2005 UCLA Bruins Basketball Preview
2005 UCLA Bruins Team Preview
Coach Ben Howland was brought to UCLA three years ago to rebuild a basketball program that was a confused mess. As he enters his third year he can look back with some satisfaction knowing that basketball is once again alive and healthy at UCLA. Along with stabilizing the program he managed to get the Bruins into the NCAA Tournament last season—a full year ahead of schedule.
Last year in the PAC-10 UCLA scored a respectable 11-7 record and a third place finish and posted an 18-11 record overall. That was a vast improvement over Howland’s first season at the helm when the team finished 11 and 17. This year just about everyone agrees the Bruins will take another solid step forward.
And it’s at the forward position and also guard that the Bruins have seen some light, shed by three first year players last season. Josh Shipp (forward), Jordan Farmer (guard), and Arron Afflalo (forward) all started as frosh in 2004-05, contributing immediately with a collective average of 33 points, 12 rebounds, and 9 assists per game.
The anchor of the team, senior forward Dijon Thompson, went NBA after posting 18.4 PPG, 7.9 RPG and 2.3 APG last season. That’s an awful lot of productivity, leadership, and experience to replace. But with the young guns ready to take over Howland’s Bruins may be able to collectively recoup Thompson’s former contributions.
Also returning is Bruin’s center Michael Fey; standing 7’-0” and weighing 270 pounds the senior should be able to improve on his 8.6 PPG and 4.8 RPG of last year. Backup center man Ryan Hollins is also back—again a 7’0” tall senior without Fey’s mass—and there’s hope that he too can turn it up.
Finally swingman Cedric Bozeman, who was sidelined last season with an ACL injury, is primed for his final season as a Bruin. Bozeman is an expert and tireless defender able to induce mistakes from opponents and turn those miscues into points by driving to the basket.
Overall Howland’s bench is young, talented, and in need of experience. If Howland gets his way they’ll get some time on the floor—enough to begin the maturation process—and leave the bulk of the work to the sophomores and seniors. If it works out UCLA could be the surprise PAC-10 conference champs.
For more info on the 2005 Bruins check out the official UCLA athletic site.