UCLA Basketball’s lone big man Tony Parker has had his ups and downs over the course of this season. Parker has been a dominant force, as seen against Alabama, but more often than not, has been a silent mouse. The 255 pound, 6’9″ silent mouse is not what UCLA was recruiting when they went out to get Parker, and certainly not what they were expecting. In one of UCLA’s biggest games of the season, facing off against then eighth ranked Duke in Madison Square Garden, Parker was 0-3 and squeaked in 6 rebounds. Maybe it was the pressure and talent of Duke? Well, against Moorhead State, Parker was an atrocious 1-3 with 1 rebound and 4 fouls. Thats it. No steals, no blocks, no assists.
Simply put, by reading those numbers, one would question why Parker logs playing time. Look closer at his stat sheet though, and you’ll see that against Oakland, Weber State, Alabama, and #1 Arizona, Parker dropped 21, 15, 16, and 10, respectively. He hauled in a combined 30 rebounds in those four games, also. Getting to the bottom of why it is that Parker plays this way won’t be easy, but I offer more of a mental reason then that of a development of his game.
For Tony, it seems to come down to self confidence. As the only big man on the team, parker needs to be averaging more than his lowly 5.1 shots per game. Shooting nearly 60 percent (59.8), it seems many Bruin fans would be happy see Parker get more touches. His 3 of 7 performance against Arizona is more appealing than his 2 of 2 game against USC. He may of shot perfectly, but he didn’t shoot enough to get it done – not that he needed to against USC. Of course, 3-7 isn’t ideal, but it is surely better for Parker. Even in the game mentioned earlier, against Duke, it would have been preferable to see Parker put up more shots than his 0-3 showing.
Parker is going to have to get more consistent in his scoring. Rebounding is a different story as he has shown brilliance there, though it’s not statistically clear. With five star PF Kevin Looney coming in next season at 6’9″, along with the addition of 7’0″ Thomas Welsh (C) and 6’10″ Gyorgy Goloman (PF), Parker has his work cut out for him. If he’s going to miss shots, he’s going to have to shoot. If he is going to go down, he is going to have to go down swinging. Scratch that, he’ll need to go down shooting.