Saturday, December 24, 2005

UCLA Pass by Sacramento for Easy Win

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

The UCLA Bruins (10-1) assisted on 28 of their 37 field goals on their way to an 86-56 rout of the Sacramento St. Hornets at Pauley Pavilion.

Sophomore Arron Afflalo had a huge game for the Bruins scoring a team-high 22 points, grabbing 7 rebounds, and handing out 4 assists.

Playing in their third game in seven days, there was concern the Bruins might be somewhat fatigued for this game. In addition, the team had started off slowly in each of their last four games getting behind early.

Bruins head coach Ben Howland gave the team a day off from court practice on Thursday and instead had the players watch the film of their uninspired defensive effort against Wagner. Howland preached to the team that they could not come out with the same poor effort against a high-energy Sacramento St. team and get behind early.

The UCLA players got the message this time around. Not only did the Bruins not fall behind early, but they got ahead and never looked back. The Bruins started this game with high intensity on both ends of the court.

UCLA began the game with an 18-2 run in the first six minutes.

Hoping to exploit their size advantage on the front line against the Hornets, the Bruins looked inside to score in the post. Sophomore center Lorenzo Mata began the scoring with a nice five foot hook from the baseline.

On the next possession, Jordan Farmar found Luc Richard Mbah a Moute underneath alone for a dunk. Farmar finished the game with 15 points (6-9 shooting) and 9 assists.

Sacramento St. played very weak interior defense in the game. Many times the Hornet players looked confused defensively which led to a number of blown assignments leading to easy Bruin scores.

The Hornets who came into this game with a reputation of being a running team in transition were never able to get it into gear - although it's tough to run in transition when you're consistently taking the ball out of bounds after a made field goal. The Bruins shot a sizzling 67% from the field for the game - 70% in the first half alone. They also shot 41% from behind the arc.

In their last game against Wagner, the Bruins lacked defensive intensity and allowed them to shoot 54% from the field. Against the Hornets the Bruins were very active and pressured the ball effectively - preventing dribble penetration and playing good team defense by rotating to the ball for double-teams or close-outs - forcing the Hornets into tough shots or turnovers.

The Bruins defense held the Hornets to a season low 31% FG% total for the game and poor shooting from the 3-point arc (5-22) as well.

All except for Jason Harris (16 points) the Hornets had problems scoring from their half-court sets. The Hornets appeared to lack discipline on offense and took many ill-advised shots . As a result, the Hornets only had 9 assists for the entire game.

Darren Collison did not score in this game but he had 5 assists. However, Collison was most impressive on the defensive end. Collison teamed with Jordan Farmar to hold the Hornet's leading scorer DaShawn Freeman to only 7 points on 3-9 shooting.

Collison's defense has improved immensely since the beginning of the season when coach Howland would pull him out of the lineup in defensive situations. Now Collison is using his ultra-speed to his advantage by using his feet and staying in front of his man defensively, getting into passing lanes for steals or tips, and denying the ball.

Defensively in the low blocks, starting center sophomore Lorenzo Mata was a defensive force with four blocks in the first half alone. Despite suffering a recent concussion and losing his front teeth in the Michigan game, Mata could still be seen diving on the floor and coming up with loose balls in this game.

In addition, one could find Hornet players bouncing like pinballs when they ventured into the paint courtesy of a Lorenzo Mata body block. One of the reasons coach Howland likes about Mata is that he craves for physical play down low - something the Bruins have lacked in the low post for a number of seasons.

Moreover, Mata appears to have earned the starting center assignment going into Pac-10 play. He finished the Sacramento St. game with 6 points (3-3 shooting), 7 rebounds (5 defensive, 2 offensive), and 4 blocks in 19 minutes. The Pac-10 front lines will be bigger than Sacramento St. and Wagner's and Mata and the rest of the UCLA centers will be quite challenged, but for now Mata's aggressiveness on the block and his rebounding will be counted on, unless one of the other centers come forward.

Ryan Wright was the primary back-up center and made 3-3 for 6 points but only grabbed 1 rebound in 12 minutes. Wright showed a nice turnaround shot but he will need to rebound better. In additon he appeared lost on defense at times - at one time Jordan Farmar pointed out to Wright that he had missed a rotation down low almost leading to any easy lay-up.

Michael Fey played 9 minutes and grabbed 3 rebounds and 2 points. His injured shoulder still appears to be bothering as he grimaced and held his shoulder a few times in the game. Ryan Hollins did not play in the game when it was reported he suffered a groin injury during warm-ups.

Forward Alfred Aboya had his best game as a Bruin since returning last week from knee surgery. He scored 12 points all around the basket. He showed good hands when he caught one tough pass in traffic from Farmar for a lay-up. Aboya also had 2 rebounds and 1 blocked in 14 minutes while sharing the power forward spot with fellow countryman Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

Mbah a Moute led the Bruins as usual with 11 rebounds but he also scored in double figures with 13 points. Mbah a Moute looked much more comfortable in the offense. He moved very well without the ball and was the recipient of a couple of Farmar assists. In addition, Mbah a Moute showed some good ball handling skills when he swooped down from the top of the free thrown line for an easy lay-in.

The 30 point victory margin over Sacramento St. was the Bruin's largest margin of victory this season.

Was the victory a margin a result of Bruin improvement over the last few games or was it a result of playing a bad team? It was probably both.

If the Bruins can share the ball as they did in this game - a season high 28 assists - then their half-court offense will execute much better than in previous games.

On the other hand, Sacramento St. appeared to be a poorly coached team. The number of missed defensive assignments and their undisciplined half-court offense were bad enough, but then add in two Hornet shot clock violations that occurred while their guards were dribbling right in front of their own bench with none of the coaches uttering a word or warning.

Regardless, the Bruins will take an easy blow-out victory anytime, anywhere.

Now the real interesting season begins - the Pac-10. The Bruins open up play against Stanford on Dec.29. at Pauley Pavilion. The Bruins are expected to have sophomore forward Josh Shipp back for the game. Coach Ben Howland expects Shipp to play a few minutes in the game.

Look for the Pac-10 Season Preview next week.


(photo credit: Matt Sayles/AP)

Friday, December 23, 2005

UCLA vs. Sacramento St. - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

Holiday break? Not for the UCLA basketball squad.

The No.12 Bruins (9-1) will be playing their third game in a span of seven days when they face the Sacramento St. Hornets on Friday at Pauley Pavilion.

Sacramento St. (8-4) are winners of seven of their last nine games and are off to their best start in history and some are predicting the Hornets to win the Big Sky conference this year.

UCLA Coach Ben Howland and the Bruins should be pretty familiar with teams from the Big Sky conference. Weber St., Howland's alma mater ('78-'80), is in the Big Sky; as is Montana and UC Davis who each have taken turns beating Stanford this year; and finally Northern Arizona which gave coach Howland his first head coaching job ('94-'99).

The Hornets are deep and athletic, play a three guard offense, but lack a low post offensive threat. However, Hornet's head coach Jerome Jenkins team plays a pressing, up and down, 40 minute full-court game. Coach Jenkins rotates 10-12 players throughout the game to maintain the pressure on the opposing team.

The pressure defense has allowed the Hornets to have +50 steals over their opponents in 12 games this year. Guard DaShawn Freeman and forward Alex Bausley average 2.2 steals each per game.

The Hornets use mostly pick-and-rolls and their player's individuals abilities to break down defenders off the dribble and create shooting opportunities for teammates - kicking out for the open shot.

Sacramento St. likes to take a lot of 3PT shots averaging 21 attempts per game and hitting at a 36% clip. The Hornets have five players who have averaged at least three 3PT FG attempts per game.

Senior (5'11,175) point guard DaShawn Freeman is the captain of the team. Freeman leads the team in scoring (14.3 ppg) and assists (5.4 apg), and hits from 3PT land at 51%. His running mate in the backcourt is another speedster junior 5'11, 170) Haran Hargrave (11 ppg).

Senior 6'4 wing Jason Harris and junior 6'6 Alex Bausley are the Hornet's leading rebounders at 5.4 rpg, and both score in double figures with 13.7 and 12.4 ppg respectively.

The Hornets start an experienced lineup but they also have Loren Leath, a 6'2 freshman guard, who is averaging almost 10 ppg and hits better on 41% of his 3PT attempts. Leath scored 23 points in his last game.

For the Bruins, it may have been fatigue, but the starting backcourt of Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo had problems staying in front of the smaller, quicker Wagner guards on Wednesday.

The Sacramento St. guards will pose even more of a challenge due to the team's running style. Nonetheless, the quickness of the Bruin backcourt will be severely tested in this game.

We may see Darren Collison, whose improved play has sparked the Bruins in the last few wins, play even more minutes on Saturday.

It wouldn't be surprising to see the Bruins go with a smaller, quicker line-up as well with perhaps Luc Richard Mbah a Moute seeing time at center.

And due to smaller match-ups we may see more of Michael Roll in the game. Roll played only 8 minutes against Wagner, going 0-2 from the field, and he did not play against Michigan.

In opposing team comparisons, Sacramento St. lost to Nevada 82-74 in an away game in Reno.

Playing a team that plays an entire 98 feet for 40 minutes and having to fight through picks and then to close out on five different 3-point shooters is probably not the type of game a weary Bruin squad is looking forward to playing.

The Bruins, playing their third game in a span of seven days, looked and played tired against a good Wagner squad on Wednesday.

Coach Howland gave the team the day off today from court practice but he had the players watch the video from the Wagner game -- every single defensive play. Howland was not happy with the 54% FG shooting by Wagner.

"I hope those people who are telling our guys how good they are will stop", Howland said after Wednesday's game, "We still need to get better in a lot of areas."

After starting slow in their past few games and winning, the Bruins can not afford to start slow against Sacramento St. There is only so much fuel in the tank, and their gauge may be reading low at this point.

Still, the Bruins have the better athletes, and most importantly, a coach who knows how to win tough games under difficult circumstances. The Bruins should pull out a victory in this one.

Notes: This is the Bruins last non-conference game before they face Stanford on Dec.29 to open Pac-10 play. Josh Shipp is scheduled to make his first start in that game.


Thursday, December 22, 2005

UCLA Moves Up in RPI and SOS

By Bruin Basketball Report

It's a bit early in the season to put too much credence into RPI and strength of schedule (SOS) ratings, but the Bruin's recent ratings counter the media and others who have criticized them for having a "soft" non-conference schedule.

UCLA is currently No.4 in RPI and No.19 in SOS.

The Bruin's tight victory over Wagner, a supposed "soft" opponent, helped the team's rating because Wagner is a top 25 RPI team as well.

UCLA's 9-1 record is their best start since the 1997-98 season.

Bruins Sluggish in Win Over Wagner

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

As the last 3-point shot of the game by Wagner's Mark Porter sailed well short of the rim - many Bruin players could be seen looking skyward with a sigh of relief as UCLA edged Wagner, 74-72.

On this night a number of things appeared to negatively converge for the Bruins and possibly lead to an upset loss to Wagner (6-2) - poor free throw shooting, even worse 3-point shooting, and an un-intimidated Wagner team shooting 53% from the field.

But an upset loss was not to be the case this night, with less than 15 seconds left in the game and the score tied at 72, guard Jordan Farmar drove the lane and found a wide open Luc Richard Mbah a Moute under the basket for a lay-up and the game winner.

Wagner had one last chance but Cedric Bozeman blanketed Porter and he could not get off a good shot as the Bruins (9-1) were able to pull out a close game in front of 7,738 anxious fans at Pauley Pavilion

All week long coach Ben Howland had been telling his Bruins they needed to start off the game strong against Wagner, a team which came into the game with a big win against Rhode Island last weekend.

Unfortunately, none of the Bruin starters heard Howland's warning.

The game began auspiciously for UCLA as the Bruins looked inside for scores early trying to exploit their size advantage over a much smaller Seahawk team.

Ryan Wright, who earned the start at center again, got the ball twice down deep and was fouled on each shot attempt, but then Wright proceeded to miss all four of his foul shots.

By the time the Bruins had a chance to look up at the scoreboard, they were already down 8-2 and Ryan Wright was sitting next to coach Ernie Zeigler on the bench

Wright only played 11 minutes scoring two points and had no rebounds. Moreover, Wright had problems guarding the smaller Seahawk post players in the paint, especially Wagner's Durell Vinson who scored all his points on inside post moves - although Vinson ended up giving all the Bruin big men problems down low.

Ryan Wright is still only a freshman and he will have games like this during the season but his missed early free throws to start the game ensured another slow start by the Bruin team and perhaps worse gave the Wagner players confidence that they had a chance in this game.

Lorenzo Mata, who was fighting the stomach flu a day earlier, had one of his best games as a Bruin. Mata scored 11 points, grabbed 5 rebounds (4 offensive), and had the highlight play of the game when he threw down a monstrous slam off a lob pass from Jordan Farmar. Mata also displayed a nice short hook shot on two scores.

"Lorenzo played a nice game today", Howland said afterwards, "we need Lorenzo in the game because he is by far the team's best rebounder".

Senior center Ryan Hollins played well offensively in the second half scoring 7 points during a late stretch in the second half to help keep the Bruins close. Senior Michael Fey did not play in the game.

After shooting 47% from the 3-point line against Michigan on Saturday, the Bruins shot only 1-13 from the arc (7.6%).

The Bruins did not hit their first 3-point shot until almost 12 minutes left in the second half when Arron Afflalo finally hit a 3-pointer from the wing. Afflalo finished the game with a relatively quiet 13 points.

Wagner had no such trouble hitting on their 3-point shots as they made 10-16 (62%) from the arc - most of the time with a Bruin defender's hand in their face.

Wagner's Matt Vitale and Joey Mundweiler came off the bench and hit 4-5 from the arc. For the game, Wagner shot almost 54% from the field.

Much credit should be given to the Wagner offense for making shots under tough circumstances, yet at times the Bruin defense appeared uninspired and slow in their rotations.

The Bruins did not display the same level of defense pressure against Wagner as it had against Michigan last weekend as evidenced by the fact they only had three steals in the entire game.

"We started the game a bit tired out there", Howland said, "after a long trip from Michigan I practiced them hard this week and I shouldn't have - as a coach I need to learn from this."

Freshman Darren Collison was once again a spark to the offense. Halfway through the second half with the Bruins down by seven points, Darren Collison decided to bring the Bruins back into the game himself.

Collison, who already is a key player in Howland's rotation, drove past a defender in his first possession and scored on a floater in the lane. He then found Arron Afflalo streaking down for a dunk on a fast break. On a play to help tie the game, he drove past a crowd of Seahawk defenders for an easy lay-up. Collison ended the game with 12 points and 5 assists.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who scored the winning basket, had 6 points, 7 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Cedric Bozeman added 11 points.

Jordan Farmar had 12 points and 9 assists, although Farmar appeared a step slow in this game on both ends of the court in particular in the second half. Farmar played 32 minutes.

The Bruins don't have much time to rest up as they face the Sacramento St. Hornets on Friday, Dec. 23 at Pauley Pavilion. Howland will not have his team practice tomorrow in order to give them some rest.

"Instead of practice tomorrow, Howland said, "we'll watch every single defensive possession from this game".

54% FG% defense will never do for a Ben Howland coached team.


(photo credit:AP Photo/Kevork Djansezian)

Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Ex-Bruin Andre Patterson Still Volunteering

By Bruin Basketball Report

In 2001 Andre Patterson, a 6'7 forward from Washington Prep in Los Angeles, was part of a top 5 nationally ranked incoming freshmen recruiting class at UCLA which included Dijon Thompson, Cedric Bozeman, and Michael Fey.

Patterson, who averaged 7.5 points, 5.5 rebounds and was a tough defensive presence in the paint as a sophomore, was dismissed from UCLA for academic eligibility reasons after the 2002-2003 season and transferred to Tennessee

Sitting out the 2003-04 season due to NCAA transfer rules, Patterson joined the Volunteers last year and led the team in rebounding at 6.2 per game and started in 22 of 31 games. He was named to Dick Vitale's All-Marco Polo team as one of the top Division I transfers.

This year Andre Patterson has been a valuable 6th man for unbeaten No.23 Tennessee (SEC, 6-0).

Last weekend the Volunteers defeated, either an over-rated or completely demoralized, No.7 Texas team. Patterson scored 12 points, making all his shots and free throws, grabbed 2 rebounds, and had 1 block off the bench.

Earlier in the year, he had a 21 point and 12 rebound performance to lead his team to a close win over Louisiana-Lafayette.

Through six games this year, Patterson is averaging 12 points on 56% shooting, 5.3 rebounds, and 1.2 blocks per game.

Vol's head coach Bruce Pearl said, "Andre can be a tough match up because of his quickness inside", and he gives us "firepower off the bench".

After a tumultuous time early in his college career, Andre Patterson is finishing up on the upswing.


(photo credit:

Wright Makes Most of Opportunity

But Wright acknowledges it hasn't been easy to make the leap from high school to college, even for someone his size."A couple of times, I went up for a basket and had the ball stripped away," he said. "In high school, I would have gotten a slam dunk."

With Pacific 10 Conference play just over a week away, Howland was asked Tuesday who would start at center."Wright or Mata," he replied. L.A. Times

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

UCLA Men's Basketball Injury Update (12/20)

By Bruin Basketball Report

It appears the Shipp will not set sail just yet, at least not against Wagner. At today's Bruin basketball press conference, coach Ben Howland announced Josh Shipp will not play in tomorrow's game.

Although the Sacramento St. game on Saturday is still a remote possibility, the Pac-10 opener against Stanford on Dec. 29 will likely be the first game Shipp plays.

Shipp, who had hip surgery in September, began practicing with the team last week. Howland had hoped for him to play in at least one or two of the non-conference games to give Shipp some game experience before conference play.

Alfred Aboya (knee) and Michael Fey (ankle), who both played limited minutes against Michigan on Saturday, are expected to play tomorrow. Aboya played only 7 minutes mostly at power forward and Fey played only 2 minutes.

Lorenzo Mata (concussion) is expected to play against Wagner although he has been battling the flu this week. Mata started at center on Saturday against the Wolverines and grabbed 6 rebounds and had 1 blocked shot in 10 minutes of play.

Tomorrow's game against the Wagner Seahawks is scheduled to start at 7:30PM PT.


UCLA vs. Wagner - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

Returning to Westwood after a big road win at Ann Arbor, the UCLA Bruins play host to the Wagner Seahawks on Wednesday, Dec. 21 at Pauley Pavilion.

The Seahawks (6-1) are picked to finish second in the Northeast Conference (NEC) this year. Last year Wagner finished second in the conference losing the title game to Fairleigh Dickinson.

Wagner is coming off their own big win last weekend in which they beat Rhode Island from the Atlantic 10 conference, 63-61. The Seahawks suffered their only loss of the season to Vermont.

The Seahawks do not start a player taller than 6'7 and start a tough 6'1 guard tandem.

The leading scorer for Wagner is sophomore guard Mark Porter (6'1/170) at 14.4 ppg and who also is their leading assist leader at 4.3 apg. He led the Seahawks in scoring with 22 point in the victory over Rhode Island.

Senior DeEarnest McLemore (6-1/185)is Porter's running mate. He averages 10ppg and 3.1 apg, and was the NEC's defensive player of the year last season.

Durell Vinson (6-7/215) is a junior center/forward who leads the Seahawks in rebounding at 7.3 rpg and is their second leading scorer at 12.3 ppg

The Seahawks also have junior Matt Vitale and freshman Joey Mundweiler who come off the bench and enjoy shooting from behind the arc - the pair shoots as many 3-pointers as the rest of the team combined, and hitting well over 40%.

UCLA should have an easy victory over Wagner on Wednesday. The Bruins have a size and athleticism advantage at every position on the floor. Expect Wagner to attempt to force a slow tempo to minimize the Bruin transition game. In turn, UCLA will be trying to turn on the after-burners.

From a match-up perspective, it will be interesting to watch how Jordan Farmar plays against DeEarnest McLemore, a quick and physical guard. Last week, Farmar appeared to have difficulty with the physical defensive play of Michigan's Daniel Horton.

Note: It will be determined later today whether sophomore forward Josh Shipp will play against Wagner on Wednesday. Shipp has been practicing with the team since last week, and UCLA Coach Ben Howland had stated earlier that Shipp might begin his play in the Wagner game.


Monday, December 19, 2005

Will Pauley Pavilion Get Facelift Soon?

By Bruin Basketball Report

When one drives northbound on the 110 Harbor Freeway near Exposition Park in Los Angeles - a massive building construction looms across the way.

Although the building is no more than 100 feet tall it is already beginning to cast a dark shadow 20 miles westward towards Pauley Pavilion.

The building is the Galen Center - the new home of the USC Trojans basketball and volleyball teams beginning with the 2006 season.

The $70 million plus (it's already over budget) arena will have 10,258 seats - and 22 luxury suites which will cost from $30,000-50,000 annually.

In addition to the revenues from the suites USC has already sold over $6 million in arena seat licenses.

Over in Westwood eleven UCLA Bruins men's basketball championship banners proudly hang down from the rafters of Pauley Pavilion. The arena that John Wooden built. Literally.

[Quick quiz: How many games did John Wooden lose during his 11 years coaching in Pauley Pavilion? Answer at the end of story. ]

Built in 1965 under the auspices of Coach Wooden, Pauley Pavilion was constructed without seats near the court since Wooden believed it created an unfair home-court advantage and a hostile environment for visiting players.

Pauley Pavilion is a multi-purpose arena used by other sport teams on campus and also serves as a student intramural facility.

Pauley Pavilion is considered hallowed ground by many college basketball fans, yet the arena lacks in many amenities from both a spectator and player's perspective.

For fans attending a basketball game, there are huge open spaces at the ends of each court separating it from the arena seats, per Wooden's initial wishes, but which tends to distance fans from the game action and players.

In some rival arenas, like Duke's Cameron arena, the students and fans are right on top of the court which adds to the personal experience and excitement of the game.

The concessions stands look exactly the way they did back in the 60's and have limited food offerings. The concessions and bathrooms are located on only two sides of the arena so one could be walking a long while before something is found.

The arena seats are cramped with most of them angled awkwardly from the court requiring one to crane their neck to watch the game.

Just as importantly, the facilities at Pauley Pavilion are no better for the players. The locker rooms look like, well, locker rooms. In this modern age of college basketball, other elite programs have locker rooms with all the modern amenities and comforts.

In addition while other schools have separate practice facilities for their basketball team , the Bruin basketball squad has to compete with other intra-school interest for court time since Pauley Pavilion is also the team's practice court.

Pauley Pavilion has not undergone a major renovation since it was built 40 years ago. And although it is one of the most recognizable and honored arenas in the country- it is a less than ideal facility especially in this modern age of sports.

Will UCLA ever renovate Pauley Pavilion?

In 2003 when Ben Howland was deciding whether to move to UCLA from Pittsburgh he said, "It can be a tremendous home court (Pauley Pavilion). But renovation has got to be done. Even if it means playing a year at the Forum or wherever".

Howland added, "At our facility (Pitt had just built a new arena), the students surround the court. It was built so they can stand the entire game and not impede the view of the paying public who sits behind them. You want to maintain the ambiance and sense of history, but you have to upgrade."

Three years later? It's still being talking about at UCLA.

In October of last year, Athletic Director Dan Guerrero went into a meeting with planners to discuss renovation for Pauley Pavilion, and although estimates were never officially announced (some estimated it to be about $40-50 million), the amount was more than expected due to upgrade needs and increased costs of construction which caused the administration to reassess their plans and priorities.

Corporate naming rights were even considered to help with funding, although it appears this is no longer an option being considered at UCLA.

In May of this year, UCLA athletic director Dan Guerrero finally announced he hoped a fundraising strategy for the renovation of Pauley Pavilion would be in place by the end of 2005.

"We're hoping to get the scope of the project done by the end of the summer, at which time we would begin to seek an architect to look at design elements, and things of that nature," Guerrero said. "We're being very deliberate with all of the planning relative to the facility.

"Among the improvements being considered are better fan amenities, including concessions and restrooms, upgraded locker rooms and moving the seats closer to the court, Guerrero said.

"Once we get to the point that we know exactly what we're going to do, then we embark on a funding strategy, and the need to raise all the dollars to complete the project," Guerrero said in May.

"In my mind, the soonest we can begin to develop a funding strategy and embark on some kind of campaign could be some time in the latter part of this year". But Guerrero added at the time - no firm time table exists to start the project.

In an article this week in the L.A. Daily News, UCLA Athletic Director Dan Guerrero announced plans to renovate Pauley Pavilion were underway, saying. "We'll give it (Pauley Pavilion) a fresh new look inside with new everything. We'll likely center the court. We'll bring the end seats to the court itself."

He then announced that a second phase of renovation would begin in which a new arena level would be created under Pauley Pavilion in which new player locker rooms, practice court, media room, and booster stadium club would be added.

This sounds like an interesting plan, but there are still no architectural renderings nor has a time table been set for the renovations to begin.

In other words, we've heard this before.

No one can be sure if UCLA loses any recruits to other basketball programs due to the condition of Pauley's facilities since many feel that recruits are attracted to the allure of a program and facility with such a glorious basketball past.

"Pauley Pavilion today is still a facility that can attract great players," Athletic Director Dan Guerrero said at a press conference in May.

For most people, including recruits, opposing players, and fans walking into Pauley is like entering into a shrine - a holy basketball shrine.

And perhaps that is where the problem lies. Everyone knows Pauley needs to be improved but are in no rush to change such a beloved "shrine".

When Peter Dalis, the prior athletic director retired, he admitted that Pauley had needed to be improved for years but figured it would need to be demolished and replaced with a new stadium - not wanting such a legacy for his tenure - he never touched Pauley.

Fortunately the present plans for Pauley Pavilion are for a renovation of the famed building rather than a replacement.

Let's hope Dan Guerrero can start and finish this big job.

And as Coach Ben Howland has intimated, let's hope it's sooner than later.

Note: Below is a great link to a Pauley Pavilion plan and design that UCLA Urban Design put together for the administration a number of years back. It probably is not part of the current design plans for Pauley Pavilion but it is interesting nonetheless to see what had been discussed in the past.


(photo credit:
Answer to quiz: John Wooden lost only two games in Pauley Pavilion.

Bruins Climb to No.12 in ESPN/USA Today and AP

By Bruin Basketball Report

After an impresive road win at Ann Arbor, the Bruins have climbed up to No.12 in the both the ESPN/USA Today and AP rankings. UCLA (8-1) was ranked No.14 in both polls last week.

Michigan which was on the cusp of a top 25 ranking last week received less votes this week as a result of their loss to the Bruins on Saturday.

One interesting development this week involves the Arizona Wildcats who were ranked No.24 in the AP last week but were left of this week despite the fact they thumped Utah by 30 points in Salt Lake City. Perhaps voter protest or bad karma? (i.e. Hassan Adams) The Wildcats had already been left off the ESPN/USA Today top ranking last week.

The Washington Huskies also moved up in the polls to No.9 and No.7 in the AP and ESPN/USA Today rankings respectively.

The UCLA Bruins next game is against Wagner on Wednesday. Game preview coming tomorrow.


Sunday, December 18, 2005

Underclassmen Shine at Center for Bruins

By Bruin Basketball Report

Successful college basketball teams expect their seniors to step up their play and show leadership to underclassmen in road games, especially early in the season.

Obviously, Michael Fey and Ryan Hollins did not get the memo.

Against Michigan on Saturday Fey and Hollins combined for a total of six minutes, zero points, and zero rebounds - check that, they did earn a single personal foul (Hollins).

Its difficult to be harsh on two young players who honestly are trying their hardest to be the best players they can be. Unfortunately, it just might not be in either of their physical or mental make-up to be NCAA Division 1 level post players.

In Michael Fey's two minutes of play against Michigan, a single play described his day the best. While in the middle of a crowd battling for a defensive rebound, Fey (7'0 270lb) stood flat-footed while getting pushed around by smaller Wolverines, and Bruins for that matter - a rebound which a Wolverine won and put back in for a score. A befuddled Fey then looked around for a referee wondering why he didn't get bailed out with a foul call.

Fey was immediately yanked by Howland and never saw the light of day (court) again.

Sure Michael Fey has battled injuries this year and is just recovering from an ankle injury, but let's just say this isn't the first time Fey has gotten lost in a crowd in search of a rebound.

Four years ago, Fey and Hollins came into the program as "projects" and both will most likely leave at the end of their UCLA careers as "projects".

Fortunately for them, they are both 7-footers which automatically earns you a look in the professional ranks. In Ryan Hollin's case, his pogo-like jumping skills will earn him the closest look.

In the meantime, UCLA has underclassmen who have shown no fear or hesitation that they can take care of the center position; sophomore Lorenzo Mata and freshmen Ryan Wright and Alfred Aboya.

Coach Ben Howland only has two expectations for his centers. Knowing his best players are on the perimeter, he just wants his centers to rebound and defend the post. That's it. Scoring points is a nice bonus but not necessary.

Ryan Wright, who almost red-shirted this year, has been the most impressive. After playing minimal minutes during the first 6 games this year, Howland has played Wright 33 and 24 minutes the last two. Wright has responded with quickness in the post - getting his hands on passes into the paint and actively battling for rebounds.

Lorenzo Mata, recovering from a concussion he got from working hard in practice, is still learning the game at this level - but his effort on the boards and defensive end has made up for his lack of experience.

Alfred Aboya will split his time between center and power forward. He is still learning the system and perhaps will not be at full strength until the end of the season. However, he has shown glimpses, especially on the defensive end, of how tough he can be in the paint. At one point during the Michigan game, a Wolverine player could be seen flying head first out of the key - courtesy of Mr. Aboya.

Wright and Mata combined for 14 rebounds, 8 points, 1 block, and numerous tipped passes against Michigan (Aboya played primarily PF in this game). If the underclassmen continue to improve throughout the year - the Bruins may finally have the inside presence it needs to balance out their outstanding perimeter play when tournament time arrives in March.

Fey and Hollins still may very well play a major role for this Bruin squad - especially if the seniors are inspired by the play of the underclassmen. But until that time happens, coach Howland will probably go with the sophomore and freshmen in the middle.

Note: Lorenzo Mata started the game against Michigan, although Ryan Wright had earned the starting spot during practice - but Wright was three minutes late to the team bus in the morning and thus was disciplined by not starting the game.