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Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Keegan

Reeves Nelson changes game for UCLA

UCLA forward Reeves Nelson (22) looks for a teammate to pass to while being defended by Chaminade forward Darko Vukasovic (15) in the second half Monday, Nov. 21, 2011, in Lahaina, Hawaii. UCLA defeated Chaminade 92-60.

UCLA forward Reeves Nelson (22) looks for a teammate to pass to while being defended by Chaminade forward Darko Vukasovic (15) in the second half Monday, Nov. 21, 2011, in Lahaina, Hawaii. UCLA defeated Chaminade 92-60.

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KU coach Bill Self, Tyshawn Taylor, Elijah Johnson and Travis Releford talk to reporters following the Jayhawks' 67-63 victory over Georgetown on Nov. 22, 2011.

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— Multiple tattoos make sleeves of his arms. His chin-down, expressionless stare and facial features call to mind Karl Childers, the character portrayed by Billy Bob Thornton in the compelling 1996 film, “Sling Blade.”

His name is Reeves Nelson, a menacing junior power forward for UCLA. He has returned to the Bruins lineup just in time to make today’s Maui Inivitational semifinal 8:30 p.m. tipoff against Kansas University interesting.

The Bruins have played three halves with Nelson, three without him. He played all of an 11-point loss to Loyola Marymount and the second half of Monday’s 92-60 victory against Chaminade University. Nelson sat out the entire 86-66 loss to Middle Tennessee State and the first half of the Chaminade game.

The full-game suspension reportedly was for being late to a team meeting. The half-game benching was for missing the team bus for the flight to Maui. He caught a later flight, but missed the tournament banquet.

In three halves with Nelson, UCLA has outscored the opposition, 110-91. In three halves without him, foes have gotten the better of the Bruins, 124-106.

Famous for upsetting Ralph Sampson’s top-rated Virginia squad in 1982, Chaminade looked eager to slay another giant, trailing 40-38 at the half.

Then Nelson entered, and a passive UCLA team turned into an aggressive, confident one. The guards defended the perimeter better, knowing the defense in the post had become more physical. UCLA stopped giving so many chances, thanks to five defensive boards from Nelson.

For a guy who scored just one point, Nelson changed the face of the entire team quite emphatically. UCLA won the second half, 52-22.

“It was exciting having him back,” UCLA senior guard Jerime Anderson said. “You saw what happened out there in the second half. He brought us a lot of energy. When he brings that, it’s a good thing for our team.”

Nelson, a 6-foot-8, 235-pound native of Modesto, Calif., is no Thomas Robinson. He’s not as big, not as strong, not as explosive and not as fast as Robinson. But Nelson did average 13.9 points and 9.1 rebounds as a sophomore and as a freshman nearly had a double-double (nine points, nine rebounds) in KU’s 73-61 victory in Pauley Pavilion.

And Nelson does know how to bring out the heat in his man’s head. He knows how to crawl under skin and stay there awhile. Robinson’s composure will be challenged in what shapes up as the game’s most interesting match-up.

This, of course, assumes he makes it to the shoot-around on time.

“What happened was he missed the bus going to the airport, and he never had done that,” UCLA coach Ben Howland said. “The guy’s a morning person. He’s been through a lot here, but I still felt we had to do something. I wanted to let him know he’s got to do a better job of leaving the phone on, rather than just the electric clock for when the electricity blacks out, which is what happened.”

Predictably, in a world where many college basketball coaches do everything in their power to try to decide what’s newsworthy, Howland did not bring Nelson to the interview room.

Comments

DRsmith 2 years, 8 months ago

He is an overrated juvenile. If he was half as good as he thought he was he would be in the NBA by now.

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Brianna Zaleski 2 years, 8 months ago

He missed the bus and flight out to Hawaii? Because there was a blackout? How come no one else missed said transportation times? And I think its odd that he wouldn't allow him to the presser. Like he didn't want him to contardict the load of bull that Ben H was about to serve. Seems like 'ol Howland still has a bitter taste in his mouth about losing in Allen last year and won't take the court w/out one of his better players. So much for teaching the kid a lesson. When the inmates run the asylum, a team like UCLA is usually what ur gonna get.

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Mike Kendall 2 years, 8 months ago

Reeves Nelson---Yuk---ughh! I hope T-Rob tosses him around like an aluminum can. Go get em, big fella!

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Matt1958 2 years, 8 months ago

Mustard on 'em's good to me.

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KGphoto 2 years, 8 months ago

What. Was he sharpening his lawnmower?

Doesn't matter. I'm sure he couldn't get that enormous, sharp metal object on the plane, and Zero is gonna blast him.

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NebraskaJayhawk 2 years, 8 months ago

For those of you who think T-Rob will toss this guy around, you obviously missed that game Keegan was referring to where he pretty much dominated our big men a couple of years ago. Had we not bloodied him up with a cheap shot from one of the Morris's, UCLA would have won that game. T-Rob better be ready to play, because this guy can. I like his style of play and you will see him in the NBA, trust me.

"His chin-down, expressionless stare and facial features call to mind Karl Childers, the character portrayed by Billy Bob Thornton in the compelling 1996 film, “Sling Blade.”

That's a funny paragraph, Keegan. Liked it.

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Robert Brock 2 years, 8 months ago

Nelson became super-tough growing up in Modesto. He was the chief grape-stomper for Ernest & Julio Gallo. He needed the tats to cover up the grape stains.

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bennettcl 2 years, 8 months ago

I dislike Nelson second only to Cal's Gutierrez. Key to the game tonight will be keeping our bigs out of foul trouble.

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Michael Leiker 2 years, 8 months ago

We were about 20 feet from Reeves at the same end of the court 2 years ago when he got poked in the eye and could see them working on him very clearly on the end of the bench. Pretty nasty. Tough kid.

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jgkojak 2 years, 8 months ago

If anyone on KUs team had missed the flight, Self would have told them to keep their ass in Kansas, and they would have played w/out them. Period.

Punk.

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texashawk10 2 years, 8 months ago

Make Nelson your b**** tonight T-Rob

Muck Fizzou!

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JayHawkFanToo 2 years, 8 months ago

Interesting, Eamonn Brennan at ESPN does not seem to think that Nelson was much of a factor. Another lazy article by Keegan?

http://espn.go.com/blog/collegebasketballnation/post/_/id/39664/previewing-mauis-second-day-of-action

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KGphoto 2 years, 8 months ago

Nice read.

"...with the athletic whirlwind that is Jayhawks forward Thomas Robinson. Combine Robinson's likely interior dominance..."

I couldn't agree more.

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TheGiftedOne 2 years, 8 months ago

Nelson is still bummed his close friend Honeycutt made the jump without him. Just needs some time to gel with the Wear twins. This UCLA team has some talent but Idk if they are athletic enough to hang with this 'hawks team. The UCLA guards aren't especially talented but if Nelson can clean up the glass a little bit they could stay close. Look for Nelson to be in foul trouble but still being a factor.

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