UCLA Basketball: Tony Parker Needs Minutes, Or Else

The narrative surrounding the most prestigious basketball program in the country is that of transfers. UCLA basketball has seen two of its rotation players leave the team to find greener pastures and a handful of others have left the team for similar reasons the past two years.

It’s a bug, and it has resulted in UCLA running an eight-man rotation the entire year, something we’re sure head coach Ben Howland wasn’t anticipating especially given the Bruins’ uptempo nature.

Of course, not too long ago, the eighth man in that rotation has begun to mumble about his dissatisfaction with being at UCLA. Tweets by the freshman big man from Georgia indicated he wasn’t happy in Westwood and now, it sounds as if Parker has no idea about his future at UCLA. From Peter Yoon at ESPN:

It remains to be seen if he will [stay the course in Howland's system]. Parker indicated that after the season, he would weigh his options as far as returning to UCLA.

“I don’t know yet,” Parker said. “I have to talk to my parents and see what they say.”

Asked if he regretted coming to UCLA, Parker said, “No comment.”

The writing’s on the wall — expect Tony Parker to leave UCLA as the team’s third “casualty” of the 2012-13 season, unless something drastic changes.

That something, of course, could be increased minutes and a larger role for Parker. Because while UCLA is only running an eight-man rotation, the freshman is getting scant minutes and has become a total non-factor in Howland’s system.

Peter Yoon notes that Parker has been lost on defense and hasn’t performed up to par, but that’s reaching. Parker, though raw, has shown an incredible amount of activity down low and has become UCLA’s best interior defender. Sure, he fouls a lot, but that’s due to his over-aggressiveness, not his inability to play defense.

Meanwhile, David and Travis Wear have entirely blown it defensively, with opposing guards slashing and dashing their way towards easy buckets in the interior while the UCLA bigs stand around and wait for rebounds to come to them. Their passivity on defense has led UCLA’s path to becoming the worst defensive team in the entire Pac-12, and at some point, their prowess on offense — which is extremely limited and apparently only shows up in spurts — can’t mask their deficiencies on defense.

Tony Parker could aid that ailing defense if given a chance, but much like fans called for Anthony Stover to get more minutes last season, pleas to give Parker more opportunities will likely go ignored by the ever-stubborn Ben Howland.

Time will tell, though, won’t it?

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