UCLA lost this game due to excessive turnovers – twenty in all – and spotty defense, particularly in the post. Every Bruin had defensive breakdowns at times, but the low post defense from Mike Fey and Ryan Hollins was abysmal. Michigan's Courtney Sims and Graham Brown won't remind anyone of Shaq or Tim Duncan, yet they were able to consistently post up three feet from the basket for easy opportunities. Fey and Hollins are both still very inexperienced and it showed yesterday. They'll need to do a better job in Pac-10 play for the Bruins to have any chance against guys like Ike Diogu, Channing Frye, Rob Little and Leon Powe.
Trevor Ariza is easily the Bruins best player at this point (note to former coach – Trevor's the only guy on this roster with a prayer of playing in the NBA), but he's also a freshman and he'll make plenty of mistakes this year. So while it was great to see Trevor get fifteen points and fourteen boards in his first college road game, you hope he'll learn to take better care of the ball (five careless turnovers) and do a better job defensively. Still, Trevor was the only guy who seemed willing to meet the challenge presented by Michigan, as assistant coach Donny Daniels accurately noted on the postgame show.
Dijon Thompson and Cedric Bozeman both had subpar games. Yes, Thompson did make several threes down the stretch as the Bruins tried to rally, but he was a non-factor for most of the game – at both ends of the court. As for Bozeman, he really struggled with the quickness of Daniel Horton. Bozeman couldn't get by Horton and he committed several costly turnovers down the stretch.
Without Brian Morrison, the Bruins really only have one outside threat in Thompson, and one medium-range threat in T.J. Cummings. Add to that the inability of anyone to create anything off the dribble, and inexperienced post players, and you can see why it's tough for the Bruins to score. With that being the case, it's imperative that UCLA take care of the ball, rebound and defend well if they're to beat good teams. The Bruins did a good job on the boards yesterday, outrebounding the Wolverines by nine, but the defensive breakdowns and turnovers were ultimately too much to overcome.