Poor Backcourt Play Leads To Big Loss For Bruins
By Bruin Basketball Report
UCLA suffered its biggest loss of the Coach Ben Howland era with a 79-47 thumping by the Portland Pilots in the first round of the 76 Classic in Anaheim.
Its early in the season and these are young Brubears in training, but the poor effort and execution on both ends of the court by UCLA was enough to send a cold chill all the way back to Westwood on this Thanksgiving evening.
The problem for the Bruins, and it will likely continue for the remainder of the season, is the lack of quality and depth in the backcourt.
In years past, the Bruins had a steady hand at point guard, a player who could steer the ship under the heavy hand of Coach Ben Howland.
A point guard who could break down a defender, and or entire defense, to make a play for the UCLA offense.
This year for the first time since Jordan Farmar's freshman year, UCLA has not found anyone to man the helm.
While Darren Collison is flashing rookie brilliance in the NBA as an understudy to Chris Paul in New Orleans, the Bruins have tried Jerime Anderson, Malcolm Lee, and even Mustafa Abdul-Hamid at the point.
None of them have stepped forward yet, and none perhaps may have the facilities to do so.
And this is the challenge facing Ben Howland. He lacks options in the backcourt.
The college game, unlike the NBA, is dominated at the point-guard spot. Even more so at UCLA, without quality play at the point this team will struggle mightily the rest of the season.
The incoming 2009 freshman class is excellent and with more experience it will flourish, but the class lacks a quality point-guard, and with Jrue Holiday leaving early for the pros, it has left the Bruin backcourt cupboard bare.
Portland has to be given credit. They are a veteran team with lights-out shooting from beyond the arc, and will make a strong run to the tournament.
Entering the game having made 52.1 percent of their 3-point attempts, the Pilots continued making long-distance shots. Portland sank 11 of 19 3-pointers and shot 54.2 percent overall.
Portland, coming off a seven-point win over Oregon, never trailed againt UCLA in this game.
Malcolm Lee had 14 points but on 4-12 shooting from the field.
UCLA shot 32.7 percent and 21.7 percent on 3-pointers. Just as abysmally the Bruins converted just 6 of 14 free throws.
The Bruins (2-2) will play No. 12 Butler in a consolation game Friday.