Preview of Loyola Marymount Game

UCLA continues its walk through its soft non-conference schedule tonight at Pauley Pavilion when it faces depleted, injured, young -- and winless -- Loyola Marymount, who is even without its head coach. The Lions start three freshmen and a walk-on, which says enough...

UCLA takes on winless Loyola Marymount tonight at Pauley Pavilion.

The most important thing you should know is that the game starts at 8:00 rather than the usual 7:30.

Because LMU is 0-10 so far this season, and just another short stop for gas in UCLA's journey down Cupcake Road.

The Lions have been hit by some hard times this season. They will have just seven scholarship players available tonight. Even their new head coach, Bill Bayno, has taken an indefinite leave of absence due to what is being called "a serious medical condition, in part, related to the stress and anxiety of head coaching."

So, you could say the entire bench is depleted.

They started the season with just 10 scholarship players, and five of those were new players. Two of them are redshirting due to transfer rules. Projected starting post player Terron Sutton is out for the year with a torn ACL he suffered in practice in October. The team's best player so far this season, leading scorer, rebounder and assist man, Vernon Teel, broke his right foot against Notre Dame in late November and is out for another few weeks. Tim Diederichs, a back-up post, after playing in the first few games of the season, is now out for the year with a shoulder injury. Ashley Hamilton, a reliable forward off the bench, missed three games due to a back injury, returned two games ago for limited minutes and then didn't play in LMU's last game, and could now be out for the season.

Two of the seven scholarship players that are healthy are former walk-ons.

In LMU's last game against UC Riverside they played just seven players. Three players registered 38 minutes each, one had 37 minutes and another 33.

To its credit, while the Lions have suffered some one-sided losses, they've been scrapping to stay in all of their 10 defeats. They lost to then #8-ranked Notre Dame by just 11 points, and were in the game until the end.

But that was also before they got hit by more injuries, specifically to Teel.

Without Teel, so much responsibility has been put at the feet of freshman guard Jarred Dubois (6-3, 170). He leads the team in minutes played, averaging just about 35, and has played 40 minutes in a game. The true freshman point guard is a good defensive player, holding Notre Dame's Kyle McAlarney to 0 points and forcing him into five turnovers. With the loss of Teel, Dubois has had to step up in the scoring department, leading the team in scoring since Teel has left, averaging 12 points per game on the season. He's a freshman, however, and forced into a pretty huge role, so he's been prone to turnovers, fouling, and he's only shooting 32% from the field. Since he's trying to force shots to get some scoring, he's actually shooting better from three (38%) than he is from the floor. He'll definitely not shy away from taking a three-point attempt.

The other freshman picking up the slack is LaRon Armstead (6-5, 195), who went from averaging 21 minutes in his first five games to averaging 38 minutes in his last five games. He's put in back-to-back 40-minute games. He's also gone from averaging 4 points per game in his first five games to averaging 14 points in the last five. Armstead is a slasher-type without much of an outside shot. He'll hit the offensive boards heavy to try to get some put-backs. He's very prone to turnovers, too; against Arkansas-Little Rock he committed eight.

Kevin Young (6-8, 185), another freshman, now starts, and has taken over the primary rebounding role. He averages 6.7 on the season, but 10.5 in the last four games as his role has increased. He's not a great scorer, without a developed inside game and an undependable outside shot, and defensively he's struggling to guard opposing power forwards, picking up a lot of fouls along the way.

The true big is senior Marko Deric (6-9, 230), who is not much more than a big body LMU uses to bang around in the paint. He's not very mobile and pretty grounded, but he does have a taste for taking an occasional three-pointer.

The starting five is rounded out by shooting guard Corey Counts (5-10, 165), the senior walk-on who was given a scholarship last summer. The strategy is clear with Counts – get in there and shoot some threes; 80% of his shots have been three-point attempts this season. And he's pretty good at it, hitting 40% on the year, which is something if you consider that ever opponent knows that he's the designated three-point shooter on the team. For his size, he's not particularly quick and struggles to guard bigger guards, which is just about everyone.

Really, LMU has only two options off the bench, and that's sophomore Brad Sweezy (6-6, 200) and senior Chris Kanne (6-2, 190). Both are just bodies out there to provide blows. Sweezy has played 52 minutes in the last two games and taken just three shots. Sweezy does like to rebound, though.

Perhaps the silver lining in LMU's lost season is its defense. They, of course, with such a thin roster, employ a zone defense, and it's actually been pretty effective. It sufficiently frustrated Notre Dame, particularly McAlarney. They use some junk defenses, like a box-and-one, and it's been pretty efficient at limiting the opposing team's best scorer, so expect to see it in an effort to slow down Darren Collison.

The problem, though, when you use a box-and-one, it leaves other players wide open for 15-20 footers. It should be a big opportunity for Jrue Holiday to get open looks and also be able to penetrate into the paint to create.

If you thought DePaul struggled to score, the Blue Demons look like North Carolina compared to Loyola Marymount. The Lions are averaging just 55 points per game, against the likes of UC Davis, Wagner and Arkansas-Little Rock. Expect UCLA to not double the post much but extend its man defense out to challenge DuBois and Counts and take away their three-point shooting.

While UCLA's offense against zones has been pretty effective, each possession does consume more time, so it tends to keep the score down.

Loyola Marymount 52

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