Against California, UCLA had one of its most dismal offensive performances of the season, shooting just 37.7 percent from the field.
The very next game, the team’s most recent one against Stanford, the Bruins put together one of their most potent showings on offense, scoring 88 points – the most they have scored in an away game this season – and shooting 54.4 percent from the floor, as well as 50 percent from behind the arc.
According to coach Ben Howland, it took a simple coaching move to get the offense going – simplifying the offense. Howland intends to implement this technique again in this weekend’s matchup against USC at the Galen Center.
The UCLA coach plans to trim down the playbook for this game to just nine plays. After running 18 to 20 different plays against Stanford, Howland feels the simplified offense will help his young team focus on execution.
“It’s nine plays, but there’s multiple plays that you’re doing out of each,” he said. “It’s about reading what the defense gives you.”
Redshirt junior forward Travis Wear agreed that the simplified sets helped.
“We try to keep it simple. I feel like we got away from that at the Cal game,” Wear said.
“Things run a lot smoother.”
Both Wear and freshman guard Kyle Anderson agreed that transition play was the primary reason for UCLA’s offensive success against Stanford.
However, Anderson doesn’t feel that the number of plays affects the game play too much.
“I came from a high school where we had 30 plays, and I’ve played for coaches where we have two plays,” he said. “It doesn’t really matter.”
Regardless of the number of plays, UCLA’s most dangerous offensive weapon fell sick once again just before the USC game. Freshman guard Shabazz Muhammad came down with pink eye and was held out of practice on Tuesday, but is expected to play Sunday.
Muhammad led the Bruins in scoring during the last game against the Trojans, with 22 points while battling flu-like symptoms.
On the night when UCLA legend Reggie Miller had his jersey retired and rival USC visited renovated Pauley Pavilion for the first time, the Bruins fell on the Trojans’ sword, losing in overtime, 75-71.
Following the victory, USC players stormed the Nell and John Wooden Court to celebrate – a sight that UCLA won’t be quick to forget.
When asked if Howland had reviewed the tape against the Trojans, he responded, “It’s depressing.”
It couldn’t have been easy for Howland watching Anderson, redshirt junior forward David Wear, redshirt senior guard Larry Drew II, sophomore guard Norman Powell and freshman forward Tony Parker score a collective 20 points in the overtime loss.
But Anderson’s quick fix to erasing the memory of the Trojans marching on the Bruins’ home court is to do the exact same to them.
When asked if he would celebrate at the Galen Center, he said, “Absolutely.”
“Just as a team, how excited they looked when they beat us – they did all that extra stuff in the middle of our court. I’m sold on it now. I’m looking to go do the same thing.”