2009-2010 UCLA Bruins Basketball Preview
Last season, the UCLA Bruins (26- 9 overall, 13- 5) were considered to be a contender for the Pac-10 and national crowns. Neither panned out as the Bruins finished second in the conference and were out of March Madness after a second round beating by Villanova 89- 69. It’s hard to think of this exceptionally young UCLA team coming even close to being anything more than a first round casualty in the 2010 NCAA Tournament. With four key loses, including star guard Darren Collison (14.4 PPG, 4.7 APG, 1.6 SPG), the Bruins have a whole lot of learning to do.
Last season, coach Ben Howland’s team was first in the league in field goal percentage (49%). The team’s 75.5 PPG placed them second in scoring offense while the club’s 64.0 PPG scoring defense was ranked fifth. They hit threes at the very respectable rate of 39% (2nd). And the club’s rebound margin was plus-3.3 (3rd). But with so many young and inexperienced players on their roster, these stats have little meaning when it comes to the 2009- 2010 season.
Forward Drew Gordon (3.6 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 0.2 APG), a sophomore, could be a massive rebounding force as long as he can play disciplined ball, staying out of foul trouble. However, if Gordon goes down with an injury or does foul out there’s precious little else in the arsenal as far as the paint goes. Center J’mison Morgan (2.3 PPG, 1.0 RPG, 0.2 APG), who averaged 5.4 MPG last season as a rookie, was both out of shape and hampered by a lame knee. Senior forward Nikola Dragovic (9.4 PPG, 4.3 RPG, 1.4 APG) is a fine shooter inside but inconsistent from the outside. Freshman forwards Tyler Honeycutt and Reeves Nelson will get minutes. Honeycutt is a fine wingman and Nelson brings strength to the frontcourt.
The point, which has little depth, will be manned by sophomore Jerime Anderson (2.3 PPG, 0.5 RPG, 1.2 APG). He should be ready to step up this season. Shooting guard Malcolm Lee (3.2 PPG, 1.5 RPG, 0.6 APG), also a sophomore, offers a good shot from the floor but is weak at the line.
Coach Howland has a lot of work to do with this club. This is a Bruins team in the making and they’ll endure many growing pains this season. Consistent play will be tough to come by. UCLA will finish third or fourth in the Pac-10 and will be eliminated quickly in the tournament.