Jointly sparked by returning buds Michael Roll and Jerime Anderson, UCLA’s 74-57 Medicinal win is Indica-tive of a team that will take its hits but come out flying high
Okay, it’s safe to exhale, INHALE, and exhale again — Everything is back to NORML. Ben Howland’s Bruins bounced back from a closer-than-expected 1-point win over Concordia to waste Humboldt State by 17. The Lumberjacks, who hail from the Marijuana CAPITAL of the United States, actually had the relentless survival instincts of Roaches. They went down by 10 in the 1st half 31-21 but zig-zagged back with 5 straight, and kept it close until the break and beyond. They did it with Rebounding, outboarding the Bruins decidedly in the 1st 20 minutes. Despite shooting only 43% compared to the Bruins’ 54%, the Lumberjacks were down only 7 when the 2nd half began.
The Bruins’ hot shooting did not continue after Intermission. On the contrary, they shot just 25% the rest of the way, but thanks to 19 MADE Free Throws in the 2nd half, the Bruins were able to finally pull away. The lead was close to 10 for much of the 2nd half, with the Bruins pushing it to 17 only at the very end.
UCLA welcomed Michael Roll and Jerime Anderson back to action, and they both showed why the closeness of last week’s game was so meaningless… unless they both get injured again. With Jerime in the line-up, the Bruins were much more under control. They committed only 13 Turnovers, compared to 20 in the Concordia game. Anderson scored 9, with 2 Assists and 2 Rebounds, in 29 minutes, and he looked much better than anything he showed last year. Sure it was Division II competition, but Anderson looked like he was confident, and completely capable of running the Howland Offense. Between him and the other Starting Guard Malcolm Lee, it looked like the Bruins will have no trouble penetrating opposing Defenses this season, to break down zones, draw fouls, and collapse defenses to open up perimeter shooters.
It looks like Howland is going to lean on Lee, who logged 36 minutes. Lee ran the Point when Anderson got a breather, and looked fine doing it. He scored 11 with 4 Assists, but went only 3-for-9 from the floor, so maybe Howland will try to get him a little more rest if he can. Tyler Honeycutt’s injury — he’s out for about a month — might preclude that, though.
Starting alongside Anderson and Lee was Roll, at Small Forward, or should that just be called a 3-Guard line-up? Roll led the Bruins with 17 Points, including 4 buckets that weren’t 3-pointers, as he continues to try to show everyone that he is a lot more than just a behind-the-arc guy. He was very active, getting 3 Boards, 2 Assists, a Block and a Steal in his 32 minutes.
Nikola Dragovic was the Bruins’ 2nd-leading scorer with 13 Points, but went only 3-for-10. However, he still showed the potential to be huge Instant Offense for a team that might be lacking it at times. The BEST STATS of the day, though — for the Bruins — belong to Big Man Drew Gordon. Gordon got another impressive Double-Double, with 11 Points and 10 Rebounds. He also blocked 3 shots, and dished out an Assist. But the most striking number? Drew had SIX Steals.
UCLA’s Defense was uncharacteristically porous, with Lumberjacks repeatedly getting to the hoop for easy shots (and put-backs), so Gordon’s Steals (and the Bruins’ Points Off Turnovers) were the only things that kept Humboldt St. from making the game more of a back and forth shootout. James Keefe did not build on his game 1 performance, and neither did Bobo Morgan, but Freshman Big Man Reeves Nelson made his presence felt in his 11 minutes, with 4 Points, 2 Rebounds, 2 Steals, and an Assist. Looks like the newcomer could definitely be a factor THIS year.
Humboldt St.’s Brian Morris exploited the young Bruins for 19 Points and 16 Rebounds, illustrating Howland’s difficult task ahead: Getting his team to develop some chemistry and cohesiveness, especially on Help Defense and on Blocking out on the Glass. Understandably, the Bruins are not yet in mid-season form in terms of communicating, switching, and clogging up the lane and protecting the basket as a team.
But the season hasn’t even started yet, and the injury-decimated Bruins haven’t even practiced with all their players healthy yet, so just to see the progress from Concordia to Humboldt was encouraging.
And speaking of encouraging, the problem in the middle MIGHT be an issue this season, but probably not next season, as the Bruins have just got a commitment from highly-regarded Josh Smith, a 6′ 9″ Center from the State of Washington.
And speaking of encouraging, Part 2, nothing is more encouraging than getting cheered on by the UCLA Spirit Squad, who was this week once again crowned the Best in the Nation by the “Bleacher Report” website. Thanks to “Nate” for that info. and, I LOVE that they get recognition, but I obviously don’t need some website (probably one kid) telling me what I’ve already known for years, especially when he doesn’t rank Oregon #2, and especially when he ranks sc #3, which implies that maybe he spends a little too much time in Humboldt County himself, if you know what I mean.