Today's game was a nice tune up for next month. DePaul is not very good. Their coach sucks. Their best scorer has a serious attitude problem. They are simply not major players for the best recruits in Chicago (who are now heading south to Champaign, as nature intended). And it's kind of too bad, because I live about 200 feet from their campus (though 25 minutes or so from All-State Arena). But there is no buzz whatsoever in this town about DePaul basketball.
One thing I've finally realized about Ben Howland basketball is that UCLA is almost always going to look bad against a zone defense for the first 10 minutes of the game. That used to frustrate me, but I've finally come to the realization that it's really a feeling out period for the Bruin offense, and they're taking the first ten minutes to figure out what they're going to do over the last 30 minutes. Roughly ten minutes into this game, the Bruins led by five points. With roughly 11 or 12 minutes to go, they were up by 20. The Bruins are patient on the offensive end, and as a fan, you need to patient watching them.
One player who had a nice game for the Bruins on the offensive end was Nikola Dragovic. He was 5-7 for the game, but 5-5 inside the arc. He seems to be adding another dimension to his offensive game, no longer content to just wait on the perimeter for jump shots. That's a big addition for a team that needs interior scoring. He still needs to step it up on the defensive end, though. I also noticed a concerted effort by Darren Collison to take more jump shots. On the negative side, Josh Shipp missed all of his three point attempts.
Tonight's game was not a test for the Bruins. It was a high profile scrimmage, and I think Ben Howland knew as much. Things are progressing for this young team, though, and they'll be ready for conference season next month. Special appreciation goes to Coach Howland for getting Tyler Trapani into the game. It had to be special for both him, and his great grandfather, to play in the Wooden Classic. The man is a national treasure, and I'm thankful for the opportunitiy to have seen him speak last summer.
A few more cupcakes await before conference season. Plenty of time to keep moving forward.