Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Finals Put a Crimp Into Bruin Practices

By Bruin Basketball Report

After battling for a hard-fought victory against Texas A&M on Saturday at the Wooden Classic, Bruin players got set for their next battle.  No, not another basketball game - but Finals Week at UCLA.

"Finals impacts players, it impacted the game on Saturday," UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland said.  "Its equally tough the week before going into finals than during it.  Its always been hard for student athletes to deal with them and still focus on training and the competition."

With his players in the midst of finals Howland hasn't been able to spend much time with his team this week.

“We haven’t practiced since Saturday's game," Howland said. “We’re going to practice for an hour in a half tonight and again tomorrow then we’ll have normal practices starting on Thursday."

Howland hasn't had the opportunity to talk to Luc Richard Mbah a Moute since Saturday about the condition of his groin pull injury which limited him to just four points and two rebounds against Texas A&M, although Howland doesn't appear overly concerned with his forward's injury.

"I thought Luc played a great game on Saturday. I don't judge a player by just his stat sheet - he played strong defense," Howland said.  "He didn't shoot the ball particularly well but it was mostly because he was out of rhythm from not practicing much during the week."

After averaging only 2.5 turnovers a game to start the season, UCLA point-guard Darren Collison has turned it over 11 times in his last two games, but Howland is sympathetic.

“Darren's got a lot on his shoulders since everything runs through him." Howland said. "He handles the ball a lot and I'm very pleased with his play.  The good thing is even though his turnovers have gone up, the team's totals are still way down."

One thing Howland would like Collison to continue to work on is his dribble which tends to be too high at times.

"That's been the thing we've worked on and talked about," Howland said. "Until he gets his dribble down lower he'll have more turnovers than you'd like him to have."

BBR Notes: Alfred Aboya went to the emergency room shortly after Saturday's game to have his eye examined and no damage was found.  Aboya was scratched in the eye by Texas A&M's Acie Law in the first half but was able to return to action in the second half. 



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