Monday, October 22, 2012

UCLA basketball seems to be entering a bright new era

Tony Parker, Kyle Anderson, Shabazz Muhammad, Jordan Adams
UCLA's Tony Parker, Kyle Anderson, Shabazz Muhammad, and Jordan Adams pose for a photo after press conference. (Damian Dovarganes / Associated Press / October 22, 2012)


UCLA basketball seems to be entering a bright new era

Things seem to be looking up for the Bruins, who will play their first home game in the newly renovated Pauley Pavilion on Nov. 9. There is a feeling of the dawning of a new age of UCLA basketball success.


A recent stroll along Bruin Walk brought a baseball spring-training-like surge of optimism. It was warm and sunny, UCLA's campus buzzed with the energy of 20-year-olds and hope sprung eternal.
The football team is decent, but the basketball team is the franchise.

Like USC football, UCLA basketball is a community treasure. It gets the headlines now because John Wooden earned them years ago. Los Angeles may be gaga about the Lakers, but it will always have room in its heart — and expectations — for the Bruins to excel.

    Howland is about to enter his 10th season as UCLA's coach, and he has had nine departures to the NBA in that time. They used to wait to graduate. Now they barely wait until April. Howland recruited the talent, taught it defense and was trampled by men in NBA-logoed sport coats and fat bank accounts. How do you keep them down on the farm when they can drive an Escalade?

    Then, last year, a talented player named Reeves Nelson, notable for excessive tattoos and immaturity, kept Howland and the team unfocused and out of sorts before being asked to leave.

    The UCLA faithful, exceedingly restless by then, blamed Howland for not being charismatic enough to outbid the Escalades, and for not practicing better psychology on Nelson.

    Somehow, the recent visit felt as though the past was just that, that the clouds are starting to part. Spring-training illusion?

    A renovated Pauley Pavilion, given a $136-million face-lift, will draw back the curtains for the Bruins' first home game Nov. 9. That will be against Indiana State, scheduled out of symbolism, not rivalry. Indiana State was Wooden's only other college job, before he came West in the late 1940s to create Bruins basketball legacy.

    Before that opening game, UCLA will unveil a bronze statue of Wooden in the North Plaza. That will be Friday and will be directly outside Pauley, the house that Wooden built and opened in 1965.

    The new Pauley, redone with donations certainly influenced by the knowledge that Wooden's legacy deserved this, is shiny and statuesque, with lots of tall glass pillars and a robust new look. Those who are allowed a sneak peek emerge with the same word: Wow.

    "I was in there the other day with Reggie Miller and Jamaal Wilkes," Howland says, "and it was great to see two former great players like that, getting excited about our new place."

    In the 18 months that old Pauley was being turned into Taj Mahal Pauley, Bruins basketball was a collection of nomads. They played home games in other people's homes, most often at the downtown Sports Arena, which was a nice place as recently as, say, 1975.

    "The hardest part," Howland says, "was practicing in the men's old gym [on campus]. It's like an echo chamber. You can't teach because they can't hear."

    Travis Wear, who developed well last season and is expected to play a big role in any success the Bruins have this season, puts it more succinctly. "That was tough," he says.

    On the day of our visit, the Bruins held their fifth practice. It was still in the men's old gym, but the glimmer at the end of the tunnel is now a floodlight. They move into new Pauley on Monday, and into spacious locker rooms, theater-style film rooms and a team room with big couches, leather chairs and TV screens on the wall. A major-college basketball powerhouse will finally have fitting digs.

    Pac-12 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott has cut television deals that will fund conference schools like never before — $12 million a year to each school for the next 11 years.

    "He's done a great job," Howland says. "We have our own Pac-12 Network, we have our games on Fox, and we will be on ESPN for 11 games and CBS for two."

    There is still the shadow of the NCAA hovering. Two of Howland's top recruits, Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson, have yet to be released to play while the NCAA, either with grounds to look deeper or a desire to look tougher, reviews the eligibility of both.

    "We are being patient and cooperative," says Howland, who has little other choice.

    Barring a banning of Muhammad and/or Anderson — or even despite it — the feeling remains that this is the dawning of a new age of Bruins basketball success. Howland seems more relaxed, more flexible. Those allowed to watch practice say they see hints of a more wide-open offense.

    At 55, Howland is a grandpa now. Little Ben is 6 months old, but if he ends up playing defense like his grandpa did, he will never acquire the nickname "Gentle Ben."

    Howland holds Wooden sacred, as do all who have ever had a connection to UCLA basketball, and says, "Think of the thousands of students who will walk by the statue every day."

    He says his only regret in nine years is not bringing home an NCAA title in one of his three Final Four trips. If he ever does so, it would make it 12 for the Bruins — one for Jim Harrick and 10 for Wooden.

    Which would present a nice four-sided, equal-number display symmetry of banners in the house that Wooden built.


    Two UCLA freshman basketball players have no timeline on NCAA probes

    Thanks to Puffdaddy for posting this on BZ.

    Kyle Anderson inquiry, which appears to be focused on relationship between his father and agent, is dragging on longer than expected. In Shabazz Muhammad's case, money issues are under investigation.

    By David Wharton and Baxter Holmes
    The Los Angeles Times
    October 21, 2012 7:10 PM PDT

    A month ago, people in and around the UCLA basketball program expected a quick end to the NCAA investigation of freshman Kyle Anderson.

    This wasn't supposed to be like teammate Shabazz Muhammad's case, they said. It wasn't supposed to drag on.

    But as the Bruins enter their second full week of practice, both players are facing a similar predicament. They have been given no timeline for a resolution and feel as if they are operating in the dark.

    "We have attempted to answer any question, provide any documentation that we can, but one of the problems is not knowing specifically any real issue or question that the NCAA has," said Robert Orr, the attorney representing Muhammad.

    Investigators are looking into financial assistance Muhammad received from a man the family has characterized as a longtime friend. They have also asked about money that a financial planner gave to Muhammad's summer team in Las Vegas.

    Anderson's probe still appears focused on the relationship between his father and NBA agent Thad Foucher, according to people with knowledge of the situation who are not authorized to speak publicly.

    Kyle Anderson Sr. and Foucher met more than a decade ago as opposing coaches on the AAU circuit, Foucher with the New Orleans Jazz and Kyle Sr. with the New Jersey-based Playaz Basketball Club.

    Their teams went head to head at a Las Vegas tournament in 1999. Foucher's squad — led by eventual Duke star and Lakers guard Chris Duhon — came out on top.

    Foucher eventually left the Jazz to become an agent and now works with Arn Tellem at the Wasserman Media Group, which was founded by Casey Wasserman, a UCLA alumnus and prominent booster.

    The agent's relationship with Kyle Sr. has endured if only because he has represented a number of Playaz athletes who reached the NBA, including Wayne Ellington, Gerald Henderson and J.R. Smith.

    Kyle Sr., who works as a crisis intervention specialist for a Jersey City school, still serves as assistant director for Playaz, an organization that was sponsored by Adidas — like UCLA — but switched to Nike a few years ago.

    He declined to comment and Foucher did not return phone calls. Both men have been interviewed by NCAA investigators over the last few months, people with knowledge of the situation said.

    At this point, there is still hope that Anderson's case can be resolved soon. He is practicing daily with the Bruins and may continue to do so for about 35 more days.

    But if the NCAA does not clear him by then, he must cease to participate in team activities until a decision is reached. The same ticking clock applies to Muhammad.

    The consensus national high school player of the year last season, Muhammad has been represented by Orr since last fall. Orr is a former North Carolina Supreme Court justice who was previously involved in a case against North Carolina football players accused of academic misconduct and receiving improper benefits.

    Once Muhammad signed a letter of intent with UCLA, the university began paying his legal bills, as allowed by NCAA regulations.

    "Our position has been and continues to be that Shabazz has done absolutely nothing in violation of any NCAA bylaw," Orr said.

    The attorney has raised questions about the NCAA's right to scrutinize past events.

    "Shabazz didn't even turn 18 until November of 2011 and until he signed with UCLA in April of this year was not under NCAA jurisdiction," Orr said.

    The NCAA has yet to formally interview Muhammad's parents, Ron Holmes and Faye Muhammad, those with knowledge of the situation said.

    Sunday, October 21, 2012 College Basketball Podcast: "It's our Blue Ribbon preview"


    Go to podcast (link)
    By Matt Norlander | Senior Blogger
    October 19, 2012 10:28 am ET

    Your humble podcast host gets way too excited even looking at this. (Blue Ribbon Yearbook)

    If you consider yourself a loveable and knowledgeable college basketball fan, it means you do three things.
    1) You religiously read
    2) You're a beautiful and loyal subscriber to this very podcast.
    3) You've already ordered the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook.
    And if that third note isn't right, then correct it immediately. The pod brings on the editor of the sport's very best, thickest, most objective preseason "magazine," only this isn't a magazine. It's an annual bible of sorts. Chris Dortch is knowledgeable on all things hoops, but especially the SEC, and a good portion of today's podcast focuses on that league in particular, which means Kentucky hoops is, of course, addressed.

    •From the beginning: The history of the Blue Ribbon College Basketball Yearbook. This is admittedly a podcast for hoops diehards. I try to spread the pod's content out across a lot of platforms with college basketball, but today's is undeniably for the passionate, old-school sect.
    •7:05: How the book actually gets put together when so many schools are on their own timelines/deadlines for putting out official rosters and schedules.
    •12:00: Dortch has every single edition of the Yearbook -- except the first one. We need to get this man that rarity. Apparently we need to rob Bob Ley.
    •15:15: Moving on to talk about the season ahead -- what the Yearbook covers so thoroughly -- and we start with why Dortch is big on the Big Ten and enjoys the Atlantic 10's new arrangement.
    •18:30: As I mention above, Dortch lives in SEC territory and specializes/writes about that league more than any other, so we go deep into the state of the league now and for the future.
    •29:30: Which SEC teams are going to the tournament and what seeds are they getting?"
    Go to podcast (link)

    Saturday, October 20, 2012

    Live discussion: How will the UCLA basketball team fare this year?

    Live discussion: How will the UCLA basketball team fare this year?

    The Los Angeles Times, Sports Now "Sports News from LA and beyond"
    October 15, 2012, 10:50 a.m.

    College basketball season is on the hortizon, and on today's sports Google+ Hangout, we will be talking with Times reporters David Wharton and Baxter Holmes on the prospects for the UCLA Bruins. The Hangout will start at 11:30 a.m.
    As Chris Foster wrote last week, as UCLA began practice for the season, "The elephant in the gym was the on-going NCAA investigation into eligibility of freshmen Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson.

    Three times a UCLA official told the media, "We will not be speaking about the NCAA review or its impact on this team."

    Yet, those are questions that won't go away.

    Asked how to keep some of the uncertainties from disrupting the focus of the team, Coach Ben Howland said, "These kids, they're kids. They seem to stay very focused. There is always going to be adversity, there is always going be uncertainty. … You always have to deal with overcoming adversity as a player, as a team."

    Muhammad, from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High, and Anderson, from Fairview (N.J.) St. Anthony, have yet to be cleared for competition by the NCAA, though they are with the team. Under rules, both can participate in workouts for 45 days, after which they either have to be cleared or must stop working with the team.

    The freshman class, which includes Tony Parker and Jordan Adams, toted high-end expectations to Westwood.

    "We have to live up to those," Muhammad said.

    Whether Muhammad and Anderson get a chance remains to be seen.
    If you have a question for Wharton or Holmes, send it in an email to and we will try and answer it during the Hangout.


    Joshua Smith has questions to answer

    Joshua Smith
    Gary A. Vasquez/US PresswireJoshua Smith says he's ready to be much more of a contributor to the Bruins this season.







    Joshua Smith has questions to answer



    LOS ANGELES -- It seems as if Joshua Smith can't go anywhere these days without somebody asking about his weight.

    That's what happens after a season in which conditioning issues plagued the 6-foot-10 UCLA center from start to finish. Smith is back for his junior season looking to erase the memory of last season, when he continually found himself on the bench in foul trouble because his poor conditioning didn't allow him to play proper defensive technique.

    Smith won't give up his actual weight (he's listed at 305) but to his credit, he has taken all questions about his weight and conditioning head-on. He knows, however, that the questions will persist until he proves those things are no longer an issue.

    "It's fine," Smith said. "I'm not going to shy away from that. It's one of those where I accept it. I'm just ready to go out and just play and prove to people that the last two years are in the past."

    As a freshman in 2010-11, Smith showed signs of the promise that made him one of the most coveted big man recruits in the country. He played in 33 games that season and started 15. He averaged 10.9 points and 6.3 rebounds and was named to the Pac-10 all-freshman team.

    Still, he had foul trouble and conditioning issues and didn't seem to maximize his potential until late in the season when he became a dominant force during UCLA's run to the third round of the NCAA tournament.

    He averaged 13 points and 27 minutes a game over the last four, including the two NCAA tournament games, showing what he could do if he stayed on the floor.

    Last year was a major regression, with his conditioning issues apparent early in the season and foul trouble following him throughout a beleaguered campaign. He averaged 9.9 points and 4.9 rebounds and played only 17.2 minutes a game -- down from 21.7 the year before.

    "It was one of those where I just didn't have fun last year," Smith said. "I remember a lot of bad times more than good. I remember a lot of times being frustrated being on the bench, being in foul trouble. Like wow, two quick fouls, you know, in the chair."

    Smith was whistled 101 times in 549 minutes last season -- an average of a foul every 5.4 minutes. The season before he collected a foul every 6.8 minutes. Many of those fouls came on reach-ins -- his lazy way of trying to compensate for not being able to move his feet quickly enough to defend.

    He has said several times this offseason that he's committed to showing up this season in better shape and if he does, he can be one of the top post players in the country. He has made progress, but he's still not quite at an elite level.

    "Josh still has a lot of work to do there," coach Ben Howland said. "He's in much better condition to run up and down than he was a year ago at this time, but he still has a ways to go from where we really ideally would like to have him."

    Smith has said he'd like to play 25-30 minutes a game, and to be contributing to the team in a meaningful way.

    "This year, my whole thing is to try to be on the court more," he said. "Just stay out of foul trouble, to play better defense and give my team all I can give them. That's been one of my biggest Achilles' heels is playing defense and being able to stay on defense and not being a liability to my team."

    Ben Howland and UCLA wait on the NCAA, and for the smoke to clear


    UCLA basketball is in limbo until NCAA rules on eligibility of freshmen Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson. And a program that needs a lift remains under a cloud.

    Bill Plaschke
    The Los Angeles Times
    October 17, 2012

    I'm watching Kansas basketball players dancing across their court Gangnam Style. I'm watching Tom Izzo marching across his Michigan State court dressed like Iron Man. From all corners of the country, I'm hearing of screeches and laughs while feeling the joyful warmth that accompanies the start of college basketball practice.

    Yet, just down the street, amid the greatest buzz for a UCLA season in many years, the silence is chilling.

    Instead of players running giddily into the new season through theatrical billows of smoke, it is the team that remains stuck in a dark cloud.

    The two top freshmen in one of the nation's top recruiting classes have not yet been cleared for regular-season competition by the NCAA, leaving Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson in limbo. The team's media day was monitored by the school's vice chancellor for legal affairs — never a good sign — and the sort of one-on-one interviews that give the program important exposure were banned. In a recent online poll of nearly 100 coaches, UCLA's Ben Howland was voted as college basketball's third-biggest cheater even though he has never been involved in anything remotely associated with scandal.

    Hey, can't wait for the opening of new Pauley Pavilion, huh?

    UCLA doesn't need this. The school needs to sell pricey seats at its $136-million refurbished arena while gaining good national vibes from several at-long-last appearances on ESPN.

    Howland doesn't need this. He not only needs to win big to extend a UCLA tenure that could end after this season, but he needs to do it within rules that he has always seemed to follow.

    And of course, the kids don't need this. Although the freshmen are forbidden from answering media questions about the uncertainty, they are surely bombarded by those questions from their UCLA classmates, and must wonder about those questions while enduring Howland's difficult practices. It's probably hard to buy into a new school and new program if you're not sure the NCAA will allow you or your teammates to stay.

    "Of course people are frustrated because the process takes time," Howland said Tuesday. "But our position all along is to be as cooperative as possible, to do everything the NCAA has asked us to do."

    It's a shame that Howland's first answers in his most important UCLA season had to contain the letters "NCAA." It's distracting that the cooperation being discussed is not between the point guard and small forward, but between the school and the sports police.

    I wish I were writing this column about the impending thrill of watching the smooth Anderson and the swaggering Muhammad joining with other freshmen Tony Parker and Jordan Adams to take the Bruins back to the Final Four. But the only number that matters right now to UCLA is 45, the number of days both players are eligible to practice while the NCAA investigates whether they are actually professionals. While Anderson's clock has been ticking, Muhammad did not accompany the team on its recent trip to China so his 45-day window could start last week.

    It's important to note that, to the best of my knowledge, UCLA is not under investigation. It is only the players who are being investigated, the NCAA checking for possible benefits received from agents and friends and travel-team flunkies while the kids were still in high school.
    So far, there is zero evidence that the Bruins did anything wrong here. It just seems that way, and that's the worst part of it.

    The perception among some is that, desperate to fix a program that missed the NCAA tournament two of the last three seasons, desperate to open new Pauley with a roar, the Bruins decided to cut corners to get better quicker.

    Some folks just don't believe that four top players would forsake the Kentuckys and North Carolinas to attend a school with a tough coach and an aging legacy that many young athletes have forgotten. After Howland made several recruiting mistakes in recent years, these stars seemed to parachute into Westwood out of nowhere, and folks wonder why. It doesn't help that one of Howland's top recruiters is a former AAU big shot from Atlanta named Korey McCray.

    "UCLA will always be involved with great players, and those players always draw scrutiny," Howland said. "That's just the way it is."

    He's right. I'd rather have UCLA chase those big stars and endure the NCAA microscope than settle for the mediocre acquisitions who never are noticed. I'd like to believe UCLA still means something to young stars, and I'd like to believe Howland has put enough players in the NBA that he still means something to them too.

    "I am so excited about this team, and these kids are so excited about each other," Howland said. "I can't wait for you to see them."

    I'd like to see them. I hope we can all eventually see them. I'd like to think UCLA is doing everything right. For the sake of the future of the entire athletic department, I'm hoping they are.

    UCLA will run more if NCAA allows

    UCLA will run more if NCAA allows
    LOS ANGELES -- Ben Howland wants his UCLA Bruins to run this year. Now if only the NCAA will let him.

    Howland, as he is apt to do before seasons begin, has said all summer and repeated last week during UCLA's basketball media day that this team will be looking to run more often than his plodding defense-minded teams of the past.

    This time, however, he seems to be serious. At every practice session that reporters have been allowed to watch, fast-break offense has been a major focal point because the Bruins have added some dynamic, athletic and quick players this season. An up-tempo offense suits players such as scorer Shabazz Muhammad, ball-handling expert Kyle Anderson and speedy point guard Larry Drew.

    The problem is, the NCAA still hasn't told Howland if Muhammad and Anderson can play this season as the two freshmen are the subjects of independent reviews of their amateurism. That means that Howland is extolling the promise of a higher tempo even though he doesn't know for sure what players he will have available.

    "We're really trying to play faster," Howland said. "That was one of the big implementations of the summer was really trying to push the ball to take advantage of the fact that we have depth but also of our speed and our ability to run."

    Howland says he plans on using a rotation of nine or 10 players so it will be easier to push the pace. But that drops to seven or eight players if the NCAA rules against Muhammad and Anderson. Guard Tyler Lamb may also miss the early part of the season as he recovers from arthroscopic knee surgery. At this point it could be Drew and Norman Powell, another athletic guard, playing with five guys nobody would call fleet-a-foot: center Joshua Smith, twin forwards David and Travis Wear, center Tony Parker and shooting specialist Jordan Adams.

    For obvious reasons, the rest of the team is hoping for Muhammad and Anderson to be eligible. They are two of the top five freshmen in the country this season and make up half of the top-ranked recruiting class that is supposed to help lift UCLA back into the national spotlight after missing the NCAA tournament in two of the last three seasons. Muhammad can score from anywhere, and is certain to cap many a fast break with a highlight-reel dunk. Anderson is an open-court professor who facilitates the offense from a number of positions.

    Without those two, the Bruins lose a great deal of skill and depth and the ability to push the tempo. With them, the Bruins could make the SportsCenter top 10 plays on a regular basis.

    "I'm looking forward to running," Drew said. "We have the personnel on this team to run. It makes the game more exciting. There are going to be more highlights and dunks."

    UCLA averaged 68.6 points last season, 70.1 in 2010-2011 and 66.8 in 2009-10. That's not a lot different than the three consecutive Final Four years under Howland when the Bruins averaged 67.7, 71.4 and 73.5 points. But it's not about raising the scoring average, it's about getting easy baskets when they are available.

    "I think we can pick up some extra points and we want to implement that going forward," Howland said. "That's going to be big for us."

    If the NCAA allows.

    ESPN's Andy Katz talks to Coach Howland about upcoming 2012-13 season

    October 12, 2012 -

    UCLA Bruins basketball coach Ben Howland looks ahead to the upcoming season in an interview with ESPN's Andy Katz.

    To watch video, go to (link)

    Saturday, October 13, 2012

    UCLA Bruins 2012-13 team photo

    Left to Right: 55 Aubrey Williams (5'8); 14 Nick Kazemi (6'2); 4 Norman Powell (6'4); 1 Tyler Lamb (6'5); 21 Khalid McCaskill (6'5); 5 Kyle Anderson (6'8 1/2); 50 Adria Gasol (6'10), 24 Travis Wear (6'10), 2 Josh Smith (6'10), 12 David Wear (6'10), 23 Tony Parker (6'9); 51 Soreen Derboghozia (6'10); 22  Josh Thomas (6'7); 15 Shabazz Muhammad (6'6); 3 Jordan Adams (6'5); 13 David Brown (6'3); 10 is Larry Drew III (6'2).

    Photo and player specs courtesy of crgreen on BZ (link to original BZ post).

    More from 2012 Media Day

    Post updated Nov 03 2012 9 am
    UCLA players Tony Parker, Kyle Anderson, Shabazz Muhammad and Jordan Adams pose for a photo after their press conference on Wednesday. (Damian Dovarganes/Associated Press)

    Bruins hope for silver lining despite scrutiny cloud

    Coach and players project optimism at media day for the UCLA men's basketball team. But an NCAA investigation of the eligibility of two prized freshmen is a hands-off topic at the event.

    By Chris Foster
    The Los Angeles Times
    8:30 PM PDT, October 10, 2012

    UCLA held its basketball media day Wednesday.

    There was the coach. There were the players. And there was the man in the gray flannel suit.

    Coach Ben Howland covered a variety of topics — the team's August trip to China, the new Pauley Pavilion, the high-altitude expectations.

    Players came in waves during a formal news conference — first those returning from a 19-14 last season, then the four-member freshman class that has ignited high hopes for a resurrection.

    And hovering around it all was the man wearing gray, Kevin S. Reed, UCLA's vice chancellor of legal affairs. At this point, he may be as much a part of the team as center Joshua Smith.

    The elephant in the gym was the on-going NCAA investigation into eligibility of freshmen Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson.

    Three times a UCLA official told the media, "We will not be speaking about the NCAA review or its impact on this team."

    Yet, those are questions that won't go away.

    Asked how to keep some of the uncertainties from disrupting the focus of the team, Howland said, "These kids, they're kids. They seem to stay very focused. There is always going to be adversity, there is always going be uncertainty. … You always have to deal with overcoming adversity as a player, as a team."

    Howland then cited guard Tyler Lamb, who had arthroscopic knee surgery Tuesday and is expected back in a month.

    Bigger uncertainties could disrupt the team. Those are being hashed out by the NCAA.

    Muhammad, from Las Vegas Bishop Gorman High, and Anderson, from Fairview (N.J.) St. Anthony, have yet to be cleared for competition by the NCAA, though they are with the team. Under rules, both can participate in workouts for 45 days, after which they either have to be cleared or must stop working with the team.

    The freshman class, which includes Tony Parker and Jordan Adams, toted high-end expectations to Westwood.

    "We have to live up to those," Muhammad said.

    Whether Muhammad and Anderson get a chance remains to be seen.

    NCAA officials never comment on investigations. But the specter of the investigation is omnipresent. For the first time in years, media day did not include one-on-one player interviews.

    That allowed Reed to monitor the questions and answers.

    "We knew it would put the spotlight on us," forward Travis Wear said about the freshman class.

    What he likely didn't count on was the glare of NCAA scrutiny. It is a cloud that hangs over what UCLA officials anticipate being a fruitful season.

    After a season of playing most of their home games at the Sports Arena, the Bruins will inaugurate a renovated Pauley Pavilion against Indiana State on Nov. 9. The team is scheduled to start practicing in the new arena Oct. 29.

    Pauley Pavilion is so close to completion that the plastic was removed from the arena's seats this week.

    "It was definitely a bummer playing at the Sports Arena last year," forward David Wear said. "I realize how exciting it is to be back on our own campus. Everyone is talking about how excited they are to come to the games."

    The Bruins prepped for this season with their three-game trip to China. David Wear said that internal expectations grew before the first exhibition game was finished.

    "We came in at halftime and Coach Howland was excited, the players were excited," Wear said. "We realized this was a special group of guys and felt like we could do a lot of great things this year."

    Muhammad was not on the trip, a decision that was made because of the NCAA's investigation.


    Freshman class takes questions at men’s basketball’s Pac-12 media day Wednesday


    The Daily Bruin
    Published October 11, 2012, 12:25 pm in Men's Basketball, Sports

    Tony Parker, Kyle Anderson, Shabazz Muhammad and Jordan Adams answer questions at UCLA basketball’s media day on Wednesday. While the players were able to address the media, no comments were made about the eligibility of Muhammad or Anderson, which is still up in the air.
    The Bruins’ coach Ben Howland meets with the members of the media during UCLA Basketball Media Day on Wednesday afternoon.

    When four tall figures walked into the conference room at the J.D. Morgan Center, it was obvious why so many people were there.

    At Pac-12 media day on Wednesday, members of the media got their first glimpse of the heralded UCLA men’s basketball freshmen class. At the center of the spotlight was guard Shabazz Muhammad, who was the focus of most of the questions.

    The attention was fitting, not because of the expectations others have for the class, but the expectations Muhammad and the freshmen have for the team.

    “We all came from winning programs in high school, winning state championships and stuff like that. (We’re) just trying to interpret that to college and we’re going to try to carry that tradition on for all of us,” Muhammad said.

    Flanked by his fellow freshmen, Muhammad expressed his anticipation to finally get on the floor with the team.

    “I’m really excited to play with these guys. I’ve been playing in practice with them, enjoying myself and the chemistry is really coming very well with all of us,” Muhammad said. “It’s going to be a great opportunity and I think there are great things ahead of us, so (we’re) just staying confident and trying to get ready to do this.”

    While all four freshmen were in their jerseys Wednesday, it remains unclear whether or not that will be the case come the season opener in November.

    Tony Parker was recently declared eligible, but Muhammad and Anderson still haven’t been cleared. Coaches and players were unable to comment on the situation at media day.

    Fast forward

    For years, the UCLA men’s basketball team has lacked balance, typically focusing on defense while the offense has been considered predictable and ineffective.

    However, with this year’s newfound athleticism, the Bruins are looking to change that.
    While defense will remain the team’s trademark, coach Ben Howland said the team will “We’re really trying to play faster. That was one of the big (emphases) of the summer, really trying to push the ball and take advantage of … our speed and ability to run,” Howland said.

    One of the biggest factors in UCLA’s offense this year figures to be redshirt senior guard, Larry Drew II, who transferred from North Carolina last year.

    Drew’s speed and quickness has made him a handful for his teammates to guard in practice, sophomore guard Norman Powell said. Drew thinks this will be an asset to the new-look offense come November.

    “I’ve gotten a lot stronger, quicker and faster, so obviously (the up-tempo offense) is suiting to my ability,” Drew said. “We have the personnel to run and get out in the lanes and sprint down the court. … I think it’s going to play to our advantage.”

    Leg of Lamb

    Junior guard Tyler Lamb made a brief appearance Wednesday, but only for the team and individual photos.

    Lamb, who underwent successful arthroscopic knee surgery Tuesday, is expected to miss at least the next month, Howland said.

    That would likely take him out of the team’s first game, when Pauley Pavilion reopens its doors Nov. 9.

    UCLA mum on status of Anderson, Muhammad

    By Rahshaun Haylock
    October 10, 2012
    LOS ANGELES -- The UCLA men's basketball players walked through the school's Student Activities Center and introduced themselves to the media on Wednesday.

    They posed for pictures, including a star-studded photo with head coach Ben Howland and his No. 1-ranked recruiting class. Left to right, they lined up -- Kyle Anderson, Tony Parker, Howland, Shabazz Muhammad, and Jordan Adams. They were all smiles as the freshmen donned their UCLA home whites for the first time.

    It was fun.

    Then came time for questions and answers. The topic on everyone's mind is what's going to happen to Howland's most prized recruits, Anderson and Muhammad?

    "No questions about the NCAA review or its impact on the program," said a UCLA spokesperson before the first question was fired.

    The investigation continues into the eligibility of UCLA's newest stars. There are reported concerns the NCAA has with improper benefits they may have received.

    Anderson made the trip to China with his teammates while Muhammad stayed behind due to the investigation. Wednesday, it appeared neither will be in uniform when the Bruins open up the new Pauley Pavilion on Nov. 9 against Indiana State.

    UCLA can't talk about it.

    "I'm just not going to comment on anything having to do with the ongoing investigation," Howland said. "It's inappropriate. It's not fair to the players. It's just a matter of their confidentiality and the respect to the process.

    "We're moving forward and I'm very hopeful. I'm very optimistic everything's going to work out and just waiting for the process to unfold and take place."

    Optimism is high throughout the team and at this point all they can do is induce themselves into thinking happy thoughts.

    Both players have practiced with the team and will do so for the season's first official practice on Friday. However, practicing with the team opens up their 45-day window. If the case isn't solved by the time that window expires, the players will no longer be allowed to practice.

    It's even trickier for Anderson because he played during the trip to China in August. It is not known if the time in China counts towards his 45 days to participate, according to a UCLA spokesperson. Muhammad began practicing with the team on Sept. 28. Anderson practiced with the team before they departed for China.

    So far this class has come with a lot more baggage in addition to the No. 1 recruiting ranking. However, that ranking in itself was enough to increase the spotlight on a UCLA team that fared 19-14 last season.

    "Shabazz is a high profile athlete and with the No. 1 recruiting class and things like that I knew it was going to put a spotlight on it," said forward David Wear.

    On the floor, everything has been good. The younger players have been "very humble and very eager" to learn since stepping on campus.

    Howland has emphasized an up-tempo approach that the Bruins debuted on their trip to China with North Carolina transfer Larry Drew II at the controls. However, there is a caveat. At 6-foot-8 and handles like a guard, Anderson has instructions for ways he can use his playmaking abilities.

    "(Coach Howland) told me if I ever want to bring up the ball I have to get the defensive rebound," Anderson said. "That starts the break a little bit earlier and helps the offense a little bit better."

    Pushing the tempo doesn't seem ideal for a person that has been labeled "Slo-Mo." They're working on that as well.

    "(Coach Howland) said he wants to get me to regular motion," Anderson said. "I think the ‘Slo-Mo' title is out the door."

    The expectations remain. With this group's mixture of young and old, expectations are at least to make a Final Four.

    "You have to live with those (expectations)," Muhammad said. "That's what sports is all about. We're going to really work hard to try to make sure we live up to that.

    "We really look like a great team right now."

    Will that "great team" ever take the hardwood together?


    New recruits, renovated arena have basketball expectations higher than usual at UCLA

    By Associated Press, via the Washington Post

    Published: October 10, 2012

    LOS ANGELES — With new recruits Shabazz Muhammad, Kyle Anderson and Tony Parker, along with a newly renovated arena almost ready to open, things appear to be looking up for UCLA’s basketball program months after last season ended in turmoil.

    Expectations — always high at a school that owns a record 11 national championships — are through the roof for the Bruins to be back in title contention after coach Ben Howland landed one of the nation’s top recruiting classes.

    But there are a couple of clouds on the horizon.

    Muhammad and Anderson, the centerpieces of the freshmen class, are also the subjects of individual NCAA investigations and neither has yet to be declared eligible for the upcoming season.

    The NCAA is investigating alleged benefits that Muhammad received and his relationship with a financial planner who helped fund his Las Vegas-based travel team. Anderson’s case involves a reported relationship with an agent.

    A university spokesman declared questions about the NCAA inquiries or their potential impact on the program off-limits on Wednesday, when the Bruins met the media. The university’s general counsel lingered in the background monitoring the proceedings.

    The Bruins begin practice on Friday, and under NCAA rules Muhammad and Anderson are allowed to participate with the team for 45 days. Either they would be cleared when that time expires or they would have to stop working with the program.

    “We’re moving forward and I’m very hopeful and optimistic the process is going to work out,” Howland said, declining to comment on the ongoing investigation.

    Muhammad is considered one of the top two recruits in the country, along with Nerlens Noel of Kentucky. Muhammad and Anderson figure to start right away, while Parker and Jordan Adams come off the bench.

    “I’m really excited to get to play with these guys,” Muhammad said, gesturing at fellow freshmen Anderson, Parker and Adams. “The chemistry is coming great. We all came from winning programs, and we’ll just try to carry that tradition on.”

    Muhammad missed two months during the summer with a sprained ankle, which he says is fully healed. He didn’t travel with the Bruins to China for their summer exhibition tour, although Parker did.

    The freshmen will try to meld with juniors Joshua Smith, David and Travis Wear, and Tyler Lamb, who is expected to be out a month after arthroscopic knee surgery this week. Smith’s weight remains an issue for the third straight season. The 6-foot-10 center who tops 300 pounds “is in much better condition to run up and down,” Howland said while adding that Smith still has a lot of work to do.

    Smith’s numbers tailed off last season from his freshman year and he was frequently on the bench wearing a grim expression after fouling out yet again.

    “I didn’t have fun last year,” he said. “I remember more bad times than good. This year my goal is to try to be on the court more.”

    UCLA went 19-14 and missed the NCAA tournament for the second time in three years, capping a dysfunctional season that included standout Reeves Nelson getting kicked off the team and an unflattering Sports Illustrated article that suggested Howland had lost control of the team.

    Muhammad watched it all from his home in Las Vegas before committing late to the Bruins.

    “I was looking at it like it was kind of a downfall for them,” he said. “We’re picking it up right now.”

    Howland’s best recruiting class since the program made three straight Final Four appearances ending in 2008 has bolstered his status after his reputation took a hit from the magazine article. The coach best known for his emphasis on defense is promising the Bruins will run much more and he plans on expanding his rotation to include up to 10 players.

    “Expectations are always high at UCLA,” Howland said. “There’s a lot to look forward to. Our returning players have all improved. The chemistry on this team is as good as I can remember.”

    The Bruins played most of last season in the dingy Los Angeles Sports Arena with some games in Orange County (a “logistical nightmare” Howland called it) while Pauley Pavilion underwent a $136 million renovation. They won’t start practicing in the arena until Oct. 29, and will play their season opener there on Nov. 9 against Indiana State.

    “It is like a brand new building,” Howland said. “It’s going to be great for the next 50 years.”

     /You Tube

    Investigation into freshmen continues as UCLA begins practice

    Thanks to Puffdaddy for posting this story on BZ.

    Shabazz and Kyle along with fellow frosh Tony Parker
    (pic credit,

    Investigation into freshmen continues as UCLA begins practice

    The NCAA is still examining the eligibility of Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson. Clayton Williams, who coached Muhammad's AAU team, says he'd be shocked if the NCAA found impropriety.

    By Baxter Holmes
    The Los Angeles Times
    October 13, 2012

    The UCLA basketball team held its first fall practice Friday in preparation for what was expected to be a season of redemption. The successful recruitment of four of the nation's top freshmen fueled high hopes the Bruins would enjoy a triumphant return to iconic Pauley Pavilion, resplendent after a $136-million makeover.

    But with all the anticipation there is worry and frustration.

    Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson, the most polished among the gems in that recruiting class, still have not been cleared for competition. The NCAA is examining the eligibility of both players.

    Muhammad, who is ranked at or near the top among all freshmen, has faced the most speculation. There are questions about money his family received from Benjamin Lincoln, the brother of an assistant at his high school, that helped pay for unofficial recruiting visits.

    Investigators may also be looking at Ken Kavanagh, a New York financial planner who partially funded the summer team Muhammad played for in his hometown of Las Vegas.

    Lincoln referred inquiries from The Times to his attorney. Kavanagh did not return a message left at his office seeking comment. The other principals in the case also have stopped talking. The NCAA doesn't comment about its investigations and anyone involved has been strongly encouraged to remain mute.

    But for the first time since the probe began, one key figure close to Muhammad has chosen to speak in depth about the situation.

    Clayton Williams, who coached the Dream Vision AAU team for which Muhammad played, said he would be shocked if the NCAA found any impropriety.

    "I was there every game," he told The Times in an exclusive interview. "I was around. No agents, no this, no that."

    That the NCAA is examining a top player's eligibility is not in itself noteworthy. After such scandals as the one that rocked USC involving Reggie Bush and O.J. Mayo, prominent incoming athletes are routinely vetted.

    With point guard Anderson, the NCAA reportedly is examining a connection to Thad Foucher, an agent who works with Arn Tellem for the L.A.-based Wasserman Media Group. Casey Wasserman, the company's founder, is a prominent UCLA booster.

    More than anything, the length of the Muhammad and Anderson investigations — UCLA's opener is less than a month away — has added fuel to published speculation that the Bruins must have cheated to attract such talent.

    There was even a summertime poll of nearly 100 college coaches that placed the recruitment of Muhammad and Anderson among the most suspicious in recent years. The same survey placed Bruins Coach Ben Howland at No. 3 on a list of "perceived" cheaters.

    Howland, before he went quiet, called such speculation unfair.

    Muhammad's parents, Ron Holmes and Faye Muhammad, have not recently been formally interviewed by the NCAA, according to multiple people with knowledge of the situation who spoke on the condition of anonymity because of the investigation. Typically in these cases, investigators request extensive financial records and other documents.

    Williams, coach of Muhammad's club team, said the NCAA has not requested an interview with him even though he has known Holmes since they met on a recruiting visit to San Diego State in the early 1980s.

    UCLA won Muhammad's services, Williams said, because of dogged recruiting by assistant coach Phil Mathews and because the player "loves a challenge."

    Williams also talked about those unofficial campus visits, Kavanagh's investment in the Dream Vision team, rumors that Adidas played a role in Muhammad's college choice, and even whispers about the car the player drives and jewelry he's worn.

    The visits, Williams said and Muhammad's family confirmed, concerned trips to North Carolina and Duke that Lincoln, a North Carolina-based financial planner, paid for. Each trip was cleared through the school's compliance office, according to Williams and a statement the Muhammad family released through its attorney, Bill Trosch.

    Kavanagh's investment in Dream Vision was one of the personal loans Williams said he secured from a small group of close friends when the team was struggling financially. Williams said he and Kavanagh have known each other for more than 20 years, dating to when they resided near each other in La Jolla in the 1990s.

    However, Kavanagh "hasn't said two words to Shabazz," Williams said.

    As Holmes did during an interview with The Times in April, Williams shot down speculation that Muhammad's decision to attend UCLA was influenced by Adidas, which has a contract with the Bruins and Dream Vision.

    "If they're saying that Adidas is giving me money, that's a downright lie," Holmes previously said.

    Williams listed nine former Dream Vision players who, like Muhammad, committed to play basketball for major-college programs. Six of those players chose schools whose teams were sponsored by Nike.

    Of the group, only Muhammad is under NCAA investigation, Williams said, adding, "If everybody else has been cleared, in my opinion Shabazz should eventually be cleared too."

    UCLA did have one special connection with Dream Vision. Jordan Mathews, son of the UCLA assistant coach, played about 10 games with Muhammad in the summer of 2011. Mathews, one year younger, played so well on Dream Vision's 16-under team, he was promoted to an older group for those games.

    That allowed coach Mathews to watch Muhammad play even during "dead" periods, when college coaches are prohibited from contacting recruits.

    However, UCLA never capitalized on the situation, according to Williams, who said schools such as Memphis, Arizona and Washington all were around more.

    Phil Mathews said his son joined Dream Vision because it was "one of the best AAU teams around," not because a UCLA recruiting target was part of the program. He laughed while denying the contact gave him an advantage. "You still have to recruit," he said.

    As for reports that Muhammad had visited more than a dozen college campuses — whereas athletes are allowed only five official visits paid by the university — Williams confirmed as much. He said he took his Dream Vision team members to a number of campuses near where the team played in tournaments. Those visits didn't count against the NCAA limit, Williams said, because they weren't paid for.

    "Shabazz wasn't treated any differently; he wasn't treated special," Williams said.

    Muhammad also raised eyebrows by driving a cream-colored Cadillac Escalade. Persons who know the family, including Williams, say it is a high-mileage 2005 model that was a gift Shabazz received last year from his sister Asia, a professional tennis player who made the down payment.

    Asia Muhammad has struggled with injuries since joining the professional tennis tour in 2006, but she has more than $100,000 in career earnings.

    Public records and interviews with acquaintances indicate the family has financial resources. Holmes and Faye Muhammad reside in a 4,400 square-foot, four-bedroom home in a gated community about 10 miles south of downtown Las Vegas. Holmes Consulting LLC, a business that lists both Holmes and his wife as officers, is registered at the same address.

    The family does not own the home, Nevada records show, but Holmes has made a living as a real estate investor since the mid-1980s.

    "He's had money," Williams said of Holmes. "You're talking about somebody who's had money for a long time."

    Williams tried to dispel something else he says is a myth: That Muhammad knew early on he wanted to play for UCLA.

    "They decided on UCLA in the last hour," Williams said. "They thought UCLA would really be conducive for Shabazz because of the media there, the reconstruction [of Pauley Pavilion], the fan base being down.

    "Shabazz likes to go from underdog to hero. It's kind of like a new face in Los Angeles at the college level that is much needed.

    "Let's face it, if he went to Kentucky … or he went to Duke, would it really be news? With UCLA, you get both prestige and you also get credit for helping revive the program. He likes that challenge."

    Times staff writers Ken Bensinger and David Wharton contributed to this report.

    Thursday, October 11, 2012

    Still many questions for UCLA basketball

    UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland could not answer any questions Wednesday about the eligibility of two of his top players. (Pic credit: Chris Chambers/Getty Images)

    Still many questions for UCLA basketball

    By Peter Yoon

    October, 10, 2012 8:00PM PT

    LOS ANGELES -- For a team that was supposed to have found answers in a high-profile recruiting class, the UCLA Bruins sure have a lot of questions.

    A program that seemed to have a solution to making another run at a national championship after missing the NCAA tournament in two of the past three years is now surrounded by problems.

    And coach Ben Howland, who seemed to have a surefire ticket back to the Final Four, is now surrounded by uncertainty.

    The questions, problems and uncertainty relate to an ongoing NCAA investigation surrounding the eligibility of touted freshmen Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson -- the two main cogs in a recruiting class that was supposed to put UCLA basketball back in the national spotlight.

    The light is shining on the Bruins, all right, only now it's being shined by the NCAA, which has not issued final amateurism certification for Anderson and Muhammad even as the Bruins are about to begin practice Friday.

    The investigation has cast such a cloud over the program that UCLA vice chancellor of legal affairs Kevin Reed monitored UCLA's annual basketball media day Wednesday to make sure Howland and the players did not address any questions about the investigation.

    So with less than a month to go before the season begins with the grand reopening of a refurbished Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins don't know if their two top prospects will be on the floor for the Nov. 9 season opener against Indiana State.

    "I'm just not going to comment with anything having to do with the ongoing investigation," Howland said with Reed lurking close behind. "It's inappropriate and it's not fair to the players. It's just a matter of their confidentiality with respect to the process. We're moving forward and I'm very hopeful and very optimistic that everything is going to work out and just waiting for the process to unfold and take place."

    How it unfolds will greatly affect how this season turns out for UCLA. Muhammad was generally considered the top high school player in the nation last season and the type of impact player who could change a program with his signature on a national letter of intent.

    Anderson was the No. 5 player, a 6-foot-8 point guard who has drawn comparisons to Magic Johnson because of his size and versatility on the court. Add in big man Tony Parker and sharpshooter Jordan Adams and UCLA has a class that should help return the Bruins to Howland's glory days of three consecutive Final Fours in 2006-08.

    Now it remains unclear when those guys will all take the floor at the same time. Anderson was "close" to being cleared about a month ago, a source said, but the NCAA has yet to rule on either player.

    "There's always going to be adversity and there's always going to be uncertainty," Howland said. "You always have to deal with overcoming adversity as a player and as a team and that's something that our players will do nicely."

    The unofficial unveiling of this new team was supposed to take place during a weeklong trip to China in late August, but the school, in a show of good faith, kept Muhammad home from that trip. Parker was also injured and unable to play.

    Muhammad also dealt with a high ankle sprain that Howland called "one of the worst I had ever seen" and was unable to participate in most summer workouts. Now Tyler Lamb, a starter at guard last season, is out two to four weeks after undergoing surgery to repair loose cartilage in his left knee, so the team will begin official practices Friday having played and practiced together in full only a handful of times.

    "All of us are excited about what we can do for the team and just try to put us in the best position we can for when we have a full team," center Joshua Smith said. "Kind of see where we can finally go. A lot of times when we've had a full team were in practice so we haven't been in a game situation with a full team, but we're all excited and positive for the season."

    Muhammad said he, too, was itching to get on the floor with his new teammates, no matter when that might be.

    "I'm really excited to be able to play with these guys," Muhammad said. "I've been playing in practice with them and just enjoying myself. The chemistry is coming really well with all of us."

    If and when all the Bruins ever get to play together, UCLA should be formidable. Many projected it as a top-five program going into this season, but the uncertainty surrounding Muhammad's and Anderson's eligibility has lowered expectations a bit, especially considering the Bruins' toughest games come early in the season when the freshmen could be forced to sit.

    The returning players have welcomed the freshmen and the raised expectations they have brought to the team this season.

    "We knew that expectations this year were going to be high," forward Travis Wear said. "There was a lot of publicity going around. ... Shabazz is a high-profile athlete and with the No. 1 recruiting class, I knew it was going to put a spotlight on us."

    He just didn't realize the NCAA would be shining that light.

    Clock is ticking on UCLA's Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson

    UCLA incoming freshmen Kyle Anderson and Shabazz Muhammad  (Albert Dickson/Sporting News)

    By David Wharton
    The Los Angeles Times
    2:19 PM PDT, October 8, 2012

    Though the UCLA basketball team does not start preseason practice until Friday, highly touted freshmen Shabazz Muhammad and Kyle Anderson have already begun preliminary workouts, which means the clock is ticking on their eligibility.

    The NCAA has yet to declare them eligible pending the conclusion of dual investigations.

    In the meantime, the rules allow them to participate with the team for 45 days. Either they are cleared by that time or they must cease working with the program until the matter is resolved.

    Muhammad stayed home as the Bruins toured China in August so that his eligibility window would not open until now. It was unclear as to why Anderson — who performed well in three exhibition games overseas — could play without starting the clock.

    University officials declined to comment and have not made either player available to reporters.

    The NCAA is looking into alleged benefits that Muhammad received from the brother of an assistant coach at his high school and at his relationship with a financial planner who helped fund his Las Vegas-based travel team. His family has previously claimed that both men were longtime friends and thus permitted under NCAA rules to offer financial aid.

    Anderson's case involves a reported relationship with Thad Foucher, an agent who works with Arn Tellem at the Wasserman Media Group.

    At this point, it appears the freshmen would be eligible for UCLA's season opener against Indiana State on Nov. 9. If their cases are not resolved, their futures beyond that point would be in question.

    Teammates say they are trying not to look too far ahead.

    "That's the million-dollar question around campus — all the kids are excited, asking when Shabazz can play," center Joshua Smith said. "I'm like, 'I know as much as you do.'"

    Thanks to cliq for posting this on BZ.

    UCLA's Tyler Lamb to have minor knee surgery

    By Chris Foster
    The Los Angeles Times
    7:15 PM PDT, October 7, 2012

    UCLA guard Tyler Lamb is to undergo arthroscopic surgery on Tuesday to repair loose cartilage in his left knee. He is expected to miss four to six weeks.

    Lamb was not injured during a workout, a school official said. He has been experiencing swelling in the knee recently.

    "He's going to be diligent with his rehab, and we are hopeful that this will be a quick and successful procedure," Coach Ben Howland said in the statement. "He had a similar surgery on this knee the summer before his freshman year and he quickly recovered from that."

    Lamb averaged 9 points in 33 games last season.

    Get well soon, Tyler!

    UCLA Basketball 2012-13 Media Day: The Freshmen

    Miguel Melendez-Inside UCLA LA Daily News/You Tube
    Thanks to bruinjake for the headsup on BZ.

    UCLA Basketball 2012-13 Media Day: Coach Ben Howland

    Miguel Melendez-Inside UCLA LA Daily News/You Tube
    Thanks to bruinjake for the headsup on BZ.

    Monday, October 1, 2012

    Legends Classic Nov 19-20, 2012 Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY

    PRINCETON, N.J. - The schedule for the 2012 Legends Classic has been announced.

    In what promises to be one of the country's most eagerly anticipated early-season basketball tournaments, the sixth annual Legends Classic will culminate with its Championship Round games being played at the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N.Y. Indiana, expected to be ranked No. 1 heading into the 2012-13 season, UCLA, featuring the nation's No. 1 rated recruiting class, and national powers Georgetown and Georgia will host a pair of Regional Round games on their home courts beginning Nov. 11 before advancing to the Championship Rounds in Brooklyn.

    Joining Indiana, UCLA, Georgetown, and Georgia in the Legends Classic are UC Irvine, Duquesne, James Madison, Liberty, North Dakota State, Sam Houston State, Southern Mississippi, and Youngstown State.

    ESPN Networks will televise six games of the Legends Classic, including all four Championship Round games in Brooklyn. The Indiana-Georgia semifinal game will air on ESPNU on Monday, Nov. 19, followed by the UCLA-Georgetown game on ESPN2. The consolation game on Tuesday, Nov. 20 will be shown on ESPNU with the championship game airing on ESPN.

    In addition, the Nov. 11 game between Duquesne and Georgetown will be shown on ESPNU, as will the Nov. 12 Youngstown State-Georgia contest.

    Additional television coverage will be announced at a later date.

    Tickets for Championship Round games at the Barclays Center are on sale and may be purchased by calling 800-745-3000 or ON-LINE. (more)

    Added Oct 02, 2012

    Rant Sports NCAAB Season Preview: Legends Classic

    29 days ago by chrismolicki

    Early season tournaments continue to emerge and increase from a competition standpoint. Non-conference schedules have gotten tougher and college basketball fans prepare for premier match-ups and upsets even in November.

    Let’s take a look at the Legends Classic.

    Tournament Date(s): November 19-20, 2012.

    Tournament Location: Barclays Center in Brooklyn, N. Y.
    Tournament Field:

    Semifinal Qualifiers: Indiana, UCLA, Georgetown, Georgia.

    Other Participants: Duquesne, James Madison, Liberty, North Dakota State, Sam Houston State, Southern Miss, UC-Irvine and Youngstown State

    Tournament Summary: While there are multiple other minor rounds of the Legends Classic, the Championship Rounds are what everyone’s talking about. In it, you have two national title contenders in Indiana and UCLA and two talented teams that could make some noise this year in Georgetown and Georgia. For the Hoosiers, the tandem of Cody Zeller and Christian Watford look to once again be a national force. The Bruins are counting on Shabazz Muhammad and a crop of freshmen to lead them to the top. The Hoyas and Bulldogs will be lead by two super-sophomores, Otto Porter and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, respectively.

    Player to Watch: Cody Zeller, Indiana- There may not be anyone more important to their team’s success this year than Zeller. After bursting onto the scene as a freshman in 2011-12, Zeller has molded himself into one of the nation’s most elite players. Just a sophomore, the 6-foot-11 forward has an arsenal of weapons at his disposal on the offensive end, while a strong mix of returning veterans and incoming freshman can make the Hoosiers a legitimate national championship threat. Zeller holds the key for Indiana this season and their ability to prepare for a run come March.

    For more on college basketball, follow Chris on Twitter.

    Rant Sports NCAAB Season Preview: Five Storylines-Legends Classic

    29 days ago by Paul Seaver

    Early season tournaments continue to emerge and increase from a competition standpoint. Non-conference schedules have gotten tougher and college basketball fans prepare for premier match-ups and upsets even in November.

    Let’s take a look at five storyline to watch for at the Legends Classic.

    1. Indiana’s Early Expectations: The Hoosiers are bringing back nearly every contributor from the 2011-12 season and their incoming freshmen class is amongst the nation’s best. The talent level is high and after last season’s success, Indiana is back. Head coach Tom Crean has this Indiana program ahead of schedule and their participation in the 2012 Legends Classic will give the Hoosiers an early opportunity to showcase their national championship potential. Indiana will be the team to beat in Brooklyn, but UCLA, Georgetown, and Georgia won’t be easy outs. How will Indiana begin the year given their vast expectations?

    2. Will Shabazz Muhammad be Eligible to Play?: Due to an ongoing investigation by the NCAA, UCLA freshman Shabazz Muhammad remains ineligible for the time being. The 6-foot-6 star will instantly be considered among the top freshman and players in the country, if the NCAA clears him to play. The speculation will continue, but as September begins, there remains no set timetable for a decision. Muhammad very well could be the most talented prospect in this tournament’s field should he gain eligibility, yet Indiana fans might beg to differ with forward, Cody Zeller.

    3. Barclays Center: The Legends Classic has bounced around a few venues in the past few years and now it’s moving to the brand-new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, New York. Home to the New Jersey Nets, the Barclays Center will feature a few college basketball-related events this season, including the Atlantic 10 Tournament in March. A state-of-the-art and brand new facility should help attract fans, especially given the competition in the year’s Legends Classic.

    4. Sophomore Sensations?: Sure, Cody Zeller would highlight this particular topic, but one storyline to watch for as part of the 2012 Legends Classic will be the freshman-to-sophomore leap of both Georgetown‘s Otto Porter and Georgia‘s Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Caldwell-Pope, a Georgia-native, is looking to make considerable strides after a decent freshman season. Porter, who may very well become the Hoyas’ go-to-man in 2012-13, has similar expectations. Both Caldwell-Pope and Porter will be heavily counted upon, not only in this tournament, but for much of the season on their respected rosters. Both are budding stars who have all the intangibles to breakout in 2012-13.

    5. Will Fans See the Anticipated Championship Match-up?: Georgia (vs. Indiana) and Georgetown (vs. UCLA) will look to play spoiler in the semifinal rounds, deflecting a potential Hoosiers/Bruins championship contest. However, Indiana is a national championship contender and could very well begin the season as the nation’s No. 1 overall team, while UCLA is looking to burst back onto the national stage thanks to a terrific freshmen class. Yet, eligibility issues continue to surround the Bruins’ freshmen, so fans aren’t sure what to expect once November arrives. However, the potential remains for this championship tilt, and if Muhammad can get cleared by the NCAA, we could be seeing two stars with Player of the Year potential (Zeller, Muhammad) squaring off against one another. Then again, college basketball is far from predictable, so don’t count Georgia or Georgetown out in this tournament field.

    Be sure to follow Paul Seaver on Twitter: @TheArenaPulse