UCLA: 2009 NCAA Tournament Capsule

    
March 8th, 2009

UCLA Bruins

Pacific 10

 

Last NCAA Appearance: 2008, Final Four loss to Memphis

Coach: Ben Howland (17-7 in 7 NCAA appearances)

 

Why They Can Surprise:

Few teams in the NCAA Tournament shoot as well as UCLA. And that is saying a lot since a majority of Coach Ben Howland’s scoring comes from the backcourt. Darren Collison is the catalyst. The senior point guard hits 54 percent of his shots and averages 14.6 points per game. And that is not even the most important thing he does for the team. Collison ranks among the leaders in the nation in assist-to-turnover ratio.

 

Freshman Jrue Holiday and senior Josh Shipp are Collison’s mates in the backcourt. Holiday is still learning how to fit into the Bruins scheme, but he is a dynamic playmaker who can add 15 to 20 points on any given night and will always help out on the glass. Shipp is the shooter of the group, although he will also use his 6-5 frame to get to the basket. He knocked down 40 percent of his attempts from beyond the arc during the regular season.

 

Why They Can Disappoint:

The Bruins have been in this situation before. During their first two of three consecutive Final Fours they lacked a dominating big man. Last year they had Kevin Love. This year they have Alfred Aboya, Nikola Dragovic and James Keefe. At 6-9 and 245 pounds, Aboya has the size and the experience to do a decent job scoring in the paint. He averaged 9.1 points per game this year, yet he is not a dominating big man like Love. Dragovic, a part-time starter at the four spot, is more of an outside shooter than a traditional big man. Keefe is a solid rebounder and can give Aboya or Dragovic a rest, but he is not going to do much scoring.

 

Who To Watch:

By the time the Bruins get deeper in the tournament they will need some quality production off the bench. Collison, Holiday and Shipp are a great group of guards, but they cannot play 40 minutes a game without getting tired. That puts the pressure on Michael Roll, Malcolm Lee and Jerime Anderson. Roll is the best scorer of the trio. He is good for nearly two three-pointers a game and hits more of those shots than he misses. Anderson has slowly been taking over a bulk of Lee’s minutes off the bench, but both freshmen are capable players who have the ability to make an impact.  Nobody expects those three to replace Collison, Holiday and Shipp without a drop in production, but sooner or later UCLA will need them to do a little scoring and play solid defense. The Bruins tournament life may depend on it.

 

Probable Starters:

Darren Collison, Senior, Guard

Jrue Holiday, Freshman, Guard

Josh Shipp, Senior, Guard

Nikola Dragovic, Junior, Forward

Alfred Aboya, Senior, Center

 

Key Roleplayers:

Jerime Anderson, Freshman, Guard

Nikola Dragovic, Junior, Forward

Drew Gordon, Freshman, Forward

Malcolm Lee, Freshman, Guard

Michael Roll, Junior, Guard

 

+ Following final Bracket announcement, more team info will be added, including final RPI, final team statistical rankings, Joel's prediction, and more!

 

 

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