UCLA Mojo risin’: Bruins break on through, scoring the first 15 points of the game and never looking back, bullying the Matadors to an 83-50 slaying
So much for finding out what the Bruins are really made of. The Cal State Northridge Matadors were no stiffer competition than Westmont or Cal State L.A., going down sloppily and quietly to UCLA, 83-50… and as the saying goes, it wasn’t that close.
The Bruins stormed out of the gates on a 15-0 run, built the lead up to 22 at Halftime, and to 41 in the second half, before the third string allowed the Matadors to cut it back down to a not-so-respectable 33 at the final buzzer. CSUN turned the ball over 27 times and shot 29% from the floor, and only about half of that was caused by the active Bruin Defense.
Yes, the Bruins looked good for the third (no-)contest in a row, but also for the third time in a row, they totally overpowered a severely undermanned team. The Bruins completely dominated the Paint, the Boards, and the tempo of the game, with vastly superior athletes at every position. Of course, compared to LOSING last year’s opener to Cal State Fullerton, beating a lo-cal cupcake is still preferred — It’s just that the Bruins have NOT been tested in the least, so any positive analysis should be taken with a Joshua Smith-sized grain of salt.
That being said, here is that positive analysis, with just a few negatives thrown in for flavor. Keep in mind, even the negatives shouldn’t be too worrisome, since it’s only ONE game.
Tonight’s biggest positive HAD to be the play of new Point Guard Lazeric Jones. Based on this game, Ben Howland should be commended for going out and finding Jones at a JC, and for not being overly loyal to last year’s Starter Jerime Anderson. The two Point Guards were like night and day on Friday night, with Jones running the Offense effectively, handling the ball well, and shooting the lights out. Jones went 6 for 7, including 2 Three’s, for 15 Points. He also got 4 Assists, against only 1 Turnover, and 2 Steals on the Defensive end.
Meanwhile, Anderson was in midseason form — last year’s midseason. JA missed his only shot, and had 3 Turnovers to only 1 Assist. Once again, he looked tentative while running the Offense, and his decision-making was suspect throughout. On the positive side for poor Jerime, he DID grab 2 Rebounds, and he also tallied FOUR STEALS. Maybe Jerime’s contributions this year will come on the Defensive end, although Jones might end up playing five times more minutes than Anderson, and is already considered to be a much better defender than Anderson. PLEASE REALIZE: I am not here to tear down any Bruin, or call for his removal from the team. This was only one game, after two exhibitions where JA wasn’t awful. So here’s hoping that JA will improve, and not wind up as the THIRD string PG before too long.
Besides Jones, the most effective Bruin on the floor was Reeves Nelson. He seems to be in super condition, and he is really taking to the up-tempo attack. Nelson led the Bruins with 17 Points (including a 3-pointer!), as he was able to overpower the Matadors as if they were a high school team.
Nelson’s frontcourt mates also took advantage of their superior physiques. Joshua Smith grabbed 7 Rebounds, and looked like he could OWN the Paint as the season progresses. Brendan Lane led the Bruins with 8 Boards, and added 5 Points, always seeming to be in the right place at the right time, but not by chance. And Anthony Stover got another FOUR Blocks, as he continues to have a knack for getting in the way of the opponents’ shots.
Tyler Honeycutt might be the best player on the whole team, but on Friday night, he may have been a victim of his own accolades. He scored 16, with 6 Caroms and 3 Dimes, but for much of the game, he was trying to be too fancy, and trying to do too much. The result: SEVEN Turnovers. And most of his mistakes came from trying to make the perfect pass. Unfortunately, he looked a little too much like Brett Favre, not being able to get his passes past the defenders. At least he didn’t take his wang out.
And the “other” Tyler, Tyler Lamb, also took a small step backwards after his best game (against CSLA). Lamb hit only 3 of his 9 shot attempts, including 1-for-6 from behind the arc. Towards the end of the game, with Lamb the only “regular” in the game, he missed 3 straight open jumpers, and they didn’t look pretty. His one highlight play was a coast-to-coast fast break, where he split two defenders to get to the rim for a smooth finish. Lamb DID get 4 Assists and 3 Steals, so it’s not like he had an awful game, but it WAS a reminder that he’s just a Freshman, and he shouldn’t be expected to be a consistent force this early in the season.
Finally, Malcolm Lee was active, but didn’t shoot that well, and didn’t assert himself like he should have against this lackluster foe. Also, he was 0-for-3 from Downtown, showing that his weakness from last year is NOT a thing of the past just yet.
Adrenaline is a funny thing: When you’re up by 30 points, you rarely stay pumped up, and you rarely show your best. The Bruins blew out CSUN so QUICKLY, that the Bruins couldn’t be expected to be at their sharpest or most focused for the rest of the game. However, they DID continue to build the lead, unlike the previous game, where they actually lost the second half. In the CSUN game, they kept the pressure up, and showed a little bit of the killer instinct that they will need throughout the year.
And now, on to the biggest negative of the night, and it wasn’t ON the court — It was courtside. Longtime Bruin announcer Chris Roberts was SO bad, that I repeatedly wanted to MUTE his horrendous play-by-play. On this night, you could hear the banter during commercials between him and his Producer, and there is no doubt that Chris is the easist-going Announcer in the Biz, and such a nice guy that I almost feel guilty telling the truth about his performance. I said “almost.”
For you fellow “Get Smart” fans, think of “Simon the Likable,” a KAOS killer, played by the Lays Potato Chip Man. Everyone loves Simon so much, that he can get away with murder, literally. Well, Chris has been getting away with murder for too long. He absolutely butchers these broadcasts. UCLA BASKETBALL DESERVES BETTER. There has to be someone available — and cheap enough — for Chris to be let go. In fact, Roberts seems like a great Bruin, and should be made some sort of special advisor/ambassador for the Program, but PLEASE — take his microphone away. Doesn’t Dave Marcus want the job? He did the broadcast of the Exhibitions, and Dave Marcus to Chris Roberts was like Lazeric Jones to Jerime Anderson. There is NO comparison.
Just for a few examples of how embarrassing Chris Roberts is: In this ONE game, he repeatedly mis-identified players on both teams, including calling Lazeric Jones “Malcolm Jones,” and I think, calling Anthony Stover “Bradley” Stover (because a CSUN player is named Bradley). If not being able to tell who the players are without a Program wasn’t bad enough, he also couldn’t describe the plays that they were making. He called a shot by Lamb a “double-pump” when it wasn’t anything close to that, then he called a dunk a “Tomahawk” dunk even though it wasn’t, and to top it off, he referred to a shot as a “Hook shot,” when it wasn’t a hook at all. Does he even WATCH the game? During a time out, someone asked him to verify that the Bruins started the game on a 13-0 spurt. So he CONFIRMED it. But as you know, the spurt was 15-0, NOT 13-0. Why would you confirm something if you really don’t know? He can’t even tell whether a play is a Foul or a Turnover, despite the Referees making clear signs right in front of him.
And there’s more: Roberts is famous for ASKING the audience what has just transpired on the court, and he did it again Friday night at least once, when he asked: “Was that a Goaltending?” If only these braodcasts were interactive — All the viewers could have typed in, “Yes, Chris, that was Goaltending.”
Last, but not least: Listening to Roberts is like being at a Carnival — Roberts gets ridiculously over-excited over the most routine plays, and he does it all game long, even when the margin is 40 points. Sure, his bosses want him to keep the viewers interested, but it’s UCLA Basketball — NOT Circus Vargas. Stop screaming about a shot being missed when a foul is called on the play. Chris Roberts sucks so badly, that he even makes Ralph Lawler seem less horrible… and that’s saying a ton.
If you look at a Bruin message board, you will see that I am NOT ALONE in my opinion of Chris Roberts. About a third of the negative comments after the game were specifically about how excruciating it is to have to listen to Roberts’ “Braille Radio.” What is it going to take to get a much-needed UPGRADE? Do I really have to start “silencechrisroberts.com” to get it done? Believe me, I haven’t been this tempted since I wanted to start “lynchlavin.com”
Every time I REQUEST for my loyal readers to send in their comments, I get virtually nothing (despite literally several THOUSANDS of unique visitors every single day). Nonetheless, here I am, trying again:
If you agree with me, please write in and help me get our voices heard. Also, if I started a site just to get him “promoted” to another job within the Program, would you sign the cyber-petition? Speak now, or forever hold your nose (and plug your ears).
Now, on to a much more pleasant subject: From the worst announcer, to the BEST Cheerleaders — Here are another 13 lucky photos of the UCLA Spirit Squad… especially for the people who went to the game tonight, but apparently didn’t get to see the absent Dance Team.
WAIT, WAIT — ONE MORE THING: Kevin Love went bananas last night, with 31 Points and 31 Rebounds!!!! This is the first 30-30 perfomance in the NBA in TWENTY-EIGHT YEARS!!!! Congrats to Kevin, who some people thought would be too small or too slow to find a niche in the Pro’s.