The UCLA Bruins have back their best inside player in Andre Patterson -- and go up against an old familiar face when the Portland Pilots come to Pauley Pavilion Saturday...
Former UCLA player and assistant coach Michael Holton returns to Pauley Pavilion today as head coach of the Portland Pilots.
It's more significant than poignant since Holton coached many of the players on UCLA's current roster, which could give him an edge in coaching against the Bruins today.
But it really shouldn't. UCLA has so much more talent than Portland, if this game is even close it would be a letdown.
Portland is currently 3-2. After starting 3-0, it's dropped two games to its local Pac-10 representatives, Oregon and Oregon State. The Pilots were completely dismantled by Oregon, losing by 30 to the Ducks in Eugene. They lost to Oregon State by 7 but it was never really that close, only narrowing the lead to single digits in the last minute of the game. The only thing that might lead you to believe that Portland could give UCLA a little trouble is the fact they beat San Diego State, 91-86. San Diego State isn't very good, though (if you watched them on ESPN against Arizona, how well they played in that game has so far this year been an aberration).
Both teams get one of their best players back in uniform this game. For UCLA sophomore forward Andre Patterson returns to the team, perhaps the guy most likely to help fill in the holes the team has experienced so far in this 1-2 season the most – inside scoring and rebounding. Patterson, despite being only 6-6 and probably 200 pounds, is explosive off the floor, quick and very crafty around the basket. He is easily UCLA's best natural rebounder and should really boost their rebounding results, which have been sorely lacking.
This isn't necessarily the game that UCLA really needa its recruiting boosted that much, though. Portland was out-rebounded in its loss to Oregon State, 42-19. Yes, that's right – Portland only got 19 rebounds for the entire game. Heck, if the team just stood there the ball would inadvertently bounce to them 19 times during a game.
Portland does, though, return one of its best players, 6-4 freshman wing Donald Wilson from Los Angeles, back from a one-game suspension against Oregon State. Wilson brings some much-needed athleticism to a Portland program that traditionally lacks it, one of the advantages of now having an ex-UCLA coach and L.A. recruiter like Holton as your head coach. Wilson, though, is pretty raw skills-wise, and, while he's pretty springy, wouldn't really be considered an impact freshman at the UCLA level. He's getting his ten points a game from hustle and garbage mostly. He's 1 for 9 from three so far this year.
Portland is led by good-shooting junior guard Casey Frandsen. The 6-3 Frandsen gets his shot off pretty well and has some moderate ability to create for himself. He shoots quite a bit from outside the three-point arc, averaging close to seven attempts a game this season, while only making 26% of his threes. In fact, the Pilots overall are a pretty mediocre shooting team, shooting at just a 41% clip and 27% from three.
They play a three-guard lineup essentially, with their best three-point shooter being their point guard, Adam Quick, who joins Wilson and Frandsen on the perimeter. Quick is solid, a fairly good passer and a good defender, but doesn't often usually touch the paint, with just about every shot he takes being from three.
Inside the Pilots are small and not very talented. Their best baseline player is 6-7 JC transfer power forward Justin Geddis, who leads the team in rebounds (6.0). The team's center is really a converted forward, 6-8 Ghislain Sema, a raw, long-armed type who can occasionally block a shot.
Off the bench, they get a spark from quick 5-10 freshman point guard Jerome "Pooh" Jeter. Jeter is averaging about 20 minutes a game, and pushes the ball up the court well. He started in place of Wilson against Oregon State and had 20 points. They also get support from wing Karl Aaker, their best shooter off the bench.
The Pilots have had some success this year by playing both good defense and a bit of a speed game on offense. The defense will be needed if they hope to have a chance against UCLA's superior talent, but the speed game is going to have to be scrapped. Portland wouldn't want to get into a running game with UCLA's athletes. They'll probably try to uncharacteristically slow down the game, be very deliberate on offense and use the entire shot clock, which could be difficult for them since it really isn't their style.