UCLA @ UA – Jan. 27, 2011 – Pre-Game Analysis

Posted on January 27, 2011 by

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Both Arizona and UCLA are potential tournament teams that remain in the hunt. Both teams appear on mock brackets for the big show at present, a 7 and 10 seed, respectively. It’s head-to-head match-ups like the one tomorrow night that will dictate the quality of each team by the end of the season.

News: Joshua Smith, UCLA’s freshman beast of a center, is still ruled a game time decision due to a head injury he sustained last week. Additionally, Reeves Nelson, UCLA’s leading scorer and rebounder, is also in the same boat as a game time decision. This bodes well for the “W” in Arizona’s favor, but concurrently, it might make the game less of a measuring stick than we originally thought it to be.

UCLA has a solid squad that has the same sorts of consistency issues that the Wildcats have had throughout the season. Nelson is an animal on both ends of the court, but has proved to be somewhat of a moody and streaky player. If he gets a call the other way or a charge, etc., he pouts and it takes him a while to get back into the game. As for Smith, well, he is young. He has proven that his work ethic is strong and that he will do great things with his good footwork and soft hands, but he has shown issues with fouls. This whistle fest might just be due to his inexperience. Expect Howland to work on and improve that part of his game as time goes on.

As for the Wildcats, Williams will need to get to work early. Over the past few games, it seems that Arizona takes too long to get him involved. The Bruins have solid inside guys, including those mentioned, and Brendan Lane (F). Their guard play can be impressive at times as well. Malcolm Lee has been rittled with injury this season, but has contributed in big moments in big ways. Similarly, Tyler Honeycutt (So-SG/SF) is company to Derrick Williams on a few mock NBA draft boards. He has had some issues with streakiness and an elbow injury, but I expect him to come out and put forth a solid performance to dominate Arizona’s weakness at the guard positions.

MoMo Jones (So-PG) and Kyle Fogg  (Jr-SG) will have their work cut out for them keeping up with UCLA’s guards. Although Fogg’s work on Washington State’s Klay Thompson last week while he was infirm, is a testament to what we shall deem Fogg’s defensive efforts “The Fog.” Thompson got lost in “The Fog” and only reached a season-low 9 points. MoMo might have had his best game of the year with his assist-turnover ratio quite impressively sitting at 5:1. Let’s see if their wake-up call at Washington holds through the rest of the season, especially this weekend. We have more to play for this weekend than just Pac-10 record, but a big recruit we will discuss later.

With that said, who will it be for the Wildcats tomorrow?

With Arizona’s deep bench, there has consistently been one player, other than Williams, who has to step up and have an above average game.

The Commissioners put their money on Solomon Hill. He came in the most heralded of Miller’s first recruiting class and has been nothing short of consistent in his solid contributions. But, we feel it is time for Solomon to emerge as a legitimate threat that other teams better take account of in their pre-game schemes. His outside shot is solid. He has the ability to create his own shot with agility and great hands. He can post up. He can rebound. He is ready, ready to step up as more than a glue type of player.

Lastly, this is a reunion for UCLA’s Lazeric Jones and Arizona’s Jesse Perry who are both Junior College transfers from Logan Junior College. Together, they became quite good of friends and did some great things on the court for the school. Now, they reunite on the hardwood, both on D1 Pac-10 school starting line-ups. Imagine how good that JC was? Arizona Daily Star wrote a cool story about the two. You can find it here.

This should be a brilliant game of two squads that have shown glimmers of greatness, but just plagued with inconsistency from their role players. The Wildcats should come out with a win regardless of whether Nelson or Smith are cleared to play. With their conditions, it isn’t out the realm of possibilities to doubt them being as effective even if they do play.

Side Note: UA recruit Angelo Chol, a highly touted and sought power forward, will be taking his official visit to the university this weekend. His commitment would be a huge one, despite the overcrowding and overcommitment of scholarship spots on the team. He has great power and delicate hands that give him a unique quality of finesse at the position that is amiss from most.  The Commissioners will be writing on the recruiting status of the university soon enough, keep an eye out.

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