Saturday, December 06, 2008

UCLA vs. Cal State Northridge - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA looks to rebound when it faces Cal State Northridge (CSUN) on Sunday night at Pauley Pavilion.

The Bruins (4-2) were edged on Thursday by Texas, 68-64, in a Pac-10/Big 12 Classic match-up. Darren Collison scored 22 points but it wasn't enough to overcome an experienced Longhorn team led by A.J. Abrams's 31 points.

UCLA has a number of things to work on during this last stretch of the non-conference schedule.

The team is still looking for an identity on offense. Last week the Bruins started working on inserting a motion offense scheme but it was completely absent in the Texas game. Still too much dribbling, not enough passing, and too much individual effort for a team that does not have many players who can create offensive shots for themselves, sans Darren Collison.

Defensively the Bruins have been inconsistent in their effort. More troubling, the team has not found the lock-down defender its been able to depend on the past few seasons. There is no Arron Afflao, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, or Russell Westbrook to stop the opponent's best offensive option. Freshman Jrue Holiday has the potential but he'll need more seasoning and experience before he reaches that level.

The next few non-conference games will be a good time for all the freshmen to integrate themselves further into the offense . Not unexpectedly, they've all generally been inconsistent in their effort and play thus far. However, the team will need them in the regular rotation if they expect to go far in the NCAA tournament.

It will also be interesting to see if veteran role players like Michael Roll will see more minutes. Roll, who is returning from offseason foot surgery, is playing well this year but is only averaging 15.3 minutes per game despite shooting 52.2% from the field and a career-best 53.3% from three-point land. UCLA could definitely use Roll's outside shooting to open up the paint.

This will be the sixth meeting between UCLA and CSUN. The Matadors have a "one-game" winning streak against the Bruins coming into the game. In 2000 CSUN upset a then No. 15 Steve Lavin-coached UCLA team, 78-74. That Bruin team had a number of NBA-bound players including Earl Watson, Matt Barnes, and Dan Gadzuric.

Overall it will be the sixth meeting between the two schools in basketball with the Bruins holding a 4-1 edge.

CSUN (1-5) was chosen by the media and Big West coaches to win the Big West conference title this season. However the Matadors have struggled in non-conference play thus far including losses to Cal State Bakersfield, Rider, Drexel, and New Mexico. Earlier in November CSUN lost to Stanford in Palo Alto, 103-85.

The Matadors have struggled with turnovers committing an average of 22 per game. Their troubles have been compounded by their lack of offensive firepower. As a team they are shooting just 41.8% from the field and 29% on three-pointers.

On the other side of the court, CSUN is a solid defensive team that is holding opponents to just 39.8% field goal shooting. Last season they led the Big West Conference in defensive field goal shooting.

The team is an experienced squad that returns four of its top six scorers from last season. They also added freshman guard, Dallas Rutherford, a teammate of Jrue Holiday at Campbell Hall last season. Rutherford has seen limited action so far averaging just 5.8 minutes a game.

CSUN is led in scoring by forward Willie Galick (6'8, 225, Jr). The red-shirt junior is averaging 11.3 points and 5.7 rebounds. A solid post player who can get to the basket, he's shooting 60.5% from the floor.

Forward Tremaine Townsend (6'9, 225, Senior) is potentially a good scorer. He recorded a season-high 20 points against Rider and is second in scoring for CSUN at 11.0 a game. He also leads the team in rebounding with 7.0 a contest.

Josh Jenkins (5'10, 185, Sr) is the team's floor general. He is averaging 10.3 points and 5.2 assists per game. He's struggled with taking care of the ball this season committing over six turnovers per contest. He won't get a breather in this game with Darren Collison hounding his every move.

Guard Deon Tresvant (6'0, 170, Sr) is the team's best long range threat although he's hitting on just a 25% clip from beyond the arc. Tresvant is averaging 9.3 points per game.

Also starting on the wing is Rob Haynes (6'4, 185, Sr). Haynes is averaging 8.7 points and 4.0 rebounds.

UCLA will win this game going away, however, this young Bruin team needs to use this game as well as the remaining non-conference games to ready themselves for the upcoming tough Pac-10 season.

BBR Injury Update: Junior guard Mustafa Abdul-Hamid tore a ligament in his right wrist in practice earlier yesterday and will follow-up with a hand and wrist specialist on Dec. 12. He will miss the Bruins’ game against CSUN.

Freshman Drew Gordon suffered a sprained left wrist after taking a charge in the first half at Texas. X-Rays and MRIs were both negative and he should be available for the CSUN game.

Game Information

Date: Dec. 7, 2008

Time: 7:30 PM PT

Place: Pauley Pavilion (12,819)

TV: FSN Prime Ticket
Radio: AM 1150


At Dec 6, 2008, 5:43:00 PM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

Play the Freshmen more Howland....

At Dec 7, 2008, 3:12:00 AM, Anonymous Leroy said...

Play ONLY the freshmen tonight.


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