Ringo H.W. Chiu/Associated Press
If stealing is where the Bruins show a deft touch, then defending the heart of the paint is where they falter.
Part of their problem is having unbalanced personnel. From an aesthetic standpoint, it appears the team is well stocked. They have two 6'10'' twins in fifth-year seniors David and Travis Wear; a burly, 6'8'', 260-pound sophomore power forward in Tony Parker; and a sculpted, hyper-athletic freshman in 6'9'', 220-pound Wanaah Bail.
Looks are deceiving. The Wears play a lot like European bigs, setting high screens and drifting around the perimeter and elbows for jump shots. It is rare to see their strong frames boxing out position around the rim to rebound or forcing their way to the bucket for point-blank shots that would likely send them to the free-throw line.
Tony Parker has made slow, inconsistent progress. He is a powerful oak at the rim when he plays, but he is often in foul trouble or sitting on the bench because he cannot get his bearings defensively. He averages almost three fouls a game in just 18 minutes.
Parker scores seven points and collects five rebounds, which makes him the team's third best rebounder. If he matured into his position and the team's structure, he would play at least 25 minutes a night and make a profound impact on the course of a game. As of now, he is promising but unfulfilled potential.
Bail, a true freshman, has not gotten up to speed. As an athlete, he is ready to play almost anywhere on earth, but his skills and acuity do not equal his body or allow him to use the athleticism to the detriment of opponents. Bail plays five minutes a game and is statistically irrelevant.
The Bruins' major defensive statistics reflect all of this. Their effective field goal percentage, three-point percentage, true shooting percentage, field goals and free throws allowed per game are all worse than 107th nationally. Teams get good shots and good second shots, and they get to shoot 21 free throws a night on average.
Against Oregon State, a game the Bruins would have lost if their offense had not ignited in the second half, they lost the rebounding battle 36-31. In the NCAA tournament, they will meet a team with big bangers who are going to force the crisis inside. This is a major concern for this team.