Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 12/3/11
Before the start of the season Joshua Smith was thought of to be an immoveable force in the middle of the UCLA paint. Smith hasn't been able to have such success through UCLA's first six games, with a lot of his moves being made towards the UCLA bench. He can't get out of his own way. Through six games, he has committed 21 fouls. He's had at least three fouls in every game and fouled out in the loss to Kansas. In some instances, he's late to give help, in other occurrences he feels it's just tough luck. "In the Kansas game, I tried to take a charge three times and they were three blocks. I watched film, it might have looked like I was moving at the last second. I just got to stay on my feet and wall up," said Smith. Undeniable is his conditioning, which has contributed to his foul struggles. Head coach Ben Howland puts it bluntly, saying his center "has to get in better condition." With the enormous expectations around him, Smith has looked a shell of the player he was at the end of last season. However, he says he's still that player and even in better shape than he was then when he finished the season scoring double-figures in 12 of his final 15 games. "Honestly, how I feel right now, I feel like I was in better shape now than I was last year, but if you look at my numbers people will say that wouldn't be categorized as that," said Smith. Howland added: "I think his conditioning is way behind where he was last year at the end of the season. I think that's the biggest thing effecting Josh right now." This season the Bruins center is averaging just over 17 minutes per game. He's fifth on the team in scoring (8.2ppg) and second in rebounding (5.5 rpg). Not exactly numbers you'd expect from a dominant force. Getting up and down the floor has been a challenge at times for the 6"10" 305-pounder and it could only increase Saturday when UCLA (2-4) hosts fast-paced Texas (4-2) at the Sports Arena at 1:30pm on Prime Ticket . He is making an effort. The Bruins were off on Tuesday, and Smith went in and did some extra work on his conditioning. An effort Howland says "was a positive" "It's hard because in practice we're still doing a lot of teaching and it's not like we're going up and down (the court) a ton," said Howland. "Josh's skill level is not the issue, it's just his ability to handle getting up and down (the court) four or five times before he starts having some fatigue." The challenge will be present against the Longhorns, who love to get up and down the floor with the three guard lineup of J'Covan Brown (20.3 ppg), Myck Kabongo (9.7 ppg), and Julien Lewis (9.8 ppg). "They're really athletic and quick and fast," said Howland. "I think their good guard play is as good as anybody that we've seen." Texas has just one player over their roster over 6'7". The Bruins have yet to win a game against a team from a major conference this season. Smith's production will be a huge part of any success they have going forward. Realizing that, he remains upbeat. "I feel good. I'm still working on it. This is just our (seventh) game. We still haven't got to the brink of the Pac-12 schedule. Last year (that's) where I kind of developed. It's still a long season," said Smith. Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry
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