UCLA basketball team gets set for China

UCLA basketball team gets set for China

Published Aug. 20, 2012 1:36 p.m. ET

The UCLA basketball team will hold practices on Monday and Tuesday in preparation for exhibition games in China over the next week.

With the Bruins scheduled to depart from Los Angeles International Airport at 1:40 a.m. Wednesday after midnight on Tuesday, Coach Ben Howland said he likes the 10 extra sessions that the NCAA allows for schools participating in international competition.

"It has really helped us to practice as a team," he said. "That gives us an early start on the season, which is a big year for us."

Freshman standout Shabazz Muhammad, still being investigated by the NCAA in regard to possible improper benefits, will not make the trip. Another top newcomer, Tony Parker, will travel with the team but is recuperating from a hamstring injury and might not play.

Travis and David Wear have impressed Howland this summer, as has the outside shooting of freshman Jordan Adams. The coach said that transfer guard Larry Drew III, trying to prove he is a better player than he showed at North Carolina, "may be our most indispensable player."

With games against two college teams and one professional team in Beijing and Shanghai, the Bruins have a chance to show some of what Howland promises will be a new look on offense.

"We're really trying to implement a fast-paced transition game," he said. "That's been the biggest emphasis since these practices started."

-David Wharton