Are the Bruins back? Well, winning against USC and ASU isn't exactly a great resume, but at least they took care of business. That can't be said for OSU, who lost against ASU and lost 2 overtime games, and had it not been for hot shooting against Cal they would be winless in the Pac. Can the Beavers reverse their apathy trend against the huge UCLA Bruins? A look at the matchup after the jump.
I've already previewed UCLA for the House of Sparky blog, so I'll be using most of the material from there to this entry. The story of the Bruins personnel is still similar; despite a small guard rotation they have the best frontcourt in the Pac 12. David and Travis Wear are phenomenal stretch 4s, Josh Smith is a great low post presence, and Anthony Stover is a fantastic shot swatter off the bench. The backcourt is somewhat unsettled, as Zeke Jones is the only consistent commodity. Tyler Lamb fills the wing but he is erratic, showing flashes of brilliance in some games and fading away from the scene the next.
In a really slow pace to the tune of 62 possessions a game, the Bruins love to get the ball inside to their big guys, allowing for the perimeter players to play off of them. Expect many shots within the 3 point arc, as the Bruins take and make the second lowest amount of 3s in the Pac 12 schedule. Likewise, they are not the best in getting to the line, with a FT rate of 32%. But then again, if the Bruins convert 47% from the floor, taking 3s and hitting freebies suddenly seem like a luxury and not a necessity, though they stroke a good 71% from the line. Another big part of the Bruins attack is the offensive rebounding; they rebound 36% of their misses, resulting in easy second chance opportunities. Finally, the Bruins don't turn the ball over, with a 1.2 assist to turnover ratio, 2nd in the Pac.
Defensively, the Bruins do one thing really well: rebound opponent misses. They routinely beat opponents on the boards on both ends of the floor. However, when it comes to challenging shots there's much left to be desired. Opponents average close to a point per possession, shoot 44% from the floor and more importantyl 37% from 3, a big hole in the Bruins defense. Funny enough, they don't block too many shots, but they are good at forcing steals and turnovers, even though there is very little turnover disparity in the games UCLA plays.
Lazeric Jones is a 2 year contributor and a PG mainstay, a stretch extension of the amazing PG line that entered and left the Westwood campus. Now, to say that Zeke ranks up there might be a bit disingenuous, as he hasn't had great success in the NCAAs, but the guy can ball. A great ballhandler, play setter and shooter, converts at a slightly above average rate from all parts of the court. Leads team in scoring, assists, steals and turnovers.
David and Travis Wear are both stretch 4s, meaning that they are capable of stepping out and converting mid-range shots with regularity but also having the touch to score inside. However, they are not the best rebounders for their positions. Both are off the charts FT shooters. David is the 2nd leading scorer
Joshua Smith is a load inside, with the huge frame to dominate down low along with a soft touch to convert even the most difficult of shots. Conditioning was an issue for him, but he seems to be finally getting into his groove, as seen with the 18 points against ASU. Not the fastest guy in the floor, resulting in perhaps some late rotations, but blocks a good share of his shots. However, he's not a good FT shooter.
Tyler Lamb is an explosive wing player with good enough size to attack in the lane while capable of drilling the trey. Unfortunately, despite averaging 9 points a game, he has to take a ton of shots to get there, as seen with his 40% and 30% from the field and beyond the arc respectively. Third leader in assists per game.
Jerime Anderson is the backup ballhandler and shooter who will either play with Zeke or back him up coming off the bench. Second leading assists man with a high assist to turnover ratio. However, he can't shoot anything except 3 pointers. Subpar from the line.
Norman Powell is a big wing that is all about getting into the lane. Doesn't have the touch that Lamb has from the outside. Average from the line but subpar everywhere else.
Anthony Stover is a long big man who can do nothing else but block shots and play with a relentless motor. A great backup for the Wear twins and Smith.
UCLA is average from 3 but good everywhere else. A zone looks like the perfect choice to force them to chuck it up from long range, as long as the defensive rotations are there.
Box out, as the UCLA bigs will collect the lion shares of offensive boards if the Beavers don't pay attention to the rebounding.
Fouling Josh Smith is not a biggie, but don't foul anyone else.
Expect UCLA to play both a zone and a man depending on Howland's preferences. Against a man, dribble penetrate and make the extra pass to the open big guy or cutter. Against a zone, penetrate and kick, expand and contract the zone. Once this happens several times, the zone will break down, and opportunities will be aplenty.
Deny the pass to the frountcourt. This is usually done by fronting them, getting into the passing lanes. If the bigs don't get the ball the UCLA offense will break.
Pressing against Zeke Jones and Lamb is a good idea, as the UCLA backcourt depth is suspect.