UCLA Routs SCA, 95-59

Despite the score, the Bruins didn't necessarily look sharper than they did in their first exhibition game last week. Taking the two games as a whole, there are some obvious rewards from good coaching, but it's also evident the team is thin and still has a long ways to go...

Phew. Got those exhibition games out of the way. And the Bruins actually put up an impressive exhibition game score, the kind you always see across the country on Sports Center, beating the Southern California All-Stars, 95-59.

Trevor Ariza again led the team in points and rebounds with 16 and 7 (along with five assists), while Dijon Thompson had 12, and with Michael Fey scoring 14.

Interesting, though, that, despite beating this exhibition team by 36, the team in many ways looked better against EA Sports West All-Stars who they beat by 7. Of course, the fact that EA Sports was quite a bit better than SCA has something to do with it.

But it's also a matter that the Bruins played better themselves against EA Sports. Not significantly better, in a way that you could draw any kind of conclusion that the team isn't progressing. It's more a case of where you have to take the two exhibition games together as evidence of how far along this team is, and what are their projected strengths and weaknesses. There were many aspects of the game against SCA where UCLA actually did look improved from its game against EA Sports.

First, we'll look at the game and then draw some conclusions.

SCA plainly was pretty bad, with a few former mid-major players barely going through the motions to give UCLA any competition.

UCLA, though, came out cold and out-of-sync for the first few minutes of the game. Ariza was the only spark in the first five minutes, dishing off a couple of nice assists, hitting a three pointer, taking a charge and throwing down an alley-oop dunk.

SCA actually played some pretty decent defense in the first 10 minutes, getting out on UCLA's guards and disrupting their ball-handling and the flow of the half-court offense. The Bruins only held a 17-16 at the 11-minute mark.

Then with the starters on the bench, a lineup of Ryan Hollins, Josiah Johnson, Janou Rubin, Brian Morrison and Ryan Walcott went on a 14-2 run that established UCLA's lead and then shut off any effort from SCA for the remainder of the game. This lineup did it mostly through wide-open transition looks, with SCA playing no transition defense. Janou Rubin hit a couple of threes, Ryan Walcott hit one and Josiah Johnson added another to build the lead.

Now, this can be taken as encouraging, but also worrying. It's good to see UCLA's backups play well and hit their shots. But it's a bit of a worry that the starters, the players that are truly going to have to carry this team for the season, struggle. It's a worry because, to be blunt, it's not a case that UCLA's backups are really good enough to play for the starters during the course of the season. We could be over-reacting a bit; It very well could have been a case that the backup run happened to coincide with SCA collectively deciding not to play defense, so it's difficult to take away too much from the fact that he starters couldn't get kick-started and the backups did.

The starters returned to the game and center Michael Fey played probably his best stretch of his UCLA career over the remainder of the first half and the rest of the second.. He did travel once, but he also had a couple of nice moves in the pivot that he converted. One was in transition, and he got back in time to post up under the basket to catch an assist from Cedric Bozeman impressively.

UCLA finished the half on an 8-2 run with the starters in to go into the locker room up 42-25.

In the second half, Fey continued to impress, with another quick little hook to convert from in down low.

The second half got out of hand as any resistance that SCA had put up in the second half was now completely gone.

Perhaps the single-play highlight of the second half was Ariza finding Brian Morrison on a backdoor cut through the lane with a nice pass and Morrison's resulting slam.

Actually perhaps in second place for the highlight reel was a very athletic move by Ariza under the basket, where he did an up-and-under windmill finish and was fouled.

Perhaps the biggest highlight of the second half from a pure basketball standpoint was UCLA's zone offense. SCA went into a 2-3 zone for about 10 minutes midway through the second half, and UCLA impressively cut it up with some nice passing in and out of the high post to open up space for some easy baskets.

It then didn't matter what personnel UCLA had on the court as it inflated its lead through the second half. You know the game's over when Head Coach Ben Howland actually sits down and stops managing every possession.

UCLA shot 51.5% for the game, 54.5% from three, while holding SCA to 38.3% overall. The Bruins only outrebounded SCA 37-34.

Now, some analysis:

Bozeman struggled compared to the first exhibition. He didn't look aggressive in driving to the basket as he did against EA Sports. He finished with only five points and 3 assists. He did hit a pretty effortless three in the first half, but then shot an air ball in the second half. In one sequence, the UCLA offense was looking to isolate and post up Bozeman against a smaller defender, which is something we can probably expect UCLA to attempt some this season.

Brian Morrison wasn't, for the most part, in the flow of the offense as he was in the first exhibition. He went 1-4 from three, finished with 5 points, but did have a flurry of nice assists, finishing with 5.

Thompson, who obviously has the offense geared toward him getting looks and has a green light, struggled shooting again. He was four for 10 from the field and 2-6 from three.

Combine this kind of output from three starters and you can see why the starting lineup sputtered on offense. While there were some good assists, and some unselfish ball-sharing, they weren't as effective passing as a team as they were in the first exhibition, mostly missing Bozeman's contribution.

Fey did have his best game as a Bruin, even though it didn't count. He looked far more comfortable in the post and pretty quick to convert his short jump hook around the basket. Hollins also made one nice eight-foot turnaround, and then to prove it wasn't a fluke, converted a 12-footer.

Janou Rubin proved why Howland will have to utilize him this year. He played intelligently and in control, taking shots when he had open looks (scoring 11, going 3-4 from three), and played hard on defense. As long as Rubin plays within himself and doesn't try to do too much he looks to provide some decent backup minutes this year, and he'll have to. Walcott showed off his improved shooting touch, hitting 2 of 2 threes. Johnson stepped out and hit some jumpers, finishing with 9.

Offensively, the starters couldn't get gelled (which is curious to say since the team won by 36 points), looking the best actually when they went up against SCA's zone in the second half. SCA did, though, pressure the ball quite a bit and, as in the EA Sports game, emphasized that one of UCLA's primary weaknesses this season could be ball-handling. Bozeman is just adequate, as are Thompson and Morrison, and Walcott will be challenged physically. The team generally was less disciplined on offense, making some careless passes and mistakes.

Defensively, UCLA's interior defense was again solid. Fey, Hollins and Ariza all have come a long way on their individual defensive skills – staying on the ground, getting position and not reaching. And together they're light years ahead of where they were last year in help defense. On the perimeter, the on-the-ball pressure was okay. SCA hit some shots with defenders in their face, but there were some times when UCLA defenders were late to fly at a shooter. There is a marked improvement in team defense, knowing how and when to switch, when to give help in the post. etc., that was evident against SCA as much as it was against EA Sports.

Even while it's so evident how much of an impact good coaching can have, the SCA game emphasized that this team still has a very long way to go. Its top six players, the ones that will have to carry the team if it's going to be successful this season, haven't really put together more than just a short stretch when they were all playing well offensively in these two exhibition games. They're still getting comfortable and trying to find the right flow, with each other and in Howland's offense. The post players, while still raw offensively, have come along, and seem more comfortable actually than their backcourt teammates. Offensive rebounds look to be a potential weakness, with Fey and Hollins relying on getting rebounds from their height and athleticism as opposed to position. As with any year, the team is further along defensively at this point.

The game emphasized again just how thin UCLA is. After its top six players, it's having to utilize walkons. The potential return of T.J. Cummings will be significant, since that will give them a true power forward and a third player who can play the five position, and provide 30 more minutes from a legit high-major player. It's very clear, though, how significant the loss of Andre Patterson is. If they had Cummings and Patterson, you could almost think safely about a successful season and post-season play.

Signed recruits Arron Afflalo and Jordan Farmar were in attendance, as was Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei freshman Taylor King, who is verbally committed to UCLA. David Patten, a 6-7 PF who was a freshman at Pepperdine last year but is now at Santa Ana College, attended the game. It's uncertain as to whether UCLA would consider recruiting him seriously.

Official Basketball Box Score

Southern California All-Stars vs UCLA 11/18/03 7:30 p.m. at Pauley Pavilion -------------------------------------------------------------------------------- VISITORS: Southern California All-Stars TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS ## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN 33 Harmon, Ike......... f 3-8 2-4 2-4 2 2 4 2 10 1 3 0 1 29 44 Sanders, Yamen...... f 2-2 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 4 4 0 3 0 0 10 50 Smith, Rashaan...... c 1-3 0-0 2-2 2 1 3 4 4 0 3 2 0 23 22 Crowe, Jason........ g 2-12 1-7 0-0 1 6 7 3 5 5 5 0 3 31 31 Wyche, Antoni....... g 5-10 2-5 0-0 0 4 4 0 12 1 3 0 3 26 04 Williams, Marcus.... 2-2 1-1 0-0 1 0 1 1 5 0 2 0 0 14 21 O'Neal, Charles..... 1-1 0-0 1-1 0 0 0 0 3 0 1 0 1 3 23 Campbell, Brandon... 2-5 0-0 0-0 1 3 4 3 4 0 4 0 1 21 32 Willform, Jermaine.. 5-13 2-8 0-0 2 1 3 3 12 1 4 0 0 30 34 Owens, Lavell....... 0-4 0-2 0-0 1 1 2 2 0 0 0 0 1 13 TEAM................ 3 2 5 Totals.............. 23-60 8-27 5-7 13 21 34 22 59 8 28 2 10 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 11-27 40.7% 2nd Half: 12-33 36.4% Game: 38.3% DEADB 3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 2-11 18.2% 2nd Half: 6-16 37.5% Game: 29.6% REBS F Throw % 1st Half: 1-2 50.0% 2nd Half: 4-5 80.0% Game: 71.4% 0

HOME TEAM: UCLA TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS ## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN 01 Thompson, Dijon..... f 4-10 2-6 2-2 2 1 3 2 12 4 3 0 1 31 04 Ariza, Trevor....... f 6-12 1-2 3-4 1 6 7 2 16 5 4 0 2 26 45 Fey, Michael........ c 6-8 0-0 2-2 2 1 3 2 14 1 2 0 1 18 03 Morrison, Brian..... g 2-7 1-4 0-0 0 1 1 1 5 5 1 0 1 22 21 Bozeman, Cedric..... g 2-6 1-2 0-0 2 2 4 1 5 3 1 0 1 24 02 Rubin, Janou........ 3-5 3-4 2-2 0 1 1 1 11 2 2 0 2 17 05 Crispin, Jon........ 2-2 1-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 5 2 0 0 0 5 10 Walcott, Ryan....... 3-3 2-2 2-2 0 1 1 1 10 4 1 0 0 16 15 Hollins, Ryan....... 2-7 0-0 2-2 0 5 5 1 6 1 1 0 1 20 52 Hoffart, John....... 1-1 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 0 2 0 0 0 0 2 54 Johnson, Josiah..... 3-4 1-1 2-2 1 4 5 1 9 2 2 0 0 17 55 Hawking, Quinn...... 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 TEAM................ 2 1 3 Totals.............. 34-66 12-22 15-16 11 26 37 12 95 29 17 0 9 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 15-32 46.9% 2nd Half: 19-34 55.9% Game: 51.5% DEADB 3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 8-13 61.5% 2nd Half: 4-9 44.4% Game: 54.5% REBS F Throw % 1st Half: 4-4 100 % 2nd Half: 11-12 91.7% Game: 93.8% 1

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Officials: Bruce Hicks, Bill Vinovich, Danny Yee Technical fouls: Southern California All-Stars-None. UCLA-None. Attendance: 4773 Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total Southern California All-Stars. 25 34 - 59 UCLA.......................... 42 53 - 95

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