UCLA vs. Florida International - Game Preview
By Bruin Basketball Report
UCLA returns to action at home when it faces Florida International University (FIU) Golden Panthers on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion.
The Bruins (3-1) finished third in the 2K Sports Classic last week after beating Southern Illinois, 77-60, in the consolation game at Madison Square Garden in New York. Earlier in the week the team fall to Michigan, 55-52.
UCLA fall to No.11 in the recent ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and No.13 in the Associated Press Poll.
Head Coach Ben Howland stated at his weekly press conference that he wanted senior guard Darren Collison to take more shots since he was the team's "best shooter". Collison is shooting 66.7% on three-pointers after making 52.5% last year.
The fact Collison controls the rock for most of the time on offense, it shouldn't be a problem, although the Bruins could certainly do a better job than they have been in rotating the ball back to the weak side where Collison usually resides wide open after giving up the ball.
In addition, the team has been working on a motion offense at practices. A motion offense is characterized by passes and cuts to the basket and screens off the ball. The team has utilized it at times in the past but never consistently. The move to incorporate a motion offense may decrease the excessive amount of dribbling done on the perimeter by the team.
Ultimately, Howland will still call the primary play but if the offensive options are not available then look for the Bruins to go right into a motion offense.
Freshman guard Malcolm Lee has a sprained right ankle (grade one) while junior forward Nikola Dragovic has a left knee contusion. Senior center Alfred Aboya sprained his left wrist in New York but the MRIs have all been negative. All three returned to practice this week and should be available when the Bruins host FIU.
The Golden Panthers are 3-3 in games this season which included a 74-51 loss to the Washington Huskies, 74-51, in Seattle.
FIU is averaging 58.3 points on just 39.7% field goal shooting and hitting on just 31.3% from beyond the arc.
The Panthers only have two players averaging in double figures. Forward Nikola Gacesa (6'9, 238, Jr) is averaging 10.8 points and guard Michael Dominquez (6'3, 185. Jr) the team's only three-point threat, is averaging 10.5 points.
The team does have some good size along the front line, in addition to Gacesa, the Panthers start seven-footer Russell Hicks (7'0, 260, Sr) and have Freddy Asprilla (6'10, 280, Fr) coming off the bench. Hicks is averaging 9.2 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 2.1 blocks a game while Asprilla leads the team in rebounding with 6.3 per game.
Despite the Panthers' size they will not be able to handle the Bruins' advantage of athleticism and skill at every position on the floor. The game will give UCLA yet another opportunity with its preseason schedule to work and improve its game prior to the Pac-10 season.
This is the second meeting between UCLA and FIU. The only other meeting was during UCLA's 1995 national championship run when the No. 1 ranked Bruins defeated FIU 92-56 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament (West region) in Boise, Idaho on March 17, 1995. The Bruins were led by freshman J.R. Henderson's 16 points, followed by Charles O'Bannon, who chipped in 14 points.
UCLA vs. FIU
Date: November 29, 2008
Time: 4:35 PM
TV: FSN Prime Ticket
Radio: AM 570