Jul 26, 2011, 11:25 PM EDT
(Too many puns in that headline?)
The last thing Ben Howland needs is another sub-par season at UCLA.
The Bruins missed the NCAA tournament in 2010 and shook off a rough start last season to get back to the Big Dance and finish second in the Pac-10. That was enough to silence any hot seat talk that popped up, but another slow start or Pac-12 issues in 2012 will create miffed fans in L.A.
An out-of-shape Joshua Smith won’t help, either.
Smith, the talented sophomore center who averaged 10.9 points and 6.3 rebounds a game last season, has gained about 10 pounds this summer – when he probably should’ve lost 10 or 20. Howland apparently wasn’t too happy when he told that to CBSSports.com’s Gary Parrish.
UCLA’s frontline will be its strength next season. Smith’s the most dynamic presence on that line and the key to the Bruins conference title hopes. When he’s on, he’s a force. But he’s 6-10 and 305 pounds (at least). Any heavier and he’ll lose effectiveness because of fatigue and no explosiveness.
Will he lose the weight by October? Maybe. It’s been an issue since before he arrived at UCLA and it’ll almost certainly be an issue when he’s in the NBA. He learned to control his temper and his fouls (somewhat) last year, which was a major factor in UCLA’s late surge.
But the weight is the big issue. And UCLA can’t afford it to be in 2011-12.
You also can follow me on Twitter @MikeMillerNBC.
- Cody Zeller, Indiana president speak out against recent athlete legal issues 0
- Five-star 2016 combo guard cuts list to four 0
- Xavier, Mount St. Joseph to launch the ‘Lauren Hill Tip-Off Classic’ 0
- Tai Wynyard: ‘I will be coming to UK in December’ 0
- Tom Izzo, 30 second shot clocks, and why zone presses will be more popular this year 1
- Kentucky lands a commitment from four-star 2016 forward 0
- Everything you need to know about the College Hoops Tip-Off Marathon 0
- Bill Self says Cheick Diallo could wait ‘at least another month’ for eligibility ruling (12)
- Winona State coach Mike Leaf resigned after player accused him of making drunken sexual advances (6)
- Throwback Thursday: Which Jim Calhoun rant was the best Jim Calhoun rant? (3)
- Tulsa gets 2016 commitment from former Wichita State guard (2)
- Here’s what the new Illinois basketball court will look like (PHOTO) (2)