“L” Foldo: Lazeric, Lee, Lamb and Lane are Lame, as UCLA Loses Lead, to Log their 4th “L” in a row against $C — It’s time for Howland to change his approach of downplaying the Rivalry
At least Lazeric Jones has an excuse: He really was “lame,” with his mangled finger. But Malcolm Lee, Tyler Lamb, and Brendan Lane have no excuse for adding virtually nothing Offensively to make up for Jones’ bricktastic night, as the Bruins fell once again to the trojans, 63-52. Lee made UCLA’s first basket, then basically disappeared, in his worst performance of the year. Brendan Lane, forced into extra action by Joshua Smith’s even-worse-than-typical Foul trouble, refused to look for his shot, and on the Defensive end, was totally worthless trying to guard Nikola Vucevic. Tyler Lamb, forced into action by Tyler Honeycutt’s 7 Turnovers and all-around weak play (and Foul trouble), shied away from almost every open jumper presented to him, and contributed only one short bucket (after faking a longer one, which he does religiously).
With those 4 L’s and Honeycutt having off nights, even a rare good night for Jerime Anderson couldn’t save the Bruins. Reeves Nelson carried UCLA in the 1st Half, going 5-for-6, scoring 12 Points, and energizing the Bruins with ferocious and acrobatic plays. The Bruins couldn’t hit anything outside, going 0-for-5 from Three, but they WERE able to get inside. That allowed them to shoot 57% before the Break, by far the best any sc opponent had done all year, and take a 30-28 lead into the locker room.
But sc adjusted in the 2nd Half, shutting off the inside game. Nelson scored only 2 more Points all night, and with Smith on the Bench and hamstrung when he was on the floor, and with Honeycutt unable to focus, the Bruins faded away, shooting 26% the rest of the way. As the trojans started to get separation, Anderson hit two consecutive Three’s to keep it close. But it wasn’t enough, as Alex Stepheson dominated the glass with 16 Caroms, and Vucevic dropped 20 Points because the Bruins failed to double-team him enough. The Bruins were down only 4 with 6 minutes to go, but sc controlled the game from there, getting several Offensive Boards to kill any Bruin momentum.
The Bruins were 5-point underdogs in this Road game at the L-hole known as Galen, but with just an AVERAGE performance from Honeycutt, Lee, or Jones, they would have had a great shot at the upset. That being said, the Bruins were not the hungrier team. $C appeared more motivated, more energetic, and more emotional, and that brings me back to Ben Howland, and his thoroughly unsuccessful strategy in regard to the Rivalry.
For years, Howland has undersold the importance of beating sc. He has always been fearful of making his players TOO emotional, so he preaches that it’s “just another game.” Well, Ben — IT’S NOT just another game. For a whole lot of your fan base, losing this game is like losing 5 others combined. Maybe that’s why UCLA used to try to get Coaches with UCLA ties — so that they UNDERSTAND the importance of the Rivalry. They still do it in Football (although a lot of good THAT has done).
And THIS year, Sunday’s loss could really come back to bite the Bruins on the ass. UCLA is vying with sc for a spot in the NCAA Tourney, since the Pac-10 is probably not going to get more than 3 bids. Of course, the way UCLA played on Sunday night, they have no business even wishing for an invite.
The problem is that they have more talent than that, and are flat-out a much better team than what they showed. Just ask BYU. So it falls on Howland, and his repeated inability to fire up his squad for what should be the easiest game to get UP for. I have always been a big fan and supporter of Ben, but if he can’t beat sc, then UCLA needs to find someone who can. Hopefully, Ben will just change his psychological approach, and win the rematch at Pauley in February.