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Cummings Shows a Different Side

Times Staff Writer

T.J. Cummings, it can be said, rebounded well.

He’s also rebounding well.

The Bruin senior bounced back quickly from academic problems that kept him out of the first four games, scoring in double figures in all but one of the six games he has played since regaining eligibility.

But it is his work on the boards that has been most impressive.

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“His rebounding has been great, especially on the offensive end,” Coach Ben Howland said.

Three of Cummings’ eight rebounds against Washington State on Thursday were offensive, and he put back two for baskets. Five of his nine rebounds against Oregon last Sunday were on the offensive end.

“I’ve been putting an emphasis on offensive rebounding,” he said. “It’s about never resting, keeping my feet moving and assuming every shot is a miss.”

Cummings, a 6-foot-10 forward, said he had a lot of time to think while he was ineligible. He examined his shortcomings and decided to focus on improvement. Plus, Howland reminded him in no uncertain terms.

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“Rebounding was one of my weaknesses,” Cummings said. “It was something I wanted to tune up and make a strength.”

Scoring has always been his strong point. He has an accurate mid-range jump shot and entered the season with a career shooting percentage of 48.1%.

He has made 28 of 50 shots this season (56%), and is adding some low post moves to his repertoire. Cummings is taller than most forwards, an advantage he is beginning to put to use.

“He’s our best low-post scorer,” Howland said. “And he’s our best foul shooter. So we want to get him the ball down low and let him take shots and get to the line.”

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UCLA’s flight from Spokane to Seattle was canceled, so rather than split up the group on later flights the Bruins made the 285-mile trip by bus through snow and rain.

But if conditions made the ride a bit dicey, the Bruins didn’t notice. The players either slept or listened to headphones and the coaches were busy watching film of Washington.

“It was actually productive,” Howland said.

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Former UCLA center Swen Nater spoke to the Bruins during their short practice at Washington on Friday. Nater, who lives in Seattle, was the backup center behind Bill Walton in 1972 and 1973.

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TONIGHT

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at Washington, 7:30

Fox Sports Net 2

Site -- Bank of America Arena

Radio -- XTRA 1150/690.

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Records -- UCLA 7-3, 3-0; Washington 5-6, 0-3.

Update -- The Huskies have struggled under Coach Lorenzo Romar, a former UCLA assistant and Pepperdine coach who was 10-17 in his first season at Washington. All three Pacific 10 Conference losses have been one-sided and the Huskies have lost six of eight since opening with three victories over weak opponents. USC defeated Washington on Thursday by employing a 2-3 zone defense and forcing a rash of turnovers. Don’t expect UCLA to do the same. “I’m not one to throw in a junk defense the night before the game,” Howland said. Husky assistant Cameron Dollar was a guard on the UCLA 1995 NCAA championship team.


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