One word can sum up the last eight months (or so) for UCLA. Ouch.
Ben Howland’s squad was a M*A*S*H* unit last season. Six scholarship players dealt with nagging injuries all season, which no doubt pushed the Bruins toward one of their worst seasons under Howland, 14-18 overall.
Well, they’re still banged up. Malcolm Lee, Jeremie Anderson, Brendan Lane and Tyler Lamb are all dealing with offseason surgeries. Howland’s down to 10 scholarship players, so he needs those guys to be healthy.
And he sound optimistic.
“An injury-riddled summer is better than an injury-riddled season,” Howland told Gary Parrish. “We just need to stay healthy once we get into September.”
Could they have back-to-back stink seasons? Parrish isn’t buying it – provided incoming freshman center Josh Smith is motivated. I’m not nearly as optimistic.
Sure, the Bruins were banged up last season, but they also just stunk. And this was during a down year for the Pac-10. Smith’s a talent, but he doesn’t sound like a Howland guy. He’s dealing with weight issues, which will cut down on his playing time and ability to avoid the freshman wall.
Is another sub-.500 season likely? I wouldn’t bet against it.
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