- Peter Yoon, ESPNLosAngeles.com
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LOS ANGELES -- UCLA coach Ben Howland reluctantly used a zone defense Tuesday during the Bruins' 60-56 victory over Georgia and it proved the difference as UCLA overcame a 11-point deficit.
Still, Howland said he doesn't plan on using a zone very often this season.
"Once in a blue moon," said Howland, who will lead his team against Cal Poly on Sunday night at Pauley Pavilion. "Changing defense is good once in a while if a team is killing your man, but we’re not going to play, hopefully, the majority of our defensive possessions as a zone team."
Howland said one of the factors in using a zone Tuesday was the fact that UCLA was playing on back-to-back days and didn't have ample time to prepare its defense to guard Georgia's offensive sets. Howland said he firmly believes that a man-to-man defense offers a much better chance at long-term success than a zone defense.
"Typically you’ll see that zones work better in November than in February," Howland said. "As the season goes on teams get better and better at attacking zones and it becomes harder to become an effective zone defense as the season progresses. But early on it can be can good at times."
Whether its zone or man-to-man, however, Howland said the Bruins still have a long way to go to become the defensive team he envisions it to be. UCLA has held opponents to 41 percent shooting this season and has limited three of its five opponents to less than 40 percent, but some of that had as much to do with poor shooting by opponents as it did with UCLA's defense. Also, a 54.5 percent performance by Georgetown on Monday exposed some holes.
"We’ve got to be a much better defensive team to become what we want to be this year," Howland said. "Especially with all the youth we’re playing right now. We’re playing a lot of young guys playing at this level for the first time and seeing stuff. Trailing players coming off of double screens. It’s just all new and it takes time."
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