Thursday, October 27, 2011

UCLA basketball: Two players recovering from concussions

UCLA basketball: Two players recovering from concussions

By Ben Bolch
The LA Times
October 24, 2011 | 5:44pm

UCLA sophomore center Anthony Stover and junior forward De'End Parker are recovering from concussions sustained in practice last week.

Parker is expected to be sidelined at least a week after taking an inadvertent elbow to the head during an intrasquad scrimmage Saturday.

Stover should return to practice early this week after suffering his concussion Oct 17.

Parker and Stover aren't the first Bruins to sustain concussions recently. Freshman guard Norman Powell needed three staples to close a wound in his forehead after he was struck by an elbow during workouts. Powell has returned to practice.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Interview With UCLA Center Anthony Stover

Interview With UCLA Center Anthony Stover

by Brett Pierce
Published on 10-13-2011 08:00 PM

Here is a exclusive interview with UCLA Sophomore Center, Anthony Stover.

How was your offseason?
Anthony Stover:
One of the best I’ve had, ever. I really enjoyed it. I had a great time this summer and worked really hard.

What did you do to train?
Anthony Stover:
I was doing a bit of everything. For weeks I was going back home and training with a guy I used to train with in 9th and 10th grade. His name is Nico, and he pretty much got me to UCLA and I got to go back to him and work out with him again. He always works on explosiveness and power and speed, so he just made everything go up. My vertical jump went up, my speed went up, and my strength went up. I love working out with him.

Last year you were known as a defensive specialist. Have you tried incorporating more of an offensive game or are you mostly working on your strengths as a defensive player?
Anthony Stover:
Oh, definitely! I’ve spent a ton of time in the gym over the summer shooting and working on my jump hook and perfecting my moves, so I can get in the game and actually get a couple of buckets to go along with the blocks.

Did you play in the Say No League?
Anthony Stover:
I played in the Say No League, but I only played one game. Then I went out to Las Vegas and trained at the Impact Facility for 4 weeks.

What are your individual and team goals for the upcoming season?
Anthony Stover:
My goal, individually, is to be the leading shot blocker in the Pac-12, and hopefully in the country. I’m working towards that. And then also being the best defender I can be, as well as getting rebounds, getting a couple points, maybe 8-12 points a game. Whatever I can do offensively to help, I’m going to be able to do that.

I talked to Lazeric Jones recently, and he said he thinks you guys have a shot at the National Championship. Do you see that as a realistic goal?
Anthony Stover
: Oh, I do definitely see it as a possible goal. I talked to my roommate, Reeves Nelson, I talk to him every single day, and we say we feel it. We feel it in our guts, we feel it in our hearts that this is the year. Even though we lost two great players that could have helped us out this year, I still think we have the team that can do it.

Who on the team has really improved since last season?
Anthony Stover:
I’d have to say that Reeves has been working hard every single day. He just gets better every single day. Him, along with “Zeke” (Lazeric Jones). Both of them are in the gym every time I look up or every time I text them and ask where they are, they’re at the gym. They’re working. They worked hard the whole summer and they’re gonna do the most work for us this year, along with “Big Josh” (Josh Smith) who has been working his butt off to shed some pounds so he can get up and down the court.

There were concerns a few months ago that Josh wasn’t where he needed to be with his conditioning. Is that not a worry anymore?
Anthony Stover:
Josh went home for a couple of weeks towards the end of the summer and he came back, he shed a lot of pounds and is looking a lot better. He is getting up and down the court and running with us. I’m really proud of Josh and he’s worked hard.

Interview With UCLA Forward Reeves Nelson

Thanks, sydbruin for the post on BZ.

Interview With UCLA Forward Reeves Nelson

by Brett Pierce
Published on 10-20-2011 12:00 AM

Here is a exclusive interview with UCLA Junior Forward, Reeves Nelson.

How was your offseason?
Reeves Nelson:
It was good. Right after last season ended, just took like a week or two off taking it easy and then from that point on I pretty much hit the gym all day every day, 7 days a week.

How hard was it being so close to beating Florida and then coming up short? A few more breaks and you guys would have won. Did coming so close put that much more of a drive in you?
Reeves Nelson:
Yeah. Losing the way we did in a close game like that, I was obviously happy that we were in the game, but then to lose like that kind of hurts a little more than getting blown out or something like that. So, just knowing that a couple small things could make that much of a difference, made me work that much harder.

With the addition of the Wears, your frontcourt is pretty deep. Do you think you are going to be seeing more time at the 3 this season?
Reeves Nelson:
Yeah, either me or David Wear will probably see a good amount of time at the 3 position. It’s not really gonna matter too much because Coach [Howland] says we’re gonna play 4 out, 1 in on our motion offense so pretty much, both wing positions will be the same whether you are the 3 or 4. I worked a lot of my free throws, getting ready to handle the position, so I think that will be good for our team.

So, are you the same weight/build as last season, or did you try to cut down so you can guard small forwards on other teams?
Reeves Nelson:
I’m actually like 5 or 6 pounds less and I’m down to 5% body fat, so I trimmed down a little bit from playing so much and working out so hard.

Are we going to be seeing more outside shooting from you this year?
Reeves Nelson:
Yeah, definitely. That’s one of the main things our team picked up was trying to become a lot more comfortable shooting the ball from the outside in a game situation. And from our first couple days of practice, Coach has definitely allowed me to do that so I look forward to being able to show that part of my game.

What are your individual goals for this season and what are your team goals?
Reeves Nelson:
Individually… I really don’t have any individual goals for myself as far as [awards]. I just want to play as hard as I can and do everything I can to help our team win as many games as possible. Team, I think we definitely want to win the new Pac-12. I think we’re definitely capable of that and if we do that I think we have the potential to make a really deep run in March Madness. So that will be good.

Even though you lost Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt, do you think this team might be better than last year’s team? You guys definitely have more experience.
Reeves Nelson:
I think that even though Malcolm and Tyler left, our team has a good amount of experience coming back and also the Wear twins being able to play, and De’End [Parker] and Norman [Powell] coming in. I think we are a deep team and a lot more experienced, so we can use that to our advantage.

What players over the offseason impressed you the most?
Reeves Nelson:
I worked out a lot with Zeke [Lazeric Jones]. Me and Zeke, especially for the first half of summer, were pretty much in the gym together every day and every night. And then the Wear twins have impressed me. They are going to help us out a lot. And then Tyler Lamb I know made a lot of improvement. And then also Anthony Stover, he went to Vegas for like 6 weeks for like a camp type thing, and he improved a lot, especially offensively.

I then talked to Reeves about our mutual love for lead singer Jim Morrison and the band, The Doors.

How did you get into The Doors? That’s not a band most basketball players nowadays are listening to.
Reeves Nelson:
I got into them from my Dad. And then once I got into high school I learned a lot about Jim Morrison and I read his biography, “No One Here Gets Out Alive.” Then I downloaded all of their music and then I just got really into it. I think [Jim Morrison] is one of the most genius people that has ever lived.

What is your favorite Doors song?
Reeves Nelson:
I don’t know if I could pick just one. I like Roadhouse Blues, L.A. Woman, People Are Strange, Five to One, then obviously Break On Through, Riders on the Storm. I like all their songs.

Have you ever thought of getting a Jim Morrison quote as a tattoo?
Reeves Nelson:
Well actually, nobody has really seen it yet, but I got a tattoo that basically I have headstones around my shoulder and inside the headstones I have Jimi Hendrix, Tupac, and Jim Morrison. There are little mini portraits of them inside [the headstones].

Q&A: UCLA head coach Ben Howland

Thanks to HowlandWood for the post on BZ.

ESPN via Storming the Floor

Q&A: UCLA head coach Ben Howland

Even historically powerful programs like UCLA, Michigan State and Kansas are starting to struggle with the realities of early NBA entry. Have departures changed your recruiting strategy over the past few years?

We’ve had nine players leave early in my years here, and it makes it hard to plan accordingly, because it’s not an exact science. You don’t know when someone’s leaving – after one year, two years, or four. So it makes it difficult to really try and plan. That’s the hard part.

With Honeycutt and Lee gone, who should we look for to take on new roles in the offense?

Those were two of our top three returning scorers, so at the two and three spot there’s going to be a lot of opportunity. Tyler Lamb is going to have a great opportunity this year, he’ll be a sophomore. Norman Powell, a freshman two guard. We have a JC player coming in who will play this year, De’End Parker. We’re going to definitely play one of the Wear twins at the three for significant minutes. Off the top of my head I’d say Dave. It could be Travis, too.

So they have that kind of range? They can handle that position?

Yeah. Their biggest challenge will be defending that position. They’re able to score from any position. They’ve really improved, they’re going to be really good. They’ve done a great job in the year since they’ve been here. Really working hard. Training, lifting, yoga, everything.

Do you expect the flow of your offense to change at all with this year’s personnel?

We still hope to be able to play inside-out, with the luxury of Josh Smith inside and Reeves Nelson, who’s a returning all Pac-12 player now. I think there’s only two or three returning. One of the players who’s had the best summer along with Josh and Reeves is Lazeric Jones, our senior point guard. He’s really had a great summer, and I expect he’ll be one of our top scorers and a real key to our team. The key for him is to stay healthy. Last year he hurt his wrist and prior to that he had another injury, I’m trying to remember what the heck it was. He had kind of an injury-plagued year but he was the only player to start every game on our team last year.

What kinds of things did he work on over the summer to improve?

He’s put a lot of time into his jump shot. He’s really worked hard on his body. He’s been getting up every day – along with Reeves Nelson – at 6:45 every morning and shooting for an hour in the gym and then shooting again at night. He’s done a really good job playing against the competition that’s on our campus during the summer. In our campus gym we’ve got Russell Westbrook, Darren Collison, Jordan Farmar, Baron Davis, Earl Watson, Blake Griffin, James Harden… Danny Granger is up there playing all the time. Nick Young, OJ Mayo, a lot of the NBA guys have been up there playing. He’s been playing against those guys, which has been great for him.

Which player or players will be looked to for leadership this season?

Number one would be Lazeric. I expect him to be our leader and returning team captain. De’End Parker will be a leader. He’s got that kind of quality about him.

With two new programs coming into the mix, how will your approach to league play change?

For the first time ever, since the Pac-8 became the Pac-10, there won’t be a true round-robin in the league. That changes the league – not everybody is playing the same schedule. With that being said, the new television package has us really excited about being on ESPN in future years. This is the last year of our old package. Getting a lot more games on ESPN is great for us as a conference. That’s great exposure.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

More Media Day videos

from Jon Gold/LA Daily News/InsideUCLA71/youtube

Zeke Jones

Anthony Stover

Reeves Nelson

David and Travis Wear

Tyler Lamb

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Josh Smith 2.0

Josh Smith on Media Day 2011

Just like iPhones, the new model is always thinner.


VIDEO: Parker Happy to Be Here

VIDEO: Parker Happy to Be Here

By Tracy Pierson
Posted Oct 13, 2011

The JC transfer, 6-6 wing De'End Parker, talks about coming to UCLA, what it means to him, and taking advantage of his opportunity...

Ben Howland's UCLA looks ahead, in a retro way


Ben Howland's UCLA looks ahead, in a retro way

The Bruins basketball team will be a fixture at the Sports Arena — its home long ago — while Pauley Pavilion is renovated.

By By Ben Bolch
The Los Angeles Times
October 13, 2011

UCLA might as well wear throwback jerseys throughout a season that figures to have a retro feel.

The Bruins are practicing in the creaky men's gymnasium on campus and will play most of their home games at the 52-year-old Sports Arena while Pauley Pavilion undergoes renovations.

Coach Ben Howland has already gushed about practicing near a chalkboard that the legendary John Wooden used during the 1964-65 season, the last in which UCLA regularly practiced in the men's gym and called the Sports Arena home.

Bruins fans can only hope the symmetry extends onto the court; UCLA won a national championship that season.

Times staff writer Ben Bolch looks at UCLA's five most pressing issues as it opens basketball practice.

Season-long nomads

Playing so-called home games less than a mile from archrival USC's campus could lead to some awkward moments.

Bruins fans could inadvertently cross paths with their Trojans counterparts as soon as UCLA's Nov. 11 opener against Loyola Marymount because USC plays Cal State Northridge that night at the Galen Center. The Bruins also figure to be the hosts in name only when they play USC on Feb. 15 at the Sports Arena.

Howland said he would reach out to students in an effort to boost attendance, but junior forward Reeves Nelson didn't seem worried about sparse crowds.

"Pauley wasn't exactly a sold-out crowd every time," Nelson said, "so as long as we have a certain amount, or at least anybody that's cheering for us, I think we'll be all right."

The Bruins will also play four "home" games at the Honda Center and an exhibition at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.

Bigger things

One of the biggest front lines in the nation grew 13 feet 8 inches instantaneously with the addition of 6-10 twins David and Travis Wear, who sat out last season after transferring from North Carolina.

Howland said his team plans to capitalize on its surplus of quality big men by often using three post players on the court.

"We'll give up some things maybe defensively — I hope not too much — but we should be a very good rebounding team on both ends of the floor," Howland said.

The versatility of the Bruins' bigs could make them dangerous. Nelson, the Wear twins and junior forward Brendan Lane all shoot three-pointers, making them difficult matchups.

Sophomore center Joshua Smith has added several post moves and a mid-range jumper to his offensive arsenal, and sophomore center Anthony Stover could be one of the top shot-blockers in the Pacific 12 Conference.

Lean on me?

UCLA did not have a senior on its roster last season, nor did it seem to possess a leader. As a result, the Bruins were prone to letdowns against lesser opponents and second-half lulls after taking big leads.

They now have a pair of seniors in point guard Lazeric Jones and his backup, Jerime Anderson, who must speak up for their team to step up. Jones has been designated a captain and several players said Anderson will command respect despite his pleading guilty this summer to misdemeanor charges in connection with the theft of a laptop on campus.

"Right now, to our team it's like it never happened," Jones said. "Jerime is definitely one of our vocal leaders and we're going to go by whatever he says."

Seeking their wings

UCLA must replace Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt, a pair of first-team all-conference players who left early for the NBA only to be sidelined by a protracted lockout.

Sophomore Tyler Lamb and freshman Norman Powell will battle for the starting shooting guard spot, while junior college transfer De'End Parker figures to take over at small forward.

Howland said Lamb, who made an abysmal 20.5% of his three-point attempts last season, had worked to remove the side spin on his shot.

Lending a hand

Jones should be a more reliable passer and shooter now that the injuries to his right middle finger and left wrist that plagued him over the final three months of last season have fully healed.

He also appears to be more confident after spending much of his summer playing in pickup games against NBA guards Russell Westbrook, Earl Watson and Andre Miller.

"Just the way they came at me every day," Jones said, "I had to give them all I had. I definitely feel like I've learned from that."

Media Day 2011-12 video

Thanks to MalibouAL for sharing this vid on BZ.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

UCLA basketball: What might have been

UCLA basketball: What might have been

By Ramona Shelburne
UCLA Report
October, 13, 2011 5:11 PM PT

On the scale of high-level talent UCLA coach Ben Howland has lost early to the NBA, Malcolm Lee and Tyler Honeycutt barely register. Not for a program that has seen future first round picks like Kevin Love, Jrue Holiday, Arron Afflalo and Jordan Farmar leave for the NBA well before their eligibility in Westwood was up.

But things have changed at UCLA the past few years. Howland hasn't been pinning his hopes on one-and-done players like Love or Holiday as much. He's been building a program with more staying power, adding depth and experience with players who need a few years of seasoning before leaving for the professional ranks.

That was the plan anyway. But Lee and Honeycutt had other ideas, leaving after their junior and sophomore seasons last spring despite the threat of an NBA lockout, and without much real potential of being selected in the first round of the draft.

Both were picked in the second round, where contracts are not guaranteed until a player makes the team out of training camp.

Now, because of the lockout both players find themselves in the awkward position of waiting to start their professional careers at the same time UCLA is beginning its new season. The Bruins held their first practice Thursday afternoon.

"It is what is," Howland said. "They have both decided to move on and we wish them nothing but the best. I hope that the lockout ends. I'm an NBA fan and we've got a lot of players that are going to miss paychecks soon that used to play for us."

Still, Howland admits it's hard not to think of what might have been if one or both players had stayed in school another year.

Lee was the team's top defender last season, "he's a high-level NBA defender right now, in my opinion," Howland said. "And Tyler was our leading shot-blocker and top-two rebounder. A lot of stats will need to be filled up."

UCLA lost a close second-round NCAA tournament game to eventual Elite 8 team Florida last spring. It is adding Dave Wear and Travis Wear, the 6-foot-10 twins from Mater Dei High in Santa Ana who transferred after their freshman season at North Carolina.

If either Lee or Honeycutt had stayed, it's not hard to imagine UCLA as a preseason top 10 team.

"Of course it's crossed my mind a number of times," Howland said. "At the end, we are where we are. This is reality, and I'm still feeling very good about this team."

Basketball season will have a different feel

Basketball season will have a different feel

UCLA Report
October, 12, 2011 10:46 PM PT

The UCLA men's basketball team will officially begin practice Thursday for a highly anticipated 2011-12 season, but it will have a decidedly different feel than seasons past.

With Pauley Pavilion undergoing major renovations and the team being displaced for its home games this season, the Bruins also will need to find a new practice home.

So they're going to reach a little into their past.

Workouts and game preparations will take place in "the Old Men's Gym" or the Student Activities Center on campus.

The team held its annual media day Wednesday in the Men's Gym -- a place where coach John Wooden once practiced with his teams from 1948 to '65.

"That chalk board over there is the actually chalk board that Coach used to write on," UCLA coach Ben Howland told reporters. "It's the actual board itself, it's pretty cool. His 101st birthday is Friday, always right at the start of the college basketball season. Coach Wooden's teams practiced in here until Pauley was built."

This season's UCLA team is looking to do big things, despite the departures of underclassmen Tyler Honeycutt and Malcolm Lee, who left school early to pursue professional aspirations.

The Bruins' strength appears to be on the front line, giving the team some size and bulk, especially with the additions of twins David and Travis Wear, former Mater Dei High standouts who transferred from North Carolina and sat out last season.

The Wear twins, each 6-foot-10 sophomores, could open things up on the inside for 6-10, 305-pound center Joshua Smith, who averaged 10.9 points and 6.3 rebounds as a freshman last season. UCLA also returns athletic junior Reeves Nelson, who was the team's leading scorer last season at 13.9 points per game.

Adding depth inside are 6-10 sophomore defensive specialist Anthony Stover and 6-9 junior forward Brendan Lane.

"Our real strength is our front line," said Howland, who is beginning his ninth season in Westwood.

The Bruins though have two senior guards returning in Lazeric Jones and Jerime Anderson, who figure to add leadership and experience to what is generally a young team (though Anderson is suspended for the first two games of the season after an offseason arrest for stealing a laptop, a choice he lamented and spoke about for the first time Wednesday).

Also returning is 6-5 sophomore guard Tyler Lamb, who had his moments in his first season.

Another key newcomer is 6-6 junior transfer guard De'End Parker, who could step in and become a key contributor immediately. The Bruins also are looking for big things from freshman guard Norman Powell, a highly recruited standout from San Diego Lincoln High.

Because of the Pauley renovation, the team already is billing this season as the "2011-12 UCLA Men's Basketball Road Show."

The Bruins will play their home games at three different sites, though the majority (14) will be played at the L.A. Sports Arena. The team also has four games scheduled for the Honda Center in Anaheim. UCLA opens its season with an exhibition game at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario against Cal State San Bernardino on Nov. 6.

Among the other schedule highlights are the Maui Invitational in late November, a nonconference home game against Texas on Dec. 3 and a road game in New York to face former coach Steve Lavin and St. John's on Feb. 18 at Madison Square Garden. The Bruins also welcome Utah and Colorado to the Pacific 12 Conference schedule and will play home games against the two on Jan. 26 and Jan. 28, respectively.

UCLA's Anderson talks of his ‘worst decision'

Photo: ARMANDO BROWN for the OC Register

UCLA's Anderson talks of his ‘worst decision'

Published: Oct. 12, 2011 Updated: 9:16 p.m.

LOS ANGELES – Jerime Anderson pulled up a chair as a crowd of reporters gathered around him Wednesday afternoon.

A bead of sweat slowly slipped down the right side of his forehead as the senior UCLA guard sat ready for the questions he knew that had been coming since he was arrested July 26 for stealing a laptop computer on campus.

"I feel foolish sitting here talking about it because I don't feel like I should have ever been in a situation like this," Anderson said at one point, "but I am and the only thing I can do is face it and be a man and take everything that comes with it."

The former Canyon High standout did just that at UCLA's media day Wednesday. He addressed his arrest and subsequent suspension and reinstatement at UCLA for the first time with a candor that made no attempt to explain or excuse his crime.

At one point Anderson was asked to describe his thinking when he picked up the computer left on a bench in a campus building.

"Stupid, definitely, to put it frank," Anderson said. "It was definitely the worst decision I've ever made in my life and I wish I could go back and really make the right decision but you know hind sight is always 20/20.

"My main thing I can't let one thing define who I am and the person I was raised to be. My parents raised me with good morals and values and from now on I definitely have to stick with them."

That is why Anderson's arrest caught so many in and around the UCLA program by surprise. Anderson played a key role in UCLA's stretch run late in the 2010-11 regular season and was expected to have an expanded leadership role this season.

But his future with the Bruins was thrown into doubt after he was suspended indefinitely following his arrest by university police on suspicion of grand theft.

"It was sitting there," Anderson recalled. "No one was by it. And I ended up taking it.

"Just a moment, a lapse of judgment. That's the only thing I can really say about it, to be honest because that's exactly what it was. I know I'm not supposed to take things that don't belong to me even if they are just sitting there somewhere. That's the only way I can put it. And from there on I've just been having to deal with this situation which is only right."

Anderson reached a plea agreement in which he pled guilty to misdemeanor appropriation of lost property and trespass. Under the deal he must perform nearly 300 hours of community service. If he has no further legal problems by Sept. 15, 2013 the charges will be dismissed and erased from his record. He has been reinstated but is suspended for an exhibition game and the regular-season opener.

Coach Ben Howland on the upcoming season

Coach Ben Howland on the upcoming season

from Inside Gold, LA Daily News, Oct 12 2011

Thoughts from UCLA hoops media day and more

Thoughts from UCLA hoops media day and more

By Jon Gold
Inside UCLA
LA Daily News
October 12, 2011 8:31 PM

* Ben Howland would not name a starting lineup, but Tyler Lamb did indeed confirm he'll start at the two, and Howland and David Wear both said he'd be playing a lot of three.

* The players really glowed about the arrival of De'End Parker, who strained his patella tendon in the weight room and will miss some practice. The Bruins raved about his athleticism and burst, and that's something UCLA has missed the last two years.

* Joshua Smith said he's 10 pounds lighter than he was at the end of last year, so that's around 315. He should get down to about 305 by the time the season starts, and that's a good number for him right now. The key will be for him to keep it off during the season. He said his goal is to play 30 minutes a game, and seemed more concerned about his penchant for fouls than his conditioning limiting his minutes.

* Anthony Stover told me he really worked extensively on his offense this summer, spending some time with trainers in Las Vegas to work on his moves. If he can add any offense to compliment his sound defense, that's an important piece behind Smith.

* Lazeric Jones' play is going to be crucial this year, and he knows it. He admitted to never feeling right after injuring his wrist in February, but he's been 100 percent for a while now and has had a good summer, many players said. If he can play 25-percent better, he'll be among the better point guards in the conference.

* Reeves Nelson got more tattoos. So did Tyler Lamb (Photo courtesy of UCLA Men's Basketball).

* Speaking of Lamb, Howland said he worked on eliminating some of the side spin from his shot this summer. Lamb sounds very excited to take on the role of defensive stopper from Malcolm Lee.

* I'll have videos from a half-dozen basketball players tomorrow throughout the day, as well as some football videos for the next two days (including a great one with Tyler Gonzalez), and I'll be off until Monday. Vinny Bonsignore is covering practice tomorrow, then the team is off for two days, then Jill Painter is covering Sunday. Please show them respect.

* Started a new feature on Two Fat Guys Talkin' Football with reader questions, so send them to either Jonah Hill (Me) or Chaz Bono (Sam Strong). We'll take a few of the best ones. Fun stuff. Be crazy.

Fine-tuned Bruins ready for road show

Fine-tuned Bruins ready for road show

By Jon Gold
Inside UCLA
LA Daily News
October 12, 2011 8:04 PM

While Ducks practiced against Ducks and Sun Devils squared off against Sun Devils and the Cardinal tried to clip the Cardinal, the UCLA basketball team spent the offseason training against Knicks and Lakers and Celtics.

Heading into what is sure to be a difficult season with Pauley Pavilion under renovation, the Bruins feel a bit better having fine-tuned against Carmelo Anthony, Kevin Durant and a host of other NBA players in Los Angeles during a lockout that drags on.

"When you work out with those guys, you see how serious they are about it," junior forward Reeves Nelson said at the team's media day on Wednesday. "Once they come in this gym, that's all they cared about. They mentally helped us a lot because they tell us how to do a certain thing that you wouldn't get from a guy who's just a D-1 athlete. You get it from someone who has been in the league 12, 13 years."

With sky-high expectations, UCLA hopes that second-hand knowledge will sink in.
Though they lost two key perimeter players in shooting guard Malcolm Lee and small forward Tyler Honeycutt, the Bruins are thinking big because, well, they are big.

UCLA returns leading scorer and rebounder in Nelson (13.9 ppg, 9.1 rpg) as well as mammoth center Joshua Smith (10.9 ppg, 6.3 rpg), plus valuable reserves Anthony Stover and Brendan Lane and North Carolina transfers David and Travis Wear.

That 489 inches has UCLA looking all the way to the top.

"I feel like if we don't win (conference), it's a let-down," Smith said. "Last year, we had our expectations about winning, people didn't think we could. We saw the magazines that had us fourth, third, fifth ... we finished second, basically a game from winning it. ... We feel this year if we don't win it, it's a let-down."

In a league that is always filled with quick, diminutive point guards and typically up-tempo play, the Bruins are hoping to force their will on the opposition, not the other way around.

Senior point guard Lazeric Jones returns to lead the charge, bolstered by the return of the function of his left wrist, which severely hampered him after he suffered a sprain in early-February. Jones is joined in the UCLA backcourt by senior point guard Jerime Anderson, who is suspended for two games (one exhibition) after being arrested on charges of theft, sophomore shooting guard Tyler Lamb and newcomers De'End Parker and Norman Powell.

"Rather than looking at it as we're going to have to guard smaller people that are quicker," Nelson said, "they're going to have to guard big people who can do just as much as the small people can do."

Coming off a big turnaround season - the Bruins advanced to the third round of the NCAA Tournament a year after finishing 14-18 - UCLA just hopes it is able to withstand the grind of playing the entire schedule on the road.

"It's something that is actually going to feed this team," Stover said. "Not having a home court, always having to be the away team - the road show is what we're named now - it's really feeding our team. It's given us a little hunger, a little more strength, because we're going to have to fight every game."

UCLA men’s basketball season tips off

UCLA men’s basketball season tips off

The Daily Bruin
Published October 13, 2011, 1:34 am in Men's Basketball, Sports

Members of the press had to saunter just a few paces down Bruin Walk to catch the UCLA men’s basketball team’s annual media day in its new location.

Fans who want to see the Bruins in action this season will have a much longer detour than that. Adjust routes accordingly.

Wednesday’s session marked the opening of the men’s basketball season. The location changed from the now-gutted Pauley Pavilion to the basketball courts on the top floor of the Student Activities Center, where the team will now practice.

John Wooden was the last UCLA coach who regularly held practice in the Student Activities Center, formerly known as the Men’s Gym, before Pauley opened in 1965.

Current coach Ben Howland had a glimmer in his eye and a faint grin on his face as he remembered the legendary coach – just two days before what would have been his 101st birthday – even pointing out a chalkboard in the gym that Wooden used to diagram plays.

While Pauley gets its facelift, UCLA is using three different homes-away-from-home for the games: the Los Angeles Sports Arena (14 games), Anaheim’s Honda Center (four) and Ontario’s Citizens Business Bank Arena (one exhibition contest).

Howland said that the logistics of a full season away from campus will be difficult to handle, but he had no qualms about changing the practice and game venues.

“For what awaits us at the end of the rainbow, which is essentially a brand-new Pauley, it is totally worth it,” Howland said. “All the heartache from not having Pauley will be made up for tenfold when we get back in there.”

The season is being billed by the athletic department as the “Bruin Road Show.” Howland added that he would “make a concerted effort to reach out to the students” and sell the idea of traveling to a home game. His players are behind him.

“Any time I can help I want to be able to go out and tell people that we need you guys to support us, need you to get on Rooter Buses and need you to get out so we still have home-court advantage at home games,” redshirt sophomore center Anthony Stover said.

It’s uncharted waters for a team to lack an on-campus stadium but unlike the UCLA football team – with home games always more than 25 miles away – the men’s basketball team is doing this on a temporary basis, with Pauley scheduled to be ready by next basketball season.

Said junior forward Reeves Nelson, “No offense, but it’s not like we had sold-out arenas every game in Pauley anyway. As long as there are some fans there we’ll be fine.”

But with the NBA lockout dragging on and the lack of the usual professional basketball presence in L.A., a UCLA team surrounded by optimism could fill that void for hoops fans.

“It’s fun for us,” Stover said. “We should take all the Laker gear down and put up UCLA gear. I don’t think anyone wants to see ’SC play so we definitely have (the spotlight of) L.A. basketball.”

Men’s basketball reaches for familiar heights

Men’s basketball reaches for familiar heights

The Daily Bruin
Published October 13, 2011, 1:21 am in Men's Basketball, Sports

Junior Reeves Nelson is seen at Pac-12 media day. With four players at 6-foot-10, the 6-8 Nelson may find himself playing point forward this season.

Ben Howland was pretty excited about a particular wall adornment.

“What’s really cool is that chalkboard,” the UCLA basketball coach said, gesturing to a wall off to his right.

“That’s the chalkboard that Coach (Wooden) used to line the team up at and write on. That’s that chalkboard.”

Wednesday was media day for men’s basketball, the crown jewel of the UCLA athletic department. The ongoing construction of Pauley Pavilion means that the session is held in the Student Activities Center – formerly known as the Men’s Gym and longtime practice home of John Wooden’s Bruin teams.

The afternoon as a whole had a very Wooden feel to it; after all, the legendary coach’s great-grandson Tyler Trapani is still in uniform as a walk-on. When the chatter with Howland inevitably shifts to the topic of the Los Angeles Sports Arena – the Bruins’ primary home facility this season – the coach is quick to note that Wooden’s teams played there before Pauley was built.

Oh, and Friday would have been the former coach’s 101st birthday. Still, a coach has to have players, and Wooden’s two most prized proteges were Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton, a pair of towering behemoths who carried their respective teams on elevated shoulders.

It’s hard, then, not to envision this UCLA squad as a bit of a throwback, and not just because it’s practicing in SAC or playing at the Sports Arena. As the team gathered for its team picture, one thing certainly stood out: These guys are TALL.

Adding the Wear twins to the returning frontline of Joshua Smith, Reeves Nelson, Brendan Lane and Anthony Stover makes UCLA one of the biggest teams this side of the Monstars from “Space Jam.”

The 6-foot-8 Nelson has gone from seeing time at center as a freshman to, well, not ruling out playing at the other end of the spectrum.

I had the misfortune of being an opponent of Nelson’s in a high school game, when he would often bring the ball up and either pull up for a 3-pointer or drive down the lane for a dunk. Given the size on this year’s squad, could the junior potentially see some time at point forward?

“Me and Coach have talked about that a little bit,” Nelson said with a grin. “But hopefully it never comes down to where that’s a necessity. “

Admittedly, one of the common mantras come March Madness is “guards win championships.” Behind the play of Jordan Farmar, Arron Afflalo and Darren Collison, the Bruins NEARLY proved that to be true.

But this is still a program that has only won one championship since Wooden retired, and that came in 1995 when 6-foot-8 Ed O’Bannon was the team’s best player. The banners that UCLA have raised have come on the shoulders of big men such as Alcindor and Walton, even O’Bannon. Maybe a return to its roots is what UCLA needs. Deep-seated roots yield the tallest trees.

The two newest saplings are David and Travis Wear, who bring extensive skill sets, high basketball IQs and a year of exposure to the hoops hotbed that is the University of North Carolina. Eligible to play after sitting out last season because of transfer rules, the Wears give Howland a two-pack of 6-10 Swiss Army knives to use as he pleases.

“My brother and I are really versatile players. We can play different positions on the court,” Travis Wear said. “Our frontline will be a strength. With our depth, we’ll be really hard to match up with.”

By no means is this a conventional team. A pair of twins that transferred from UNC. A backcourt featuring two junior-college transfers in its five-man rotations.

It’s only October, which means five months until the Big Dance. It’s just media day, so everybody smiles and will say the right thing. Still, there was something Wooden in the air, and it should have the Bruins dreaming big.

If you happen to be a 6-foot-10-inch guy who isn’t on the basketball team, email Eshoff at

Friday, October 14, 2011

Men's Basketball Holds Annual Media Day

Men's Basketball Holds Annual Media Day

The Bruins begin practice on Oct. 13 in 'The Old Men's Gym' or the Student Activities Center while Pauley Pavilion is being renovated.

The Official UCLA Bruins Men's Basketball website
Oct. 12, 2011

LOS ANGELES - In the shadows of John Wooden's original chalk board in what was once known as `the Old Men's Gym,' Ben Howland's 2011-12 UCLA men's basketball team this afternoon held their annual Media Day in the now named Student Activities Center on the Bruin campus.

UCLA players, coaches and media mingled on the same floor where Coach Wooden's teams practiced from 1948-65 and was actually UCLA's full-time home floor arena from 1948-1955. Coach Howland opened the session talking about the Bruins' experienced returning front line.

"Our real strength is our front line," said Howland, beginning his ninth season as the Bruin head coach. "We have six players on the front line, with the addition of the Wears (David/Travis), we have Reeves (Nelson), Joshua (Smith), along with (Anthony) Stover and Brendan (Lane). That gives us a lot of size."

Howland highlighted how hard the Bruins have been working all summer, preparing for the coming season.

"A number of players had great off-seasons, notably Lazeric Jones," he said. "Lazeric was in here every morning at 6:45 a.m., shooting every day the entire summer. He really got a lot of confidence from all the hard work he put in. Not just shooting and lifting, but also playing against the NBA players who were around all summer.

"Reeves Nelson really worked his tail off this summer as well. He was doing yoga five days a week, along with lifting four days a week, along with shooting -- having the same kind of regiment like Lazeric. The Wears have been really great about their workouts. The yoga has been really good for our players, I've seen it really help them. They got involved in it in January and kept it up. Those guys, along with a number of other players, have really done a great job. They are four of our best players. It's nice to have your hardest workers be some of your best players."

Howland noted the significance of UCLA using the same practice facility that Coach Wooden's Bruin teams also used for their workouts.

"That chalk board over there is the actual chalk board that Coach used to write on," he said. "It's the actual board itself, it's pretty cool. His 101st birthday is Friday, always right at the start of the college basketball season. Coach Wooden's teams practiced in here until Pauley was built (1965)."

The Bruins will begin practice tomorrow (Oct. 13) for what is being billed as the `2011-12 UCLA Men's Basketball Road Show.' With the ongoing renovation of Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins this season will use the Student Activities Center as a practice facility and play their home games at three different sites. UCLA will open the season with an exhibition game on Nov. 6 vs. CS San Bernardino at the Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario, with the remaining home games played at the Los Angeles Sports Arena (14 games) and the Honda Center in Anaheim (four games). UCLA will also have a closed scrimmage against Cal State Fullerton in the Sports Arena on Oct. 27.

"With all of the games being played off campus, we're going to have to be more mentally tough," Howland said. "It's going to be a mental toughness issue, to deal with the travel and the logistics. But what awaits us at the end of the rainbow is a brand new Pauley Pavilion. So it is totally worth it. All the heartache of not having Pauley this year will be made up tenfold when we get back in there in 2012.

"I'm going to make a concerted effort to get out to the students, to the fraternities, to the sororities, to really reach out to our fans. To me it's so important. We have a chance to be a really good team this year and we need our fans, we need the support to be there for our team, these kids deserve that. They've worked really, really hard in the off season. So I'll really be encouraging our fans to come out and support the Bruins."

Photo Gallery (link)

Media Day 2011 [Orange County Register gallery]

Orange County Register: Media Day October 12 2011


The UCLA Bruins basketball team gets together for a team photo at basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA. The players are: Reeves Neslson, from left, David Wear, Anthony Stover, Joshua Smith, and Travis Wear. Coach Ben Howland is in the middle row, third from left.

UCLA Bruins head basketball coach Ben Howland talks with reporters during basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA.

Bruins forward David Wear, formerly of Mater Dei, dribbles for a video segment during basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA.

Bruins center Anthony Stover, of Pasadena, dunks the basketball while being filmed during basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA.

Freshman guard Khalid McCaskill (30), sophomore guard Tyler Lamb (1), and freshman guard Norman Powell (4) enjoy watching teammates go to the basket during basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA.

Bruins sophomore center Joshua Smith signs basketballs during basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA.

UCLA junior forward Reeves Nelson dribbles while being filmed and photographed by members of the media during basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA.

Bruins sophomore center Anthony Stover, of Pasadena, hangs out at basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA.

Bruins freshman guard Norman Powell, of San Diego's Lincoln High School, hangs out at basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA.

Bruins junior guard De'End Parker, from City College of San Francisco, dribbles while being filmed at basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA.

Clowning around during basketball media day at UCLA on Wednesday are Bruins players Khalid McCaskill (30), Reeves Nelson (22), Anthony Stover (0), and De'End Parker (21).

Bruins senior guard Jerime Anderson, of Anaheim's Canyon High School, is interviewed by reporters during basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA.

Bruins players Anthony Stover (0) and Joshua Smith (34) strike a pose for the cameras during basketball media day at UCLA on Wednesday.

Bruins sophomore guard Tyler Lamb signs basketballs during basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA.

UCLA junior forward Reeves Nelson makes a pass for cameras during basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA.

Bruins junior forward Brendan Lane poses for a photo during basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA.

Former Mater Dei players now playing for UCLA - (from left) Travis Wear, David Brown, Tyler Lamb and David Wear - pose for a photo during the school's basketball media day on Wednesday at UCLA.

Bruins players Lazeric Jones (11), Kenny Jones (2), and Tyler Trapani (44) hangout during basketball media day at UCLA on Wednesday.

Bruins players Khalid McCaskill (30), Norman Powell (4), De'End Parker (21), and Nick Kazemi (3) have fun while being filmed during basketball media day at UCLA on Wednesday.

North Carolina transfer Larry Drew II (10) speaks with well-known television newscaster Jim Hill during basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA.

Bruins players sign basketballs during basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA. From left are David Wear, Travis Wear, and Matt DeMarcus.

Bruins junior forward Brendan Lane dunks the basketball during basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA.

Bruins sophomore center Anthony Stover, of Pasadena, dribbles while being filmed during basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA.

Bruins players Tyler Lamb, left, and Lazeric Jones signs basketballs at basketball media day, Wednesday, at UCLA.