Bruin Starting Center Drew Gordon is no longer a part of the team, leaving the slot to Freshman Reeves Nelson
Ben Howland’s Official announcement was vague; Insider information was leaked, but still left unanswered questions; Finally, the Parents spoke out; now we have one side of the story.
According to Drew Gordon’s Parents, Drew is transferring because he wants to go to a school that plays a wide-open style. They say that Drew cannot live up to his potential in Howland’s methodical system. But Drew’s decision comes after Howland had actually SUSPENDED him for two days for behavior detrimental to the team. Rumor has it that he was trying to get all the players to mutiny Howland into abandoning the slow, methodical gameplan, in favor of a run and gun transition game, where Gordon thinks he would flourish. Another rumor is that Jrue Holiday was pestering the Sophomores to leave UCLA and Howland as soon as they could. And finally, the 3rd rumor is that these same Sophomores were being rude and un-welcoming to visiting prospects during recruiting trips.
The whole Bruin community is trying to figure out why the experts and Howland were so far off with their evaluations of this whole class of recruits, who actually were the #1 group of recruits in their class. Howland is usually such a good judge of character — Did he not see that Gordon would rebel against his Coaching style? A better question is: Didn’t Gordon know what style of play Howland is famous for? Doesn’t he know that Howland’s Defense-first mentality is exactly why Hollins, Afflalo, Westbrook, and Mbah a Moute got drafted so high in the NBA?
Gordon has done some immature things on the court while at UCLA, coming close to taunting, whining, showboating, pouting, and starting fights with overzealously-thrown elbows, etc. He has made Bruin fans cringe, as his knee-jerk reactions have bordered on lacking class. Now, Bruin fans no longer have to worry about Gordon being a bad reflection on the Blue and Gold.
What the Bruin fans DO have to worry about is replacing Gordon’s production on the court. Gordon was the focal point of the Offense, in terms of getting anything other than a low-percentage perimeter shot. He was developing a nice little hook shot, and he was getting to Rebounds and loose balls for put-backs and garbage dunks. He was also blocking a lot of shots on Defense. Now it will be up to first-year player Reeves Nelson to step into Gordon’s shoes. Nelson has been impressive in almost every game, but does not seem to have the moves to post up like Gordon can. He may have the skills, but they will need some serious polishing, in a hurry (as if there is still a sense of urgency this season).
Nelson’s best attribute so far is a court sense, and a knack for being in the right place at the right time. Whether or not he can anchor an Offense remains to be seen. But it looks like he has the right, blue-collar, team attitude that Howland needs to bring this team together.
You can’t always trust the height measurements, but Nelson is listed at 6′ 8″, and is seemingly not tall enough to be the Center of a quality Tournament team (again, that really isn’t an issue this year anyway). But old-time Bruin fans will tell you about a Championship team with a short Center, and Howland fans will tell you that with the way Ben’s Defense double-teams and short-circuits opposing Big Men, the Bruins could get away with a slightly-shorter Center than other teams can.
On paper, Gordon’s loss is going to hurt the Bruins mightily. He was active, and was filling up the box score. But chemistry is a factor in College Basketball, so Bruin fans will have to hope that the scrappiness of Nelson, replacing the quasi-bipolar disorder of Gordon, will be the secret to making this team gel.
Just like the Lakers’ ADDING of Gary Payton and Karl Malone killed a Dynasty, maybe Howland’s REMOVING of someone can return a Program back to its original luster.
And speaking of killing a (wannabe) Dynasty, did you happen to catch the big “rematch” on Sunday, when Matt Leinart went up against Vince Young again? Just like when Young spanked Leinart’s trojans for the National Title with a last-second Touchdown, V.Y. did it again, smacking Leinart’s Cardinals with a last-second Touchdown. Young has led Tennessee to one of the biggest turnarounds in NFL History — They were 0-6 when they elevated Young to Starting QB, and they haven’t lost since. Meanwhile, the only reason Leinart was even playing is that Arizona Starter Kurt Warner has a concussion.
But it’s Leinart who’s probably dizzy right now, after beer-bonging with co-eds to drown the sorrow of finally getting to start, only to get shown up by the exact same guy who showed him up — in the exact same way — in the biggest game of his life 5 years ago, forever tarnishing Leinart’s College career.
Finally: The “Classless Carroll” Controversy, or “Pom Pom Bomb-gate,” is still on people’s minds — like Tiger Woods’ “accident” — Something THAT out-of-the-ordinary doesn’t just go away. In Tuesday’s L.A. Times, T.J. Simers actually abandoned the shock-over-logic approach for once, and told it like it is. He analyzed Pete Carroll’s decision, and Rick Neuheisel’s, and makes it very clear that Carroll is the one at fault. Not that Simers is the voice of reason, but if you’re going to TRY to get in a local Coach’s good graces, wouldn’t you pick Carroll over Neuheisel? So maybe Simers really does believe in what he wrote.
Maybe Simers should come here, to get a “What’s YOUR Deal?” t-shirt. [Still on sale, at our Gift Shop — link on the right].