Saturday, November 19, 2005

Bozeman Keys Bruin Win Over Delaware St.

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Senior leadership is a key component to many successful NCAA teams especially during close games and at tournament time - the Bruins are lucky to have fifth-year senior Cedric Bozeman back this year.

Despite opening with a 13-0 run to begin the game, the Bruins (3-0) could not put away little Delaware St. (0-1) until the final minutes of the game - finally winning by the score of 56-37.

Near the end of the first half Delaware St. had cut the Bruin first half lead to seven when Cedric Bozeman hit a 3-point basket right at the buzzer to push the lead back to double digits.

When Delaware threatened again with less than eight minutes in the game by slicing the Bruin lead to four - Bozeman hit two big 3-point shots to kill the rally.

Bozeman led all scorers with 15 points and was once again a calming influence on the young Bruin lineup which started two freshmen and one sophomore.

Freshman Michael Roll had his best game of the early regular season by hitting three 3-point shots towards the end of the game to help the Bruins finally pull away from Delaware St.

The Bruins will count on Roll to be a "zone killer" during the season when they face tough match-up zone defenses from teams such as Delaware St. and Temple.

Starting as the UCLA point guard in only his third regular season game, freshman Darren Collison played a gutsy 35 minutes in place of the injured Jordan Farmar. He scored the opening basket of the game on a fastbreak layup.

However, Delaware St. exploited Collison's inexperience by double teaming and trapping Collison whenever he had the ball - resulting either in rushed offensive sets or turnovers.

It was points off turnovers which kept Delaware St. in the game.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute continued to be a dominating rebounding presence for the Bruins grabbing a team high 6 rebounds. He also showed good ballhandling skills from the wings as he slashed his way to the basket on 4-5 shooting for 8 points.

Post Game Notes: Jordan Farmar (sprained ankle) is still day to day, but did walk into Pauley without any assistance and should play in the semifinal game against Memphis on Wednesday in the NIT Preseason Tip-Off Classic. Michael Fey (sprained shoulder) is also day to day.

If Farmar can't play against Memphis, expect Cedric Bozeman to see more minutes at point as his experience at the position is a key to the Bruin offense, at least until Farmar returns and Collison gains more college game experience.

Lorenzo Mata played serviceable back-up minutes for Fey, but Mata will need to stay out of foul trouble and stay aggressive on both ends of the court. If Mata gets into trouble then expect to see freshman, Ryan Wright, to see some minutes in the game against Memphis.

The victory against Delaware St. was Ben Howland's 200th victory as a head coach


Friday, November 18, 2005

Farmar and Fey Will Not Play Against Delaware

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA sophomore point guard Jordan Farmar and senior center Michael Fey, both injured in Thursday's second-round NIT Season Tip-Off Bruin 54-47 victory over Temple in Pauley Pavilion, will not play Saturday night when UCLA hosts Delaware State in a nonconference contest at 7:30 p.m.

Jordan Farmar, a Preseason Wooden Award candidate, sprained his right ankle and a Thursday night x-ray was negative. He is on crutches and wearing a walking boot.

Farmar also missed UCLA's first home exhibition game on Nov. 4 (groin strain) and freshman Darren Collison started for the Bruins at the point guard position.

Fey, who started 27 of 29 games last season, sprained and bruised his left shoulder and a Thursday night MRI was negative. He missed almost the first month of UCLA's practice with a severe groin strain and was cleared to begin workouts just last week.

Bruin senior center Ryan Hollins has started all four games for UCLA in the post.

"Jordan and Michael will be held out of Saturday's game vs. Delaware State," Bruin head coach Ben Howland said. "Their status will be on a day-to-day basis for the next few days, but we certainly hope to have them healthy and ready to play when we face Memphis in New York City on Wednesday."

The Bruins have been hit with a rash of injuries to start the season. Also injured are sophomore forward Josh Shipp (right hip surgery on Sept. 28-hopes to return for start of 2006 Pac-10 season) and freshman forward Alfred Aboya (left knee surgery on Oct. 28-could resume practice on Nov. 28).


Thursday, November 17, 2005

Invitation to the Big Apple, UCLA Beats Temple

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

New York City. Here they come! The Bruins (2-0) advanced to the semifinal round of the NIT Tip-Off Classic with a victory over the Temple Owls (1-1) 54-47.

Coach John Chaney's Owls brought their vaunted match-up zone defense into Westwood on Thursday and forced the Bruins into a 37% shooting performance. Fortunately for UCLA head coach Ben Howland, the Bruins man to man defense was even better holding Temple to 31% shooting.

Arron Afflalo followed up a career high 23 point night against New Mexico State with a a team high 18 point on 4 of 11 shooting from the 3-point arc.

Afflalo's shooting was especially needed after halftime when the Bruins offense stalled to begin the second half and allowed Temple to cut a 15 point lead to 8 in less than two minutes. After Michael Roll hit a 3 point shot to start the rally, Afflalo then scored the Bruins next 8 points to take the lead back to double digits.

With the lead cut to only three points with less than five minutes left in the game, the Bruins needed someone else to come up big own the stretch- and it was Ryan Hollins who stepped up with two quick scores to seal the second victory of the season for the Bruins.

The Bruins were sparked again by excellent rebounding from their two starting forwards, Senior Cedric Bozeman and and freshman Luc Richard Mbah A Moute who each had 9 and 10, respectively, for the Bruins who outrebounded the bigger Owls 41-29.

Bozeman continued to impress his coaches and fans with his ability to rebound then immediately push the ball up the court for fastbreak opporuntities.

Bozeman who began his career as a point guard was moved to forward due to the development of sophomore Jordan Farmar and the recent recruitment of Darren Collison. However, Bozeman has shown his value as a "point forward" which fits Howland's brand of fastbreak offense this year well.

The Bruins will have their biggest test yet in the young season when they face the 12th ranked Memphis Tigers who earlier in the day defeated Alabama.

Post Game Notes: Jordan Farmar rolled his ankle in the final minutes of the game but returned to finish the game. Michael Fey was hacked across his left shoulder to begin the second half and did not return. Their playing status is unknown for the next game against Delaware on Saturday at Pauley Pavilion.


Ryan Wright to Red-Shirt This Year?

By Bruin Basketball Report

Ryan Wright to Red-Shirt this year? Not if Ben Howland has anything to say about it.

Rumors rumbled through Westwood that freshman Ryan Wright might red shirt this year. Especially when he appeared to be sulking on the bench about not playing a single minute in the New Mexico St. game.

Ben Howland, in comments after the game, directly answered a question about this rumor and said "No, Ryan Wright will not redshirt this year".

Wright was a 6'8 highly regarded recruit from Ontario, Canada and had played well during the two exhibition games before not playing on Wednesday.

Howland regards Wright more as a "five"(center); and thus barring injuries he will be competing for minutes with seniors Michael Fey and Ryan Hollins, and sophomore Lorenzo Mata this year.


Tuesday, November 15, 2005

UCLA Wins Season Opener Against New Mexico St. in NIT

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Arron Afflalo scored 23 points as the UCLA Bruins (1-0) opened the 2005-06 season with a victory over the New Mexico St. Aggies (0-1) 83-70 in the opening round of the NIT Season Tip-Off GTournament (previously known as the NIT Preseason Kick-Off) in front of 6,258 at Pauley Pavilion.

Although the Bruins led by as much as 17 in the second half they could never pull away for good from New Mexico St. as the Aggies closed the deficit to within single digits at different times during the second half.

The Aggies defense gave the Bruins problems throughout the game as New Mexico St's coach Reggie Theus confused the Bruin offense with a steady mix of zone and man defenses.

Jordan Farmar who had 18 points and 8 assists appeared frustrated at times with some of his teammates when they failed to recognize the different defensive sets the Aggies played and got lost on offense resulting in a turnover or tough shot.

As a result the Bruin offense looked ragged at times. Coach Ben Howland knows his team will learn to recognize defensive sets better and learn to play better together as the season progresses.

Coach John Chaney's Temple Owls, the Bruin's second round opponent plays "100% zone defense", Howland said and playing against the Aggies zone tonight was a "good experience" for the team.

Fifth year senior Cedric Bozeman played well in his first regular season game since 2004. Bozeman, playing forward on a talented backcourt laden team, defended and passed very effectively - playing almost like a "point forward" for the team.

Howland felt Bozeman's experience was the key to the Bruin's offense. "He's played a lot of games for us and he knows what to do", Howland said after the game.

The freshmen group which sparkled during the two exhibition games played a bit nervously in their first regular season game. Darren Collison played only 12 minutes and appeared tentative at times. Luc Richard Mbah A Boute appeared lost at times however his high energized style of play did help him grab a team high 8 rebounds.

Micahel Fey played 23 minutes despite only participting in two practices with contact. When Fey gets into better game shape, he will give the Bruins an better inside offensive presence - something the Bruins lacked for most of the game against the Aggies.

Post Game Notes: Earlier in the day Janou Rubin was granted a 6th year of eligibility by the NCAA. Rubin gives the Bruins even more depth on the wings. The Temple Owls earlier defeated Army in their first round game to earn the second round berth against UCLA. The second round game will be played on 11/17 at 8:00PM at Pauley. The winner advances to the semifinal round in New York on 11/23.


Monday, November 14, 2005

UCLA Bruins 2005-06 Basketball Preview: Great Expectations

By Bruin Basketball Report

Head coach Ben Howland enters the 2005-06 basketball season with arguably his most talented and deepest squad since he joined the UCLA program two seasons ago.

The Bruins are ranked 18th in preseason collegiate basketball polls even though the team begins the season with two of their starters on the injured list. Yet, the Bruin team depth is such that it may be enough to overcome the injuries during the early part of the regular season schedule.

Overall team depth and talent was not a luxury Howland inherited from his predecessor. The basketball program was at a low point coming off a disasterous season with the team finishing 10-19 tied for last in the Pac-10.

If the UCLA basketball program had honestly looked itself in the mirror at the time, a dynastic powerhouse which boasted 11 national championship banners hanging from its rafters, it would have seen its reputation had lost some luster.

As a result, blue-chip recruits, and more importantly the local blue-chippers, were were looking at programs outside of Westwood.

With his second consecutive nationally ranked recruiting class, Howland now has quality players at every position which will allow him to go 9 or perhaps 10 players deep in most games.

More importantly, Howland will be able to practice his most honored theorem, "If you're too tired to defend or block-out during a game then you need to sit on the bench and we'll find someone who can do those things."

The freshmen joining the UCLA program add size, speed, and athleticsm to last year's squad which lost two key seniors - Dijon Thompson and Brian Morrison.

Darren Collison a 6'0 ultra quick point guard from Etiwanda High School gives the Bruins a quality back-up floor general to Jordan Farmar.

Last year, the Bruin offense sputtered when Farmar went to the bench. With Collison, the Bruins have a guard who can change the pace of the game with his sheer speed, and who on occasion when paired with Jordan Farmar in the backcourt will create match-up problems for opponents.

Alfred Aboya and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, both incoming freshmen from Camaroon, give the Bruins size and athleticism inside the paint where it was sorely missed last year.

Luc Richard already has shown explosiveness on both ends of the court and has shared rebounding high honors in both exhibition games.

Alfred Aboya is a 6'8 wide body who Howland feels will be the best overall rebounder on the team; however, Aboya is still rehabilitating from a summer time knee surgery and is expected to debut in a couple of weeks.

Sharpshooting freshman Michael Roll from Aliso Viejo knows his role on the team. Shoot when open and then shoot some more. Roll demonstrated his long distance prowess by hitting on 4 of 9 beyond the 3-point arc during exhibition games.

Rebounding will need to be a strong suit for the Bruin team this year - Coach Howland expects the Bruins to run the fast break at every opporuntiy.

And the only way the Bruins will be able to run effectively is if they rebound effectively on the defensive end.

While Ryan Hollins and Michael Fey are both 7-foot seniors - they have never consistently rebounded well; however, Bozeman and Luc Richard, although only 6'6-6'7, have been quick to the ball and have shown good rebounding instincts during exhibition games.

Add Alfred Aboya, all 6-8 242 lbs, and an ever improving Lorenzo Mata - the Bruin front court should be able to provide solid rebounding to support and compliment the running game Howland envisions.

Some may be surprised to find Ben Howland coaching a fast break running offense especially considering he coached bruising Pitt teams out in the Big East, but Howland has shown he can change his offensive strategies and schemes to fit his personnel.

Last year's Bruins offense was dominated by its perimeter players - led by Dijon Thompson, and even though the 05-06 squad is more balanced due to the addition of quality frontcourt recruits (Mbah a Moute and Aboya), the perimeter remains the focal point of the offense for this team.

With Farmar orchestrating the offense from the point, his lightening quick protege - Darren Collinson running the break, and sophmore swingman Arron Afflalo streaking down on the wings, the Bruins will look to score as many points on fastbreaks rather than relying on their half court sets.

Fifth-year senior Cedric Bozeman, along with seniors Fey and Hollins, should provide the Bruins with much needed leadership especially when the Pac-10 season begins in December.

Bozeman appears to have fully healed from his season ending knee injury last year, he has played well at the forward spot during exhibition games and even led the offense at times during the game.

Returning starter sophmore Josh Shipp begins the season on the injured list as he recovers from offseason hip surgery and is not scheduled to return until at least midseason.

Prior to his surgery, Howland felt that of all the returning players last year he thought Shipp had improved the most during the summer, in addition, Shipp has added 20 pounds of muscle to his frame.

The Bruins open the regular season tomorrow (11/15/05) at home in the first round of the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament against New Mexico State.

If the Bruins win against the Aggies, then it more than likely sets up a second round game against John Chaney's Temple Owls on Thursday (11/17/05) at Pauley.


(photo credit: AP)