Hoops Season Begins Tonight

Well, it's just an exhibition game, but Monday night is the first chance for most UCLA fans to check out the five new Bruin freshmen. NAIA school Cal Baptist comes to Pauley Pavilion, and they could be one of the more decent exhibition teams UCLA has faced in recent years...

Cal Baptist comes to Pauley Pavilion tonight for UCLA's first exhibition game of the 2008-2009 season.

CBU is an NAIA school in Riverside. In fact, they're ranked #4 nationally among NAIA teams in the early season. They're 2-0 so far, having beaten Bethany and Dominican (don't ask where they are).

The Lancers are led by senior Omar Krayem (6-1, 180), who is a transfer from D-1 Eastern Washington. Krayem is actually pretty good, with good quickness and a very good shooting ability, going 7 for 14 from three in CBU's first two games while averaging 22.5 points per game. In the opening game of the season against Bethany, Krayem came out and hit four three-pointers in the first half. At EWU, he played against NCAA tourney teams so he won't be intimidated.

In the paint is the reigning conference player of the year (Golden State Athletic Conference) for CBU and first-team NAIA honoreefrom last season, senior forward Mark Roussin (6-7, 220). Roussin is averaging a double-double in his first two games (15.5, 10.5), and can step out and face the basket, so James Keefe and Alfred Aboya will have to defend him inside and out. Roussin is very good at drawing fouls and then converting, hitting 13 of 13 from the free-throw line in two games.

Sophomore small forward Davey Hopkins (6-5, 190) had a good freshman season and has picked up where he left off, averaging 18.5 points.

Four players have averaged double figures in the Lancers' first two games, and that includes senior wing Brandon Robinson (6-3, 185). Robinson, who previously played at Cal State Baskersfield, is averaging 13 points and five rebounds, and likes to play in the paint.

Sophomore Michael Brewer (6-8, 240) mans the center position and provides bulk, not being much of an offensive threat or a particularly good rebounder.

Junior guard Nedal Tatir (6-0, 170), sophomore Kris Corso (5-8, 170) and senior guard Nick Johnson (6-3, 180) come off the bench for the backcourt and sophomore Drew Smith (6-7, 230) gives Brewer breathers.

Of course, CBU won't threaten UCLA much. It will, though, be interesting to see how UCLA defends against a good-shooting team with the new three-point line. Athletically, UCLA is far superior so you would expect the Bruins to extend their defense and now allow Karyem and Co. to get an open look.

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