Friday, December 3, 2010

UCLA Rediscovers Their Identity

Posted by CoHoops DeAnte Mitchell
The UCLA Bruins (3-3) did not generate a lot of buzz, and is currently riding a three game losing streak.

However, that three-game losing streak could possibly be in jeopardy if the referees did not bail the Kansas Jayhawks (7-0) out late in the ball game by calling a foul on a loose ball.

Nonetheless, during that game, Ben Howland's team showcased their unique talent, and ability to hang with the elite teams in the country.

The mastermind pacing the sidelines for UCLA, Howland, made a great decision electing not to start freshman Joshua Smith due to his recent foul troubles.

Smith stayed out of foul trouble for most of the game, and made the Jayhawks work for every attempts in the post.

Smith came away with 17 points, 13 rebounds, no turnovers, while shooting 50 percent from the field.

That seems to be the equation for success and I would expect to see Howland continue to bring Smith off the bench until he learns to play defense without fouling.

I would be willing to say, if Smith did not face foul trouble at VCU, or Villanova, the Bruins are (5-1).

Not to mention, Tyler Honeycutt is playing like a pro in the making. Honeycutt exploded on No. 4 Kansas for 33 points, and nine rebounds, while hitting the game tying three with five seconds left in the game.

UCLA in recent years has been able to conquer with great play from their guards and frontcourt. This season, if Smith can stay out of foul trouble, I think UCLA has a great shot at winning the conference title and possibly creating matchup problems for teams in the tournament.

The Bruins currently have two solid lead guards in Lazeric Jones, and Malcolm Lee. Honeycutt is the Bruins superstar, while Smith poses as the great competitor down low.

One game never makes your season, but it certainly dictates the pace. The Bruins have finally established themselves as competitors, and gained a lot of confidence despite falling by one in Lawrence.

UCLA has until December 18, 2010 to welcome in another top-25 opponent. The Bruins will face off against the No. 25 BYU Cougars and could pick up a marquee win as their non-conference schedule nears a close.

The Bruins displayed how well they can play with Smith on the floor, however, establishing depth will be critical.

It's not a promise that Smith can stay out of foul trouble every game. If UCLA has any shot at becoming Pac-10 champions over the Washington Huskies, or even proving that they are competitors, they'll need to establish depth.

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