Thursday, November 02, 2006

Bruins Gain Easy Exhibition Victory

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

The UCLA Bruins opened the exhibition season with a 73-43 victory over the Broncos of Cal Poly Pomona.

After racing out to a 16-4 lead the Bruins never looked back.  Arron Afflalo led all scorers with 17 points.

Even though the Broncos lost by 30 points, Cal Poly Pomona provided the Bruins with a good challenge. They are a very well coached and gutty team.  It is not surprising the Broncos have won two regional Division II championships over the past four years.

The Bruins unveiled a more up-tempo fast-break offense to some mixed results last night.

UCLA pushed the ball up the court quickly after every Broncos possession which led to some easy baskets.  On the other hand, there was some poor recognition and bad decision-making on the Bruin's part which led to some careless turnovers - UCLA committed 24 turnovers in the game.

On one play in the second half, Darren Collison found Michael Roll, a lone Bruin, streaking down the court and hit him with a long pass, but Roll happened to be flanked by two Broncos' defenders at the time.  Although Roll was able to beat the defenders to the ball and make the basket, one could sense Coach Ben Howland was not pleased with the decision-making on the play.

In the half-court sets, the Bruins started the game executing their offense extremely well but as the game progressed, and as some of the younger players were substituted into the game, the ball movement slowed and the Bruins became tentative.  The Broncos took advantage of some of this indecision by immediately trapping the Bruins in the half-court which led to some turnovers.

Sophomore Josh Shipp showed Bruins fans what they missed last year. Shipp hit an array of acrobatic shots inside including a tomahawk dunk off the break which got fans standing - including former Bruin Jordan Farmar who attended the game.  Shipp finished the night with 16 points.

Guard Michael Roll had a strong game defensively and showed that his offseason weight training has paid off; however, he struggled with his shooting and took a number of shots out of the flow of the offense. With the Bruins counting on Roll for more scoring this season, he will need to improve on his shot selection.

Freshman Russell Westbrook is the real deal.  On offense he ran the break efficiently, although a couple times he penetrated too deeply resulting in forced bad shots - a detail the coaching staff will no doubt discuss with him.  However, Westbrook excelled defensively.  He is athletic, quick, and very physical - it is not surprising he has become a favorite of Coach Howland.

Defensively, the Bruins pressured the Broncos well on the perimeter using their superior athleticism and quickness.  They also showed  some half-court traps, something Coach Howland has mentioned the team will do more of this season. 

The Bruins did struggle defending the paint last night.  Both Alfred Aboya and Ryan Wright had three fouls by halftime mainly due to bad defensive positioning and late rotations in the interior.  This is probably the area of biggest concern for the Bruins, and may be for the rest of the season due to personnel on the team.  It highlights the importance of having a healthy Lorenzo Mata back this season who is the Bruin's best defensive center.

UCLA faces Humboldt State next Thursday at Pauley Pavilion in the next and last exhibition game of the season.

(photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld)



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