From now until Christmas, Beyond the Arc will detail what some teams need. Hey, we’re in a giving mood.
For the first month of the season, a couple embarrassing UCLA losses and the Reeves Nelson saga made UCLA the butt of the joke in college basketball.
With Nelson now gone the Bruins have made a comeback, of sorts, winning four in a row, albeit against some weaker opponents.
So, post-Nelson, what is Ben Howland hoping for under his tree?
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Must Have: The ship under control
At this point in the season, with the struggles the Bruins have had, the goal may be more about damage control than competing for a Pac-12 title.
With top five prospect Kyle Anderson of St. Anthony (N.J.) and top 50 forward Jordan Adams of Oak Hill (Va.), while still being in the running for number one prospect Shabazz Muhammad, maintaining the public image of stability is paramount.
After Friday’s matchup with Richmond, a three-game stretch with games against Stanford, Cal, and Arizona may dictate the Bruins’ ability to bounce back in a shaky Pac-12 race. That stretch could set the tone for the rest of the conference schedule for UCLA.
If it doesn’t go so well, that is where Howland would have to make sure things stay under control and avoid the media scrutiny it endured early in the season.
Stocking Stuffer: Tyler Lamb’s emergence
Lamb has been reinvigorated after getting fluid drained from his hip to treat bursitis. What a difference some medical attention makes, right?
He had 14 points against Eastern Washington, followed by a near-triple-double against UC-Davis, and 17 points against UC-Irvine.
If he continues to emerge as a consistent scoring option, it will only spell good things for UCLA.
Planning to Re-gift: Reeves Nelson
Well, they kind of already did.
Reports are that Nelson is close to signing a deal with a Lithuanian team, perhaps leaving as early as the day after Christmas.
Nelson was a headache for the Bruins early in the season, adding fuel to the media fire that accompanied the slow UCLA start.
His strong 14 points and nine rebounds per game last season dropped to five points and four boards this season, racking up two suspensions and, ultimately, dismissal from the team.
Though they played weak competition since his dismissal, a 4-0 record seems to be a step in the right direction.