCLA needs some help all over the floor, but the newcomers on the perimeter should be the most interesting to watch. Lazeric Jones, a junior college transfer, could be starting sooner or later. If things continue like they did last season, Jones better be ready to run the show. Tyler Lamb is the most highly touted guard heading to Westwood. The 6-4 Santa Ana product is an efficient scorer and will battle for a starting job right away. Matt Carlino, Jack Haley and Alex Schrempf, who incidentally all have famous basketball playing fathers, will battle for minutes off the bench on the wings.
Jerime Anderson started last season as the Bruins point guard, but was generally ineffective as the team’s playmaker. He is not much of a scorer and simply turned the ball over too much and rarely created good opportunities for his teammates. With Anderson leading the way, UCLA’s offense struggled. However, he is an upperclassman now and has grown up and will not give away the point guard role without a fight. When Anderson was forced to the bench, Malcolm Lee had to run the show. That made Lee a less effective scorer, although he still averaged 12.1 points, 3.1 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. Lee is a shooting guard now and will be the entire 2010-2011 campaign barring some unforeseen circumstances. Whether Anderson develops into a consistent starter or not, having him as at least a backup point guard and Lee attacking the basket makes this a dangerous backcourt.
The frontcourt will have to rely on a couple sophomores who were part-time starters as freshmen. Both Reeves Nelson and Tyler Honeycutt were slowed by injuries last season, but managed to put up some pretty impressive numbers. Nelson is the true post player. At 6-8 and 235 pounds, he is a little short compared to some Pac-10 centers, but he makes up for it with his strength. On the offensive end, Nelson has plenty of post moves to make taller defenders look bad and ended his freshman campaign averaging an impressive 11.1 points per game. Honeycutt is also 6-8, but he plays more like a wing than a post player. In fact, if UCLA finds themselves with enough depth in the post, Honeycutt could move to the small forward position. Honeycutt has the ability to hit the long ball, which is very beneficial to this group no matter where he plays. The best reason for Honeycutt to play on the wing is his ability to hit the glass. He averaged 6.5 rebounds per game last season, and on a team that consistently got beat in the rebounding department, having a big body on the wing would solve that problem. But if Honeycutt is going to spend time at the three spot, somebody else has to fill in up front next to Nelson.
Who to Watch:
Brendan Lane could be that guy after averaging 2.4 points and 1.5 rebounds during his freshman campaign. However, an ankle injury has slowed his development and it remains to be seen if he is really ready to step into a starting role. On paper, incoming freshman Joshua Smith looks like the answer. However, at 6-10 and 305 pounds, the McDonald’s All-American will not likely be able to spend 20 minutes per game on the floor until he gets another year of conditioning under his belt. Anthony Stover redshirted last year and could be ready to play 15 to 20 minutes per contest.
If Lane, Smith and Stover can handle 40 minutes per game at the five spot, the frontcourt would be quite good. The rebounding issues would be long gone and the extra size should help the overall defense. That is just one ‘if’ that UCLA has to deal with in order to improve on their dismal 2009-2010 campaign. The other big issue is at the point, but at least Coach Howland has another option this time around and knows that Lee can concentrate on what he does best and turn into this team’s go-to-guy.
Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT
Projected Starting Five:
Jerime Anderson, Junior, Guard, 5.8 ppg
Malcolm Lee, Junior, Guard, 12.1 ppg
Tyler Lamb, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season
Tyler Honeycutt, Sophomore, Forward, 7.2 ppg
Reeves Nelson, Sophomore, Forward, 11.1 ppg
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