Friday, October 29, 2010

PAC-10 preview 2010-2011

Pac-10 Capsules
By Jon Gold on October 28, 2010 8:53 PM
Inside UCLA, The Los Angeles DAily News

Coach: Lorenzo Romar (9th year, 264-179 overall record)
Last season: 26-10, Won in Pac-10 Tournament; Lost in Sweet Sixteen, NCAA Tournament
Starters: G Isaiah Thomas (16.9 ppg, 3.2 apg), G Venoy Overton (8.6 ppg, 3.1 apg), F Justin Holiday (5.9 ppg, 4.5 rpg), F Matthew Bryan-Amaning (8.8 ppg, 5.9 rpg), C Aziz N'Diaye (redshirt)
Key Additions: F Terrence Ross, N'Dyiaye, G C.J. Wilcox
Key Losses: F Quincy Pondexter
Head Coach Lorenzo Romar: "There's not a question to me, there's not a clear-cut favorite to win this league. I think there are enough teams out there to challenge for the No. 1, No. 2, No. 3 spot. I don't think there's any doubt. I think it's going to be a wild season."

Coach: Sean Miller (2nd year, 136-62 overall record)
Last season: 16-15, lost in first round of Pac-10 Tournament; Did not make postseason tournament
Starters: G Lamont Jones (6.6 ppg, 1.8 rpg), G Kyle Fogg (11.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg), F Jamelle Horne (9.4 ppg, 5.6 rpg), F Derrick Williams (15.7 ppg, 7.1 rpg), C Kyryl Natyazhko (1.9 ppg, 2.0 rpg)
Key Additions: G Daniel Bejarano, G Jordin Mayes, F Jesse Perry
Key Losses: G Nic Wise, F Jamelle Horne
Head Coach Sean Miller: "We had a very low beginning point, even though our season, generally speaking, at 16-15 was one to build on. We didn't establish some great moments. I hope as we return into our second year, we're better comprehensively."

Coach: Ben Howland (8th year, 334-171 overall record)
Last season: 14-18, lost in second round, Pac-10 Tournament; Did not make postseason tournament
Starters: G Lazeric Jones (Junior College), G Malcolm Lee (12.1 ppg, 3.1 apg), F Tyler Honeycutt (7.2 ppg, 6.5 rpg), F Reeves Nelson (11.1 ppg, 5.7 rpg), C Joshua Smith (High School)
Key Additions: Jones, Smith, SF Tyler Lamb, SG Matt Carlino
Key Losses: SG Michael Roll, PF Nikola Dragovic
Head Coach Ben Howland: "We expect to be much better than we were a year ago. Having some guys who had some experience, even though it was a tough experience, I like that nucleus. I like our team. The big key for us is to stay healthy, and that's something we have to work to do."

Arizona State
Coach: Herb Sendek (5th year, 330-214 record)
Last season: 22-11, lost in first round, Pac-10 Tournament; Lost In first round, National Invitational Tournament
Starters: G Jamelle McMillan (6.6 ppg, 2.8 apg), G Ty Abbott (12.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg), G Trent Lockett (6.7 ppg, 3.4 rpg), F Rihards Kuksiks (12.1 ppg, 3.6 rpg), C Ruslan Pateev (2.1 ppg, 1.9 rpg)
Key Additions: F Keala King, G Corey Hawkins, G Brandon Dunson
Key Losses: G Derek Glasser, F Eric Boateng
Senior guard Ty Abbott: "Why not? Why can't it be us? And that's how we felt last year, and that's how we'll feel every year. We're a team that will work hard, and at the end of the day, we're going to be right there."

Washington State
Coach: Ken B (2nd year, 351-182 overall record)
Last season: 14-18, lost in first round, Pac-10 Tournament; Did not make postseason tournament
Starters: G Reggie Moore (12.7 ppg, 4.2 apg), G Klay Thompson (19.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg), G Marcus Capers (6.9 ppg, 4.1 rpg), F Abe Lodwick (2.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg), F DeAngelo Casto (10.7 ppg, 7.0 rpg)
Key Additions: G Andre Winston, F Dexter Kernich-Drew
Key Losses: F Nikola Koprivica
Head Coach Ken Bone: "We lost one senior, and we have a lot of guys back who got game experience last year, and good game experience. We finished 10th, but it's not like we were too far out of it. We were two games out of fifth."

Coach: Kevin O'Neill (2nd year, 204-208 overall record)
Last season: 16-14, Ineligible for postseason
Starters: PG Maurice Jones (High School), SG Bryce Jones (High School), SF Marcus Simmons (3.0 ppg, 2.0 rpg), F Alex Stepheson (8.4 ppg, 7.2 rpg), C Nikola Vucevic (10.7 ppg, 9.4 rpg)
Key Additions: M. Jones, B. Jones, G Jio Fontan
Key Losses: F Dwight Lewis, G Mike Gerrity
Head Coach Kevin O'Neill: "The players raised me up every day. They made it easy. They were great. They were positive in their approach, determined in their efforts, stayed together as a group, and although disappointed (about the postseason ban), they weren't deflated totally. It was one of the more gratifying years I've ever had in coaching."

Coach: Mike Montgomery (3rd year, 593-266 overall record)
Last season: 24-11, lost in championship game, Pac-10 Tournament; Lost in second round, NCAA Tournament
Starters: G Jorge Gutierrez (5.5 ppg, 3.0 rpg), G Gary Franklin Jr. (High School), F Allen Crabbe (High School), F Harper Kamp (injured), C Markuri Sanders-Frison (3.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg)
Key Additions: Franklin, Crabbe, F Richard Solomon
Key Losses: G Jerome Randle, G Jamal Boykin, F Theo Robertson, F Patrick Christopher
Head Coach Mike Montgomery: "There's a lot of uncertainty for most of us. If you have two juniors or seniors, guys who are proven scorers, that gives you a leg up on most of the people. I like our players, but their freshmen. You don't know what they're going to do. There's a lot of that going on."

Oregon State
Coach: Craig Robinson (3rd year, 62-64 overall record)
Last season: 14-18, lost in first round, Pac-10 Tournament; Lost in first round, CBI Tournament
Starters: G Jared Cunningham (6.2 ppg, 2.0 rpg), G Calvin Haynes (12.5 ppg, 2.3 rpg), G Lathen Wallace (5.3 ppg, 1.5 rpg), F Omari Johnson (4.7 ppg, 2.6 rpg), C Joe Burton (4.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg)
Key Additions: G Ahmad Starks, G Roberto Nelson, F Eric Moreland, F Chris Brown
Key Losses: F Seth Tarver, F Roeland Schaftenaar
Head Coach Craig Robinson: "We're still in a position that we don't know who we are yet. We spend most of our time focused on ourselves. We have four seniors, two of whom have started most of their careers, and now we're bringing in the cavalry, we like to call it."

Coach: Johnny Dawkins (3rd year, 34-32 record)
Last season: 14-18, lost in second round, Pac-10 Tournament; Did not make postseason tournament
Starters: G Jarrett Mann (5.8 ppg, 3.4 rpg), G Jeremy Green (16.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg), F Jack Trotter (6.8 ppg, 4.5 rpg), F Andrew Zimmerman (4.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg), F/C Josh Owens (injured)
Key Additions: F Dwight Powell, G/F Anthony Brown
Key Losses: F Landry Fields
Head Coach Johnny Dawkins: "For us there's a lot of newness. We had nine players who did not participate with us last season. ... We feel very excited that we're gaining traction and headed in the right direction."

Coach: Dana Altman (1st year, 410-243 overall record)
Last season: 16-16, lost in second round, Pac-10 Tournament; Did not make postseason tournament
Starters: G Malcolm Armstead (10.3 ppg, 4.3 apg), G E.J. Singler (6.1 ppg, 4.3 rpg), G Teondre Williams (6.4 ppg, 2.4 rpg) F Joevan Catron (5.5 pppg, 5.8 rpg), F Jeremy Jacob (7.5 ppg, 4.8 rpg)
Key Additions: G Jay-R Strowbridge, F Tyrone Nared, G Johnathan Loyd
Key Losses: G TaJuan Porter, F Matt Humphrey, G Jamil Wilson
Head Coach Dana Altman: "I had been at Creighton 16 years. ... Reached the point in my career that I was going to make a move or finish up at Creighton. ... I really thought Oregon had a lot of upside and had an opportunity to be something special."

Changing of the point guards?

A recent share from bruinjake on BZ...

Battle for starting point guard job is crucial to UCLA's season

By Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger blog,
Wed Oct 27 03:17pm PDT

LOS ANGELES — When the dark-haired man sat down in the bleachers, removed his jacket and revealed a UCLA basketball polo shirt this time last year, point guard Lazeric Jones admits it caught him completely by surprise.

"UCLA doesn't typically recruit junior college kids, so I was wondering, 'Wow, who's he here for,'" Jones recalled. "Then my coach called me over and introduced me to (UCLA assistant coach) Scott Duncan. It brought a huge smile to my face."

That UCLA made Jones its first significant junior college signee in more than two decades may help the Bruins patch up some of the holes exposed by an ugly 14-18 season last year. The 6-foot-1 Chicago product from John Logan College in Carterville, Ill. gives UCLA coach Ben Howland a capable ball-handler and strong defender at point guard next season if incumbent Jerime Anderson continues to struggle.

One of the crown jewels of UCLA's ill-fated top-ranked Class of 2008 recruiting class, Anderson faltered so badly in all facets of the game last year that Howland benched him at midseason and slid wing Malcolm Lee over to point guard. Howland intends to play Lee at his natural shooting guard position this season, so he has declared the starting point guard job "a full-on competition" between Anderson and Jones.

If either Anderson or Jones embraces that challenge and develops into a trustworthy point guard, it would be a huge boost to a UCLA team that already has a pair of NBA prospects at wing and adds McDonald's All-American Josh Smith to a solid frontcourt. Jones played with the first team during an open practice earlier this week, but Howland insisted on a recent teleconference that neither point guard has edged ahead in the competition thus far.

"They're both competing well," Howland said. "Jerime benefits from having the experience of having been in the program a couple years and Zeke's doing a nice job defensively for us early in his tenure. The good news is they really compete hard against each other and they really make each other better."

It would be difficult to find two point guards who took more divergent paths to get to Westwood than Jones and Anderson. As Jones was fighting to catch the attention of marquee Division I coaches while toiling in obscurity in junior college, Anderson was struggling to live up to the hype that accompanied his ballyhooed arrival at UCLA.

Expected to emerge as Howland's next great point guard when he signed with UCLA out of nearby Canyon High in Anaheim, Anderson did not meet expectations after inheriting the starting job from Darren Collison as a sophomore. He averaged a meager 5.8 points and 3.4 assists, losing first his confidence and then his starting job as his aggressiveness, outside shooting and decision-making ability all faltered.

It's hard to pinpoint Anderson's nadir as a sophomore because there were so many forgettable moments. There was his 1-for-11 shooting in a season-opening loss to Cal State Fullerton. There was the game against Cal when he was benched at the start for being late to a rehab session. And there was the time against cross-town rival USC when he got stripped calling a play while bringing the ball up the court, leading to Marcus Johnson's game-clinching fastbreak dunk.

"There were times where I lost confidence in myself and my game," Anderson said. "Last summer I had a job and different things like that trying to make some money and my head wasn't where it should have been. This year, I worked harder than I had my whole life. My focus was on basketball and getting better."

Motivation wasn't difficult for Anderson to find this summer during early-morning weight-lifting sessions or on-campus pick-up games against NBA players at UCLA's men's gym. Anderson didn't want to experience another season like last year and he knew his place in the starting lineup and the rotation was on the line since Howland had brought in Jones and persuaded Class of 2011 combo guard Matt Carlino to enroll a year early.

The renewed commitment from Anderson hasn't gone unnoticed by teammates and coaches.

"I feel like his whole mindset has changed," Lee said. "He's been working out a lot more and I think it's going to show in his game. I remember I saw him on campus one day and I was like 'J, why are you so sweaty right now?' He told me he'd just gotten done running on the track and running on the bleachers. I had a lot of respect for him after that."

For Jones, simply receiving a scholarship offer from UCLA was the culmination of a lifelong dream.

Undersized and lightly recruited at Chicago's Simeon High, Jones opted to pass up the handful of low-major scholarship offers he received and enroll in junior college in hopes something better might one day come along. Sure enough, he improved his decision-making, worked hard in the weight room and experienced a late growth spurt, blossoming into the nation's most coveted junior college point guard and drawing interest from the likes of Arizona, Nevada and Wisconsin in addition to UCLA.

"If I could do it all again, I'd do it the same way," Jones said. "At the time I may not have liked the decision to go to junior college, but as time went on, it was always the right one for me to get me to this level. It gave me a lot of patience and taught me a real lesson. In life, you have to build your way up. Nothing's going to be given to you. You have to work for everything."

UCLA's unexpected interest in Jones last winter revealed several things about the Bruins' mindset at the time. They were concerned about the lack of progress made by Anderson, they were rightfully fearful of striking out with marquee Class of 2010 targets Ray McCallum and Trey Zeigler and they viewed Jones as a potential ideal insurance policy.

Although the point guard position may not be a strength for UCLA this season, one exciting aspect for UCLA is that Anderson and Jones seem to compliment each other quite well.

Jones is the better on-ball defender and finisher at the rim, though his knowledge of the offense is a work in progress. Anderson is a skilled passer and he's confident his jump shot has improved, but a lack of lateral quickness or length will probably prevent him from ever developing into a defensive stopper.

The other encouraging aspect for UCLA is that the heated battle for the starting job between Anderson and Jones hasn't hasn't created an off-court rivalry.

They go to dinner a few nights a week. They sit together during classes. And they're always in each-other's rooms either watching movies or playing spirited games of NBA 2K11.

"Zeke's already one of my good friends," Anderson said. "People on the outside see we're going for the same spot and they automatically assume we don't like each other, but at the end of the day, we're working for the same goal. I know Zeke wants me to do as good as possible and I want Zeke to do as good as possible because that's best for our team."

Westbrook's dunkeroo on Wed

bruinfan13 shares video on Bruin Zone, originally posted by NBARauf on You Tube

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Lazeric Jones videos

Video by BlairAngulo on You Tube | October 20, 2010
Incoming transfer Lazeric Jones talks at UCLA media day.

Daily News sportswriter Jon Gold caught up with UCLA Junior point guard Lazeric Jones following the Bruins' practice on Oct. 25 (link).

Arron Afflalo ready to tear up the NBA

PHOENIX - OCTOBER 22: Arron Afflalo #6 of the Denver Nuggets drives the ball against Robin Lopez #15 of the Phoenix Suns during the preseason NBA game at US Airways Center on October 22, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona.(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Another former Bruin who is poised to tear it up on the NBA hardwood this season is AA a.k.a. Arron Afflalo (AA2 being Alfred Aboya). I swear, the times I've seen either Arron's first or last name mispelled in the media. Anyhow, Arron is simply dominating Nugget play as of late. Check out the stats (thanks,, a number of 20-plus points nights with "not to sneeze at" assist and rebound numbers this pre-season. And check out the love from the media... although, some of these are from the fantasy league media?!? Talk about being a sleeper. Seriously though, how come the regular media can't sing praises about Arron's recent endeavors?

(AND ANOTHER) ALSO, how come there aren't any video highlights on AA? Anyway, I found this video of AA on D blocking both Pau Gasol and Kobe Bryant in a matter of seconds last season. Video c/o DenverNuggetVideos on You Tube.

Good luck this season, Arron. Keep up the great work!

Afflalo is talk of the Nuggets

Confident guard armed with a scorer's mentality

By Chris Dempsey
The Denver Post
Posted: 10/27/2010 01:00:00 AM MDT

Arron Afflalo is a softspoken guy, the kind of person who goes about his work and lets his actions speak for him.

And this season, those actions might speak more loudly than ever for the Nuggets' fourth-year shooting guard.

Afflalo, who says he has never been more comfortable going into an NBA season than he is now, is being asked to increase his production on the offensive end. If the preseason is any indication of what is on the horizon, he's more than up to that task. He's been a find from a scoring standpoint, ending the preseason with the second-most points of any player in the NBA (163). He averaged 20.4 points per game and nearly netted a triple-double in the Nuggets' exhibition finale against the Phoenix Suns.

So the natural question is: How much of that will be seen when the games count, starting tonight against the Utah Jazz?

"I don't know," Afflalo said, smiling. "We'll find out (tonight). I'm very confident in my skills. I've been working really, really hard. And for me, it's just a natural progression trying to get better. Each year I get more confidence and a little more comfortable. I have high expectations for myself."

When the Nuggets traded for Afflalo last year, it was with defense in mind. Yet offense is in Afflalo's roots. As a junior at UCLA — his last season there — he led the Bruins in scoring with 16.9 points per game on a team that averaged just 70.9. So he scored about 24 percent of the Bruins' points.

Can Afflalo hit that scoring average in the NBA?

"Yeah, without question," he said. "I say that at the same time with respect to my teammates. You have to know your personnel. I, for one, have always been about winning and doing what the team asks me. But by no means does that mean I can't get 20 points a night. I definitely have that ability to do it."

Nuggets coach George Karl noted that part of the preseason agenda was to get Afflalo, along with point guard Ty Lawson, more into the scoring mix.

"I think that everybody sees we're trying to tilt the game a bit towards Arron and Ty," Karl said.

Last season, Afflalo averaged career highs in points, rebounds, assists, blocks, minutes, field-goal percentage and 3-point percentage.

Nuggets star Carmelo Anthony says part of Afflalo's dedication to getting better during the offseason stemmed from Denver's six-game series loss to Utah in the playoffs.

"Besides me, and this isn't to take nothing away from the other guys on the team, but Arron really took that series personal," Anthony said. "I saw him in the offseason, that's all he's been talking about, that series, getting better. He's been focused. The only thing I keep telling him is even when everybody gets back, please continue to do what you're doing."


Arron Afflalo: "I'm ready."
By: Eric Pincus Last Updated: 10/17/10 10:32 PM ET
Hoops World

With all the drama surrounding the Carmelo Anthony saga, the Denver Nuggets have done their best to focus on the upcoming season.

One bright spot has been the development of guard Arron Afflalo.

The Nuggets acquired him in July of 2009 and in his first year with the team, Afflalo averaged 8.8 points a game on 46.5% shooting including 43.4% behind the arc.

Although preseason stats can be somewhat misleading, through three exhibition games, Arron has averaged 21.7 points a game while shooting 54.8% from the field and 52.9% from the arc.

Coach George Karl had nothing but praise for Afflalo after his 27-point night against the Los Angeles Clippers on Thursday in a 100-95 Denver victory.

"I joked with him all summer, 'You better ready man because I'm going to have to play you.' He's worked as hard as anybody I've ever coached in the summertime, working on his game and on his shot," said Karl. "I don't think people in the league think he's a top three-point shooter but we think he is. We think he's going to shoot over 40% the rest of his career."

At 6'5", 215 pounds, Arron was originally drafted out of UCLA by the Detroit Pistons. His reputation was that of a top-notch perimeter defender but the Pistons dealt him to the Nuggets in a cap space move.

Afflalo talked about his efforts over the summer.

"Over the offseason, I tried to work hard and get better," said Arron. "I've always done that. It just took some years for my maturity, my confidence and everything. The more comfortable I feel on the court, the more confident I am. I really took a huge leap this summer. I've always worked on my game."

Given the attention All-Stars like Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups receive, Afflalo knows he'll get plenty of open looks. He's dedicated to making teams pay for their inattention.

"I've got such great players around me, I'm constantly open all the time," said the guard. "I put the work in so it's just about having confidence to go out on the court and do it."

When the Nuggets acquired Afflalo, one NBA executive privately discounted the impact Arron would make given his a lack of athleticism and offensive game.

That's something Afflalo has heard his entire career. He laughed when confronted with the executive's comments.

"Of course. Of course. [I hear that] all the time but I just look at the history of my life; the history of how I've progressed as a player. High school I started at the bottom, I finished as a McDonald's All-American," said Afflalo. "College I came in, even as a McDonald's All-American, started at the bottom finished first-team and my team made the final four. I had expected no different coming to the NBA. I encourage myself. I kept confidence within to keep working throughout the years and it's going to show. It's going to show and that'll be behind me."

He may have come into the league primarily as a defender, but not only does he aspire for more - he's willing to put the work to evolve.

"Honestly it's not all that I am," said Afflalo. "I take pride in being a complete basketball player. So with that in mind, if I have to come into the NBA and be a defender, then that's what I'll do to start and keep getting better. It's not the definition of what I am from the beginning."

The Nuggets hope they have a Bruce Bowen on the roster, a lethal spot-up shooter and top-notch defender. Bruce came into the league with an even shakier jump shot than Afflalo but gradually became a vital part of the championship-era San Antonio Spurs.

One advantage Arron has over Bowen is at the line. Afflalo is a 77.3% career free throw shooter.

Karl looks forward to Afflalo taking a big role this coming season, especially with players like Kenyon Martin and Chris Andersen expected to be sidelined with injury to start the season.

"He's getting a feel for other parts of the game, other aspects of the game plus I think he's an all-defensive defender," said the Denver coach. "Now we need to make him a basketball player, making better decisions and stuff like that but that will happen too."

Afflalo will be a restricted free agent after this season. He may be a player the Nuggets choose to invest in.

"It's my fourth year right now, so I think I'm ready," said Afflalo.

Afflalo turning it on, 27 points vs. Clippers
Arron Afflalo - G - Denver Nuggets
Oct. 15, 2010 - 2:50 AM ET
NBC Sports

Arron Afflalo followed up his 18 and 20-point performances to start the preseason with 27 points on Thursday, hitting 8-of-18 shots from the field with four 3-pointers, nine rebounds, two assists, a steal, and two blocks in 37 minutes.

Chauncey Billups (rest) and Al Harrington (torn fascia) did not play so there were a few more touches to go around, but make no mistake this was a statement game from Alf. Don't go crazy moving him up your draft board, but making him a last-round pick could work depending on your format.

Arron Afflalo: Afflalo continues preseason scoring tear
Arron Afflalo - G - DEN - Oct. 18 - 12:41 am et

Arron Afflalo continued his preseason scoring tear on Sunday, posting 18 points, four rebounds, four assists and two steals in 41 minutes. He connected on four of his 11 shot attempts, all of which came from three-point range.

Heading into Sunday, the top five preseason scorers were, respectively, Carmelo Anthony (24.3), Amare Stoudemire (24.3), Afflalo (21.2), Brook Lopez (20.5) and Monta Ellis (18.2). Preseason overachievers make for interesting blurbs; just don't expect a career 5.9 point-per-game scorer to suddenly turn himself into a 20-plus point-per-game scorer. Oct. 18 - 12:41 am et

Arron Afflalo: Afflalo playing, J.R. Smith not
Arron Afflalo - G - DEN - Oct. 22 - 2:13 am et

Arron Afflalo saw 37 minutes to J.R. Smith's 12 minutes on Thursday, and finished with 14 points on 4-of-11 shooting (including a three) with three rebounds, one assist, one steal, and one block.

Sure it's preseason but lost in all the shuffle about Afflalo's big preseason is the impact it would have on Smith. Afflalo is doing all the same things that J.R. Smith does, albeit less spectacularly at times, but without the constant headaches.


Arron Afflalo: Nearly a Triple-Double
10/23/2010 9:16:06 AM

Afflalo posted 24 points, 10 assists, and nine rebounds during Denver's final preseason game in Phoenix on Friday night.

Afflalo and Ty Lawson were both asked to step up their games this year by head coach George Karl and it's so far so good as both have had, in Karl's opinion, the best preseasons on the team. Afflalo seems right on the verge of finally becoming a legit offensive threat which could put him into the "fringe fantasy prospect" category in some of the deeper leagues.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

The Daily Bruin: "The skinny on the UCLA men’s basketball team"

Sophomore forward Tyler Honeycutt and freshman guard Tyler Lamb at Monday’s open practice. The team’s thin physical build will lead to a new style of play. Photo: Blaine Ohigashi

The skinny on the UCLA men’s basketball team
Updated: 1:19 AM
Published October 26, 2010 in Men's Basketball, Sports
The Daily Bruin

From the press seats inside Pauley Pavilion, the UCLA men’s basketball team looks skinny.

Maybe it’s the comparative size of the cavernous arena which surrounds the players as they hustle through their only open practice of the year.

Maybe it’s those loose tank top practice jerseys that look straight out of a high school junior varsity scrimmage.

But the skinny on these Bruins, as far as I can tell, is that they are just that: skinny.

The core of this team is both long and lean. Anchored by the wing play of 6-foot-8-inch sophomore forward Tyler Honeycutt, who squeaks in at 183 pounds, and 6-foot-4 junior guard Malcolm Lee, who lists at 195, UCLA will try to slide past opposing defenses with a faster tempo than it has employed in years past.

Some of these Bruins have purposely slimmed down, as is the case with starting sophomore post Reeves Nelson.

Known to fans as the bulky, bruising, tatted forward who was second on last year’s team in rebounds, this year’s Reeves is carrying the weight of about twice as many tattoos, but is more lithe than lumpy overall. Apparently, he is sporting less than 6 percent body fat, which is about as much as you just digested from that Carl’s Jr. combo meal.

“Coach (Ben Howland) said he wants me to be ready to play 35 minutes a game this year,” Nelson said. “I know I’m going to have to be in great condition to be able to do that every game.”

Then, there’s Team Lank. Both 6-foot-9 and still quite gangly, sophomore forward Brendan Lane and redshirt freshman center Anthony Stover will be required to back up the post positions and bang around with the Pac-10’s big guys.

Lane actually gained weight this offseason, saying he’s added 20 pounds to get up to a slightly more robust 225, which will be necessary for him to contribute meaningful minutes.

Through the Bruins’ first 10 practices of the year, Howland has been emphasizing the transition game as a way for them to utilize their new slender identity.

“We’re not going to be a great rebounding team, but once we get (the ball) we’ve got to get out of there in a hurry,” Howland said.

The team is supposedly going back to the man-to-man defense that you all know and love here in Westwood. Honeycutt assured fans of why its returning.

“We’re all long and athletic, so we can defend real well,” he said.

But skinny is not only an anatomical distinction for this team. Even the roster is thin, with just 10 scholarship players suiting up, which has Howland stressing the importance of staying healthy and out of foul trouble.

That last bit is important for Josh Smith’s ears. The 305-pound freshman center isn’t exactly twiggy yet, but his much publicized efforts to get in shape will keep him on the floor, something Howland is banking on.

The eighth-year Bruin coach has not had total control over who is still left on his roster for this season. First, the NBA Draft took some pro bodies and then last year’s rash of departing transfers stole a healthy handful.

But in college basketball, there are more than a few ways to be successful. Even if your players are more comparable to broomsticks than boulders, a good coach’s style should always be one size fits all.

The Daily Bruin: "UCLA men’s basketball picks up the pace"

Junior guard Jerime Anderson and junior guard Lazeric Jones at the UCLA basketball team’s open practice on Monday. The team is working on playing an up-tempo style this season. Photo: Blaine Ohigashi

UCLA men’s basketball picks up the pace

Coach Ben Howland and players to try an up-tempo play this upcoming season

Published October 26, 2010 in Men's Basketball, Sports
The Daily Bruin
Updated: 1:31 AM

Given the recent tendencies of the UCLA men’s basketball team, coach Ben Howland might as well have been speaking Ancient Greek at Monday’s practice.

“Push it!” the coach called out. “Way to run it! Transition on every possession, make or miss!”

The words sure sounded foreign coming from the coach who has been known to pride himself on ball security, managing possessions and working the shot clock.

But things appear to be different this season, if Monday’s drills – and Howland’s words – are any indication. The bulk of practice consisted of the first and second units running transition drill after transition drill against each other. That kind of activity is helped by the presence of two true point guards: junior college transfer Lazeric Jones, who ran with the first team, and incumbent Jerime Anderson, who led the second.

“I like it,” Jones said of the tempo. “I’m just trying to learn the way Coach wants me to push it, get the right guys the ball.”

Those right guys include junior Malcolm Lee and sophomore Tyler Honeycutt, a pair of high-level athletes who are both adept at finishing in transition and should benefit significantly from the change in style. Rounding out the first unit on Monday were sophomore Reeves Nelson at power forward and freshman Josh Smith at center.

Even Smith, whose weight and conditioning have been the subject of much discussion since his arrival in Westwood this summer, looked comfortable in the fast-paced tempo.

“Coach Howland really emphasizes getting up and down the floor,” Smith said. “I feel pretty good with it.”

In Smith and Nelson, the Bruins have a pair of big men who are above-average finishers around the rim. The success of UCLA’s quicker style could depend on the ability of that pair to run the floor efficiently. Howland likes their chances.

“I really think that having Reeves Nelson being able to run the floor (is an important thing),” Howland said. “We’re making a concerted effort to get the ball to that first big.”

Assuming that Smith is able to maintain his conditioning, the pace appears to be a good fit for all of the newcomers. Jones said he played up-tempo in high school and junior college, and Smith acknowledged that his high school team often played fast as well. Freshman Matt Carlino is being counted on to find open spots on the floor to utilize his outside shooting abilities, and Howland called fellow rookie Tyler Lamb ready to play right now, especially defensively.

If anything, UCLA has enough athletes to be able to play an up-tempo style. It remains to be seen whether or not Howland will keep with the change in pace, but for now the coach is clear: This team in transition will be, well, a team of transition.

“We’re trying to get some easy baskets,” Howland said. "#53 UCLA: 2010-11 Basketball Preview"

#53 UCLA: 2010-11 Basketball Preview

by Joel Welser
October 26th, 2010

Overall Rank: #53

Conference Rank: #4 Pacific 10 Conference

2009-10: 14-18, 8-10

2009-10 postseason: none

Coach: Ben Howland (166-72 at UCLA, 334-171 overall)

UCLA needs to forget about last season and look towards the future. With such a young squad, the future should be a lot closer to what everyone has come to expect from Coach Ben Howland and the Bruins. Yet, the future may not be too far off either if everything comes together as it could. There are a lot of questions, but in a weak Pac-10, UCLA has the talent to make a serious run at the conference title and an NCAA berth.

Key Losses: F Nikola Dragovic, F Drew Gordon, F James Keefe, G Michael Roll

Key Newcomers:

UCLA needs some help all over the floor, but the newcomers on the perimeter should be the most interesting to watch. Lazeric Jones, a junior college transfer, could be starting sooner or later. If things continue like they did last season, Jones better be ready to run the show. Tyler Lamb is the most highly touted guard heading to Westwood. The 6-4 Santa Ana product is an efficient scorer and will battle for a starting job right away. Matt Carlino, Jack Haley and Alex Schrempf, who incidentally all have famous basketball playing fathers, will battle for minutes off the bench on the wings.


Jerime Anderson started last season as the Bruins point guard, but was generally ineffective as the team’s playmaker. He is not much of a scorer and simply turned the ball over too much and rarely created good opportunities for his teammates. With Anderson leading the way, UCLA’s offense struggled. However, he is an upperclassman now and has grown up and will not give away the point guard role without a fight. When Anderson was forced to the bench, Malcolm Lee had to run the show. That made Lee a less effective scorer, although he still averaged 12.1 points, 3.1 assists, 4.4 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. Lee is a shooting guard now and will be the entire 2010-2011 campaign barring some unforeseen circumstances. Whether Anderson develops into a consistent starter or not, having him as at least a backup point guard and Lee attacking the basket makes this a dangerous backcourt.


The frontcourt will have to rely on a couple sophomores who were part-time starters as freshmen. Both Reeves Nelson and Tyler Honeycutt were slowed by injuries last season, but managed to put up some pretty impressive numbers. Nelson is the true post player. At 6-8 and 235 pounds, he is a little short compared to some Pac-10 centers, but he makes up for it with his strength. On the offensive end, Nelson has plenty of post moves to make taller defenders look bad and ended his freshman campaign averaging an impressive 11.1 points per game. Honeycutt is also 6-8, but he plays more like a wing than a post player. In fact, if UCLA finds themselves with enough depth in the post, Honeycutt could move to the small forward position. Honeycutt has the ability to hit the long ball, which is very beneficial to this group no matter where he plays. The best reason for Honeycutt to play on the wing is his ability to hit the glass. He averaged 6.5 rebounds per game last season, and on a team that consistently got beat in the rebounding department, having a big body on the wing would solve that problem. But if Honeycutt is going to spend time at the three spot, somebody else has to fill in up front next to Nelson.

Who to Watch:

Brendan Lane could be that guy after averaging 2.4 points and 1.5 rebounds during his freshman campaign. However, an ankle injury has slowed his development and it remains to be seen if he is really ready to step into a starting role. On paper, incoming freshman Joshua Smith looks like the answer. However, at 6-10 and 305 pounds, the McDonald’s All-American will not likely be able to spend 20 minutes per game on the floor until he gets another year of conditioning under his belt. Anthony Stover redshirted last year and could be ready to play 15 to 20 minutes per contest.

Final Projection:

If Lane, Smith and Stover can handle 40 minutes per game at the five spot, the frontcourt would be quite good. The rebounding issues would be long gone and the extra size should help the overall defense. That is just one ‘if’ that UCLA has to deal with in order to improve on their dismal 2009-2010 campaign. The other big issue is at the point, but at least Coach Howland has another option this time around and knows that Lee can concentrate on what he does best and turn into this team’s go-to-guy.

Projected Post-season Tournament: NIT

Projected Starting Five:

Jerime Anderson, Junior, Guard, 5.8 ppg

Malcolm Lee, Junior, Guard, 12.1 ppg

Tyler Lamb, Freshman, Guard, DNP last season

Tyler Honeycutt, Sophomore, Forward, 7.2 ppg

Reeves Nelson, Sophomore, Forward, 11.1 ppg

Coach Ben "Maverick" Howland: "I feel the need, the need for speed"

Thanks to Bob The Bruin and Bruinville News for posting the following story.

Coach Ben Howland says he intends to "speed up" (in quotation marks) his team's transition attack this season in hopes of getting easier baskets.


UCLA basketball team attempting to pick up the pace

By Ben Bolch
The Los Angeles Times
9:25 PM PDT, October 25, 2010

Lazeric Jones took an outlet pass and raced up the floor, accompanied by Ben Howland's voice.

"Push, push, push!" the UCLA basketball coach bellowed.

Howland repeated the refrain after almost every possession Monday evening at Pauley Pavilion, regardless of whether a shot went in the basket or clanged off the rim.

The display came in front of a handful of boosters and reporters allowed to watch the Bruins' only open practice of the season, but Howland insisted it wasn't just for show; the coach said he intended to speed up his team's transition attack this season.

"Once we get it we have to get it out of there in a hurry, whether it's out of the basket, which hopefully will be less and more off of missed shots," Howland said.

The hope is that a quickened pace will lead to easier baskets, particularly with improved guard play and power forward Reeves Nelson's enhanced ability to run the floor.

"It fits us real well, just with our guard personnel, our athletes," shooting guard Malcolm Lee said, "and I think Coach notices."

Though hulking center Joshua Smith doesn't immediately figure to be a terror in transition, Howland said he envisioned the freshman eventually becoming a bigger contributor as Smith's conditioning improved. The 6-foot-10, 305-pounder displayed deceptive quickness in half-court drills, appearing beat by Anthony Stover on one play only to recover and pin a shot against the backboard.

"Josh is moving real well for his size," Lee said.

Start me up?

For much of the practice, the Bruins went with what appeared to be a first team of Smith, Nelson, Lee, Jones and Tyler Honeycutt, all wearing white jerseys.

Howland said afterward that the players in white were not necessarily his starters, calling them "just what we were working with today." But Lee said that before practice, Howland had said, "Starters in white."

Added Lee: "I've noticed we've been working in that unit with each other."


Freshman Tyler Lamb said he would back up Honeycutt at small forward in addition to Lee at shooting guard. "If I have to guard a bigger guy, I'll guard him," said Lamb, who at 6-4 is four inches shorter than Honeycutt. "The only thing that changes for me is, when I'm a three I go in and crash the board on offense and when I'm a two I get back" on defense. … Lee has been named team captain, though Howland said he may designate additional captains. … Former Bruins coach Jim Harrick attended practice.

LA Times and LA Daily News on UCLA Open Practice

Thanks to Bob The Bruin and Bruinville News for posting the following stories.

Observations from UCLA's only open basketball practice
By Ben Bolch
The Fabulous Forum
The who, what, where, when,
why — and why not — of L.A. sports
The Los Angeles Times
October 25, 2010 | 9:46 pm

The only UCLA basketball practice open to the media this season was Monday at Pauley Pavilion.

A few observations:

1) Reeves Nelson made seven consecutive shots from near the three-point line early in the practice before losing his long-range touch, prompting Coach Ben Howland to work with the sophomore power forward on his form. Nelson's frustration mounted as his shots began to stray, and he briefly pulled his jersey over his head, but he said his accuracy had improved since last season. That could help the Bruins stretch opposing defenses.

"Coach just tells me to keep shooting because he's confident in my shooting abilities, and I think I'm shooting a pretty high percentage overall in practice so far," Nelson said. "Today was a little off, but the other days have been going pretty well, so I'm liking it."

Nelson also displayed the hard-nosed side that won him fans as a freshman, bulling his way into the post for a dunk and later going from one end of the court to the other after a steal only to come up short on an attempted dunk and take a tumble.

2) Malcolm Lee, the team's leading returning scorer who averaged 12.1 points last season, said he hoped to be even more assertive on the offensive end, but Howland stopped one play to admonish the shooting guard for passing up an open shot. Shortly thereafter, Lee buried a jumper with freshman Matt Carlino in his face.

3) Neither point guard distinguished himself, though Lazeric Jones played almost exclusively with the first team. Both Jones and Jerime Anderson committed some ugly turnovers with bad passes, and Anderson also struggled at times with his shot.

Though he appears to be the front-runner, Jones said no decision had been made on a starter.

"Everything's still up in the air right now," said Jones, a junior college transfer from Chicago who was brought in in the wake of Anderson's struggles last season. "I don't really know who the starting five is, so right now I'm still working hard trying to get on the floor, period."

Asked about the battle at point guard, Jones said, "It's been going back and forth every day. He's been doing really well and I've been trying as hard as possible. I don't think there have been bad days for him or me or us as a team. That's why it's really up in the air."

Lee described Anderson as more of "a pure point guard" while saying that Jones "has more of a playground edge to him, plays with a chip on his shoulder."

4) Joshua Smith, the 6-foot-10 freshman center who appears heavier than his listed weight of 305 pounds, knocked Anthony Stover to the floor ... with what seemed like only a tiny shift of his massive body. "He's three-plus bills on the block," Lee said of Smith. "That's hard to move." Smith displayed some deceptive quickness in half-court sets, though. He appeared beaten by Stover on one move only to pin Stover's shot against the backboard.

5) Sophomore forward David Wear displayed a nice touch from three-point range, making several shots during full-court action. Too bad for Bruins fans the transfer from North Carolina will be ineligible this season.

Hoops Post-Practice Report
By Jon Gold on October 25, 2010 5:44 PM
Inside UCLA with Jon Gold
The Los Angeles Daily News

* Talk about an efficient practice. In 2.5 hours, they barely had time to breathe, but the conditioning is such that I didn't see too many of the guys really sucking wind. Even the guy with the most wind to suck, Joshua Smith, looked like he was handling the tempo of practice very well.

* Tyler Honeycutt came back with a shot this year, folks. Beautiful release, and he looks very comfortable shooting the ball. Comfort is as much about having the confidence to shoot as it is having good shooting touch, and he looked like he's developed both.

* Reeves Nelson also spent a lot of work during the summer on his outside shot, but after watching him practice, I'm not sure he has the range he thinks he has. He had some beautiful shots, but was often short with the ball, and he still shows some hesitation outside. but he'll definitely get some prettier baskets than last year.

* Tyler Lamb had a so-so practice, but you can see that he is an incredible natural feel for the game. He had a baseline spin move that was deadly, but then he missed the floater. Such is life with a freshman. Above-average defensive tenacity, and he should be a viable option behind both Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee.

* Jerime Anderson looks noticeably thinner and quicker, but still has his issues finishing in the lane. I've never seen a guy who gets to the basket as well as he does still struggle to convert the layup. I gotta assume its a feel or touch issue, but it's not good.

* Very, very, very impressed by David Wear. Will he ever turn into a major star? Who knows. But he's a basketball player, plain and simple.

* Nice exchange: Brendan Lane comes down on one possession with Lee, Smith, Honeycutt and Jones and drops in a 3-pointer, and then the Bruins get back into transition the other way - Anderson, Stover, Nelson, Lamb and Carlino - and Nelson finishes inside.
That was followed by a Josh Smith bucket on a beautiful post move and a Tyler Lamb outside shot.

* Didn't get a very good look at Matt Carlino, but the good shooting form is as advertised. He had a little problem defending the perimeter, but he's obviously nowhere near as strong or experienced as the guys - Anderson Lee - that he was guarding.

* Lastly, I'm not quite going all-in on Malcolm Lee as a superstar, but his offensive game is looking pretty good right now. I still need to see more consistency from him on a play-to-play basis - some guys look good even when they miss; he's not one of them - but he's definitely got some new moves this year.

UCLA's Tyler Lamb impresses Ben Howland

Thanks to Bob The Bruin and Bruinville News for posting the following story.


UCLA's Tyler Lamb impresses Ben Howland

Bruins freshman shooting guard is singled out by the coach for his defensive tenacity and three-point shooting during a scrimmage. Former Santa Ana Mater Dei standout Tyler Lamb has made an impression on UCLA Coach Ben Howland, who says the freshman is "really competitive and tough."

By Ben Bolch
The Los Angeles Times
October 25, 2010

Coach Ben Howland sounded like a mayoral candidate lagging in the polls with election night looming, saying his UCLA basketball team has "a lot of work to do" and "a long way to go" because the coach is breaking in so many new players.

On the plus side, one newcomer appears capable of influencing the swing vote.

Freshman shooting guard Tyler Lamb has impressed Howland with his defensive tenacity and three-point accuracy, making five of six shots from beyond the arc during a scrimmage Saturday.

"Tyler Lamb really stood out because he's a fresh face," Howland said Sunday evening during a teleconference with reporters. "I was really happy about that."

The display was especially welcome because Lamb had not shot particularly well during the Bruins' early practices, Howland said. The coach was also encouraged by Lamb's play on defense.

"Tyler Lamb is the most ready of the new freshmen to play defense, and that's from his high school background," Howland said, alluding to Lamb's two seasons at Santa Ana Mater Dei. "He's really competitive and tough."

If Lamb is to help the Bruins improve on their three-point accuracy from last season — they made 32.5% of their shots, ranking eighth in the Pacific 10 Conference — he must boost his figures from his senior season of high school, when he made 30 of 101 shots (29.7%) from long range.

It sounds as if he'll get the chance.

"I have high expectations for Tyler Lamb to play a major role on this year's team," Howland said.

In a hurry

Howland said the Bruins would showcase a more up-tempo offense in an effort to "really put pressure on the defense and get early looks."

"It's hard to push it on made shots," Howland said, "but we're trying to do that and definitely on missed shots."

Howland said the onus would be on his players, noting, "They have to want to push it. It's hard work to run it every time."

Injury report

Sophomore forward Travis Wear sprained his right ankle in practice Friday and is expected to be sidelined for another week.

Monday, October 25, 2010

UCLA focused on conditioning in off-season

UCLA focused on conditioning in off-season

Athletic performance coach Wes Long helped Bruins players beef up, slim down and improve their physiques to prepare for the upcoming season.

By Ben Bolch
October 23, 2010|4:45 p.m.

When it comes to sizing up UCLA basketball players, there's no one quite like Wes Long.

In his early summer assessments, the Bruins' athletic performance coach saw a Brendan Lane who needed to beef up, a Joshua Smith who needed to slim down and a Tyler Lamb who also needed to drop weight to compete at the major-college level.

So Long took the Bruins out on the football field, where they flipped giant tires and swung heavy ropes until their shoulders ached. Then they ran, ran, ran.

If their new physiques are any indication, the Bruins appear ready to make a run at something better than last season's 14-18 record. Lane has added 20 pounds of muscle, Smith has dropped 50 pounds of fat and Lamb no longer looks a little doughy.

They weren't the only players to make improvements. Reeves Nelson lowered his body fat from 9% to 5%, Tyler Honeycutt became what Long described as "wiry strong" and Malcolm Lee retained his unofficial title as the pound-for-pound strongest player on the team.

"We had a really good off-season as a whole," said Long, who is in his fourth year at UCLA.

Smith had the most rigorous regimen, working out two or three times a day depending on his class schedule. He would ride a bike for 45 minutes in the morning and then perform defensive slides and medicine ball throws to get his heart pumping in the afternoon. On days he completed a third workout, Smith would again ride the bike or run sprints on a treadmill.

The workouts took a heavy toll on the Bruins' biggest player.

"I don't think he was quite ready for how much work he had to put in," Long said. "There was a week or so where he was kind of bummed out with how hard it was going to be, but after that he bought in and saw how important it was."

Smith credited Long for the bulk of his weight loss, saying his conditioning was a bigger factor than his improved eating habits.

"The key was being dedicated and saying, 'Nobody's going to feel sorry for me. I have to do this on my own,'" said Smith, a 6-foot-10 freshman who is listed at 305 pounds. " 'There's nothing my mom can do, my dad can do, the coaches can do. It's on me to go out there and go with Wes, do what he tells me.'"

At the request of Coach Ben Howland, the Bruins worked on conditioning more than in recent years, Long said. Taking players onto the football field was a way to break the monotony of continuous workouts in the weight room.

Long said players often exhibit the biggest physical improvements during the summer between their freshman and sophomore years. Sophomores Lane and Nelson both made big strides, even though Lane's lower-body workouts were limited early in the summer as he recovered from ankle surgery.

Nelson is moving more swiftly as a result of his drop in body fat, Long said, even though he wasn't overweight by any means before this summer. Long has watched the Bruins' early practices to monitor their movements and make sure they are performing at an optimal level as far as their conditioning.

"The practices have been intense and the guys have been moving hard," Long said.

Tickets on sale

Tickets for UCLA's game against Brigham Young in the Wooden Classic on Dec. 18 at the Honda Center went on sale Saturday. They can be purchased online at or by calling (800) 745-3000.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

We need more than a Lance Armstrong this season, Tyler!

bruinjake posted this LA Times article on Honeycutt on Bruin Zone. Follow the discussion that unfolded amongst some BZ faithful here.

UCLA counting on forward Tyler Honeycutt

The 6-8 sophomore aims to take a leadership role on a team with no seniors.

By Ben Bolch
The Los Angeles Times
October 21, 2010|4:15 p.m.

Tyler Honeycutt led UCLA in rebounding last season.

He was pretty good when it came to grabbing missed shots as they caromed off the rim.

For much of the season's early going, though, the small forward couldn't catch a break as he continually bounced back from injuries. First came a spinal stress fracture that sidelined him over the summer.

Then, after he was cleared to practice and spent almost a month going through drills with the Bruins, Honeycutt sustained a stress reaction in his right tibia. That cost him the first six games of the season.

UCLA lost four times during that stretch on the way to a 14-18 finish.

Honeycutt said it was frustrating to be on the sideline "when you know you can be out there making a difference, and I definitely think I'm making a difference now and I'm taking advantage of" being able to play. He has shrugged off a tweaked hip flexor from a few weeks ago and resumed full practices.

More will be expected of the 6-foot-8 sophomore after a season in which he averaged a team-high 6.5 rebounds, becoming the third freshman to lead the Bruins in that category in the last five years (Luc Richard Mbah a Moute did it in 2005-06 and Kevin Love in 2007-08).

Honeycutt, who averaged 7.2 points last season, said he wants to become a more aggressive scorer, a better defender and take more of a leadership role on a team with no seniors.

"I'm going to try to make every play but make it as smart as possible," Honeycutt said, "because if I turn over the ball and make mistakes, it doesn't leave much for the freshman to look at."

The Bruins got a glimpse of the kind of all-around game Honeycutt is capable of late last season. He led all Pacific 10 Conference freshmen with four double-doubles, all coming over the final 11 games.

Honeycutt acknowledged that he would like "to have played a bigger role offensively, but we had a lot of older guys and I had to do what it takes for us to win and I was fine with that. As one of the older guys and leaders now, I will have to take a bigger role."

Coach Ben Howland called Honeycutt one of the Bruins' best players and said he had improved his shooting since his freshman year, when he made 49.6% of his field goals and 34.5% of his three-point attempts.

"I think he's going to be a much better perimeter player than a year ago because of the time he's put into it," Howland said. "I expect him to have a really, really solid year."

Saturday, October 23, 2010


When ipsedixit posted this video of Jrue Holiday on Bruin Zone (link) giving Knickerbocker Anthony Randolph a crackin facial, I had this sudden urge to check in on how Jrue is looking this pre-season.

Jrue is doing pretty good, thank you very much.

Looks like Philly 76er coach Doug Collins is going with Jrue as his starting point guard.

Great work, Jrue! Congrats on the contract extension, too. Best of luck this season.

Also on the 76er roster is former UCLA gunner Jason Kapono. Some hoopheads think Jason might crack Coach Collins' starting five. Good luck to you too, Jason!

I posted some recent stories on Jrue for your reading pleasure. Enjoy.

Here are some highlights from Jrue's rookie season c/o JerzyRUS on You Tube. With a cameo by Jason Kapono on the wire mike:

Thanks to ipsedixit for stirring the need to check up on Jrue.

To close shop here: Madonna goes phunkydelic (I think).


Jrue Holiday will make modest gains
By Josh Whitling
Special to
October 13, 2010, 11:49 AM

How much improvement can be expected from 20-year-old point guard Jrue Holiday?

It's rare that a point guard with one year of college experience starts, and is effective, in the NBA, but Jrue Holiday did just that last season, seizing the Philadelphia 76ers' starting job in March and putting up fantastic averages: 11.9 points, 5.5 assists, 1.5 steals, 1.2 3-pointers and 49.0 percent shooting from the floor after the All-Star break. By season's end, he was an unquestioned fantasy starter, even though he was the youngest player in the league. He enters the upcoming season with high expectations placed upon him, as he's been clearly dubbed the Sixers' point guard of the present and future. It's impossible to read a fantasy article without the word "sleeper" attached to his name, but is he ready to break out this season? Can he even match his post-All-Star numbers from last season with roster uncertainty on the Sixers and a target on his back now that he's no longer an unknown? Is he enough of a pure point guard to facilitate this muddled offense?

He's gotten off to a bumpy start this preseason, averaging 9.3 points, 6.0 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 2.0 steals and 1.0 3-pointers in four contests, and he admits it. According to, Holiday said, "I am not playing well. I'm thinking too much and I just need to play. … I am just trying to do too much and I need to settle down and play." The early rebound and steals totals are promising, but his ability to accrue consistent assists and 3s will heavily dictate Holiday's value because he's still learning his role and how to capitalize on his talent.

Jrue Holiday has plenty of room for growth, but how quickly he grows is the key to his fantasy value.Holiday hasn't put up monster stats since high school, although he often played out of position at UCLA, where he averaged 8.5 points, 3.8 rebounds, 3.7 assists and 1.6 steals per game while shooting 45 percent from the floor and 73 percent from the stripe. He struggled with his outside shot, which is suspect because of an inconsistent release. He's not bursting with athleticism and demonstrated questionable decision-making skills at times, seeming to be stuck between facilitator and scorer. But that decision making should improve. The same terms have consistently been used to describe him: great potential, hard-working, high character, obsessed with winning. The stats at the end of last season weren't imaginary, although this will be a learning season with a strange roster. By all accounts he's extremely poised. He has an excellent work ethic and is a great competitor. Even though he'll have some adjustments to make and bumps in the road, those character traits should allow him to respond and focus on the aspects of his game that best lend themselves to what the team needs. And the team needs someone to distribute the ball and balance the half-court offense. Holiday needs to work on running a team and honing his outside shot to become a consistent weapon. If those areas are improved on, Holiday's prospects are promising.

The Sixers have some lineup issues because head coach Doug Collins is trying to figure out how to get Andre Iguodala, Evan Turner and Thaddeus Young on the court at the same time without sacrificing the half-court game. Even though Collins has praised Holiday by stating he'll be among the top five point guards in the league, he identifies Holiday's early struggles this preseason, saying that Holiday is putting too much pressure on himself.

Holiday enters the season as ESPN's 21st-ranked point guard, between Brandon Jennings and Tony Parker, although he's a popular sleeper who will finish much higher than that, if he can improve on his late-season heroics. He's long, lanky and crafty off the dribble, but there will be some growing pains. Temper your enthusiasm about his assists, as he's never been dominant in that area, but the steals are legit, his 3s should improve and he's a solid rebounder at 6-foot-3. He actually has the ability to block a few shots, and I could see him swatting a sneaky 0.4 per game.

His ESPN projections seem accurate. I don't expect a dominant sophomore campaign, but he has definitely cemented himself as a solid fantasy player. Look for Holiday to average around 12 points, 5 assists, 1.5 steals and a 3-pointer, while shooting about 43-45 percent from the floor with solid boards and blocks for a point guard. Improvement on his post-All-Star numbers might be too much to expect, buthe should be able to come relatively close to matching them, making him a viable option. Don't expect a huge breakout, but don't expect a bust. He's got the tools and is locked into a role that will allow him to be a solid fantasy option for years to come.

Josh Whitling is a fantasy basketball analyst for

Collins continues juggling act with Sixers
Philadelphia Daily News
Posted on Mon, Oct. 18, 2010

Another 76ers practice at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine, another juggling of players. New coach Doug Collins is like a mixologist, trying to find what concoctions best suit his taste.

Yesterday's first team consisted of Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand and Craig Brackins, with Jodie Meeks and Jason Kapono sharing a spot.

At the end-of-practice scrimmage, that group looked very good on offense, in both getting the ball to the basket and finding outside shooters for open jumpers.

"I'm just continuing to mix and match a little bit," Collins said. "It's hard for me right now because Mo Speights didn't practice with his sore hamstring and Spencer [Hawes, bad back] is getting better, but he didn't practice. Jodie was in there subbing with 'Kap' because I'm trying to have a shooter in there with that group. I'm just sort of seeing how that goes. Again, our guys played hard today, they had a lot of energy and that's very, very encouraging. Their effort has been fantastic."

But effort alone won't be enough. Collins has been hindered with injuries and, quite frankly, players who haven't performed to his expectations. So until all that comes together, each practice session turns into a let's-try-this-lineup.

As good as the first unit looked offensively at the end of practice, you had to wonder how it would defend against an opponent not wearing the same emblem on the front of the jersey.

"You might have to give up something to get something that you need," Collins said. "One thing we can't do is we can't go through stretches of 6 or 7 minutes where we can't score because we're not that good defensively that we're going to shut a team down. And any time we've had problems in exhibitions it's because we've had dead 6- or 8-minute periods of time. We're not going to be able to score enough points to have a dead 6 or 8 or 10 minutes. We have to figure out if the one unit that is going to start the game gives me a certain thing and the one that's coming in [is going to give another]. The bench has been really good. So I'm still trying to figure that out."

Lou Williams, the Sixers' best player during the exhibition season while coming off the bench, understands that nothing is set when it comes to when players are on the court and how many minutes they play.

"It's not a thing about starting games," Williams said. "I'm more concerned about being able to finish. I want to be one of those guys he can rely on in the fourth quarter. Maybe it's a matchup thing. Maybe we want to start bigger and finish a little quicker. I'm all for it. I'm a team guy. I'm not really worried about the individual stuff."

It's a puzzle Collins is still trying to figure out.

Sixers starting lineup may be taking shape
by Derek Bodner on Oct 21, 2010 1:59 PM PDT in Recaps
Liberty Ballers, SB Nation

Philadelphia 76ers' Jason Kapono reacts after making a three-point basket in the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Atlanta Hawks, Friday, Nov. 27, 2009, in Philadelphia. Atlanta won 100-86. Kapono may have moved his way into the starting lineup when the 2010-11 regular season starts next Wednesday.(AP Photo/Matt Slocum)

With a mere week remaining until the regular season kicks off, the Sixers starting lineup is starting to take form. Jrue Holiday, Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand appear to be locks in the starting lineup, and the remaining two positions may finally be coming into focus.

Last night, in the last preseason tune-up before games start counting, Jason Kapono and Tony Battie both made their cases to round out the final two spots, at least until Spencer Hawes is able to return from his lower back strain. The starting lineup was +7 during its stint to start the first quarter and +14 during the first 8 minutes of the third quarter.

Even with the disclaimer that the Knicks were resting some of their best players -- Danilo Gallinari was out with a sprained wrist and Amar'e Stoudemire and Wilson Chandler did not play due to coaches decision -- the domination was impressive. Perhaps more impressive was the cohesiveness the starting unit played with.

"I think the more and more that we play together the more we understand what guys like to do and where [they like to be]," Jason Kapono said after the game. "Hopefully our chemistry will keep getting better and we can keep on playing as well as we did tonight."

The starting lineup has been changed frequently during the preseason, as Doug Collins and his staff tinker with combinations to find ones that work. The preseason started off with Iguodala and Thaddeus Young on the wings, eventually switching to Turner and Iguodala when Hawes went down with his injury and Young moved over to play power forward.

After trying that lineup out for three games, it appears another switch was made. Kapono has joined Iguodala on the wing the past two games to end the season, and it appears that duo might stay together, at least for now.

"Starting [last] Friday we started working with the group of Jrue [Holiday], Kapono, Iguodala, Elton Brand and a big," associate head coach Michael Curry said, still filling in for Doug Collins as he gets treated for symptoms related to a concussion. "Preferably, that big is going to be Spencer when he's healthy."

Despite working with the starting lineup for the last week, Kapono's not acting as if his starting spot is a sure thing. "I'm not [sure I'll be starting next week]. I'm not really too concerned about that. I'm just glad that I'm playing."

Uncertainty with his role isn't exactly something new for Kapono, who has started 85 of his 458 career NBA games. "I put forth all the effort and work, and I try not to let that bother me," Kapono said. "I've been through this throughout my career. I've been in a suit, I've been a starter, I've been 1 through 15 [on the roster]. I definitely have the experience of knowing how to stay ready."

More importantly, it seemed to Kapono, was staying in the regular rotation. "I played the first 20-25 games [last year]. It was the middle of year [when he fell out of the rotation]. Once the snow fell, that wasn't my time to play I guess. I'm a California boy so maybe [coach Jordan] wanted to wait until it was sunny outside," Kapono quipped. "I'm hoping coach Collins doesn't want that and I can play through the winter months."

For a team that invested the number two pick in the draft for a wing in Evan Turner, the team is hoping he and Iguodala can mend their games to play well together. Right now, it's hard to deny that Kapono's shooting helps open things up for Iguodala and Holiday.

"Obviously, [Iguodala and I] have a different skill set, but it's complementary," Kapono said. "You've got to try to find guys that play well together. Guys that can complement each other, that can play together and that bring out their strengths. I think that's what you have in [Andre and I]."

The starting lineup may not be finalized, but it appears to be taking shape. The last remaining question may be what big replaces injured Spencer Hawes until he returns.

Collins return

It's sounding as if the team is expecting Collins to return back within the next few days. Collins is still making his presence felt, even if he's not physically with the team.

"Everything we did out there today, it was all scripted by him. He talked about the sets that he wanted to run, and put guys in position to be successful, and we just followed suite," Curry said.

"There were certain ways he wanted us to guard the pick and rolls, dribble hand-offs, stuff like that," Kapono said about instruction from Collins used in last night's game. "Obviously he's feeling pretty well [considering] that he's sending text messages and [making] phone calls."

Jrue breaking out of his slump.

After comitting 15 turnovers to only 7 assists during the first three games of the preseason, while averaging only 8.3 points per game on 29% shooting during that span, Jrue Holiday found his groove. The 20 year old point guard averaged 13.3 points on 59.3% from the field over his final three starts, while dishing out 10 assists per game to only 2.67 turnovers.

"I feel a lot better. [I] definitely had to figure things out, the players I was playing with, just really feel around it," Holiday said after the game "The coaches, they had my back."

Holiday and Snow after the game

Practically every television set in the Wells Fargo Center last night was tuned into the Phillies game, even in the players locker room. By the time interviews had finished and players started making their way out, seemingly everyone -- from media, to Sixers employees, to the players themselves -- had turned their attention to the Phillies. After virtually everybody had left to watch the Phillies or go about their day, Jrue Holiday and Sixers new color commentator Eric Snow remained in the Sixers locker room talking basketball. Snow may not have an official role in the Holiday's development, but it has become obvious he isn't going to shy away from trying to impose some of his experience on the young pupil, either.

Turner deferring to a fault

Turner made some nice moves with the ball last night, at least more than you would expect from a player who attempted only 1 field goal and no free throws in over 19 minutes of game time. Turner was a slow starter his freshman year at Ohio State, and you hope as he gets more acclimated to his role and to his teammates that he asserts himself more. That being said, it could be argued that the rookie has been too deferential during the preseason.

Collins returns; Sixers extend contracts for Holiday, Speights
Philadelphia Daily News
Posted on Fri, Oct. 22, 2010

It was a busy day for the 76ers, even though they had a day off before they begin preparing for Wednesday's season opener at home against the vaunted Miami Heat.

The team exercised its options yesterday on point guard Jrue Holiday for his third year, and on forward/center Marreese Speights for his fourth year. Both players are now signed through next season.

Also, the team trimmed its roster to 14, releasing point guard Chris Quinn and forward Trent Plaisted. Quinn, who has 4 years of NBA experience, was brought into camp late and was hurt by the fact that Holiday, Evan Turner and Lou Williams are all capable of running the point. Also, with injuries to big men Spencer Hawes (back), Tony Battie (knee) and Speights (hamstring), the team needed to keep as many big men as possible.

Plaisted is being pursued by a Turkish team and could wind up playing there.

In other news, coach Doug Collins, who missed the last two preseason games with symptoms caused by a Memorial Day concussion, pronounced himself well and fit to return to the team. He flew home from Cincinnati before the team's game against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Tuesday and also missed Wednesday's home game with the Knicks. Collins is now being treated for vertigo.

"I'm feeling great with medicine and treatments," he said via a text message. "Ready to roll."

The team will resume practice today at Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

UCLA heads to the islands in 2011

from the Official UCLA Men's Basketball website

Maui Invitational Announces 2011 Field and Tournament Expansion

UCLA, Georgetown, Duke and Kansas highlight the new 12-team tournament format.

EA Sports Maui Invitational

Oct. 14, 2010

MAUI, Hawaii - The EA SPORTS Maui Invitational Hosted by Chaminade University today announced that starting in 2011 the tournament will expand from eight to 12 teams with the addition of four Division I institutions. The total number of tournament games will also expand from 12 games currently played on the island of Maui to a total of 23 games, which include 11 games played on the U.S. mainland.

Starting in 2011, the tournament will be played in three parts:
1. Opening Games:
a. Seven games between seven Maui-bound teams and four mainland teams.
b. These games will be played at the Maui-bound teams' home arenas from Friday, Nov. 11 through Thursday, Nov. 17, 2011

2. Regional Games:
a. Four games played between four mainland teams
b. These games will be played at a mainland team's home arena from Saturday, Nov. 19 to Sunday, Nov. 20, 2011

3. Championship Round:
a. The current eight-team, three-day bracket event
b. These games will be played on Maui from Monday, Nov. 21 to Wednesday, Nov. 23, 2011.

The EA SPORTS Maui Invitational has not expanded its field since 1986, when the tournament grew from four to eight teams. Today's expansion to 12 teams underscores the tournament's position as the nation's premier early-season college basketball tournament.

"We are excited for the growth and expansion of the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational," Tournament Chairman Dave Odom said. "More teams from more conferences will now have a chance to show their best among the nation's top teams in the premier early-season tournament."

2011 Tournament Field
In conjunction with tournament expansion, the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational also announced the eight teams that will be bound for the 2011 tournament championship round at Maui's famed Lahaina Civic Center during Thanksgiving Week next year. Of the seven Division I institutions, there are a combined 20 NCAA National Championships and seven EA SPORTS Maui Invitational championships. The field also consists of three of the top eight winningest Division I men's basketball programs (Duke, Kansas, UCLA). Along with the perennial tournament host school Chaminade University of Honolulu, the 2011 teams include: Duke, Georgetown, Kansas, Memphis, Michigan, Tennessee and UCLA. The four newly-added Division I mainland tournament teams will be announced at a later date.

"The 2011 field has the potential to be the best field in tournament history," Odom said. "The combination of rich basketball tradition and recent success should make for incredible competition."

Duke,the 2010 Division I National Champion, returns to the island of Maui for a fifth time. The Blue Devils have a perfect 12-0 record in Maui under head coach Mike Krzyzewski and took home the 2007, 2001, 1997 and 1992 crowns. The Blue Devils are expected to start the season at the top of most polls.

Georgetown (1-2 in Maui) makes its second trip to the island after finishing fourth in 1999. The Hoyas finished 23-11 last year under head coach John Thompson III, who led Georgetown to back-to-back Big East regular season titles in 2007 and 2008.

Kansas (7-5), like Duke is heading back to Maui for the fifth time and is looking for its first Maui title since 1996 when center Raef Lafrentz won MVP. The Jayhawks lost three starters to the 2010 NBA Draft, but head coach Bill Self and his team should contend for the Big 12 title in 2011.

Memphis (6-6) also returns to Maui for a fifth time after finishing third in 2006 and 1992. Led by head coach Josh Pastner, the Tigers finished 24-10 last year and looks to return to the NCAA Tournament after playing in the NIT last year.

Michigan (8-3) lands in Maui for the fifth time and will look for its second title (1988). Head coach John Beilein will try to get his team to the NCAA Tournament for the second time in his four years at the helm. The Wolverines played in the second-ever Maui Invitational in 1985 when the field consisted of just four teams.

Tennessee (1-2) makes its second appearance at the Lahaina Civic Center. The Volunteers finished fourth in 2004 and look to capitalize on last year's magical run to the Elite Eight behind head coach Bruce Pearl, who has reached the NCAA Tournament in each of his five seasons at Tennessee.

UCLA (6-3), the 2006 Maui champ, will visit the island for a fourth time. Head coach Ben Howland and the Bruins are looking to return to the NCAA Tournament where they made three straight Final Fours from 2006 - 2008.

Host Chaminade, under the tutelage of head coach Matt Mahar, looks for its first Maui win since upsetting Princeton in the 2007 tournament. Mahar has led the Silverswords to the 2006 and 2008 Pac West Championships.

In addition to title sponsor EA SPORTS, other current tournament sponsors include the Maui Visitors Bureau, County of Maui Department of Parks and Recreation, Hawaii Tourism Authority, adidas and GEICO. The Hyatt Regency Maui Resort & Spa, Sheraton Maui Resort & Spa and Westin Maui Resort & Spa, all located in the beautiful Ka'anapali Beach Resort area, serve as host hotels for the thousands of fans and boosters who annually accompany their teams to Maui. KemperSports/KemperLesnik has operated the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational since 1990.

For complete Tournament information, visit the official Tournament Web site by clicking here or to inquire about travel packages contact Oahu Travel, the official travel agent of the EA SPORTS Maui Invitational, at 800-826-3822. Follow the tournament on Twitter at @EASPORTSMauiInv and find us on Facebook for up-to-the-minute Tournament news.

A new kind of aloha for UCLA basketball in 2011

By Ben Bolch

The Fabulous Forum
The who, what, where, when,
why — and why not — of L.A. sports
The Los Angeles Times
October 14, 2010 | 3:29 pm

UCLA is among 12 teams to score an invite for the expanded 2011 Maui Invitational, the Thanksgiving week tournament college basketball fans and players dream of experiencing.

Four of the participants might end up feeling like turkeys.

That's because they won't actually be going to Hawaii under a new format that calls for 11 of the 23 games to be played on the United States mainland.

Opening games in the tournament will be played between the seven Maui-bound teams -- Duke, Kansas, Georgetown, Michigan, Memphis and Tennessee in addition to the Bruins -- and four mainland teams to be determined (just a guess here, but we're probably talking mid-majors) on Nov. 11-17, 2011, at the Maui-bound teams' home arenas.

The teams not making the trip to Hawaii (sniff, sniff) will play each other Nov. 19-20 before the main event commences with the usual eight-team, three-day bracket from Nov. 21-23 at the Lahaina Civic Center in Maui. Chaminade, the tiny island school that once knocked off mighty Ralph Sampson and Virginia, will again serve as the host. The Silverswords haven't won a game in the tournament since upsetting Princeton in 2007.

UCLA, the 2006 Maui Invitational champion, will be making its fourth appearance in the tournament. And the Bruins should consider themselves lucky that they'll actually get to wear leis and participate in a luau.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


UCLA back to playing man-to-man defense
By Diamond Leung
October, 20, 2010 2:20PM ET

When UCLA coach Ben Howland had his team playing some zone defense last season, I mentioned that the dramatic change in philosophy could be a signal that the end times are upon us.

That Howland, long an acolyte of man-to-man defense, was using zone was a sign that the Bruins last season simply didn't have the athleticism to consistently play man-to-man. Making the concession did help the team win some games, but UCLA finished 14-18.

So it's a good sign that this season, Howland is going back to man-to-man because that means he has the personnel to do so.

"We want to limit our time (in zone) and get back to playing man-to-man," Howland told me last week. "That's where our program needs to be to move forward. We're a man-to-man program.

"Kids want to play at the next level. You don't get ready by playing zone."

Already Howland has raved about his defensive-minded newcomers.

Junior college transfer Lazeric Jones was brought in to compete for the starting point guard job with Jerime Anderson and bring the type of on-ball defense that hasn't been seen since Darren Collison went to the NBA.

Tyler Lamb is a freshman wing who should get early playing time for his defense, and McDonald's All-American Joshua Smith is one immovable object at 305 pounds on the block.

Are the Bruins back? We'll see once games start, but at least the way they play should be that much more recognizable.

Quick Conference Call with Howland, Honeycutt

Quick Conference Call with Howland, Honeycutt

By Jon Gold
Inside UCLA with that guy I just named
The City of Angels Times
October 19, 2010 6:29 PM

UCLA head coach Ben Howland on Tyler Honeycutt:

"Tyler's one of our best players. He has a really good nose for rebounding the ball. Today we did a drill 5-0 and every time his team shot it, he got every rebound. He's a very good rebounder, great passer, he's improved his outside shot, I think a lot, I think he's going to be a much better perimeter shooter than he was a year ago. He's improving in all aspects."

Howland on a comparison to Honeycutt: "I don't know. Not off the top of my head."

Howland on the point guard battle: "I wouldn't say I made any decisions there. They're both going to play I thought Zeke had a real good week. He's doing a really good job defending, and shooting the ball well."

On Jerime Anderson: "His prep for last year's season, I thought he had a really poor summer. I thought he had a much better summer. He shoots the ball a lot better now than he did a year ago. He went and spent a lot of time on his own working on his game.

On Tyus Edney: "Tyus brings a lot. First of all, he's very bright, intelligent. He knows basketball and he's a good mentor for he's kids. He's an example for hard work and dedication. He's a good example for a lot of the kids we recruit. He played and did a great job, had a long career professionally. This is kind of the first step, so I'm really excited to have Tyus in our program."

Honeycutt on last fall: "I was practicing, but I had just started to practice and then had a stress reaction in my shin. I was just working myself into practice. That put me out about a month. It sucks no matter what sport to be on the sideline. I feel like I'm making a difference now that I'm able to practice, and I'm just taking advantage of it."

Honeycutt on his role: "I'm being a little more aggressive to score. I have to take more of a leader role now that this is such a young team. Trying to make every play, but make it as smart as possible. I'm trying to be a leader out there, someone coach can trust."

Honeycutt on the differences between Jerime Anderson and Lazeric Jones:
"It's kind of different, but it's similar the same way. Jerime is the smarter in terms of turnovers. That's one thing coach doesn't like. Even if he might see a play, he might not react on it. With Zeke, he's getting into it. He's new to everything so he's learning how the bigs are hedging the ball screens, how he's supposed to read it. Once he gets the hang of it, his turnovers in practice will go down."

Honeycutt on the hip flexor injury: "It kind of happened two Fridays ago. I don't know if I planted wrong or if someone ran into me off a screen, but starting Monday I could feel it still bothering me and I finally said something about it."