Saturday, February 11, 2006

Careless in Seattle, Bruins Lose

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

In a messy game with 35 turnovers and 54 personal fouls, the UCLA Bruins were defeated by the Washington Huskies, 70-67, at Bank of America Arena in Seattle on Saturday.

With the Bruins down 68-66 and twenty seconds remaining in the game, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute tipped a Jon Brockman errant pass and then volley-balled the basketball back out to a breaking Collison who was fouled on a lay-up attempt - but could not complete the basket for a three-point play opportunity.

Instead, Collison was left with two foul shots to tie the game - but he missed the first free throw before sinking the second.

The Bruins needing to get back the ball fouled Dentmon on the ensuing play with just eight seconds left. Dentmon calmly hit both free throws for the final margin of victory.

Yet, the Bruins did not lose the game in the final minute of play - instead they lost the game in the first 39 minutes.

UCLA (20-5, 10-3) played perhaps its shoddiest offensive game in Pac-10 conference play this year.

Whether it was Washington's solid pressure defense, or simply fatigue, the Bruin offense was out of sync for most of the game.

Sophomores Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo, who both combined to outscore the entire Washington St. Cougar team on Thursday, were mostly ineffective on Saturday against the Huskies.

Afflalo was non-existent on offense scoring only 5 points on 2 of 10 shooting from the field. He shot only 1 of 5 from the three point arc and suffered from foul trouble in the second half which limited his effectiveness on defense.

Farmar, who is playing with two sore ankles, was hounded by the Huskies’ big guards Brandon Roy (6’6) and Bobby Jones (6’7) all game long. He scored 13 points on only 2 of 13 shooting (1 of 8 on three-pointers) and committed 7 costly turnovers.

As a team the Bruins committed 20 turnovers from which the Huskies converted into 24 points in the game.

A total of 54 personal fouls were called in the game, 27 on each team, resulting in a total of 63 free throw attempts. However, the Huskies capitalized in this area versus the Bruins as well.

For the game, the Huskies shot 28 of 34 from the foul line (82.4%); while the Bruins only shot 19 of 29 (65.5%)

The Huskies shot only 39.6% from the field and their leading scorer, Brandon Roy, made only 3 of 11; while the Bruins shot 42.3%. Washington was also rebounded by the Bruins, 32-22.

But the Bruins could not overcome their turnovers and poor foul shooting from the line.

Roy finished with 20 points shooting 13 of 16 from the foul line; and Justin Denton added 16 points for the Huskies in their victory.

The only Bruin highlight of the game was the play of their freshmen from Cameroon.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute finished with 11 points and 4 rebounds despite suffering from early foul trouble. His hustle and defense especially at the end of the game almost helped the Bruins pull out a victory.

While Alfred Aboya had his best game as a Bruin. He played a career-high 31 minutes and scored 15 points on 6 of 6 shooting and grabbed 8 rebounds. Aboya kept the Bruins in the game in the second half with his offensive rebounding and scoring in the paint.

One tends to believe that UCLA basketball fans have only begun to see the real Alfred Aboya.

The Washington Huskies won a must-win game at home to keep their NCAA tournament hopes alive. They are now 18-5 overall but more importantly 7-5 in the Pac-10 standings. They have now won three games in a row against the Bruins.

No.12 ranked UCLA perhaps lost an opportunity to jump into next week’s top 10 rankings with their defeat. The team also suffered its first road loss of the year and is now 5-1 in away games.

The Bruins are only 1/2 game in front of the California Bears in the Pac-10 conference. They will have time to re-group as they do not play again until February 19 when they face USC at the Sports Arena.


(photo credit: AP)

Howland-Coached Teams Tend To Jell By 3rd Season

Long before ending an eight-game homecourt losing streak to Stanford, there was a strong indicator UCLA would challenge for its first Pacific-10 title since 1997.

The Bruins' first win at Arizona since 1997 served notice around the league UCLA was a front-runner, but the success of this season was established years ago.

In fact, when Ben Howland was named UCLA's coach April 3, 2003, it meant the Bruins were going to be really good - injuries or not, having seven of the top nine players being freshmen and sophomores or not - come 2005-06.

Howland's track record demanded it.

Howland's reputation as a builder of programs, or a rebuilder in UCLA's case, comes with the delicious appetizer the program will soar in his third season.

Such was the case a decade ago at Northern Arizona, then at Pittsburgh, and now with UCLA, which enters today's game at No. 21 Washington ranked 13th in the nation, and atop the Pac-10. The Bruins are 20-4, 10-2 in the league.

"Usually when you're taking over a program, it's very rare that you're Bruce Weber and you walk into (Illinois) and it's fully loaded, or you're Roy Williams (at North Carolina) and it's fully loaded," Howland said. "Typically, you go in and you're starting over. That's in a general sense."

Howland has no 20-win seasons and is a combined 77-93 in his first two seasons at each school. But from the third year on, Howland is 6 for 6 in delivering 20-win seasons and is 140-38 overall.

"It's everything coming together," UCLA fifth-year senior Cedric Bozeman said. "It takes a little time, but once you step back, you understand it, and it works. It's everything. Players have been in the system for two years, I've been in it for three years, and the guys that now come in just follow the guys ahead of them."

Indeed, some of the credit goes to a better understanding of Howland's defensive schemes, be it straight man-to-man, switching on screens or double-teaming in the low post. And some goes to Howland teaching his point guards the important of a jump-stop, and the beauty of unselfishness in making the extra pass.

But recruiting is the biggest reason, because at each of Howland's stops, the program was in shambles and devoid of talent and depth.

"It's just building a program," Howland said. "Any time you take over a program, usually it's a losing team. So you're building." Daily News


(photo credit: AP)

Fey Still Waiting For Chance

A month ago, Fey was cleared by team doctors to return from a sprained ankle. Since then, he has played four minutes, scored one basket and grabbed two rebounds.

It's left Fey, a projected starter entering the season, dumbfounded about his role, frustrated about his playing time, and confused as why he's not playing more.

Fey, who averaged 8.6 points and 4.8 rebounds last season, said he might soon meet with the coaching staff to discuss the situation.

"They haven't said anything to me," Fey said. "It's difficult, but I'm happy for the team. We're doing good and we're in first place, and we keep winning. Obviously, my year's been tough, but I'm still rooting for the team and everybody.

"If things keep going this way I will try talking to the assistant coaches. We'll see what happens."
UCLA is getting solid interior defense, but very little on offense and rebounding from its three centers - Ryan Hollins, Ryan Wright and Alfred Aboya. The trio is averaging 11.4 points and 6.9 rebounds per game.

Not even the broken leg Lorenzo Mata suffered Jan. 12 resulted in more playing time for Fey.

"I'm just trying to keep my head up and stay positive," Fey said. "That's all I can do. I'm trying to go out in practice and get my minutes back. That's about it." Daily News


(photo credit: AP)

Friday, February 10, 2006

UCLA vs. Washington - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

The UCLA Bruins face the Washington Huskies in a Pac-10 conference contest between two top 25 ranked teams.

No.23 Washington (17-5, 6-5) won the first meeting between the teams at Pauley Pavilion in January, 69-65. The Bruins led by as much as 14 points in the second half but the Huskies fought their way back for the victory. Washington also beat UCLA in Seattle last year, 82-70.

The No.12 Bruins (20-4, 10-2) are coming off a 50-30 trouncing of the Washington St. (WSU) Cougars on Thursday in which UCLA played it’s best defensive game of the year. The Bruins held WSU to only 27% shooting.

Washington is coming off their own victory on Thursday night beating the USC Trojans 87-73. The Huskies were up by as much as 27 points in the second half but allowed the Trojans to get back into the game.

"We've got to stop trying to cruise so much," Huskies’ senior Brandon Roy said. "Right now, we're just doing some of the things it takes to win."

After learning how UCLA easily dispatched WSU on Thursday, a team which swept their series against Washington this year, Huskies coach Lorenzo Romar said, "We don't have any options on Saturday; we have to do it for 40 minutes,"

Before beating USC on Thursday, the Huskies had lost three straight games. They trail the first place Bruins by 3.5 games in the Pac-10 conference. Washington leads the conference in points scored per game with 75.9 points.

The Huskies are led by senior guard Brandon Roy who leads the Pac-10 conference in scoring with 22.6 points per game. He also averages 5.5 rebounds and 3.7 assists per game.

Roy has an excellent mid-range jumper and has improved his 3-point shooting dramatically this year - he leads the Huskies in three-point FG% shooting at 41.7%.

In the last game between the two teams, Roy was held to only 10 points on 3 of 9 shooting by UCLA’s Arron Afflalo. However, Roy has been on fire, scoring over 20 points in each of his last four games.

Afflalo’s defense has been magnificent all season. Against WSU he locked down Josh Akognon, who had earlier scored 25 against the Bruins, to only 4 point. The Bruins will need another big defensive stop from Afflalo on Saturday.

Senior forward Jamaal Williams (6’6, 235) is second on the team in scoring with 13.5 points per game. With his physique he presents a tough match-up inside for most teams; and against the Bruins earlier he scored 14 points on 7 of 11 shooting.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will get the starting assignment against Williams, but this time he will get back-up support from his fellow freshman countryman Alfred Aboya.

Aboya played only 7 minutes against Washington at Pauley before he left the game with an apparent sprained knee. At 6’8 245 Aboya is an active and physical defensive presence in the paint and matches up well against Williams.

Aboya wasn’t the only injured Bruin in the earlier game against Washington. When Aboya left in the first half with his injury, the Bruins were left with only eight scholarship players in the game which included centers Ryan Hollins and Michael Fey who were just returning from their own injuries.

Senior forward Cedric Bozeman also did not play in the game due to an injury. Bozeman has been a key ingredient to the Bruin's success since his return fives game ago.

The Bruins have won every game since his return; and for the season, the Bruins are 15-1 when Bozeman is in the line-up.

"He means everything to this team," said Afflalo. "He's our leader, our defensive stopper. He's so valuable.''

In this game, Bozeman will be looked upon by his teammates to help steady the team on offense from his point-forward spot and to take the assignment of guarding Washington’s Bobby Jones.

Jones averages 11.1 points a game and scored a key late basket off a rebound in the previous match-up. He is a streaky shooter, yet he can take over games for the Huskies when he gets hot.

But Bozeman, coupled with Afflalo, gives the Bruins an advantage of two outstanding defensive players who can shut down an opponent’s best scorer. An advantage the Bruins did not have in the previous game against Washington.

Washington’s leading candidate for freshman of the year, Jon Brockman is averaging 9.4 points and 7.4 rebounds a game; however, he has been inconsistent and has had problems with foul trouble at times. Against USC, Brockman had only 2 points and 4 rebounds to go along with 4 turnovers.

The Huskies view this game as a must-win for them , as in a must-win to ensure an NCAA tournament berth. With an overall record of 17-5 and Pac-10 record of 6-5, all of Washington’s losses have come in Pac-10 conference play. Coach Lorenzo Romar's Huskies know they must finish at least above .500 in Pac-10 conference play to be even considered for the NCAA postseason.

For the Bruins, the game against the Huskies is not only an important Pac-10 conference game, but it is against a top 25 ranked team which gives them the opportunity to improve upon their ranking and seeding for the upcoming NCAA tournament. Unless the California Bears continue their winning ways, Washington may be the last top 25 ranked team the Bruins play for the rest of the regular season.

After this game the Bruins do not play until February 19 when they face USC at the Sports Arena.


Thursday, February 09, 2006

Bruins Shut Down Cougars For 20th Win

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

In college basketball a visiting team wins on the road by playing great defense – Ben Howland’s Bruins took the maxim to extreme heights Thursday night.

The UCLA Bruins crushed the Washington St (WSU) Cougars, 50-30 at Friel Court in Pullman.

The 30 points broke a forty-year old UCLA record for least points allowed in a game. On January 7, 1966 UCLA held Oregon St. to only 35 points.

UCLA (20-4, 10-2) started the game with an 18-2 run in which they made 7 of their first 8 shots; while holding WSU (10-10, 3-8) to just 1 of 9 shooting in the first 9 minutes of the game.

Sophomore Arron Afflalo sparked the Bruin attack in the first half with 9 points on 4 of 4 shooting, all inside the paint, as he attacked the basket with stubborn determination.

The Bruins went into halftime with a 26-12 lead as they limited the Cougars to only 27% shooting in the first half.

In the second half UCLA did not score for the first four minutes but WSU could not capitalize scoring only two points during the same span.

After a 20 second time-out, Cedric Bozeman found Ryan Hollins on a play for a slam dunk. The Bruin’s lead was never less than 12 the rest of the game.

WSU’s Josh Akognon, who scored 25 points in the team’s last meeting, was completely shut down by the defense of Arron Afflalo.

The 5’10 Akognon was shadowed by the 6’5 Afflalo the entire game. He became so frustrated by the physical lock down by Afflalo that he began to complain to referees after every possession, at least until WSU’s coach Dick Bennett had enough of Akognon himself and benched him.

Akognon finished with only 4 points on 2 of 7 shooting. He also committed 2 turnovers.

Forward Robbie Cowgill had an equally bad night for the Cougars. He shot only 1-11 and missed numerous close range attempts - many while being harassed by Bruin defenders. Cowgill finished with only 4 points but did grab 7 rebounds.

Kyle Weaver, the Cougar’s third leading scorer, was held to no points and was limited to only three shot attempts in the game by the smothering defense of senior forward Cedric Bozeman. Bozeman also contributed on the offense with 4 points on 2-3 shooting, 4 rebounds, and 3 assists.

The only Cougar to score in double figures was center Aron Baynes who bullied himself underneath for 10 points. He also grabbed 8 rebounds. No other Cougar scored more than 4 points

To make things worst, WSU was outscored by the Bruin starting front court of Arron Afflalo and Jordan Farmar. Afflalo had 12 points and Farmar finished with a team-high 20 points on 7 of 13 shooting.

Not bad for a player with two sore ankles.

Farmar sprained his left ankle against Arizona, and was a game-time decision today whether he would play against WSU. Although it was clear Farmar’s usual explosiveness was absent, it did not deter him from driving into the paint for difficult shots in a crowd of players underneath.

Freshman Luc Richard Mbah a Moute again led all Bruins with 7 rebounds and chipped in 4 points.

Center Ryan Hollins continued his string of solid games for the Bruins. Hollins grabbed 6 rebounds and controlled the paint with good help defense.

However, freshman Darren Collison continued to struggle finishing with 2 points on 1 of 4 shooting and had no assists. Over the last five games, Collison is averaging only 2.1 points and 1.0 assist per game – he had been averaging over 6 points and 3 assists in prior games.

Lately, Collison appeares to be over-penetrating at times, and as a result, the offense has not flowed well with him at the point.

Moreover in the WSU game, the offense seemed to do better when Cedric Bozeman played the back-up point rather than Collison which Howland had Bozeman do a few times more than usual in this game.

But the Bruins need Collison. His quickness brings a special element to the Bruin attack – a much needed change of pace to the offense. Collison will need to fight through his current troubles and play better as the Pac-10 season winds down and the tournament begins - especially in light of the injuries suffered by Farmar this year.

For the game the Bruins shot 45% from the field, while holding the Cougars to only 27%. UCLA also beat WSU on the boards, 32-28.

In a rather clean game called by officials, WSU shot only 2 of 5 from the free throw line, while UCLA shot 10 of 13 .

The Bruins have now won five straight games and have hit the 20 game win mark for the first time since the 2001-02 season when they finished 21-12 under head coach Steve Lavin.

UCLA travels to Seattle for a meeting with the Washington Huskies on Saturday. The Huskies defeated the USC Trojans 87-73 Thursday evening.


(photo credit: AP/Barrentine)

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

UCLA vs. Washington St. - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

The No.12 ranked UCLA Bruins travel to Pullman for a game against the Washington St. (WSU) Cougars Thursday night.

In the Cougars last game on Friday, WSU defeated then No.15 ranked Washington, 77-64, to complete its first sweep of the Huskies in 12 years.

When WSU recorded a victory over Washington back in early January at Seattle; they held a record of 7-2 and were among the leaders in the conference. But since that time, the Cougars have sandwiched in six consecutive losses to Pac-10 teams between the two wins over Washington.

In an earlier meeting between the teams in January at Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins held on to a 63-61 victory when WSU’s Kyle Weaver missed a potential game-tying lay-up in the final seconds of the game.

The Bruins have won the last three games against the Cougars by a total margin of only eight points. Both conference games between the teams last year were determined in overtime.

Coach Ben Howland knows the upcoming game against the Cougars in Pullman is a dangerous one.

“Washington St. is a good team and well coached.” Howland said. “We crushed them by a whole two points”, he said with a grin “when we last faced them at home.”

In the first meeting, WSU’s 5’10 guard Josh Akognon single-handedly shot the Cougars back into the game after his team fell behind 17 points. Akognon hit 6 of 8 three pointers and scored all 25 of his points in the second half.

The Bruins knew little about Akognon before that game other than hearing how he had shot the lights out against Washington the week prior. Look for coach Ben Howland to be better prepared for him this time around.

Akognon consistently got open looks in the second half of the game; however, one can be rest assured Akognon will have a powdered-blue jersey shadowing him the entire game on Thursday.

Akognon became a starter when the Cougars' starting point guard, Derrick Low, broke his right foot in practice.

Although he is a better scorer than Low, the sophomore Low seems to be a better fit for WSU’s methodical style of play, and is a better defender than Akognon.

There is a slight chance Derrick Low may return from his injury for the UCLA game - although it would be for only limited minutes.

Besides Akognon, no other Cougar scored double-figures in the earlier contest. 6’10 Robbie Cowgill, the Cougars second leading scorer, was held to only 2 of 8 shooting by UCLA’s 6’5 freshman Michael Roll.

Shooting guard Kyle Weaver (6’5, 185) provides another potential scoring threat for the Cougars, he averages just under ten points a game. He had 9 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists against the Bruins in their first meeting.

With Cedric Bozeman presently in the starting lineup in place of Roll, the Bruins will most likely start Bozeman on Weaver, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute on Cowgill, and have Arron Afflalo guard the high-scoring Akognon on the perimeter.

The Cougars have started Aron Baynes (6’10, 240) a wide-body from Australia in the last two games. He responded by recording a double-double in scoring and rebounding in both games. Baynes played only 14 minutes in the last meeting at Pauley.

UCLA’s Ryan Hollins will have his hands full with Baynes who likes to throw his weight around in the low post. However, Hollins has been playing the best basketball of his UCLA career in recent games, especially on the defensive end.

WSU leads the Pac-10 in FG% defense allowing only 40% and is third in points allowed at 62.3 per game. The Bruins have supplanted the Cougars as the stingiest defense in the league allowing only 61.1 points per game.

While the Cougars are last in the conference in points scored at 61.0 points per game, the Bruins lead the conference in scoring margin at +6.5.

Arron Afflalo broke out of a mini-shooting slump against Arizona by scoring a career-high 27 points in leading the Bruins to a victory over the Wildcats.

Sophomore guard Jordan Farmar is questionable for the game in Pullman. He sprained his left ankle in the Arizona game and his playing status against WSU will be a game-time decision.

After Thursday the Bruins travel to Seattle for a re-match with the Washington Huskies on Saturday.

Game notes: Not counting neutral site games, the Bruins are 5-0 on the road. Senior forward Cedric Bozeman sat out eight games this season because of an injured left shoulder, and in games he has played, the Bruins are 14-1.


UCLA Men's Basketball Injury Update (2/8)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Both an X-ray on Saturday and a MRI taken on Monday confirmed a mild-moderate sprain of Jordan Farmar's left ankle.

The injury occurred less than five minutes into the second half of the Arizona game when he jumped high in the air for a loose ball near halfcourt and landed on another player's foot rolling his left ankle.

Farmar fell to the ground holding the ankle but continued in the game playing a total of 31 minutes.

Although Farmar was certainly not as effective in the second half of the Arizona game as he was in the first half, especially in attacking the zone, the Bruin's offense was still better with Farmar leading from the point.

"They would have to kill me to take me out," Farmar said.

Farmar is wearing a walking boot and will not practice in any contact drills prior to the Washington St. game on Thursday. His status for the contest will be a game-day decision.

The sophomore guard has been hampered by a right ankle injury for most of the season. “It was his left ankle," Howland said. "At least it wasn't his right ankle, which he has already sprained four times this season."

Coach Ben Howland said earlier today he thought sophomore center Lorenzo Mata's recovery and rehabilitation from a knee injury was progressing well.

"We feel Lorenzo might make it back for the last two games of the season (California/Stanford)", Howland said, "If not, then possibly by the Pac-10 tournament."

Mata suffered a nondisplaced tibial plateau fracture in his right knee in a collision with Jordan Farmar during the Washington St. game on January 13 at Pauley Pavilion.

The prognosis for Mata's recovery from his knee injury was initially set at 6 to 8 weeks.

The California/Stanford series would be 7 weeks and the Pac-10 tournament would be a full 8 weeks from the time of the initial injury.


Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Bruin Freshmen Hope to Avoid the Wall

By Bruin Basketball Report

The UCLA Bruins approach the toughest stretch of their 2005-06 schedule with 5 of their last 7 games on the road through Washington and the Bay area.

However, their biggest obstacle to success in finishing the season strong might not be Brandon Roy, Leon Powe, or Matt Haryasz. Instead the obstacle is something a coach can't throw a zone press at, afflicts freshmen in particular, and is well known on the collegiate hard courts.

Coaches simply call it the "freshman wall"

It's the point of the season when freshmen begin to wear down and struggle due to the hectic game and practice schedules at the collegiate level.

Just when a freshman feels like he has it all figured out, it HITS like a ton of bricks - he doesn't feel like his legs are under him and the intensity in his game just can't be found.

It usually happens around February, when the old high school alarm says basketball should be over. Most freshmen aren't use to daily 2-3 hour practices and so many games.

UCLA's Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo hit the wall around this time last year. Over a four game stretch Farmar and Afflalo played their worst basketball of the season.

Last year’s UCLA senior Dijon Thompson was supportive yet jabbing at his freshmen teammates when he talked about their "slump". "It's that freshman wall that all freshmen get," Thompson said. "It's a little bit overwhelming.

The wall is more mental than it is physical, a player can become more reckless and careless than normal, and productivity may drop off.

This year's Bruin team may be highly susceptible since five freshmen play significant roles for the team; Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Alfred Aboya, Michael Roll, Ryan Wright, and Darren Collison.

Mbah a Moute is the Bruin's leading rebounder with 8.8 per game. Although Luc’s less than usual production against Arizona was more the result of foul trouble, the wall does not discriminate between a prince or a pauper. Mbah a Moute's game is based upon energy, and he may be susceptible in upcoming games.

The fact Alfred Aboya missed the first six games of the season may explain why his game has begun to flourish rather than diminish at this time of year. Against Arizona, Aboya had his best game as a Bruin recording 6 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 steals in a season-high 22 minutes.

Michael Roll has played in 22 of 23 games this year, his minutes unexpectedly increased as a result of injuries to Josh Shipp and Cedric Bozeman - averaging 16.1 minutes a game. Roll has been rather inconsistent with his shooting, but his defensive effort has been excellent.

Against Arizona, Roll did a good job in defending Hassan Adams. His ability to maintain defensive intensity on small forwards, as much as his three-point shooting, will be his key contribution to the team this year.

Ryan Wright stepped into a bigger role after senior centers, Michael Fey and Ryan Hollins got injured. He had his best game of the season back in December when scored 8 points and grabbed rebounds against Michigan in December.

However his minutes have diminished since Ryan Hollins has returned with improved play especially on the defensive end. In the last five games, Wright has averaged only a bit over 1 point and 1 rebound in 8 minutes of play per game.

Yet, Wright's continued improvement in the low post will be a key to the Bruins run in the postseason.

As for Darren Collison, the freshman from Etiwanda high school may have hit the wall four games ago.

Over the last four games, Collison is averaging only 2.2 points and 1.2 assists per game after averaging nearly 6 points and 3 assists earlier in the season.

Whether he has hit the wall or not, the Bruins will certainly need Darren Collison, and the other freshmen, to play well if they hope to finish strong down the stretch in their Pac-10 conference games.


(photo credit: AP)

(updated 1/8/06 with information on Ryan Wright - Thank you Canadian contingent)

Cameroon Calling

While most Bruins find their families and close friends following home games, Aboya and Mbah a Moute aren't afforded that luxury.

Instead they find each other, their friends, and their friends' friends after games. It's a group that has been steadily expanding since the start of the season in November.

"That would have been extremely tough for a person like myself," said Afflalo, whose family attends every game.

"I don't see how they do that. After a tough game, I like to be with my family. I guess they can make a phone call, but you know, it's different."

It's something that Mbah a Moute and Aboya have been accustomed to for two years. Their friends in Cameroon, nine hours ahead of Los Angeles, follow their games on the Internet in the middle of the morning. E-mails and text messages are their most commonly used modes of communication.

Though Mbah a Moute misses the daily interaction with his family, he credits his upbringing and the environment in which he was raised to keeping the events in his life in perspective.

"You go deep into Africa, there's some people dying for food. If you go deep into downtown, you see kids don't have things to eat," Mbah a Moute said. "You can find that in every city, but you see it and hear it everyday (in Cameroon), in Sudan, with people dying, and other places where people are suffering.

"We don't look at things the same way. We don't take things for granted."

Howland certainly agrees.

"Luc and Alfred, they're really good kids. They're the complete package in that they're good people, good students and extremely hard working," Howland said.

"Anytime you come from a background where you come from a foreign country, I think they have a different view on life than your typical American kid because they've seen things that your typical kid hasn't seen, in terms of poverty and other things. So I think they have a really good appreciation for how lucky we have it here." Daily Bruin

(photo credit: Mike Winters/Daily Bruin)

Monday, February 06, 2006

UCLA Moves Up Spot In Both Polls

By Bruin Basketball Report

After two home victories this week the Bruins climbed a single spot in both rankings to No.12 in the ESPN/USA Coaches poll and No.13 in the AP poll.

UCLA defeated Arizona State 69-60 on Thursday and then beat rival Arizona 84-73 on Saturday. It was the Bruin's first sweep at home of the Arizona schools since the 2000-01 season.

The Bruins moved up at the expense of coach Ben Howland's old team, the Pittsburgh Panthers. Pitt lost both their games last week - although the losses were to No.1 UConn and this week's No.16 ranked Georgetown, to drop below the Bruins in both polls this week.

The first five spots in the polls remained the same with UConn ranked at No.1 and then followed by Duke, Memphis, Villanova, and Gonzaga.

UCLA's upcoming opponent, the Washington Huskies, remain the only other Pac-10 team in the rankings. The Huskies lost last week to cross-state rival Washington St, and dropped to No.23 and No.21 in the Coaches and AP polls, respectively.

Other Pac-10 schools to receive votes in both polls were California and Stanford.

In the Ken Pomeroy RPI rankings, the Bruins are No.10 in RPI and have the No.15 toughest schedule (SOS) in the nation. The official NCAA RPI rankings will be released on Wednesday.


Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (2/6)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup published every Monday during the season.


UCLA-bound forward James Keefe was a factor in disrupting Campbell Hall's rhythm early on, asserting his 6-foot-9 frame at both ends of the floor, scoring five of the Eagles' first 10 points and grabbing five first-quarter rebounds. Keefe, who finished with 15 points and 18 rebounds, opened up space for senior teammate Mychel Thomson, who led Santa Margarita with 17 points.
Said junior forward Justin Holiday, who finished with eight points and 11 rebounds: "That was the most tired I've been in a basketball game. It was pretty hard (guarding Keefe). He's a good player." L.A. Daily News 2/5


"This is my second time here, and it's just awesome to be in this environment," Kevin Love said. "The fans and the players have really been showing me some love." "You can just see the class, and dignity about his program," Love said. "I wanted to play for a program that knows how to carry themselves, and treat their players well." "UCLA certainly does that." "UCLA is where it's at," Kyle Singler said in a shoutout to the fans. "This place is awesome." Daily Bruin 2/6

LA's student section included Kevin Love and Kyle Singler in their pregame roll call, and a group of students painted letters on their chest spelling out their names. Saturday was a big day for UCLA at Pauley Pavilion, and not just because No. 14 UCLA completed its first regular-season series sweep of Arizona since 1997 with an 84-73 victory. It was because Love and Singler, both from Oregon and the Bruins' top two targets for the 2007 recruiting class, were on unofficial visits. L.B. Press-Telegram 2/5

Watching in the stands may be UCLA's answer to sustaining that status for the near future. According to sources, heralded and much sought-after high school juniors Kevin Love and Kyle Singler, who both hail from Oregon, will be in attendance on Saturday during an unofficial visit to UCLA. The duo, who played on the same Amateur Athletic Union team together, are the most highly touted recruits to come out of Oregon in several years, and together could possibly vault a program into instant elite status. Daily Bruin 2/2

No. 1 South Medford beat crosstown rival North Medford 63-40 behind Kyle Singler and Kendall Gielow. Singler finished with 20 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks; Gielow added 19 points and 12 rebounds. . . . No. 2 Lake Oswego stayed unbeaten in Three Rivers League play with an 84-64 win against Milwaukie. Four players scored in double figures for the Lakers, led by Kevin Love with 33 points The Oregonian 2/1

By the way, Kevin Love and Kyle Singler have three of the same prospective colleges on their list — Duke, North Carolina, UCLA — with Singler also considering Arizona and Kansas. Both will visit UCLA this week. Neither is looking seriously at Oregon or Oregon State, including Love, whose father, Stan, played for the Ducks. “Dad’s not pressuring me to look at them, not anymore,” he says. Portland Tribune 1/31

"Mike came out shooting the ball well, and if someone comes out like that, you want to make sure you get them the ball," said South junior Kyle Singler, who had 21 points, seven rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots. "I think that’s what we did tonight, and I give credit to Mike because he made the shots." Mail Tribune 2/4

Russell Westbrook finished with a game-high 21 points and eight rebounds to lead Leuzinger. But it wasn't just the senior standout who made the plays. "I feel real confidence (in our post players)," Westbrook said. "At first, they were not into our system but now they're rebounding and boxing out." Daily Breeze 2/5

Leuzinger star Russell Westbrook, who is averaging 26.5 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, scored 13 points in limited action as the Olympians held him out for much of the second half with the game in hand. Daily Breeze 2/1

Russell Westbrook - Leuzinger's offensive machine - Westbrook smiled while teammates shook their heads in disbelief. Opposing coaches credited the senior with a fantastic performance. Impressive? No doubt. Surprising? Not so much, at least not to Leuzinger coach Reggie Morris Jr. The performance forced others to open their eyes to the same player Morris fell in love with when Westbrook was a 5-foot-7 freshman with size-14 shoes. "A lot of people looked at me like I was crazy, even my own dad," said Morris, whose father is the men's basketball coach at L.A. Southwest College. "I knew his body just needed to catch up with his ability and heart." Daily Breeze 1/31

Even though it's not clear where Smith would find a scholarship, he's apparently offered one to 6-foot-10 center Phil Jones, a fifth-year senior at Laurinburg Prep in North Carolina.
Jones, rated by's Dave Telep as the nation's No. 12 post-graduate recruit, is averaging 16 points and eight rebounds for one of the nation's top prep-school teams. Texas Tech, Miami, Connecticut, Clemson, Marquette and Providence also have been recruiting Jones, one of the top big men left in the class of 2006. He's originally from Brooklyn, N.Y. Courier Journal 2/5

South Lakes' Julian Vaughn scored 26 points, including his first shot of the night — what Murphy called an NBA 3-pointer."You can't defend that," said Murphy. "We pressured the guards and made it hard for them to get him the ball." Connection Newspapers 2/1

After trailing by eight points at halftime, Los Angeles Fairfax stopped relying on the outside shot and turned to its two big men, 6-foot-9 Matt Shaw and 6-8 Chace Stanback, to pull out a 67-52 victory over Westchester and clinch the Western League boys' basketball championship.Fairfax (19-2, 8-0), ranked No. 2 by The Times, outscored the fifth-ranked Comets (18-5, 6-2), 21-4, in the third quarter. Stanback had two dunks, Jerren Shipp had two three-point plays and Shaw dominated the boards in the quarter. L.A. Times 2/3

Campbell Hall 73, Kilpatrick 43: Justin Holiday scored 14 and Taylor Henry added 13 as Campbell Hall of North Hollywood (19-3, 6-0) defeated visiting Kilpatrick of Malibu in an Olympic League game. L.A. Daily News 2/4

#3 Mitty 53, St. Ignatius 49: Sophomore post Drew Gordon (14 points) led three Mitty players in double-digit scoring in a WCAL victory at St. Ignatius. S.F. Chronicle 2/5

Washington coach Lorenzo Romar was in the stands at the Mitty-Serra game, evidently to get an early viewing of Mitty 6-foot-9 sophomore Drew Gordon, who didn't disappoint with 13 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, including a partial tip of a game-tying layup attempt at the buzzer by Serra's preseason all-state standout Decensae White. S.F. Chronicle 1/31

Interestingly, the Spartans, who improved to 8-2, were coming off an 80-66 loss to Westview in which they had no answer for the Wildcats' 6-foot-11 center, Andy Poling, who had a game-high 24 points. Westview began the week at 8-2, having won five in a row. In addition to defeating Hillsboro last week, the Wildcats posted a 59-51 victory at Beaverton on Friday, with Poling scoring 22 points. The Oregonian 2/2

"Taft is on another level," Sylmar assistant coach Charles White said. "To be the best, you have to play and compete with the best. They're tough." Calvin Haynes scored a game-high 29 points for Taft. Teammate Larry Drew scored 13 points and had 11 assists. Mat Hankins led the Spartans with 18 points. L.A. Daily News 2/5

"We are on another level and wanted to come out and make a statement," Taft coach Derrick Taylor said. "No knock on them, but we wanted to win this game by 30 points." Larry Drew scored nine of his game-high 15 points in the third quarter. Oscar Bellfield had 12 points, including three 3-pointers, and Calvin Hanyes finished with 12 points and eight assists for Taft (16-5, 7-0). L.A. Daily News 2/2

A customer got to see nine games for a $12 or $22 ticket at the Nike Extravaganza on Saturday night at Anaheim Convention Center. The Westchester-Mater Dei matchup was worth the price on its own. It was a double-overtime spectacular, with Mater Dei prevailing, 91-89, in a battle of nationally ranked teams. Westchester, of Los Angeles, ranked No.41 in's national rankings, scored 25 points in the fourth quarter to force the first overtime. After the teams scored eight points each in the first overtime, they combined for 30 in the second, with No.34 Mater Dei outscoring the Comets, 16-14, in that final four-minute period. Mater Dei junior Taylor King scored 38 points, and junior teammate Kamyron Brown scored 16 with 12 assists. O.C. Register 2/5


(photo credit: Steven Nehl/the Oregonian)

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Bruin Recruiting Targets Enjoy Win

UCLA's student section included Kevin Love and Kyle Singler in their pregame roll call, and a group of students painted letters on their chest spelling out their names.

Saturday was a big day for UCLA at Pauley Pavilion, and not just because No. 14 UCLA completed its first regular-season series sweep of Arizona since 1997 with an 84-73 victory.

It was because Love and Singler, both from Oregon and the Bruins' top two targets for the 2007 recruiting class, were on unofficial visits.

The visit took on added importance since both prospects, who would like to go to college together, likely will make their choices before the fall, when they can begin taking official visits.

"Kyle and I are considering three schools, which are North Carolina, Duke and UCLA," said Love, a 6-foot-9 power forward from Lake Oswego High. "So there's a 33 percent chance we'll go to the same place, so it's pretty high. We're good friends, so if it works out, we definitely would like to do it."

Love, who is the nephew of Mike Love of the Beach Boys, is considered the premier power forward in the West. His dad, Stan, played at Oregon, but the Ducks recently were ruled out.

"I think we'll talk before we make our decisions," said Love, who plays AAU ball with Singler for the Oregon Select. "What fits him best, and whatever fits me best is where we'll end up. But I think with the chemistry we have on the court, that we need to be together. We're such good friends, so if things work out, it would just be an honor to play with Kyle." L.A. Daily News

Bruins Complete Season Sweep Over Arizona

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

There is a new sheriff in town, or at least the old one has come back after a ten year sabbatical.

The UCLA Bruins beat the Arizona Wildcats 84-73 at Pauley Pavilion giving the Bruins their first sweep of Arizona since the 1996-97 season.

The Bruins (19-4, 9-2) were on their way to a rout of the Wildcats (13-9, 6-5) after the first 30 minutes of play, but the Wildcats clawed their way back in the final minutes of the game before succumbing to their third straight loss in eight days.

Sophomore guard Arron Afflalo regained his shooting stroke scoring a career-high 27 points and hitting 4 of 10 on three-pointers in 35 minutes of play.

Coach Ben Howland gave Afflalo strict orders to stay out of the gym and rest more this week. "You don't prepare for a marathon," Howland said, "by running a marathon a day for five days in a row before the race.”

Afflalo also aggressively attacked the basket and subsequently got to the foul line often hitting 13 of 15 on his free throws.

Jordan Farmar added 13 points and 4 assists to the winning effort. He continued to sparkle on defense adding two more steals in this game.

However Farmar struggled with his mobility at the end of the game after he hurt his left ankle early in the second half when he landed awkwardly on a play. X-rays after the game were negative and he was diagnosed with a mild sprain.

Farmar has been hampered by a right ankle injury for most the season. “It was his left ankle," Howland said. "At least it wasn't his right ankle, which he has already sprained four times this season."

"They would have to kill me to take me out," Farmar said.

The box score for Cedric Bozeman does not accurately describe his contribution to the Bruin win. He scored only 3 points in the game but it came at a time when Arizona was mounting a furious comeback and the Bruins were looking for someone to step forward.

With 3:21 left in the game, Arron Afflalo found Bozeman on the left wing, and the senior forward hit a 3-pointer to extend the lead to 76-62.

Bozeman took only two shots in the entire game but was once again a steadying force on offense for the Bruins. He also did a good job defensively on Arizona’s Marcus Williams holding the freshman to only 4 of 12 shooting.

Center Ryan Hollins continued his solid play since returning from a groin injury. He scored 12 points and grabbed 3 rebounds in 24 minutes and played solid team defense.

Forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute scored 11 points and still managed to lead the team in rebounds with 6 despite only playing 19 minutes.

The Wildcats went big on the frontline for most of the game with 6’10 forwards Ivan Radenovic and Kirk Walters, and Mbah a Moute had problems defensively at times matching up with them.

Coach Ben Howland decided to go with fellow Cameroon freshman Alfred Aboya more in this game. Although Aboya is only 6’8 he is more physical and is more comfortable bodying up in the post. He responded with 3 of 3 shooting for 6 points and grabbed 4 rebounds in a career-high 22 minutes.

After leading 12-9 in the opening minutes of the game, the Bruins went on a 22-5 run to open a 16 point midway through the first half. The Bruins went into halftime with a 50-34 lead.

Arizona’s Hassan Adams did not score his first basket until 15 minutes into the game and by then the Bruins were leading by 19.

Arron Afflalo contained Adams in the first half; and freshman Michael Roll also did a good job on Adams while spelling Afflalo when he needed to sit for a rest.

Adams finished with 7 points and 3 turnovers in the first half. However, Adams helped key a Wildcat rally in the second half and finished with 19 points for the game.

"You can't keep a good player down," Afflalo said. "I knew the fact he hadn't scored for the first 15 minutes meant nothing."

Arizona's second half rally was the result of a zone which the Bruins had problems figuring out initially which was primarily due to the fact that Jordan Farmar had injured his ankle earlier in the half and could not dribble-penetrate into the zone as he normally would.

In addition, Arizona, knowing Afflalo usually runs the baseline for an open shot against a zone, played a modified box and had Mustafa Shakur shadow Afflalo on his route. But after a timeout, Howland moved Afflalo to the top of the key where he sunk a three-pointer to help solve the zone.

Similar to their previous game against the Trojans, the Wildcats lost despite outshooting their opponent. Arizona shot 58% from the field while UCLA shot 49%.

However, the Bruins shot 12 more free throws than the Wildcats; and the Bruins shot 10 of 23 (43%) on three-pointers while the Wildcats shot only 2 of 8 (25%).

With Arizona losing Saturday, they are now 3 games behind the Bruins in the Pac-10 conference race.

Both Stanford and California swept their Oregon games this week and remain 1 game behind the Bruins in the standings. The Trojans were surprised by Arizona St. on Saturday and fell 3 games off the pace.

The Bruins travel back to the Pacific Northwest next week for two tough games against Washington St. on Thursday (2/9) and Washington on Saturday (2/11).


(photo credit: AP/Matt Sayles)