Thursday, September 21

Men’s basketball looks for improvement to avoid another upset loss

Wake-up calls are becoming a yearly ritual for the UCLA men’s basketball team.

In 2010 it came against Montana at Pauley Pavilion. A year earlier it was the season opener against Cal State Fullerton. Friday night, the alarm rang as the then-No. 17 Bruins walked off the Los Angeles Sports Arena floor, losers to Loyola Marymount.

“After a loss you just have to look within yourself, and see how you can do things better. I think everybody did that,” sophomore guard Tyler Lamb said.

“That loss just goes to show you that if we’re not playing to the best of our abilities, anyone can beat us on any night, with the schedule that we have.”

That being said, there’s a greater emphasis on tonight’s game against Middle Tennessee State, seeing as how the Blue Raiders (2-0) just beat the Lions(1-0) that beat the Bruins on Friday night.

Middle Tennessee State might pick up a thing or two from the 58-51 win over LMU on Sunday night. After all, LMU executed a well-planned defensive strategy to combat UCLA’s size, specifically 6-foot-10 sophomore center Joshua Smith.

“They really sagged in,” Smith said. “Me and coach Howland watched the film, and for me to play better, if teams are going to double or triple, (I’ve) got to move around, set screens for guys, get other people open.”

The Lions’ aggressive pursuit of Smith ““ from extra men to quick help-side defense ““ might be the blueprint opposing coaches look to when trying to scheme against UCLA. It’s up to the Bruins to scheme back.

“I definitely think people are going to watch that film to see how they guarded Josh,” Lamb said. “They had like four people around Josh every time we tried to go to him. But we’re going to make adjustments and we’re going to have to deal with that and overcome that if we want to be a good team.”

Against arguably a tougher opponent tonight at the Sports Arena, the Bruins, who fell out of the AP Top 25 in Monday’s newly released rankings, will have to show that they didn’t just hit the snooze button.

“I definitely didn’t want a loss and I felt like we definitely could have won that game if we executed better, but I think we did need that as a wake-up call,” redshirt sophomore forward David Wear said. “I think it showed us that we do need a lot of improvement, we’re not a very good team right now, and we can get better if we execute better.”

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