'Steph Curry mode': Mick Cronin wants UCLA's Tyger Campbell hunting shots
Tyger Campbell has been the quintessential floor general to this point in his career in Westwood.
But the fifth-year senior will see his role “dramatically” change this season.
UCLA coach Mick Cronin was asked Wednesday at Pac-12 Basketball Media Day about the advantages having a veteran point guard gives to an offense in today’s game. “A huge advantage,” he responded. Interchangeability and switchability are the names of the game, but UCLA has had a true point guard in lockstep with Cronin for years and that has proven invaluable at times.
Campbell guided a Final Four run two seasons ago and then a trip back to the Sweet 16 last year. He’s been one of the sport’s best decision-makers with the ball in his hands throughout his career.
With Johnny Juzang and Jules Bernard — proven scorers on the wing — moving on, Cronin is imploring Campbell to be more selfish this season.
“Those days are over for him,” Cronin said of Campbell’s unselfishness as the guard cracked a smile. “He needs to shoot more now. He’s an elite shooter, one of the best in college basketball. His role is dramatically changing.”
Cronin said the message to Campbell this summer was to hunt shots.
“I’m on him. I want him in Steph Curry mode,” Cronin continued. “Tyger is the best in the country at taking care of the ball, can run the pick and roll, (but) run your team is out the window. He’s become such an elite shooter, that for us to win, he needs to be hunting shots.”
Campbell scored 32 points in UCLA’s closed-door scrimmage against San Diego State. Cronin said that included seven makes from the 3-point line, which opened up lanes to the basket late in the scrimmage.
“On this team, we have other point guards. Amari Bailey is a point guard. Dylan Andrews is a point guard,” Cronin said. “It’s going to help Tyger where he doesn’t have to bring it up. He’s going to be able to get off the ball some, which makes him happy. He doesn’t have to do all the dirty work of bringing it up all the time.”
That’ll be an adjustment that takes some time to get used to. Campbell has been pulling the strings for some time in the UCLA offense, settling things when needed. He averaged 4.3 assists a game last season, the third-most of any Pac-12 player.
“I’m just an extension of Coach,” Campbell said of the shift. “If Coach needs me to take more shots for our team, I’m going to take more shots.”
Added Cronin: “I’d like 30 a game since he’s going to deliver whatever I ask.”
Campbell shot 41% from 3 last season. He shot 25% the year prior. He stayed in the gym (Cronin helped that along in his own way) and improved the shot. This season, it sounds like we can expect even more of a scoring punch from the Bruins’ lead guard.
“Last year, we had a different group of guys, guys that could put the ball in the basket,” said Jaime Jaquez Jr. “Jules, Johnny were guys that could really shoot the ball at a high clip. And Cody down in the post, we definitely tried to get him involved in offense. Now we’ve got a lot of younger guys. There’s definitely a scoring hole to be filled with Johnny and Jules being gone, and Tyger has been stepping up to fill that role.
“He’s been able to shoot at a tremendously high clip. It’s incredibly hard to guard him in practice. I can’t lie, trying to chase him off screens, coming off pick-and-rolls (is hard). To see him go at everybody offensively really just makes everyone else better. Guys have to defend him. And we’re defending, to me, the best point guard in the country every day in practice, and that can only make us as a team that much better.”