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Mick Cronin making sure UCLA gets its rest amid busy stretch

UCLA head coach Mick Cronin calls out his players during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game.
UCLA coach Mick Cronin shouts instructions to his players during a win over Washington State on Thursday.
(Ringo H.W. Chiu / Associated Press)
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His team forced to play practically every other day, UCLA coach Mick Cronin wasn’t going to take it sitting down.

He sat a player as a countermeasure.

Cody Riley was the first Bruin to get a new kind of DNP-CD — Did Not Play-Coach’s Defiance. Cronin called it load management in a term familiar to NBA fans accustomed to seeing their favorite players shut down to manage their workload.

Cronin also limited starting guard Jaime Jaquez Jr. to 17 minutes and used his bench liberally Saturday night at Pauley Pavilion during the No. 13 Bruins’ 76-50 victory over Washington. Nobody played more than David Singleton’s 31 minutes off the bench, time the UCLA guard put to good use by scoring a career-high 22 points.

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After Tyger Campbell leaves with an injury, Jaylen Clark finishes with 25 points and David Singleton with 22 to lead UCLA to a victory over Washington.

Feb. 19, 2022

It was effective pushback against a late-season schedule in which the Bruins are in the midst of playing six games in 12 days after two games were added because of earlier COVID-19 disruptions. Cronin made it clear last week that he wasn’t pleased with what he called the hypocrisy of Pac-12 officials claiming to prioritize mental health while also making students endure such a busy stretch of games.

Cronin said he expected Riley to play Monday night against Arizona State at Pauley Pavilion and was hopeful that leading scorer Johnny Juzang could return from the sore hip he suffered during a fall from a scooter. Juzang did not play against the Huskies, sitting on the bench in blue sweats.

“You can’t even make it up,” Cronin said of a litany of unusual setbacks that have also included an emergency airplane landing, repeated player concussions, sprained ankles, illnesses and a 26-day COVID-19 layoff. “Literally, you can’t make that up.”

Cronin has helped his players navigate this condensed stretch of the schedule by limiting practice days to film sessions and walk-throughs while prioritizing recovery.

“UCLA offers us many resources to recover, stay hydrated, stay healthy,” Singleton said. “So, shout-out to the staff for keeping us focused and on track. The coaching staff is doing a really good job of paying attention to our bodies and keeping us locked in and being ready for the next game.”

Jaylen Clark scored 18 points as No. 13 UCLA turned things around with a 76-56 win over Washington State on Thursday at Pauley Pavilion.

Feb. 17, 2022

The Bruins might need every available body Monday given what happened last time they played Arizona State. UCLA couldn’t overcome sloppy defense or an epic cold spell that led to an 87-84 loss in triple overtime against a team that at the time had lost more than twice as many games as it had won.

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Up next for UCLA: Monday vs. Arizona State

When: 6 p.m.

Where: Pauley Pavilion

On the air: TV: FS1; Radio: 570

Update: The Sun Devils (10-15, 6-9) have won three of five games since upsetting the Bruins (19-5, 11-4) at Desert Financial Arena, including consecutive victories over Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State since last weekend. Small, quick and feisty, Arizona State can be a bad matchup for UCLA if the Bruins are as unfocused as they were the last time these teams met.

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