UCLA basketball tips off on Friday against Indiana State, and if you didn’t know, the Bruins are laden with talent at every position.
That’s pretty obvious at this point, since we keep slamming our head on the table every time someone asks, “Is UCLA basketball any good this year?” to which we just roll our eyes, sigh heavily, and say “yes.”
So you should understand the shock we received when Chris Nguyen of the Daily Bruin tweeted out Ben Howland’s projected starting line-up. Here it is:
Howland’s projected starting lineup for Friday announced at press conf.: David Wear, Travis Wear, Kyle Anderson, Norman Powell, Larry Drew
— Chris Nguyen (@chrisnguyen1992) November 6, 2012
Of course, this seems like a bit of an odd line-up. Last season, Josh Smith was starting most of the games (hey, we never said he finished them) and the Wear Twins took turns playing the 3 and 4 (which was disastrous since neither twin was very good at the 3 at all in 2011-12). If Josh Smith was going to get benched because of conditioning, you’d think five-star freshman Tony Parker would get the nod at the 5, unless he wasn’t exactly polished enough offensively to do so.
This might not be a bad line-up, though. With Howland planning to implement an uptempo offense, it’s not unreasonable to see the agile Wear Twins playing the bigs to start; both were very consistent last year, even though they were out of position half the time, and Travis Wear looks like he’s muscled up. This is added on to the fact that Travis looked serviceable last season against Arizona at the pivot, too, so perhaps Howland sees something we do not.
The other head-scratcher isn’t so baffling, all things considered, and that’s Norman Powell starting. Powell is an athlete and can definitely play the 2-guard, but no one figured he’d be starting. With the injury to combo guard Tyler Lamb, though, Powell will likely just start in his place until Lamb recovers fully.
This line-up was clearly built with running in mind, because big men Parker and Smith tend to be plodders over anything else. The Wear Twins can play the fastbreak offense that Kyle Anderson will dictate and are totally versatile.
We’ll see what happens, and whatever line-up Howland threw out there, it would likely be good enough to beat Indiana State. This doesn’t apply to the Legends Classic, however, when UCLA will play Georgetown on November 13 and, possibly, Indiana (the consensus No. 1 team in the country) soon after.
Like we’ve said over and over, this is going to be a wild ride. Buckle up, UCLA fans