Stanford: Sloppy and Unfocused

UCLA, in predictable fashion, lost the second of the weekend's games, to Stanford Saturday, 70-59. The Bruins looked unfocused and sloppy, turning over the ball on about one-third of every possession, allowing a poor Cardinal squad to beat them...

After UCLA unexpectedly beat Cal Thursday, it was pretty expected that the Bruins would lose to the Cardinal Saturday.

There were just too many things pointing in that direction. UCLA, under Bern Howland, generally has performed worse in its second game of a weekend two-game road trip. This team, this year, has consistently followed a good performance by a poor performance. The team is young and inexperienced and was on its first Pac-10 road trip. Plus, this team doesn't exactly have a fire in its belly; it was easy to project them not playing hard and almost settling for the upset victory against Cal for the weekend and not coming out and playing hard against Stanford.

Throw in 22 turnovers and there you have it, 70-59.

You could see a lack of focus by the Bruins from the outset. In the first 10 minutes of this game UCLA turned over the ball 9 times, and just about on every other possession. Malcolm Lee was responsible for 4 of those.

It's probably not coincidental that Lee has had his worst two-game stretch in the Bay Area when he took over the starting point guard duties. He had a total of 7 turnovers in this game, against just 3 assists, for 11 points, and went 0 for 4 from three. In the two Bay Area games, he averaged 8.5 points (about 6 below his average), shot 6 for 17, averaged 5.5 turnovers against 4 assists, and went 0 for 7 from three. Of course, the more Lee plays point guard the more he'll get comfortable and these numbers will improve, but still, it's not a good sign. Lee isn't a natural point guard, and burdening him with the point guard duties definitely will impact his effectiveness in other areas.

It's monotonous, though, to laundry list how poorly the individual players performed in this game. Everyone stunk it up. Mike Roll had a very uncharacteristically sloppy game, and if Roll does that, there just is so little margin for error that you know this team is going to lose.

Nikola Dragovic led the team in scoring with 13 points and hit two of his three-point attempts, but he again negated most of his positive contributions with more negative ones.

Perhaps the only positive thing to take away from this game is that Tyler Honeycutt hit a three-pointer. Well, there was also his eight rebounds. If you're looking for some silver lining, the fact that Honeycutt is showing that he'll clearly be a very good player for UCLA down the road is about all you can get out of this game.

You could also say that Jerime Anderson's 26 minutes were fairly effective. He's showing more offensive game, taking the ball to the hole with a nice left-handed finish and then hitting a 12-foot, pull-up jumper. He had 4 assists against 2 turnovers, too. He did, though, miss a critical lay-up toward the end of the first half after a good move to the basket, and also committed a charge on the next possession, and still is in the habit of jumping to pass, which caused one of his turnovers. Perhaps we're grasping for straws.

UCLA had about 70 possessions during the game and turned over the ball 22 times. That's a turnover every 1 in 3 possessions. And it wasn't as if it was due to a stifling Stanford defense because they were mostly unforced errors on UCLA's part. It was just sloppy basketball, from Dragovic throwing a bad outlet pass, to Roll not concentrating and letting a pass go through his hands and out of bounds, to Lee basically making many bad decisions.

It's a strange stat – that UCLA shot 55%, basically taking good shots, but lost to a team that shot 47%.

But when you turn over the ball 22 times that essentially will make that shooting percentage kind of misleading.

It's a bit surreal to watch UCLA go down to perhaps one of the least talented Stanford teams in many, many years. You have to dole out some of the blame for this game to the UCLA coaches, since, on a very basic level, they have more talent on their roster than the Cardinal but still lost. The team, too, just doesn't project itself as a well-coached team, with many sloppy errors, and the same mistakes repeated over and over throughout the season with seemingly no change.

With UCLA now 7-9, and 2-2 in the Pac-10, time is running out on the season. Of course, as a Bruin fan, you hold onto that hope in the back of your mind that the team will turn around, that something will click, and they'll play Pac-10-champion-caliber ball the rest of the way. But that remote hope is fading. So, you're left with trying to find some take-aways from the season – and from a game like this – and there just aren't many. You're also hoping that some things change for the remaining 14 games of the regular season – like Dragovic getting less playing time, and younger players getting more of an opportunity to develop. But on that front, the hope also looks quite dim, with Dragovic getting 32 minutes in this game and Brendan Lane 3 minutes.

Hey, at least those away uniforms look really sharp in HD, don't they?

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