Saturday, October 21

Men’s basketball must improve shots in game against Cal State Bakersfield tonight

Guard Malcolm Lee and the Bruins will host the Roadrunners at Pauley Pavilion.

Guard Malcolm Lee and the Bruins will host the Roadrunners at Pauley Pavilion. Tiffany Cheng

It was clear to everyone associated with the UCLA men’s basketball team that bad shooting was the cause of its season-opening loss Monday night against Cal State Fullerton. This point was no more obvious to anyone than the players themselves.

“We just got to make some shots,” sophomore point guard Jerime Anderson said.

The Bruins (0-1) seemed to miss just as many open shots that night as they did contested ones and have a chance to improve tonight against Cal State Bakersfield (1-1).

Coach Ben Howland said the 84 shots his team took exceeded the UCLA record during his tenure by 14. Sophomore guard Malcolm Lee set the individual mark in that time span with 23 by himself.

Lee said that the 3-2 zone that Fullerton implemented halfway through the contest was deceiving, which led to overall bad shot selection.

“It was real packed in, so it kind of made it seem like you were open,” he said. “But then you really weren’t because … they were playing the shot attempt. They were using their length.”

Howland added another rationale.

“We were just very anxious, very amped up,” he said. “We’ve got to be more patient.”

Citing guard Michael Roll and forward Nikola Dragovic ““ two seniors that have proven themselves from long range over the years ““ Howland said he thinks this team has the potential to be a shooting threat. On Monday though, that aspect of the offense just wasn’t there, especially with Dragovic, who shot just 2 for 14.

“When you go back and watch (the game on film), when we were patient, we got Mike Roll some nice open looks; we got Nikola some nice looks,” said Howland, who claimed to have watched the film five times already.

Two days after the defeat, though, the team was apparently trying to turn over a new leaf in its first practice back after the loss.

“I think we had the most intense practice we’ve had this year,” senior forward and team captain James Keefe said. “It’s a good sign that players responded to the loss.”

With extra sessions before practice, the team, Howland said, has been practicing shooting a lot this week.

“Our practice (Wednesday) was geared totally toward us and our execution and the things that we need to do,” he said.

And tonight in Pauley Pavilion when UCLA hosts Cal State Bakersfield, the Bruins will have their second attempt at beating an up-and-coming in-state team. In their second year in Division I, the Roadrunners already played Santa Clara to within three points in their season-opener.

“They have, like Fullerton, a lot of kids from the L.A. area,” Howland said. “Playing in Pauley, they have an opportunity to play against and beat UCLA. It’s got to be high on their list of things they want to accomplish. They’ll have a lot of family and friends here, so they are going to be up for the game.”

It’s an opportunity for the Bruins as well, who hope they can gain confidence with a win.

“We’re just ready to get things going and get some W’s on our board,” Lee said.

UCLA signs two top recruits

The Bruins continued their reputation as California’s premier college basketball recruiting powerhouse this Wednesday as they signed two of the nation’s top prep stars. Center Josh Smith (Kentwood High) from Covington, Wash. and point guard Tyler Lamb (Mater Dei) from Santa Ana both signed their National Letters of Intent.

At 6 feet, 10 inches, and weighing 280 pounds, Smith has been rated the No. 1 center in the country by ESPN and is expected to compete for a starting spot on next year’s team.

Lamb has been ranked by ESPN as the top California shooting guard.

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