We do need to have a conversation about Tyger and Jaime, however.
Thanks for the write-up Dmitri. Saturday is my grocery shopping day but I thought I'd be home for at least the second half. But alas it was over. It's comforting to hear Andrews can live up to his rep. We need D from Tyger and Jaime, because of the minutes they get to play, but we need leadership as well. This team is ripe for someone to show up and don the mantel of leadership. You hear that guys?
As I said in the post, one game is all it took to convince me Andrew’s should be the starter over tyger. He’s a better defender, distributor, and over all smarter player already. He needs to make some mistakes, but he’s only gonna get those if he’s starting. Put tyger on the bench and do something special… or let tyger start because he’s been there longer longer to let everyone know that seniority matters, not talent.
Bailey still trying to figure out his fit in college ball. He’s got a lot of leash, but needs to keep getting better on his shots.
Bona has so much potential! I’m amazed at how few rebounds he is getting per game. Needs to continue to develop his positioning and he can be a force!
Jaquez is fine… I get that his defense isn’t the best, but that’s ok. Someone has to have energy on the offensive side, and if his defense struggles a bit because he’s saving energy, then so be it. Someone is going to have to produce on the offense, and so far he has. If you make him play harder defense he’s going to get into foul trouble. I’ve said earlier that he helps keep the defense honest and needs to be out there and still feel that way
Also… nba bound players from this team, andrews, Clark, bona, jaquez, Bailey…. That should be the starting five. Andrews easily the best on ball defender ucla has seen in a while
Baskets said some hard truth about Tyger. I think that moving Tyger to the bench would crush him. He still has so much value to the team. But Mick's mixed messages must be utterly confusing--be more of a scorer ("I want him to get 30 a game!") yet get benched to start the second half because he was too concerned about his shots ("I couldn't care less how many points he scores!"). Is Mick expecting too much from him, forcing Tyger into an unnatural game and hurting his overall play?
Square peg, round hole.
Not to overlook this year, but looking towards next year and taking Baskets' thought a step further, I can't wait until next year to see Dylan, JC, Ege Demir, DWilliams and ?. These are the guys that Mick was looking forward to assemble with the UCLA position.
Full disclosure, Tyger Campbell has always been one of my favorite players. He had a very off game. I have to wonder though how much of the game being in honor of Jalen Hill (his best friend how I've heard it), the family in the front rows, Tyger very emotional before the start of the game, etc. The scene was described in pretty vivid detail by Lewin and Murray. I guess we will find out more about the state of Tyger's game as the season progresses.
Let's talk about Jaime. This notion that Jaime is conserving energy on defense is totally misplaced. Every Mick Cronin team has emphasized defense over offense, so for Jaime to intentionally not play defense seems far-fetched to me.. I can see this notion being relevant if we're talking about a 38 year old Lebron James playing 36 minutes per game over an 82 game season. We're instead talking about a 21 year old young man playing 30 minutes per game over a 31 game season, 2 games per week. If we're saying Jaime Jaquez isn't giving max effort on the defense, it's simply because he's not doing his job.
Is it a situation where he's less than 100% physically and can't play defense at the level we're accustomed to seeing? I don't think that's the case. He played on injured ankles long stretches last season and played much better defense then compared to now. I've heard nothing about any current injuries limiting his performance.
Jaime needs to understand this. If he wants to make at the next level, he needs to play defense. He's lacking a lot of the other skills that will get him into the big leagues as a 6'6" wing. He needs to play 3 and D at the next level. The 3 comes from a skill that he's not great at and needs to improve. Defense comes from effort and that's something he can do immediately.
As for Tyger, Cronin needs to make adjustments. His over-reliance on Tyger to provide scoring early on the season is perfectly understandable. Apart from Jaime and Tyger, everyone else was pretty much an unknown during the first 5 games of the season. Cronin should now have plenty of data to understand what he needs to do split the load throughout his roster. He needs to put Tyger back in a facilitator role rather than as a lead scorer. Tyger simply does not have the athleticism nor the moves to find space and create great shots for himself. We've seen this for 4 years. More shot volume for Tyger = more forced shots. He's the most effective at scoring when he's the 4th or 5th option on the floor when the defense isn't paying attention to him.
But that doesn't happen unless the scoring load gets distributed. Jaquez doing ISO work in the paint or getting offensive rebound put backs is a good thing, but that is not an offense.
Bailey needs to be the #2 option. The kid is too good of a player to have games or long stretches of time where he completely disappears. Way too often, I see him standing in the corner waiting for catch and shoot pass from Tyger that isn't coming. Cronin has to find a way to put Bailey in motion in the offense and run him off screens to get open. He can't be playing flat-footed allowing his defender to get set. His game is similar to DeMar Derozan, he's a solid catch and shoot player from the mid-range to the 3 pt line and he can finish at the rim. But what Bailey can't do is play ISO one on one, not at this point in his career. The game is faster and the defenders are way more talented, so he's learning the hard way that his Sierra Canyon game doesn't work at this level. If Bailey is going to score more points which we need him to do, Cronin needs to find a way to make him available in the spots where he can make shots. And as I said, Bailey has to get on his bicycle and run and do his best imitation of Steph Curry on the move.
Cronin also needs to find ways to make Bona a critical piece of the offense. They need somebody working with Adem every day on every single fundamental skill required to do work in the paint. His footwork is flawed and he's not doing a consistent job of commanding the low block. I keep hearing McLean saying Bona needs to stop with the pump fakes and secondary moves and just simply power it up and throw it down with a possible And-1. McLean is right. He's big enough and strong enough to play his spot with authority, but Cronin has to put him position to make it happen. UCLA has done a poor job over the past decade of developing 6'10" and taller players. People might argue that T.J Leaf was an exception, but as we saw from his NBA career, he was far from a finished product when he came out for the draft. He screwed himself by leaving early. Same with Moses Brown. We have Bona now with Demir coming in and perhaps Etienne can make an impact. Cronin needs to find a way to turn these bigs into weapons. Somebody from the UCLA staff, please work with these guys. Don't waste them.
Singleton is on track. Jalen Clark is on track, but IMO, I'd rather see Bailey as the 2nd scoring option and a split between Bona and Clark as the 3rd and 4th options.
As for Tyger, Cronin needs to dial back his shot volume and his minutes Andrews is definitely emerging, but I'm sure as hell not installing him as starter yet. It would be insane to have him start against Maryland and Kentucky. But an increase in minutes and responsibility is certainly warranted. I'd rather see Cronin work towards splitting the 40 minutes equally between Tyger and Dylan and if Dylan proves he can run the team with the starters on the floor, then perhaps he gets the majority of the minutes. But the experience and leadership of Tyger requires him to be on the floor with the starters at the opening tip of every game. You want these games to start off the right way and 4 year starter has a better chance of making that happen vs. a freshman. Andrews will be the guy at some point in time, but until he consistently nets a positive plus minus every game, he can't be handed the reins. In the meantime, there's plenty of time to adjust Tyger's game and get him on track to do a better job of working through his teammates to create offense.
I watched Arizona play this weekend. Until we get major production from players other than Jaquez and Campbell, it's going to be hell trying to get past them. Tommy Lloyd knows how to get the best out of his guys. Cronin needs to do the same otherwise this could be a difficult season.
Slightly offtopic but Chris Beard of UT was arrested for domestic violence this morning. I know he was considered by the administration to replace Alford but word had been that he didn’t pass vetting. Wonder if the vetting brought up red flags like this. Looks like we dodged a bullet too