Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - A long off-season of hype finally comes to
an end as the No. 13 UCLA Bruins finally take to the hardwood at the new
Pauley Pavilion in a regular-season opener against Indiana State.
The Sycamores are certainly not burdened with the same type of expectations
that hang on the shoulders of their opponents in this matchup. Indiana State
turned in a solid year last season, finishing 18-15 overall and 8-10 in
conference play. It was a step backward for the Sycamores who had made a trip
to the NCAA Tournament in the previous season. Now Indiana State will be
looking to the 2012-2013 campaign, needing to replace four starters.
For a team that didn't make it into the NCAA Tournament let alone deep into
it, UCLA was one of the more talked about teams in the nation this off-season.
There was one reason for that with heralded recruit Shabazz Muhammad signing
with the Bruins back in April. Unfortunately for head coach Ben Howland as
well as Bruins fans, Muhammad will not get a chance to live up to his hype in
this game as he is sidelined with a shoulder injury. His timetable for return
is uncertain. Even without Muhammad, UCLA would have reason to be optimistic
after finishing 19-14 overall last season. However at a place where there is
barely enough room for all the championship banners of years past, being
optimistic is catamount to failure.
Jake Odum is the one starting holdover for Indiana State and if any starter
could be returning its likely Odum would be one of the first selected. Odum
(11.0 ppg, 4.9 apg) plays the point as well as any guard in the MVC and can
score. He had 20 games with double-digit point totals last season including a
34-point eruption against Illinois State. Obviously Odum can't carry the team
on his own and others will need to step up. That is especially true on offense
as Indiana State only scored 64.8 points per game last season, the eighth best
mark in the MVC. On defense the Sycamores held their own surrendering only
64.7 points per game.
Not having Muhammad certainly will alter Howland's gameplan early in the
season. However, Howland still has a wealth of talented performers to keep the
team going. Former McDonald's All-American and North Carolina-transfer Larry
Drew was another nice addition. Drew saw his minutes and production plummet
when he lost the starting point guard job to Kendall Marshall, but will be
able to fill in an important role as distributor with Lazeric Jones (4.1 apg)
and Jerime Anderson (4.2 apg) both gone. Tyler Lamb (9.0 ppg) has starting
experience and is an effective scorer, although he is listed as questionable
after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery on Tuesday. In the frontcourt the
Bruins are in the hands of the Wear brothers. The two formed a very effective
tandem inside last season. Travis (11.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg) was slightly better on
offense, while David (10.2 ppg, 6.3 rpg) attacked the boards a bit more
efficiently. Joshua Smith (9.9 ppg, 4.9 rpg) isn't a Wear brother but is a
solid frontcourt option.
The Sports Network