Saturday, December 03, 2005

Short-Handed Bruins Host Coppin St. on Sunday

By Bruin Basketball Report

The No. 16 ranked UCLA Bruins (5-1) play host to the Coppin St. Eagles (0-5) on Sunday as injuries continue to sideline Bruin players.

Center Lorenzo Mata (concussion) and forward Josh Shipp (hip) will miss Sunday's contest against the Eagles while Michael Fey (ankle) and Jordan Farmar (ankle) are both day-to-day and are questionable for the game as well.

Both Mata and Fey were injured during UCLA's Thursday practice and both did not practice on Friday, however, the Bruins did receive good news on Farmar when a third medical opinion confirmed that his injury was only a sprained ankle.

The rash of injuries leave the Bruins with potentially just seven lettermen to suit up for Sunday's game - although it will give some players who have played limited minutes this season an opportunity to show their game.

Freshman Alfred Aboya finally rejoins the Bruins tomorrow and will play both center and power forward positions yet its unlikely he will play more than 15-20 minutes. Aboya is still regaining his wind and learning the team's system. "He has no clue where he's supposed to be on out of bounds plays, on the press offense, on anything," Howland said of Aboya. "He's really starting way behind. It's so much harder to learn by watching than by doing it in practice."

Ryan Wright a 6'8 230lb freshman from Ontario Canada should garner some minutes against Coppin St. Wright has good size and is very athletic but he appears to play too quickly at times and needs to get more comfortable with the competition at the Division 1 level. Wright appeared lost on offense and defense against Albany, his first significant playing time, but he did hit a nice turnaround for his first collegiate points in the game.

Since Coppin St. does not field a player taller than 6'7, the Bruin injuries to their big men should not hurt very much tomorrow. We might even see coach Ben Howland go with a smaller lineup at times - such as fresman sensation Luc Richard Mbah A Moute at center.

Darren Collison will probably play 30-plus minutes again tomorrow with Cedric Bozeman backing up at the point. This is another great opportunity for Collison to develop his skills at the point. Against Albany, Collison struggled at the point and actually did better as the shooting guard when Howland had Bozeman playing point guard during the crucial final minutes of the game. Free to roam without the ball, Collison scored 8 key points for the Bruin victory.

The Eagles have two players who score in double figures; 6'4 sophomore forward Darryl Proctor and 5'9 sophomore guard Darryl Roberts. Coppin St. has been picked to finish seventh in the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference. Coppin St. plays in the same conference as Delaware St whom the Bruins defeated earlier in the year 56-37.

It's the first meeting between the two schools.

( note: Congratulations to the Bruins football team on a most memorable season. We'll get them next year!

Friday, December 02, 2005

UCLA Men's Basketball Injury Update (12/2)

On Friday afternoon, Jordan Farmar sought a second opinion on his right ankle sprain (right foot) and was told again that he did not have a right foot stress fracture (on Tuesday night before the Albany game, Farmar was initially told by UCLA team physicians that he did not have a right foot stress fracture). Farmar's status is "day-to-day" and his availability for Sunday's game will be a game time decision. He did not practice Friday.

Lorenzo Mata suffered a concussion in Thursday's practice. He did not practice Friday and he will not play on Sunday vs. Coppin State.

Michael Fey suffered a right ankle sprain in Thursday's practice. His status is "day-to-day" and his availability for Sunday's contest will be a game time decision. Fey did not practice Friday.

No. 16 UCLA (5-1) hosts Coppin State (0-5) on Sunday at 1 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins will then take Monday off and resume practice on Tuesday, preparing for Saturday's (Dec. 10) Wooden Classic at the Arrowhead Pond in Anaheim (noon-No. 18 Washington vs. New Mexico/2:30 p.m.-No. 16 UCLA vs. No. 20 Nevada).

(UCLA Press Release)

Basketball Players Strive to Excel as Substitutes

The storyline for the UCLA men's basketball team's game against Coppin State will be as much about the players who aren't playing as the ones who are. Although that may be the case, the Bruins have been able to win games in which freshmen Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Darren Collison have played crucial offensive roles.

"I've been in this position before, and I want to take advantage of it," Collison said of his new role on the team in the absence of sophomore point guard Jordan Farmar. Daily Bruin

Kevin Love Narrows Choices to Three

Lake Oswego’s Kevin Love has narrowed his choice of colleges to three. “It’s UCLA, Duke and North Carolina,” says the junior All-American, one of the nation’s most coveted prep basketball players.

Is one of the three ahead of the other two on his list? “Not really,” he says. “They’re all right there. I’d like to hear a little more from Duke, but North Carolina and UCLA are pretty much at the top right now. In the next year, a couple more could open up, but not many. Ohio State or Kansas could come up. You never know.” Portland Tribune

Aboya Cleared to Play

Alfred Aboya, the 6-foot-8, 233-pound freshman from Cameroon, has been cleared to practice and sophomore point guard Jordan Farmar's ankle injury still appears to be a sprain. Aboya, who had arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in July and on the left in October, was expected to practice 50 minutes to an hour the next couple of days, Howland said. Aboya may even play in No. 16-ranked UCLA's game Sunday against Coppin State at Pauley Pavilion. Los Angeles Times

Thursday, December 01, 2005

Farmar Seeks Third Opinion

Jordan Farmar's personal physician will read a pair of MRI tests on the guard's injured right ankle and foot, and results might not be known until Friday, the UCLA star's father said Wednesday. Farmar said he was told Monday's MRI on his injured ankle showed a stress fracture in his foot. A second MRI, taken Tuesday, showed no stress fracture, Bruins coach Ben Howland said. L.A. Daily News

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Prince Luc's Double-Double Leads To Bruin Win Over Albany

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

College basketball freshmen are suppose to take time during their first season to learn about the game at the college level.

Meet Freshman Prince Luc Richard Mbah a Moute of Camaroon.

Mbah a Moute continued to impress his coaches and Bruin faithful as he recorded a double-double to lead the Bruins (5-1) to a 73-65 victory over the Albany Great Danes (1-4) at Pauley Pavilion.

He recorded 13 points and 13 rebounds (8 on the offensive board)and again demonstrated the hustle and heady play which has made him an early Bruin fan favorite. Mbah a Moute has a nose for the ball which would make him a good rebounder at any level of play.

In a game in which the inside game for the Bruins was lacking again, Mbah a Moute was a bright spot on the frontline with his aggressive play on both ends of the court. He also sunk his first 3-point shot of the season as a trailer on a fast break in the first half.

The Bruins played without their playmaker Jordan Farmar whose status was subject to much confusion prior to the game.

Earlier in the day it was reported that Farmar had a stress fracture from an ankle injury he suffered in the Memphis game and might possibly be out of action for 4-6 weeks. However it was later reported that a second MRI was taken on the ankle and the results were negative - showing only a sprained ankle.

Farmar's status is day to day status and most likely will miss only about a week. A huge sigh of relief for Bruin fans.

The Bruins broke out to a 19 point lead against Albany in the first half only to have Albany cut the lead to just five before the half.

"After getting the big lead we let down a bit and got a little cute", said Coach Ben Howland, as he inserted little played Ryan Wright and Janou Rubin into the lineup at the same time which resulted in less than optimal court play and led to the cut in the lead.

Freshman Darren Collison started in place of Farmar and struggled in the first half. On the first play of the game Collison committed a charge and then committed another turnover on an ill-advised half-court pass which was easily stolen and converted into a 3-point score.

However Collison was able to pull together in the second half to score 8 points, two 3-point shots, down the stretch to help the Bruins keep their distance from Albany. He ended the game with 3 assists but he also had 5 turnovers.

Cedric Bozeman provided leadership through his controlled and effective play. Bozeman scored 16 points and had 3 assists and played back-up point guard.

Moreover, it was Bozeman running the offense during crunch time with less than four minutes left in the game as he found Collison twice on the wing for open 3-point shots. In addition, Bozeman hit on 4-6 shots from the arc mostly in the first half to get the Bruin offense going.

Coach Ben Howland continued his Lorenzo Mata experiment by starting Mata in the Albany game. Mata's reviews were mixed as he only grabbed two rebounds and was charged with three offensive fouls on moving picks, but Mata was a defensive force at times as he had two blocked shots.

Mata's play appeared to inspire Ryan Hollins to play more aggresively as Hollins recorded three blocked shots as well.

Once again, sophomore Arron Afflalo led the Bruins with 22 points on 8-14 shooting and collected 7 rebounds as well. Afflalo's consistent high offensive output this year can be attributed to his improved outside shooting - something which he worked on very hard this summer.

The Bruins held Albany to only 36% shooting; however, the Bruins gave up way too many offensive rebounds to the Great Danes - 18 total, which helped keep Albany in the game.

Post Game Notes: It was nice to see Alfred Aboya in full uniform and warming up with the team. Howland stated that Aboya will begin full practice drills by this Saturday and may be available for some playing time against Coppin St next week.

The Bruins play Coppin St. on Sunday 1:00PM at Pauley.


Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Dijon Thompson Recalled by Suns

By Bruin Basketball Report

Great news about Dijon! One of the hardest working young players in the league:

Suns rookie guard Dijon Thompson was recalled over the weekend from Albuquerque of the Developmental League after a successful stint with the Thunderbirds. The UCLA graduate averaged 16.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.33 steals in three games. sat down with the 6-7, 195-pound swingman to talk about his experiences in Albuquerque and his thoughts on returning to the Valley.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Alfred Aboya Eyes Comeback Soon

By Bruin Basketball Report

Alfred Aboya is scheduled to rejoin the team during the first week of December perhaps in time for the Wooden Classic game versus Nevada on December 10th. He had arthoscopic knee surgery on October 12.

Aboya said, "I'll be back in two weeks" Aboya said. "Don't worry. I'll be back."

As evidenced in games versus Memphis and Drexel during the NIT, the Bruins need to shore up the paint and Aboya at 6'8 and 242 lbs may be part of the solution. Aboya plays a tough inside game the Bruins currently lack and will certainly need when they enter into Pac 10 play in December.

Before Aboya's injury, head coach Ben Howland had suggested he was the Bruins most fierce and best rebounder on both ends of the court.

Coupled with his fellow countryman, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute who has been the Bruins leading rebounder this season, both players figure to play key roles on the team this year as just freshmen.


UCLA vs. Albany - Preview

No. 16/17 UCLA (4-1) vs. ALBANY (1-3) - Pauley Pavilion, 7:30 p.m

The Albany Great Danes, in their seventh season as a Div. 1 program, are 1-3 - opened the season in the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic at Gainesville, FL - beating Oakland (Rochester, MN) 90-73 and losing to host Florida (83-64). On Nov. 21 at Albany, the Great Danes lost to Sacred Heart 63-61 and on Nov. 26, Albany lost at San Diego State 80-53.

Albany has three players averaging in double figures, led by Jamar Wilson's 17.5 points.

In Blue Ribbon, Albany was selected to finish first in the America East Conference, with Wilson and Levi Levine All-Conference selections. Wilson and Lucious Jordan were second-team All-League choices last season.

Last season, Albany was 13-15 overall and 9-9 in the conference (fourth-place).

Albany Athletic Director Lee McElroy, in his sixth year, is a UCLA graduate (1970). As a Bruin, McElroy was a football letterman at linebacker from 1967-69 and a two-year starter.

This is the first meeting between the two schools.

Head Coach Will Brown is in his fifth season at Albany with a school and career mark of 33-75.

(UCLA Press Release)

Sunday, November 27, 2005

More Senior Leadership Could Help Team

By Bruin Basketball Report

Senior leadership - an intangible this UCLA Bruin team could use more of as the season progresses.

The Bruins currently have four seniors on the team; three who play significant roles on the team, Michael Fey, Ryan Hollins, and Cedric Bozeman (Janou Rubin is the 4th). Of the seniors, Cedric Bozeman would be the most natural one to step up and be the team leader.

Bozeman has earned the respect of his teammates by rehabilatating from injury to play in a fifth year at UCLA where he has played under two different head coaches and was a three year starter at point guard where he led the Pac 10 in assists just over a season ago.

However, Bozeman appears to have defaulted the leaderhsip role to Wooden Award nominee sophomore Jordan Farmar.

Farmar is clearly the best offensive player on the team, the most vocal, and has a natural leadership spot from the point guard position. But a team leader is more than just the best player or most vocal - he is the player who is most respected on the team. As a fifth senior who has seen it all at UCLA, Bozeman is the most solid choice.

Don't get me wrong - I love Jordan Farmar and his game - he is the best PG we've had since Earl, but every big-time team could use steady mature senior leadership to solidify the team. Dijon was the senior guy last year and it was one of the biggest keys to the 1995 championship run (i.e Edny/O'Bannon).

Head coach Ben Howland has made a mistake in not leveraging Bozeman's leadership potential on the team.

Howland annointed Farmar the starting PG and leader on "offense", but he needs to encourage Bozeman to take a larger leadership role on a team whose key players in the rotation are four sophomores and four freshmen.

Former UCLA star and now radio commentator, Don McLean, has noted how calming an influence Bozeman's play has been from the forward position and how it has been a huge positive for the team.

Aside from Bozeman's excellent on ball defense and passing, leadership is the best asset he could bring to this team.