UCLA’s Lazeric Jones shoots well in practice despite hurt finger
As shot after shot went in the basket Tuesday morning, any doubts about Lazeric Jones’ effectiveness were sunk.
The UCLA point guard made 41 of 50 shots ranging from 15 to 17 feet, according to Coach Ben Howland, showing that the ruptured tendon Jones sustained on his right middle finger should not be an issue when the Bruins play USC on Sunday at the Galen Center.
“He shot it well, and I think it’s given him confidence, ‘I’m going to be able to play with this,’ ” Howland said.
Howland said Jones was tentative in the second half against Washington on Friday because the player thought his finger might be broken. Jones suffered the injury late in the first half when he jammed his finger against the ball. He played a season-low 16 minutes.
Jones is wearing a splint and was scheduled to undergo an X-ray on Tuesday, but Howland appeared confident the test would not reveal significant problems.
Coming into focus
Brendan Lane will have a new look against the Trojans: he will wear contact lenses in a game for the first time.
The sophomore forward was fitted with the contacts last week but did not wear them against Washington State or Washington, allowing his eyes some time to adjust.
“Hopefully, it will help my game,” Lane said. “If you can see better, it’s obviously going to help me.”
Lane has always worn glasses off the court. He said Howland observed him wearing them during a flight and asked about his vision, leading to the decision to play with contacts.
Lane missed the only four shots he took in the Bruins’ two games last week, but said his vision had nothing to do with it.
“I was trying to let the game come to me,” Lane said. “I didn’t want to force up shots.”
Change of plans
Should Joshua Smith hedge screens, or should he plug them?
That is a debate Howland has wrestled with all season. After the freshman center fouled out against Washington in part because he committed two fouls while hedging, Howland said he would change the big man’s approach.
“In retrospect, he probably should have been plugging all the way from the beginning and getting better and better at it,” Howland said. “He can’t get out there and hedge right now like we want him to, so he’s not going to be doing that as much.”
Hedging entails running to the other side of a screen to try to cut off the player who is moving around it. When a defender “plugs,” he falls back to stay between the player and the basket.
Howland said Smith should commit fewer fouls plugging, provided he avoided the temptation to try to knock the ball away from guards trying to drive past him to the basket.