UCLA basketball: Recruit Kyle Anderson stands by Bruins
(Over)reaction was predictably swift after No. 17 UCLA's ugly opening loss to Loyola Marymount on Friday at the Sports Arena.
Fans started a "Potential Ben Howland Replacements Thread" on a message board, alluding to their momentary desire to replace the coach who had just presided over the Bruins' first loss to the Lions since 1941.
Sophomore center Joshua Smith logged on to Twitter to vent his frustration, writing, "Just lost to some straight bums lol."
That left UCLA recruit Kyle Anderson as the voice of reason Saturday. The 6-foot-8 senior standout from Jersey City (N.J.) St. Anthony High who attended the Bruins' 69-58 defeat was standing by his future teammates.
"It was a surprise, but it was a tough loss," Anderson said. "Everyone goes through them. I'm sure UCLA will bounce right back."
What did Anderson see as the difference in UCLA's first loss as the home team at the Sports Arena since an 88-79 defeat to Utah on Dec. 29, 1961?
"LMU played their best game and it just so happened that UCLA didn't play their best game," Anderson said. "LMU made a lot of tough shots, a lot of long shots and a lot of layups. We just missed a couple of layups, nothing really major."
Anderson, who signed a letter of intent with UCLA earlier this week, said the defeat that is sure to knock the Bruins out of the national rankings did not change his perception of the team or the program.
"No," Anderson said. "Not at all."
Of course, UCLA clearly has issues to address before heading to Hawaii next week for the Maui Invitational. Heck, the Bruins have things to sort out before thinking they can even beat Middle Tennessee State on Tuesday.
They must stay in front of their man on defense and close out better on the perimeter. On offense, they must find a way to more effectively utilize Smith and forward Reeves Nelson while resisting the urge to shoot too many three-pointers like they did Friday, when they made only two of 15 attempts from beyond the arc.
Anderson said he hung out with the Bruins in the dorms after the game.
"They were upset," Anderson said. "They understood it's a tough loss. They just have to come together as a team."
Photo: UCLA center Joshua Smith is blocked out by Loyola Marymount guard Jarred DuBois (4) and forward Godwin Okonji (22) during a rebound Friday night. Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea / US Presswire