Saturday, December 10, 2005

Farmar Scores 24 Leads Bruins Over Nevada

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Jordan Farmar hit on 10 of 13 field goals for 24 points to lead the UCLA Bruins to a 67-56 victory over the Nevada Wolf Pack at the 12th annual John R. Wooden Classic. The Bruins improved their record to 7-1 this season while handing Nevada their first lost of the season (5-1).

The game was tight throughout the first half as both teams started off tentatively until freshman Darren Collison checked into the game and kicked the tempo up a notch. The speedy guard from Rancho Cucamonga pushed the ball up the court and penetrated into the paint for 10 first half points. Collison did his most damage while Farmar was on the court with him - giving the Bruins speed and energy that the Wolf Pack could not match - as the Bruin transition game shifted into high gear and the Bruins went into the half with a 33-24 lead

The Bruins were able to contain WAC player of the year Nick Fazekas limiting to him to 3 field goals in the first half as Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Ryan Hollins took turns guarding Fazekas and got a lot of help from either sagging perimeter players or post players. Whenever Fazekas got the ball within 15 feet the Bruins immediately double teamed him forcing either a pass or tough shot. Although Fazekas finished with 24 points, the Bruin defenders limited his effectiveness in the offense throughout the game as Fazekas scored many of his points after the game was determined.

Arron Afflalo had 16 points mostly on transition baskets and drives to the hoop. The sophomore guard was simply too powerful and athletic for the Nevada guards to contain. Afflalo also finished with 8 rebounds.

The leading rebounder for the Bruins was once again Luc Richard Mbah a Moute who grabbed 9 rebounds' he also hit key free throws down the stretch to extend the Bruin lead.

Freshman Ryan Wright started the game at center and played a career high 33 minutes. Wright only had 3 points and 3 rebounds but he contributed with energy in the post and made some key deflections which led to offensive rebounds by the Bruins. Wright also did a good job in helping Mbah a Moute and Hollins double team Fazekas in the low post.

A huge key to the game was the stifling Bruin defense as they limited Nevada to only 37% shooting while in the meantime the Bruins shot a blistering 52%. Cedric Bozeman had an off game offensively but he played well on the defensive end limiting Nevada's Mo Charles to 4-13 shooting.

But the game belonged to Jordan Farmar. Farmar had a slow first half but then took over the game in the second half as he began to penetrate into the Wolf Pack defense for tear drop shots and layups. Then when the Wolf Pack guards backed off Farmar to prevent his pentration he hit on his 3-point jumpers - most of the time as the shot clock was winding down.

The victory over Nevada was the Bruins first victory this year over a top 25 ranked team and should help the Bruins in their ranking and overall RPI rating.

The Bruins now travel to Ann Arbor for a game next weekend against the Michigan Wolverines on December 17.


Thoughts About Coach John Wooden

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA Bruin fans know tomorrow's John R. Wooden Classic is more than just a basketball game but it's about a man - Coach John Wooden - though Coach Wooden would prefer it was just about the basketball game.

I've had the fortunate opportunity to have two brief conversations with Coach Wooden. One enters into a convesation with Coach Wooden in starstruck awe but then leaves with the feeling that you had just encountered greatness. All this from a gentle, elderly man of now 95 years.


Below are some good wishes and thoughts from around the country today on Coach Wooden:

What Would Wooden Do? - “I get goose bumps just participating – it is a privilege and an honor,” Romar said. “He’s so gracious a man. You walk into the meeting with Coach, excited and ready to hear about this great basketball stuff. You leave thinking, ‘I was with one of the most gracious, humble human beings I have ever seen.’ ” News Tribune

Wooden Still Teaching After All These Years
- Wooden. Is any name in sports more revered? Think of one. Try. I'll stick with a man who's more proud that eight of his players became ministers than of the 10 NCAA championship banners he helped hang in UCLA's gym. The man whose life lessons hang in all kinds of places, all kinds of minds. Tampa Tribune

A John Wooden ‘Tangent’ - Washington coach Lorenzo Romar is an unabashed John Wooden fan. He has so much admiration for Wooden that he warns, “If you bring up John Wooden, you run the risk of me going off on a tangent.” The News Tribune

Royalty Graces UCLA

He stands 6 feet 7, yet there is something graceful there, something almost peaceful. It is not hard to envision something regal about Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. UCLA's starting freshman forward smiles easily. What few probably expected him to do was to succeed at was as an instant starter for the No. 16 Bruins.Yet, due partially the knee surgeries to fellow freshman and Cameroon native Alfred Aboya, Mbah a Moute has started UCLA's first seven games and led them in rebounding each time. L.A. Daily News

His name is Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. He doesn't mind that most of his teammates on the UCLA basketball team address him as Luke or Luke Richard, even though his first name is French, the proper pronunciation being Loo-c Ree-shard Umbah-a-moo-teh. And he doesn't mind being treated as just one of the guys, a freshman and fellow student, even though in his native Cameroon he is close to royalty, the son of a village chieftain. L.A. Times

Friday, December 09, 2005

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's Father Dies at 86

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's father, Ferdinand L. Alcindor, died Friday from organ failure after a long bout with senile dementia. He was 86. Alcindor died at Coney Island Hospital, the Los Angeles Lakers said in a statement. Abdul-Jabbar is a special assistant coach with the team.

His son, Ferdinand Lewis Alcindor Jr., was born in 1947 and was known as Lew Alcindor before changing his name in 1971. Abdul-Jabbar went on to become the NBA's career scoring leader and a Hall of Famer. MSNBC

Matt Barnes Signed By Sixers

Sixers sign F Matt Barnes
The Philadelphia 76ers have brought back Matt Barnes to provide some frontcourt depth. The 76ers on Friday signed the 6-7 Barnes, who was acquired with fellow forwards Chris Webber and Michael Bradley in a six-player deal with Sacramento in February. ESPN

Bozeman at Ease Standing Just Outside the Spotlight

Considering all that he's been through since he enrolled at UCLA as one of the nation's most highly touted basketball players, that's more profound than it might seem. "I put a lot of pressure on myself in the past,'' Bozeman said recently. "This year, I feel much more relaxed. Whatever happens, I can accept. I'm living in the moment and having a great time with this team.'' Daily Breeze

UCLA Men's Basketball Injury Update (12/9)

By Bruin Basketball Report

The Bruin squad continues to be on the mend as it prepares to face the Nevada Wolf Pack at the John R. Wooden Classic on Saturday.

"It's really been hard," Howland said. "I've never in my 25 years seen this many injuries. Not only for my team, but for any team. It's been crazy." Injuries have most deeply impacted the center postion on the team.

Sophomore Lorenzo Mata suffered a concussion last Thursday at practice and is listed day-to-day and is not expected to play on Saturday. Mata had been averaging 3.0 ppg and 3.5 rpg in 15 minutes per contest. Prior to the injury Mata had earned the starting spot at center over the two seniors primarily due to his his post defense and rebounding.

During the same Thursday practice senior Michael Fey sprained his right ankle and is expected to miss at least 4-5 more days and will most likely miss Saturday's game as well. "It's feeling good, most of the swelling is going down," Fey said. "It's just bruised. I haven't tried running on it. As far as running and practice I'm not sure."

With both Mata and Fey out with injuries, the Bruins will be quite thin in the middle as they play against the WAC Player of the Year power forward Nick Fazekas.

In the Coppin St. game Howland started freshman Ryan Wright at center to begin the game and Alfred Aboya to start the second, however, senior Ryan Hollins played the bulk of the minutes during UCLA's key run in the second half. Expect the three to rotate minutes again at the five spot with the player performing the best gaining the most playing time.

Ryan Hollins the enigmatic 7-foot senior has the most experience and is the Bruins best shot blocker but is not a good post offensive or defensive player. He may be matched up against Fazekas during the game due to his length and speed, although Luc Richard Mbah A Moute will probably have the starting defensive assignment against Fazekas.

Ryan Wright earned to start at center in the last game because he had grabbed the most rebounds at the last practice, yet interestingly, it was Michael Fey who had grabbed top rebounding honors at Thursday's practice before injuring himself. Expect Howland to give the starting nod to the highest rebounder from practice again.

Alfred Aboya played 16 mintues against Coppin St. and may play more minutes against Nevada depending on how well his knees responded to the last game and increased practice time. In addition, Aboya is still learning the Bruin offensive and defensive schemes. "He missed a defensive rotation in the game", Howland said, it will take a few practices before Aboya is comfortable in the game.

Jordan Farmar played 35 minutes against Coppin St after coming back from an ankle injury. He "tweaked" it once during the game but he was able to play effectively earning his first double-double in a college game - 16 points and 10 assists.

Ben Howland announced that Josh Shipp may return within the next two weeks to begin practicing with the team. He hopes to have Shipp back by the Wagner game on Dec. 21, thereby giving him some game time experience before the start of Pac-10 conference play which begins on Dec. 29 agasint Stanford at Pauley Pavilion.


Thursday, December 08, 2005

Ex-Wooden Assistant Reminisces About Coach

Were it not for Eddie Powell, a legend named John Wooden might have spent his entire coaching career at the University of Minnesota instead of UCLA.

"It was just a stroke of luck," Powell says, his memory obviously as sharp as Wooden's still is. "One phone call didn't come through, or everything would have been different."

Two days before the 12th John R. Wooden Classic at The Pond, it is fascinating to reminisce with this lifelong friend of Wooden's who really did alter the landscape of college basketball. O.C Register

UCLA vs. Nevada (John R. Wooden Classic) - Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

The No.16/No. 18 UCLA Bruins (6-1) take on the No.17/No. 22 Nevada Wolf Pack (5-0) in the 12th Annual John R. Wooden Classic at the Arrowhead Pond on Saturday, Dec.10 at 2:30 PM (PT).

It will be UCLA's 9th appearance in the Wooden Classic where the Bruins hold an overall 5-3 record. In last year's game the Bruins lost to Boston College 74-64.

The Wolf Pack are undefeated at 5-0 and recently beat Kansas in Lawrence 72-70. They are led in scoring and rebounding by a pair of excellent forwards: Nick Fazekas and Mo Charlo.

2005 WAC player of the year junior forward Nick Fazekas (6'11 230) averages 22.4 points and 8.8 rebounds a game. He has a good low post game and can step out to hit the mid-long range jumper. Fazekas scored 35 points to key the Wolf Pack victory over Kansas.

Mo Charlo a 6'7 senior slashing forward (15.2 ppg 7.6 rpg) can get to the basket and finish or end up at the foul line. He went 11-11 from the line against Pacfic last weekend. Charlo is also the Wolf Pack's most tenacious defender.

Nevada also gets good scoring from 6'5 sophomore guard Marcelus Kemp who is the second leading scorer on the team (16.6 ppg).

The Wolf Pack have a tough defense which has allowed only a 39.% FG% in the five games this season; and they have also outrebounded opponents +6.2 on the boards.

The Bruins toughest defensive match up will be against high-scoring power forward Nick Fazekas. Most likely the Bruins will start freshman Luc Ricahrd Mbah A Moute (6'7) against Fazekas. Alfred Aboya (6'8), who played 16 minutes in his return to action last week, will also get a turn at him. If Fazekas's size is too much for either Mbah A Moute or Aboya, we may see 7-footer Ryan Hollins match up against Fazekas during the game.

Regardless of who will gaurd Fazekas - expect coach Ben Howland to direct his other players on the court to give as much help defense as possible. Although Howland does not like to play zone defense, he will have his Bruin guards and forward sag down to help out the low post defender on Fazekas. The Wolf Pack don't shoot from the outside exceptionally well although they do shoot 39% from the 3-point line, but they don't shoot often from the arc (74 3-point attempts through 5 games while the Bruins have taken 125).

The Bruins will have to not only put a stronger defensive effort against a tough Nevada team, but they need to execute much better in their offensive half court sets where they've struggled thus far in the season. With key injuries to players it has been difficult for the team to execute their offense. Michael Fey is doubtful for this game due (ankle) and Josh Shipp will be out for another few weeks.

Whether the Bruin half-court offense is clicking or not, expect the Bruins to push the ball up against Nevada at every opportunity for easy transition baskets. The Bruins have a longer bench as they play 9-10 players even with the injuries to the team while Nevada basically plays 6, maybe 7 at times in games.

In addition, the Bruins should pressure the Wolf Pack guards up the court to establish a faster tempo for the game. Nevada does not have a dominant backcourt; however the Bruins do with Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo. The Bruins must take advantage of their backcourt superiority to balance out the advantage Fazekas gives the Wolf Pack on the front line.

The game will be a good test to show how far the Bruin team has progressed this season.

UCLA Record in the John R. Wooden Classic

2004-05(L)-Boston College 74, UCLA 64
2003-04(L)–No. 9 Kentucky 52, UCLA 50
2001-02(W)–No. 20 UCLA 79, No. 16 Alabama 57
2000-01(L)–Georgia Tech 72, UCLA 67
1998-99(W)–No. 18 UCLA 69,No. 11 Okla. St. 66
1997-98(W)–No. 15 UCLA 69,No. 8 New Mex. 58
1995-96(W)–UCLA 73, No. 20 Maryland 63
1994-95(W)–No. 2 UCLA 82, No. 7 Kentucky 81


Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Marko Spica Signs National Letter of Intent with UCLA

Unable to land two big men from its own area, UCLA went nearly halfway around the world to get a player Bruins coach Ben Howland is yet to see in person. Two weeks after receiving a copy of Marko Spica's binding national letter of intent, Howland finally announced it Tuesday. UCLA said it wanted to receive the original copies of the letter of intent before making it public. However, the 6-foot-8, 225-pound Spica, who is attending the High School of Sport in Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro, has yet to qualify, and must get through the NCAA clearinghouse before being eligible to play. He took the SATs last week, Howland said. L.A. Daily News

Marko Spica, a 6-9, 225-pound post player from Belgrade, Serbia and Montenegro, has signed a National Letter of Intent to play basketball at UCLA, Bruin head coach Ben Howland announced Tuesday. Spica will be an incoming freshman for the 2006-07 school year. "Marko is a skilled post player, who also has the ability to step out and make a shot," Howland said. "He and James Keefe give us two talented inside players for next season." UCLA Press Release

At his weekly news conference Tuesday, Howland announced that Marko Spica, of Serbia and Montenegro, a 6-foot-8 1/2 , 230-pounder, has signed a letter of intent to attend UCLA. "He is skilled," Howland said. "He can score down low. He can step out and shoot. He rebounds, he blocks out and he plays physical." Los Angeles Times

UCLA announced Tuesday, nearly one month after the November signing period, it has a national letter of intent from 6-foot-8 forward/center Marko Spica from Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Spica, who Coach Ben Howland said he has yet to meet or see play in person, has not yet gained admission to the university. O.C. Register

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Wright Happier Being on Court

If UCLA had its way, freshman center Ryan Wright would spend the year getting stronger, being coached and learning the game better without game action. Wright, who made his first start in Sunday's 69-57 win against feeble Coppin State at Pauley Pavilion, said he was asked to redshirt but elected to play.

"I think he's getting better and better," Howland said of Wright. "He's really long. This was a bad game for him ... from a standpoint of having to guard a little 6-4 guy. Hollins has had more experience with that, and that's why I went with Ryan predominantly in the second half." One of the reasons UCLA wanted Wright to redshirt was his lack of competition while playing at Loyola High located near Toronto. L.A. Daily News

Monday, December 05, 2005

Bruins Fall Asleep Then Awaken To Beat Coppin St.

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Perhaps the Bruins have difficulty getting motivated against lesser teams as the 16th ranked Bruins (6-1) trailed Coppin St.(0-6) by five points at halftime before rallying in the second half to defeat the Eagles 69-57.

Coppin St. played a patient, slow down half-court offense which seemingly lulled the #16 ranked Bruins to sleep in the first half. The Eagles passed the ball around for almost the entire shot clock before taking a shot attempt - and making most of the them on their way to shooting 60% in the first half.

In the meantime the Bruins once again played down to the level of their opponent. UCLA had problems executing their half court offense against a stubborn Eagle zone defense while managing only 39 shots for the ENTIRE game - the Bruins came into the game averaging over 50 field goal attempts per game.

On the defensive end the Bruins were unable to force many turnovers while allowing Coppin St. to set the slow deliberate tempo. The Eagles ended the game with only 10 turnovers while the Bruins committed 15 total.

The Bruins overcame the first half deficit with an 11-3 run to open the second half to take a 41-38 lead led by sophomore Arron Afflalo and senior Cedric Bozeman who hit key baskets and free throws to awaken the Bruins and put them ahead for good. Afflalo and Bozeman ended the game with 20 and 15 respectively.

The young Eagle players also had abandoned their controlled slow tempo offense at the start of the second half much to the dismay of their head coach Ron Mitchell, and were never able to quite recover as the Bruins began to pull away due to Coppin St. turnovers and mistakes. "We lost our composure," Mitchell said. "We gave them (Bruins) a lot of easy baskets to start the second half. You can't do that if you want to win at a place like this."

Jordan Farmar, who was questionable for the game due to an ankle sprain, played well and scored 16 points and handed out 10 assists - 5 more assists than the entire Coppin St. team

The UCLA center spot already plagued by inconsistent play and injuries this year, again failed to meet the challenge. With a Coppin St. team which played no player taller than 6'7, Ryan Wright and Ryan Hollins combined for an anemic one point and three rebounds in 30 minutes. Ryan Wright was given the start since he grabbed the most rebounds during practice played only seven minutes - all in the first half. With the Bruins behind after the first half, coach Ben Howland went with Ryan Hollins and Alfred Aboya in the second half.

Alfred Aboya, finally playing in his first college basketball game, grabbed 2 rebounds and handed out 2 assists in just 16 minutes of play. Aboya played a combination of center and power forward and was impressive in the post. Although he missed both his shot attempts in the game, Aboya was given the ball twice in the low block and created basketed off assist plays each time. With more time and experience, Aboya will help the interior game of the Bruins.

Luc Richard Mbah A Moute recorded his second straight double-double with 11 points and 10 rebounds in addition to 4 blocked shots. A matter of fact, Mbah A Moute grabbed over 30% of the total Bruin rebounds and had only 2 less than the entire Coppin St. team. Once again he was hustling all over the court as he continued to impress his coaches and other observers. Mbah A Moute has definitely shown to be a special player for the Bruins this year.

With the break-out play of Mbah A Moute and promising beginning for Alfred Aboya - don't be surprised to see a frontline which may include a combination of Mbah A Boute, Aboya, Bozeman, and Shipp garner the majority of the minutes.

Although the Bruins held Coppin St to 43% in the second half, the Eagles finished the night at a hot 53% pace - way too high a percentage for an opposing team to shoot against a Ben Howland coached team and much too high for a low caliber team to shoot against a team like UCLA.

The Bruins must improve their play and intensity dramatically by next Saturday as the they face the #20 ranked Nevada at the Wooden Classic at the Anaheim, Arrowhead Pond. Nevada plays a tough inside game - a weakness this Bruin squad must improve in order to advance beyond their finish last year in March.


Sunday, December 04, 2005

Matt Barnes Waived by Knicks

By Bruin Basketball Report

The New York Knicks announced today that former UCLA Bruins forward Matt Barnes has been waived. Barnes averaged 4.3 points and 4.0 rebounds in six games this season.

The Citrus Heights, California native was originally signed as a free agent on Oct. 6, 2005 and was the starting small forward for the Knicks on opening day.

Barnes had also played for the Sacramento Kings and Los Angeles Clippers.

He was originally selected in the second round (17th pick) by the Memphis Grizzlies in 2002.

As a four year letterman at UCLA, Matt Barnes averaged 13.5 points and 6.2 rebounds per game in 2002 as a senior.