UCLA: Michael Roll

Malcolm Lee: The silent defender

February, 24, 2011
Malcolm Lee Jennifer Stewart/US PresswireMalcolm Lee embraces playing on the defensive side of the ball for the Bruins.
Malcolm Lee has a love-and-hate relationship with "swish."

It's a blissful sound when he produces it. He has done so with more regularity lately, a major reason why UCLA sits in second place in the Pac-10 standings heading into Thursday night's game against Arizona State.

On the defensive end, "swish" is an agonizing ordeal.

"A nagging pain," Lee says, wincing at the mere thought of an opponent scoring on him. "It's an irritation, like a sense of disrespect. Nobody wants to get scored on, especially if it's a great play. It hurts, just hurts."

Deep in his core, actually. That's why, if given a choice between containing the other team's best player or scoring 30 points, Lee would choose the former. Every single time.

The junior guard figures that even if doesn't contribute much scoring, the Bruins have enough firepower to outscore the opposition.

"Some guys, when they make shots, they get confidence," Lee says. "When I feel like I'm shutting my man down, that carries over to the offensive end. It gives me the confidence, the mentality, the aggressiveness to look for my own shot.

"Switching from defense to offense happens in a split second. When you're being aggressive on defense, it stays with you."

(Read full post)

UCLA vs. Cal: Notes and quotes

January, 19, 2011
A few notes to preview Thursday night's home game against California:


California (9-8, 2-3 Pac-10)
C Mark Sanders-Frison (10.1 points, 8.1 rebounds)
F Harper Kamp (13.8 points, 5.6 rebounds)
G Allen Crabbe (11.1 points, 5.5 rebounds)
G Jorge Gutierrez (12.2 points, 4.0 assists)
G Brandon Smith (4.5 points, 3.3 assists)

UCLA (11-6, 3-2 Pac-10)
F Brendan Lane (3.9 points, 4.4 rebounds)
F Reeves Nelson (13.9 points, 7.8 rebounds)
F Tyler Honeycutt (13.4 points, 7.9 rebounds)
G Malcolm Lee (12.4 points, 1.7 assists)
G Lazeric Jones (10.4 points, 3.2 assists)


Tyler Honeycutt vs. Allen Crabbe -- Maybe Gary Franklin's transfer was for the better of Cal basketball. With local product Allen Crabbe (Los Angeles, Calif./Price) leading the charge, it sure looks that way. Crabbe, last year's Gatorade State Player of the Year, has averaged 17.4 points in five Pac-10 games, highlighted by a breakout, 30-point performance against Washington State last week. He has netted an average of 20 points since Franklin (Santa Ana, Calif./Mater Dei) departed Jan. 5.

"It's coming easy to me now," Crabbe told reporters at Cal's weekly news conference. "The more I'm playing, I'm just getting into the flow and letting it come to me instead of thinking too much."

That leaves Tyler Honeycutt with a big chore Thursday night. It promises to be an interesting battle on both ends. Can Honeycutt, who is coming off a season-low seven points, squeeze every inch out of his height advantage?

"He's 6-8, so that's going to be a challenge," said the 6-foot-6 Crabbe. "Honeycutt is a good player, a really good player. Playing against good people, I tend to step up. I believe in myself. It's going to be a good matchup."


Cal, a No. 8 seed in last year's NCAA tournament, lost to eventual champion Duke, 68-53, in the second round. ... Coach Ben Howland has enjoyed success against the Golden Bears. Howland's teams are 15-6 against Cal. ... On the flip side, Cal coach Mike Montgomery is 55-30 (.647) in his two-plus seasons in Berkeley. It's the best winning percentage for a Cal coach since Pete Newell (.730) was at the helm from 1955 to 1960. ... Cal knocked UCLA out of the Pac-10 tournament last year, slashing the Bruins' hopes of going dancing. Michael Roll's career-high 27 points were not enough, as UCLA fell 85-72 in the semifinals at Staples Center.


Crabbe is one of five Southern California players on Cal's roster. The others are: Bak Bak (Sun Valley, Calif./Village Christian), Nigel Carter (Los Angeles, Calif./Dorsey) and Richard Solomon (Los Angeles, Calif./Price). Justin Cobbs (Los Angeles, Calif./Bishop Montgomery) is sitting out this season after transferring from Minnesota.

"I think it's going to be a fun weekend," Crabbe said. "I'll get to see friends and family at the games. ... I've been waiting for this weekend for the longest. I'll get to play against some L.A. guys that I used to play against in high school. ... It's just going to be fun playing in front of them. Many of them haven't seen me play since high school. ... I considered UCLA, it was one the schools I wanted to go to when I was younger, but I'm glad I'm here. Cal is a good fit for me."

Roll selected to participate in All-Star game

March, 26, 2010
UCLA will be represented in the Final Four festivities after all -- just not how Bruins fans envisioned a few years ago.

Senior guard Michael Roll, UCLA's steadiest players this past season, will be in Indianapolis after being selected to play in the Reese's College All-Star Game on April 2.

"It is an honor to be named to the all-star team and I look forward to representing UCLA," Roll said in a statement released by the school. "It shows that my individual hard work has paid off. But I wouldn't be where I am today without my coaches and teammates motivating me to improve, and I thank them for helping me in my preparation."

Said coach Ben Howland: "It is a very well-deserved honor and Michael represents the ideals of what it is to be a student-athlete. I am very proud of him and happy for him."

One-on-one with Reeves Nelson

March, 13, 2010
Freshman Reeves Nelson quickly gained a cult following with his relentless (and reckless) style of play. He became associated with tattoos and black eyes, but people outside of Westwood also took notice for what he did on the court, as evidenced by his Pac-10 Conference All-Freshman team honors. Following UCLA's 85-72 loss to California in the semi-finals of the conference tournament, the 6-foot-8 forward spoke briefly about UCLA's disappointing season, his personal goals and what how thinks the Bruins can bounce back.


Blair Angulo: What can you take away from such a disappointing season?

Reeves Nelson: Losing is going to be a big motivating factor for everyone that's returning to the team next year to work harder this offseason. Hopefully that will always be in the back of our minds while we're working out.

Angulo: How will you attack this offseason? Will it be more on the physical side of things, getting bigger and stronger? Or is it more about learning schemes and studying tape?

Nelson: I need to get quicker so I can guard the fours next year. The coaches told me I'm going to start at the four next season, so I'm focused on that. I'm trying to get my outside jumper back from high school.

Angulo: In terms of the program's state, is this where you envisioned it being when you signed?

Nelson: No. I committed when they were in the middle of their last Final Four run, so obviously I didn't expect it to be this much of a drop. But it's the cards that we've been dealt and we're going to try to play them as well as we can.

Angulo: Coach Ben Howland has been criticized because some guys have not panned out. Does that serve as a motivating factor for this team?

Nelson: It's going to take a lot of hard work on behalf of everybody. We have to get better individually and that will translate into team success, I think.

Angulo: Michael Roll, James Keefe and Nikola Dragovic are gone. What will your personal role be next year on a relatively young team?

Nelson: To play as hard as I can and do everything I can. I'm going to help the new guys that are coming in and combine that with our returners to make a better team.

One last Roll call

March, 12, 2010
After what seemed to be a season-long gasp for air -- a panting of sorts -- UCLA guard Michael Roll took a seat with half a minute left in his final college game.

Finally, a breather.

Only 34 seconds remained on the clock, but it was much-needed rest for a player who worked tirelessly and rarely sat during a disappointing 14-18 season. The Bruins trailed by 12 as Roll reluctantly walked to the bench, but fans of both UCLA and California acknowledged it, giving him the kind of standing ovation Kobe Bryant usually sees at Staples Center.

"It feels good that fans recognize," Roll said. "Bruins fans are great wherever we are in the country."

Roll scored a game- and career-high 27 points, but it wasn't enough to push UCLA to the title game of the Pac-10 Conference tournament. "We lost," he said. "This is my last game here. I don't care about the career high or anything like that. I'm frustrated we lost. I'm done."

Said coach Ben Howland: "He's been a great representative of the program and of the history and tradition of UCLA basketball."

Halftime: UCLA 39, Cal 35

March, 12, 2010
UCLA is 20 minutes away from moving on to the championship game of the Pac-10 Conference tournament.

It may be a stretch, but it's more than what could have been said at the end of the regular season.

The Bruins lead the Golden Bears, 39-35, at the half here at Staples Center. Senior Michael Roll leads all scorers with 16 points. Cal's Jerome Randle has 14.

UCLA's lead reached nine with just over a minute left before Cal closed the first 20 minutes on a 5-0 run.

Cal's senior class is UCLA's main road block

March, 12, 2010
Guards Jerome Randle and Patrick Christopher combined for 43 points in California's rout of Oregon to set up a game with UCLA in the semifinal round of the Pac-10 Conference tournament tonight at the Staples Center.

For the Bruins to have a chance at winning, they will have to shut down one of the two. UCLA was able to do that in early January, limiting Randle to only 11 points on five-for-16 shooting at Haas Pavilion. The Bruins eked out a victory in overtime on a jumper from Michael Roll (click here for a short highlight clip).

A month later at Pauley Pavilion, UCLA had Cal up against the ropes, leading by as many as 14. But the Golden Bears rallied back for a dominating 14-point win behind 20 points from both Christopher and Theo Robertson.

After UCLA's victory over Arizona on Thursday afternoon, coach Ben Howland spoke about Cal's senior group and Roll talked about the desire to keep playing:

Roll bounces back from "terrible" performance

March, 12, 2010
There might not have anyone happier to see Reeves Nelson back on the floor than Michael Roll. Like the tattoo inked on Nelson's left arm suggests, every yin needs its yang.

With Nelson out, UCLA lacked a true post player the last two weeks. Roll, a perimeter player, was forced to carry the load, something he's never had to do in his five-year tenure.

Roll scored just three points the first game Nelson sat out while recovering from left eye surgery. He then scored 25 and 21, before registering a season-low with two last Saturday at Arizona State.

"I just really had to forget about Saturday," Roll said. "It was terrible. There was no explanation for it. It was shocking, really."

Nelson was back Thursday, bullying his way inside and showing zero apprehension about his eyes. Roll noticed a drastic difference.

"It's huge," he said. "He's a presence -- if they double-team, he can find shooters on the outside."

Roll had 18 Thursday and nailed three from behind the line. Following the game, his demeanor was the exact opposite than what it was when he joked about wanting to get away from ASU's Wells Fargo Arena.

"No get-aways," Roll said laughing. "Southwest isn't too happy today."

Nelson the difference as UCLA moves on to semis

March, 11, 2010
So UCLA stayed alive Thursday afternoon, beating Arizona 75-69 in the quarterfinals of the Pacific 10 Conference tournament at Staples Center.

The Bruins had lost to the Wildcats twice this season, the latest coming just a week ago in Tucson. But the third matchup turned out to be the charm.

Speaking of charms, freshman Reeves Nelson was clearly UCLA's lucky piece. He scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds in his return from a two-week absence as he recovered (both physically and mentally) from laser surgery to repair a partially torn retina in his left eye.

Really, all Nelson could complain about was a pair of goggle malfunctions -- they fogged up and even broke at one point during the game.

"It's hard because they fog up and the nose piece falls out," Nelson said. "Other than that, when you're in the game you're not really thinking about the goggles on your face, you're thinking about the job you have to do."

The job was providing a spark. And after not having him for the last four games, UCLA went to Nelson early and often.

"He's basically automatic inside," guard Malcolm Lee said. "When you throw it in, you can count on getting a bucket."

Nelson's effect was clear and evident by his eight makes in nine tries. Without him, the Bruins seem one-dimensional, mostly relying on the perimeter shooting of Michael Roll and Nikola Dragovic. With him, there's a post presence other teams must respect.

"He makes a difference," Dragovic said. "We try to use him as much as we can."

Said Lee: "He was telling me the risks [of returning] and I was thinking that maybe he should stay out. He made the decision to come on the court and that just shows how much heart he has. He's all about this team."
UCLA leads Arizona by four at the half behind 12 points from both Michael Roll and Reeves Nelson.

Of course, we've seen this before (see: last week in Tucson, Ariz.). But for the most part, No. 4 seed UCLA looks like a team that wants to keep playing.

Nelson, wearing protective goggles to help ease his "apprehension" regarding his eyes, has made all six of his attempts. Roll, meanwhile, has bounced back nicely from a poor shooting performance in a loss to Arizona State last Saturday. He has hit five shots.

The Bruins came out playing man-to-man, but have switched to zone from time to time. UCLA's biggest lead reached nine on a breakaway layup by Roll.
The Pacific 10 Conference announced its all-conference teams on Monday and senior Michael Roll was the only UCLA representative on the first team.

Roll leads the Bruins with an average 13.5 points.

Two of coach Ben Howland's young pieces -- Tyler Honeycutt and Reeves Nelson -- were named to the five-player all-freshman team.

UCLA did not have any players named to the all-defensive team, which is the biggest indicator for how things have gone in Westwood.
TEMPE, Ariz. -- UCLA's enigmatic season continues, though the results remain consistent.

The Bruins built a 14-point lead Thursday, only to lose to Arizona. They tried a different approach Saturday afternoon against Arizona State, digging themselves a 13-0 hole before fans could take their seats at Wells Fargo Arena. UCLA went on to lose, 56-46, by converting a season-low 17 field goals.

"The biggest problem we had was scoring," said coach Ben Howland, who for the same straight game, looked exhausted and chose to sit while reporters asked questions.

By the time Tyler Honeycutt scored UCLA's first basket, nearly five minutes had passed, Howland had used two timeouts, the Bruins trailed by double digits and officials from CBS -- which televised the game nationally -- probably kicked themselves for choosing a yawner a week before Selection Sunday.

Somehow, UCLA managed to cut the deficit to five with more than 16 minutes left in the second half. Arizona State's lead was back up to double digits following a Jamelle McMillan 3-pointer and layup by Eric Boateng.

"The guys were really focused and ready to play," ASU coach Herb Sendek said. "Our guys understood we had to be at our best defensively."

Boateng did whatever he wanted, recording game highs of 16 points and 14 rebounds against the much-smaller Brendan Lane.

But the story was on the other end of the court. The Sun Devils played a stubborn version of Sendek's zone defense, holding the Bruins to a season-low 32.7 shooting percent. Nikola Dragovic and Malcolm Lee each had 15 points, but UCLA hurt itself by missing 16 of its 20 3-point shots.

Michael Roll led the team in postgame headshakes after missing all but one of his nine attempts.

"I just couldn't buy a bucket," Roll said. "It felt like they were all good. ... I don't really know what happened."

You're not alone, Mike. The enigma continues, but the results remain the same.

Halftime: UCLA 39, Arizona 29

March, 4, 2010
TUCSON -- UCLA has found an inside game despite not having Reeves Nelson, leading Arizona 39-29 at the half.

Sophomore guard Malcolm Lee has scored a team-high-tying 11 points by aggressively driving on the offensive end. Michael Roll also has 11 points.

The Bruins lead by 10 despite missing five of seven 3-point shots. Their rebounding, which was a weak point last weekend against Oregon, has also been a key factor. Arizona has only one second-chance point.

Arizona's Derrick Williams, who leads the Wildcats with eight points, had the top play of the first half. Actually, it was two plays rolled up into one highlight-reel sequence. On the first, Williams met UCLA freshman Brendan Lane as he went up for a one-handed dunk. Williams beat UCLA's defenders to the other end and capped it with an alley-oop dunk that brought the McKale Center to its feet.

Breaking down tonight's possible scenarios

March, 4, 2010
TUCSON -- UCLA fans might get a good indication for what to expect in next weekend's Pacific 10 Conference tournament by how the Bruins play tonight against Arizona. The Bruins were thoroughly dominated by Arizona when the teams played in early January. But since then, UCLA has improved defensively -- primarily by switching to a 2-3 zone. We lay out some keys to tonight's game at the McKale Center:

UCLA likely wins if ...
  • ... freshman Reeves Nelson, coming off left-eye surgery, plays the way he is capable of. Nelson participated in full-contact practice Wednesday but might be rusty after sitting out both games last weekend. He can rebound and is an offensive force if (and it's a BIG if) the guards can get him the ball. Nelson also has to keep Arizona's Derrick Williams from having a monster game inside.
  • ... it is effective on offense. Arizona ranks last in the conference with more than 71 points given up per game, meaning UCLA has to secure high-percentage attempts and capitalize on fastbreak opportunities.
UCLA likely loses if ...
  • ... Arizona guard Nic Wise does what Oregon's Tajuan Porter did to the Bruins last weekend. Porter scored a game-high 29 points to spoil UCLA's Senior Day at Pauley Pavilion -- and Wise will look to make the most of his final weekend in front of the 'Zona Zoo.
  • ... Michael Roll does not get any support. Either Nelson, Malcolm Lee, Tyler Honeycutt or Nikola Dragovichave to follow Roll's lead offensively. If Roll is hitting from outside -- as he was last weekend -- someone will have to supplement that.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7:36 p.m. and will be televised on Fox Sports Net.

Revisiting Oregon

March, 1, 2010
We broke down a few possible scenarios that might determine the outcome of last Saturday's UCLA-Oregon basketball game at Pauley Pavilion. Here's a refresher:
UCLA likely loses if ...

  • ... it is unable to stop Oregon at the end of the game. The Ducks scored 12 unanswered points in the final six minutes Thursday to defeat USC at the Galen Center. Before that, Oregon had lost five straight -- its last two wins coming in late January against the Los Angeles schools. Michael Rollforced overtime at McArthur Court by sinking a three-pointer, but the Ducks went on a 10-4 run to put the Bruins in a tough spot.

  • The Bruins certainly didn't stop Oregon guard Tajuan Porter, a senior who stole the spotlight on UCLA's senior day. Porter nailed the game-winning three-pointer with less than a minute left to hush an electric crowd that had seen UCLA storm back from down 14.

    Another one:
    UCLA likely wins if ...

  • ... seniors Roll and Nikola Dragovic rise to the occasion in their final game inside Pauley. ... Roll has a chance to go out on a good note, needing only four 3-pointers to move into fourth place on UCLA's all-time list for 3-pointers made. Dragovic, meanwhile, will be playing in front of his family for the first time since he arrived at UCLA. The 6-foot-9 forward has faced adversity this season, both on and off the court. He hurt his left shoulder diving for a loose ball early in Thursday's 65-56 win against Oregon State, but quickly returned and scored 14 points in the second half.

  • Dragovic failed to make an impact in his final game at Pauley. Roll did his part, tying a career-high with 25 points. But Dragovic scored just seven and missed all but one of his six attempts from beyond the arc.



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