It’s a well-documented fact that this year’s UCLA Bruins basketball team is undersized, lacking a true post presence to gobble up offensive boards and defend against high-percentage looks.
Over the course of the season, F/C Travis Wear has done his best to make up for the Bruins’ roster deficiencies, as the 6’10″ junior leads the team in blocks and ranks second in rebounding. Wear’s continued improvement on the court has anchored an otherwise inconsistent UCLA team, making his minutes on the floor especially important.
Unfortunately for the Bruin faithful, T. Wear will likely not suit up for tomorrow’s Pac-12 showdown with crosstown rival USC at the Galen Center. According to a report from ESPN, Wear injured his right foot during UCLA’s practice on Saturday, and he’s doubtful for the bout with the Trojans.
This is potentially devastating news for the Bruins, as they were eaten alive on the glass when they hosted USC at Pauley Pavilion back in January. And considering the fact that UCLA lost to the Trojans with Travis Wear in, it’s downright scary to think what could happen without him. For a frame of reference, the only game that Travis missed this year was an 18-point loss at the hands of Arizona State and 7’2″ center Jordan Bachynski.
But such is life in the world of sports. The show must go on, and the Bruins will need to be ready to play with or without their third-leading scorer.
For Southern Cal, the news of Wear’s injury probably has the Trojans’ bigs licking their chops, especially 7-footers Dewayne Dedmon and Omar Oraby. In the meeting in Westwood, USC outrebounded UCLA by eight (42-34), an advantage that could balloon even larger on Sunday with Wear on the bench in a walking boot.
The Bruins will have to turn to Travis’ twin-brother David and much-maligned freshman Tony Parker to fill the void in the center. David Wear is a key reserve for UCLA, averaging 6.9 PPG and 4.8 rebounds per game, so he will definitely see the biggest boost in minutes in his brother’s absence.
Parker will also see increased time on the floor, but what kind of impact he can have is unclear. Since coming to Westwood, the highly-touted 6’9″ center has mustered only 2.4 PPG and 1.1 RPG in a mere 6.6 minutes per contest. It’s also possible that walk-on Sooren Derboghosian, a 6’10″ center from Iran, could get some playing time to alleviate the pressure on the already thin rotation.
Whether it be D. Wear, Parker or Derboghosian, the Bruins are banking on a big day from one of its big men. If UCLA can’t control the paint and prevent the Trojans from getting second-chance points, it could be another long night for Ben Howland’s squad.
The thought of being swept by USC in basketball is extremely frightening for UCLA fans, but tomorrow afternoon the nightmare could become a reality. Here’s to hoping this doom and gloom is dead wrong when all’s said and done.