Saturday, March 04, 2006

Collison Stars In Backup Role

Freshman backup point guard Darren Collison, a former star at Etiwanda High, was the difference for the nine-deep Bruins who, maybe more importantly, can go two-deep at point guard.

Collison was too quick, too fast, too determined against Cal. He was too much of a pest guarding the ball and slowing down Cal's offense while speeding up UCLA's in the Bruins' 47-27 come-from-behind rush after halftime.

"He does that to me all the time in practice," said starting UCLA point guard Jordan Farmar.

Farmar's early-game struggles got a big boost from Collison, who had 11 points on 3-of-5 shooting, with a rebound, a steal and a pair of assists.

Not bad for a skinny first-year kid who saw the floor for just 18 minutes but managed to join Afflalo as the only other UCLA player in double figures against Cal.

"He heated up (Richard) Midgley," UCLA coach Ben Howland said of Collison's on-ball pressure wearing down the Cal senior point guard.

Midgley eventually fouled out after scoring just six points in 36 minutes.

"That (pressure) puts all their offensive sets a split-second off," Farmar said of Cal's offense, which struggled as UCLA reeled off a final 12-0 run the last 4:36 of overtime.

When Collison wasn't taking the ball to the glass on the break, he was stretching the Bears defense enough to give Afflalo the openings he couldn't find in the first half.

"He's really maturing, playing to win and doing what he's asked," Farmar said. "He's a team player."

Collison is pleased people have noticed he's no longer the young guy a year just trying to blow by people.

"I'm being more patient," he said.

"We'd gotten away from the things we'd been doing well, so I help to get us started with defense. That's when we know we have things going -- when they start taking bad shots."

That's Collison's cue, he said. Force a bad shot, get the rebound and get the Bruins going.

"It's not the same as high school," Farmar said. "You have a lot more responsibility than you had at the previous level."

But after a bit of an off night, with six assists balancing out his 2-for-10 shooting and eight points, Farmar could shake his head in approval of what his backup had done.

"He's so quick and athletic, he can really create havoc out there," he said. Press-Enterprise/Dan Weber


UCLA vs. Stanford - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

After clinching at least a share of the Pac-10 conference championship with a win over California on Thursday, UCLA travels to Stanford for a chance to win the championship outright with a victory over the Cardinal on Saturday.

"Right now, we're co-Pac-10 champs, and we're definitely not satisfied with that," sophomore Arron Afflalo said. "Co-champs means nothing to us. There's a satisfaction level in beating the California Bears, a team that beat us earlier this season. They're a great team, but being co-champs was not what one of our goals was. It was to be Pac-10 champs."

The Bruins are one game ahead of Washington in the Pac-10 standings, a loss by the Huskies to Arizona on Saturday would also guarantee an outright championship for UCLA.

But with upcoming the Pac-10 and NCAA tournaments, UCLA would much rather head into postseason play with positive momentum rather than backing into a championship.

"Co-champs is not good enough for us," UCLA point guard Jordan Farmar said. "We want to do our best and win every game, so that's what we're going to have to do Saturday."

Standing in the way of UCLA is the Stanford Cardinal.

In the first meeting between the two teams at Pauley Pavilion in December, the Bruins trounced the Cardinal, 71-54, with the outcome of the game determined by halftime after UCLA raced out to a 19 point lead at intermission.

The Bruins won the game despite Jordan Farmar playing only 14 minutes after he re-aggravated his sprained ankle during the game.

Stanford has three returning senior players who were named to the All Pac-10 conference first team last year. The team had high expectations placed on them even before the season began. Sports Illustrated, among other national publications, ranked them as a top 10 team during the preseason.

But Stanford stumbled out of the gates early with losses to teams like UC Davis and Montana, and have not been able to establish any rhythm or momentum this season.

With an overall record of 15-11 (11-6 in Pac-10) and an RPI of 75, it appears Stanford's only chance of making the NCAA tournament will be by sweeping through the Pac-10 tournament next week - and Stanford certainly has a talented and experienced enough line-up to do so.

Senior center Matt Haryasz (6'11, 230) has been solid throughout the year - when he has not been injured. Haryasz has suffered ankle sprains and sustained a severe eye injury this season, yet he has put up POY-worthy numbers averaging 16.9 points, 9.0 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks per game.

Although Haryasz has struggled offensively over his last two games, scoring only single-digits in against Washington St. and USC, the Bruins will need to make a concerted effort to stop the Cardinal big man.

In the first game, the Bruins doubled down on Haryasz from the perimeter whenever he got the ball down low forcing him into tough shots or turnovers.

Haryasz should expect more of the same Bruin double-teams on Saturday, in addition, 7-footer Ryan Hollins, who did not play in the first game, will get the start against Haryasz.

Haryasz will also have to deal with freshman Alfred Aboya who was still on the mend when the two teams last faced, and was limited to just eleven minutes in the contest.

Aboya has been splitting time between power forward and center in recent games. He has given the Bruins a physical presence inside defensively and has provided low post scoring.

A primary reason the double teams against Haryasz were effective for the Bruins in the first game was due to the poor outside shooting by Stanford. They shot only 29% from the floor and 27% on three-pointers.

If Stanford expects to stay in the game with UCLA, they will need to hit their perimeter shots to open up things for Haryasz inside.

However, they have not shot well from the outside and especially not from the three-point line. As a team, they are shooting only 34% on three-pointers with only one player shooting above 35% from beyond the arc - Chris Hernandez (49%).

After struggling with his shooting at the beginning of the year, senior Chris Hernandez (6'2, 190) has been on a tear of late.

He is third in the conference in 3-pt FG made (2.60) per game and leads, second in 3-point FG% (49%), and leads in free throw percentage (91%). Hernandez is averaging 14.1 points and 3.3 assists per game.

Due to the lack of offensive production on the Stanford team this year, Hernandez has not only been playing point guard, but more often shooting guard with either freshmen Mitch Johnson or Anthony Goods running the point.

Hernandez had a horrific shooting day in the first game against UCLA making only 2-9 shots for 7 points. Of course, the defensive effort by UCLA's Arron Afflalo may have had something to do with Hernandez's poor performance.

However, if Hernandez gets hot and the Bruins are unable to contain him - a combination of an inside and outside game with Haryasz and Hernandez could be lethal.

Forward Dan Grunfeld (6'6, 220) is averaging 12.4 points and 5.2 rebounds per game this year. The senior was an all-conference pick last year but he suffered a season-ending knee injury and has not been able to regain his form this year.

Grunfeld is shooting only 39% from the floor after shooting over 50% last year.

Grunfeld struggled from the field in the first game against the Bruins. He was only 2-12 from the field for 7 points.

Stanford coach Trent Johnson goes deep into his bench with over five of his reserves averaging over 10 minutes per game. Guard Tim Morris and forward Lawrence Hill headline the bench.

In the game at Pauley, UCLA came out to start the game with high energy and intensity; and they immediately took Stanford out of the game on both ends of the court. UCLA needs to come out with the same strong effort this Saturday.

Stanford will have some extra motivaiton for this game as well.

They will be celebrating Senior day before the game, and thus the big three seniors of Haryasz, Hernandez, and Grunfeld will be extra hyped for their last game at Maples Pavilion.

In addition, a victory over the 13th ranked Bruins in the last conference game would help ease some of the pain from a mediocre Stanford season which began with higher promise and expectations.

In each of the last three games, the Bruins have got into a bad habit of falling behind in the first half, and then rallying in the second half to win.

It's a habit this young UCLA team needs to break soon especially with the upcoming single-elimination NCAA tournament format.


Friday, March 03, 2006

Keefe and Santa Margarita Play for CIF Title

By Bruin Basketball Report

Santa Margarita Eagles(26-3) vs. Lakewood Artesia Pioneers (28-1), 2:15 p.m. Saturday at Arrowhead Pond

McDonald's All-American and UCLA-bound forward James Keefe leads the Santa Margarita Eagles in their third consecutive CIF Division III-AA title game on Saturday against Artesia.

It will be a battle between the top two seeds in the division; Artesia is seeded No.1 and Santa Margarita No.2.

Last year Keefe and Santa Margarita defeated Artesia for the championship, 50-32, after the Eagles held the Pioneers scoreless for the last five minutes of the game.

Santa Margarita advanced to the championship game this year with a 65-43 victory over La Canada in a semi-final game. Keefe, a 6'9 senior, had 24 points and 13 rebounds in the contest.


Afflalo Leads UCLA To Pac-10 Title

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Sophomore Arron Afflalo scored 21 points in the second half and overtime to help UCLA clinch a share of the Pac-10 conference title for the first time since 1997 with a 67-58 victory over California in Berkeley.

Afflalo finished with a team-high 25 points on 8-16 shooting from the field, 5-9 on three-pointers, and a team-high 7 rebounds in the game.

The Bruins started off slowly again falling behind the Bears 31-20 at halftime, and needed a big second half rally to get the game into overtime. UCLA then outscored Cal in the extra period, 12-3, for the victory.

UCLA (23-6, 12-4) is still one game ahead of Washington in the Pac-10 conference race. A UCLA win against Stanford or a Washington loss against Arizona on Saturday would give the Bruins the outright conference title.

"Right now we're co-Pac-10 champs," Afflalo said. "We're definitely not satisfied with that. We'll enjoy this bus ride and enjoy tonight, but after that, it's business as usual. ... Being co-champs was not one of our goals. It was being Pac-10 champs."

However, a conference title was far from the minds of the Bruins after the first 20 minutes of the first half.

For the third game in row, the Bruins played an uninspired first half, and Cal’s Leon Powe made the Bruins pay for it.

Powe scored 15 points in the first half, and single-handedly got UCLA’s big men in foul trouble. After halfway through the first half, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Alfred Aboya, and Ryan Hollins each had 2 fouls. Powe was 7-8 from the foul line by the half.

Although Powe was magnificent in the first half, it was actually the Bruin’s inability to stop the Bear's guard penetration. Cal’s Ayinde Ubaka and Richard Midgley, and Nikola Knezevic consistently got into the paint for scores or dishes to post players.

On the offensive end, the Bruins settled for a slow tempo and were caught in an ineffective half-court game. Cal’s defense was effective as well causing four shot clock violations in just he first half.

With the score 20-20, the Bears went on an 11-0 run in the final six minutes of the half go into halftime with the 31-20 lead. Cal shot 56% from the floor in the first half while UCLA shot only 40%.

The Bruins found themselves in a familiar situation – behind at the half; and for the third game in a row they came out of the locker rooms a different and more determined team.

"Every half we come out nonchalant or lackadaisical or whatever you want to call it," Afflalo said. "Where's your pride? Where's your passion? We weren't executing, we were stagnant. That's not our type of game. We got into what we do best in the second half. It's the same thing we did the past two games."

UCLA started the second half with a 10-2 run in the first four minutes to cut the deficit to just three points. Afflalo scored eight points – hitting two momentum changing three-pointers - to lead the comeback. The Bruins were determined to run and up the tempo of the game.

Freshman Darren Collison made two free throws with eleven minutes remaining to give the Bruins their first lead since the opening minutes of the game.

Collison played another effective game for the Bruins. With Jordan Farmar not shooting well from the field (2-10), Collison gave the Bruins a lift with 11 points in 18 minutes of play. In addition, Collison also played good defense in the second half badgering the Cal guards full court.

In the second half, the entire Bruin defense improved in intensity and energy.

After scoring 15 points in the first half, Powe was 2-8 in the second half for just 5 points. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Alfred Aboya took turns guarding Powe and perhaps wore down the Pac-10 player of the year candidate down the stretch.

"The first half was a little more wide open," Powe said. "I could get to the paint. But the second half, they closed that off real quick. When I put it on the floor, they came."

In addition, the Bruin guards did a better job the second half stopping Cal’s dribble penetration, and preventing or tipping passes into the post. In the opening minutes of the second half, the Bruins set the tone with two quick steals and forcing Cal into tough shots from the perimeter with the shot clock winding down on two straight possessions.

But it was Afflalo who shot the Bruins back into the game. "It's not about scoring, it's not about numbers," Farmar said. "As long as we win, I'm happy. Arron came up big and shot the ball great the second half. I just tried to find him and make plays."

UCLA had a good chance of winning the game in regulation. With 30 seconds left in the game and the Bruins up by three, Cal’s Theo Robertson hit a three-point shot from the left wing to tie the game and send it into overtime.

To open the extra period, Ubaka hit a 3-point shot which turned out to be the only points California would score in overtime, as the Bruins went on a 12-0 run for the victory.

As much as Afflalo deserves the credit for the win, it was a team victory with much credit going to the Bruin frontline of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Alfred Aboya, Ryan Wright, and Ryan Hollins. The Bruin big men matched the physical play of Cal’s frontline, and at minimum, the confrontation was a draw.

UCLA had the edge on the boards 31-28. After allowing Cal to shoot 56% in the first half, the Bruins limited the Bears to only 36% in the second half.

Rumor has it that Cal’s Omar Wilkes played 15 minutes in the UCLA-Cal game Thursday. Wilkes – a UCLA student section favorite, had scored 12 points in the first meeting at Pauley, but he took only one shot scoring zero points in this game, and was barely noticed except for a missed flagrant foul he committed on Afflalo during a breakaway lay-up in the first half.

It’s easy to overlook his quiet contributions to the team, but senior Cedric Bozeman locked down Wilkes defensively and threw away the key. Bozeman also added 7 points on 2-2 shooting.

"This was a great gut-check win for our team, our program," coach Ben Howland said. "To go through all that and have to go to overtime and to gut it out, it's a testament to these kids' character."


(photo credit: AP)

Thursday, March 02, 2006

UCLA Winning Without Pac-10 Individual Honors

With 13 weeks down and one to go, the 15th-ranked Bruins haven't had a Player of the Week. According to the conference, a Pac-10 champion has never been shut out in that voting since it began in the 1983-84 season.

By contrast, the four teams chasing UCLA for first place -- Cal, Washington, Stanford and Arizona -- have combined for 11 Player of the Week selections this season, with weekend opponents Cal and Stanford totaling five between them.

Does it matter?

"It doesn't," said UCLA point guard Jordan Farmar, who leads the Pac-10 in assists. Except ...

"It shows that we do things as a team," he added. "We do things together, as a family. That's what we say in the huddle every time."

"We've got leaders but we don't have to have stars," senior center Ryan Hollins said. "We need Jordan and Arron (Afflalo) to score, but if Jordan can have 10 assists and another guy steps up to lead us in scoring, he's just as happy."

Afflalo, whose 16.8-point average is seventh in the conference, said he'd rather the Bruins win games than individual honors.

"The best thing for us in all of this is that we have three or four players capable of doing that kind of scoring," Afflalo said of a young Bruins team, which has seven underclassmen among its top nine scorers and five players who have led the team in scoring.

The Bruins are winning more with defense -- UCLA's second in the Pac-10, allowing 60 points per game -- than scoring. Their 67.9-point average is the second lowest for a UCLA team in 46 years.

And that style of play doesn't produce the kind of numbers that make a Player of the Week.

UCLA's Marc Dellins, who along with the conference's other sports information directors nominates a Player of the Week candidate after each weekend, felt the Bruins had their best chance after two strong performances by freshman forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute in the last weekend of January.

Mbah a Moute led UCLA with 15 points and 10 rebounds in a road win at Oregon, then had 14 points and eight rebounds in a win at Oregon State. But Stanford center Matt Haryasz averaged 23 points and 9.5 rebounds in home wins over Washington and Washington State for his second straight Player of the Week honor.

The selection is made at the Pac-10's Walnut Creek offices after circulating ballots among the staff. The Press-Enterprise/Dan Weber


UCLA vs. California - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

The No.13 ranked Bruins visit Haas Pavilion on Thursday to play the California Bears in a game which may decide the Pac-10 regular season championship.

UCLA enters the game with a one-game lead over both Cal and Washington in the Pac-10 race. If the Bruins win, they will be guaranteed no less than a tie for the conference title.

On December 31 at Pauley Pavilion, the Bears upset the Bruins, 68-61, in a game which Cal’s frontline of Leon Powe, Devon Hardin, and Rod Benson physically dominated the Bruins inside.

Cal out-rebounded UCLA 32-25 and limited the Bruins to 36.7% shooting from the field.

However, the Bruins will come in with a significantly different team than the one which faced Cal in the first game. (Link: see previous story).

UCLA has been playing inconsistent basketball lately in which they've been unable to put together a complete 40 minute effort.

Although the Bruins swept both Oregon schools last week, they shot a combined 19-47 (40.5%) in the first half but then sizzled in the second half shooting 33-48 (68.8%) to rally for victories.

While the Bruins have been inconsistent, the Cal Bears have struggled.

Cal has lost two of their last three games which included a loss to last-place Arizona St. in Berkeley. The only Cal win during the span was a two point slugfest over Washington St., 43-41.

The Bears are led by Leon Powe (So, 6’8, 240). He leads the Pac-10 in rebounding (10.1) and is second in scoring (19.9) behind Washington’s Brandon Roy. Over his past five games, Powe is averaging 24.0 points and shooting 59.7% from the floor (40-67) and 75.5% from the free throw line (40-53).

Powe faces double-teams in most every game, and the first Bruin meeting was no different. Whenever Powe touched the ball down low, UCLA doubled down on him, and they were moderately successful, limiting him to only 5 points on 1-7 shooting although he grabbed 12 rebounds.

However, whenever Powe was double-teamed it usually left DeVon Hardin (So, 6’11, 235) either wide-open underneath or guarded one-on-one by a smaller Bruin player – usually Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. He finished with 10 points on 4-5 shooting and had key baskets down the stretch.

The Bears also bring in Rod Benson (Sr, 6’10, 220) off the bench. He scored 8 points against the Bruins on 4-8 shooting. There was a chance Benson would not play the rest of the season after he had injured his knee eight weeks ago, but he has returned to the line-up and appears to be at full strength after playing 21 minutes against Washington last week.

The Bruins frontline will be severely tested in this game, although UCLA will have better individual match-ups this time around.

UCLA's seven-footer Ryan Hollins will start the game and should be able to neutralize Hardin defensively. Although Hardin is athletic, he does not possess strong post moves and will certainly have difficulty scoring against the bigger Hollins.

Although the Bruins doubled Powe most of the last game, there were times when they allowed Alfred Aboya to play Powe straight-up - and Aboya did fairly well.

Aboya has gotten stronger with each game since returning from his knee injury, and it would not be surprising to find the Bruins match-up Powe one-on-one with Aboya at times.

In addition, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute played only 23 minutes in the last game against Cal due to early foul trouble. Most of the fouls he committed were reaching fouls, and he should be able avoid them this time around. Mbah a Moute had a season-low three rebounds in the game.

Michael Fey, the forgotten Bruin, may be called upon to contribute in this game. He has averaged six minutes in the last two games, and can provide UCLA with additional bulk down low, or at least five fouls.

Although Cal’s frontline dominated inside play in the December contest, it was their guards who provided most of the scoring. Ayinde Ubaka (18 points), Richard Midgley (12 points), and Omar Wilkes (12 points) combined for 14-24 (58%) shooting in the game at Pauley – well above each of their individual season’s average.

Ubaka (Jr, 6’4, 200) has been struggling lately with his shooting, hitting only 30% from the field in his last five games. He is averaging 14.6 points and 3.8 assists per game for the season.

In the last game, Cal stalled the UCLA transition game by pressing Farmar full-court. It was a very effective ploy which worked primarily due to the fact Farmar was hobbled by a severely sprained ankle he had suffered in an earlier game against Stanford. But Farmar’s ankle is healthier now which may lead to more transition basket opportunities for UCLA.

UCLA will likely still double-down on Powe, especially if they start Luc Richard Mbah a Moute on him, but they may be more selective in their doubles this time around. Alfred Aboya will certainly see more time against Powe in the game.

Although Cal out-rebounded UCLA in the last game, the Bruins have been the better overall rebounding team in conference play. The Bruins have +3.9 rebounding margin against opponents, while Cal have a -0.3 margin – surprising considering their big frontline.

Cal takes care of the ball extremely well averaging only 11.4 turnovers a game – best in the Pac-10 conference. The Bears have had more than 15 turnovers only once, and have had 10 or less in games nine times.

UCLA will need to come out with a lot of energy and intensity against Cal on Thursday, and their frontline will need to come up with a strong effort against the Bears' big men.

Cal will play a mix of zone and man-to-man against the Bruins, especially considering UCLA has struggled scoring against zone defenses all season long.

The Bruins are 5-2 on the road in conference play, with their only two setbacks at Washington and USC.

UCLA will play Stanford in their last Pac-10 regular season conference game on Saturday.

Injury Update: Alfred Aboya was held out of practice this week as a precautionary measure to prevent him from re-aggravating his groin injury, but he is expected to play against both Cal and Stanford.

It appears Lorenzo Mata's rehabilitation has not progressed enough for him to help the team this year. "I am not counting on Lorenzo Mata impacting our team any further this season," Howland said.


Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Different Bruin Team To Face Bears in Showdown

By Bruin Basketball Report

When the Bruins step onto the court at Haas Pavilion for Thursday night's showdown, it will show up with a very different team from the one which was defeated by the Cal Bears earlier in the season, 68-61, at Pauley Pavilion.

Basketball, more than most sports, is a game of match-ups; and against a big, physical Cal frontline of DeVon Hardin, Leon Powe and Rod Benson off the bench, the Bruins were out-manned in their first contest in December.

In that game the Bruins sported a starting line-up of Josh Shipp, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Lorenzo Mata, Arron Afflalo, and Jordan Farmar.

Since then, Shipp announced he would apply for a medical redshirt due to his hip injury and Mata has been sidelined by a knee injury.

Seniors Ryan Hollins (groin) and Cedric Bozeman (shoulder) were both injured and did not play against Cal, but will both be in the starting line-up on Thursday.

The 7'0 Hollins gives the Bruins a better match-up in the middle against the Cal big men who were literally shooting over the top of the smaller Bruins at Pauley, especially the 6'11 Hardin.

With Bozeman, the Bruins have a player who doesn't score or rebound as well as Shipp, but he is a better defender and perimeter passer. Just as importantly, his ability to play all three perimeter positions has helped take some of the pressure off the dynamic duo of Afflalo and Farmar.

Against Cal, Farmar and Afflalo played 36 and 39 minutes, respectively. Since then, coach Ben Howland has made a conscious effort to reduce their minutes and to keep their legs fresh for the end of games. Farmar has been averaging 30 minutes, while Afflalo has been playing 32 minutes per game.

Another player helping to offset minutes played by Farmar and Afflalo is Michael Roll.

After only playing one minute against Cal in the earlier game, Roll is averaging over 15 minutes per game and has given the Bruins another long range threat to attack a team with from the perimeter. Against Oregon on Sunday, he single-handedly broke the Ducks zone with two three-pointers in the second half.

The Bruins will also have a healthy Jordan Farmar for this contest. He had reinjured his ankle against Stanford and was questionable for the previous Cal game. But after pregame warm-ups it was determined Farmar would start in the game.

Although he played, the negative effects of his ankle injury were obvious on both offense and defense. Farmar was only 2-11 from the field for 6 points; in addition, he was slow to cover on defense. Omar Wilkes put back a key rebound late in the game due to Farmar's inability to block him out on the play.

Alfred Aboya's groin pull is still bothering him this week. As a precautionary measure, coach Howland will keep him out of practice until the game since he will play a key role against Cal.

In the last Cal game, Aboya was the single most effective Bruin frontline player. His size, quickness, and toughness makes him a good defensive match-up against Cal's All-Pac-10 conference power forward Leon Powe; and thus the extra steps taken by the coaches to keep him healthy this week.

UCLA-Cal Game Preview To Follow


Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Interview With Sidney Wicks ('68-'71)

Sidney Wicks helped UCLA to three consecutive NCAA basketball championships. in 1969, 1970, and 1971.

Colleges around the nation took it for granted UCLA's basketball dynasty would end with the graduation of Lew Alcindor's in 1969. However, Sidney Wicks, Curtis Rowe, Steve Patterson, and others proved them wrong.

Wicks averaged 15.8 points and 9.9 rebounds per game at UCLA. He ranks No.21 on UCLA's all-time scoring list (1423) and No.9 overall in rebounds (894).

His No.35 jersey was retired by UCLA.

By Kerry Eggers
Writer, Portland Tribune

WILMINGTON, N.C. — The water is deep blue, the air crisp and the sky clear on a Tuesday afternoon in this coastal city, a good four-hour drive from Charlotte.

Sitting in a chair on the inside deck of the Bluewater Grill, overlooking the intercoastal waters of the Atlantic, is a man old-time Trail Blazer fans will easily recall.

“But you have to be at least 35 years old to remember me,” Sidney Wicks says, smiling. “Anybody younger than that has no clue.”

It’s been 30 years since Wicks wore a Blazer uniform, 25 years since he played his final game in the NBA. The 6-9 forward out of UCLA, the No. 2 pick in the 1971 draft, put up spectacular numbers in his five years with Portland, averaging 22.3 points and 10.3 rebounds. He was rookie of the year in 1971-72 and made the All-Star Game in his first four seasons.

Yet Wicks’ reputation as a player — both in Portland and with Boston and the San Diego Clippers, for whom he finished his 10-year career in 1981 — was as somebody who never reached his vast potential. After averaging 24.5 points and 11.5 rebounds as a rookie on a Blazer team that went 18-64, his scoring average went down in each of his next nine seasons in the league.

The season after Wicks’ contract was sold to Boston, the Blazers won the NBA championship. Wicks never got as far as the NBA finals and appeared in only nine playoff games.

Many within the Portland organization at the time — front-office types, coaches and players — considered him a malcontent, an enigmatic player who had the makeup of a leader but was more out to serve himself than the group.

Wicks’ relationship with the team’s other star, Geoff Petrie, was adversarial by all accounts except, well, perhaps that of the two parties today.

After he left the NBA, Wicks played another season in Italy and spent an additional year living there. He returned to UCLA and served four years as an assistant coach under Walt Hazzard.

Over the next two decades, Wicks all but vanished.

“When I stopped coaching, I decided it was my time to have my anonymity, but also to be who I am and do what I want to do,” Wicks says. “That doesn’t make me a recluse. It just allows me be do my own thing, be my own person. It has worked out well.”

In a rare interview, he offers Portland Tribune readers a look back at his time in Portland, along with a glimpse at Sidney Wicks today.

Life is good

Wicks, 56, weighs 240 pounds, maybe 10 pounds over his playing weight. He looks younger than his years and appears to be in great shape.

“I work out, and I watch my diet,” he says. “That’s the only way I can do it.”
Even on a cool day, with the temperature in the 50s, he wears khaki shorts, a polo shirt and deck shoes.

“This is me, especially during the summer,” he says. “Unless I go to Los Angeles. Even there, during the day, it’s casual. Then there’s a different dress style in the evening.”

Wicks retains a home in L.A. and is there for seven- to 10-day stretches several times a year. He has made a living in real estate investments there the past 20 years, he says, and also goes to visit friends and family members.

His daughter, Sibahn Epps, is a budding agent in Hollywood after spending five years as a writer in the music industry, he says. Epps, born during Sidney’s time in Portland, is his only child, the product of a seven-year marriage that ended in 1979.

Wicks, who is single, smiles often, speaks freely and accommodates all questions except about his current personal life.

“Just want to keep that private,” he says.

Over the last 20 years, Wicks has lived in L.A., Atlanta and Amelia Island, Fla. While in Atlanta, he began visiting the Wilmington area on vacation trips. He enjoyed it so much, he decided to settle here three years ago.

Wicks’ four-bedroom beach-style waterfront home in suburban Hampstead is a place where he can relax year-round and take his 20-foot johnboat or jet ski out in the summers. He travels often.

After his coaching stint at UCLA was over, “I started to try to figure out what I wanted to do from there,” Wicks says. “What I wanted to do was have a good quality of life. That’s what I’ve been doing.”

For a while, Wicks owned and operated six dry cleaning agencies in the San Diego area. It was during that time, about 1990, that he was involved in a serious traffic accident. His car was broadsided by a cement truck. He suffered a ruptured spleen, broken ribs and other injuries. He was unconscious for a week and remained in the hospital for three weeks.

“It was a tough time,” he says. “The doctor told me, ‘You’re going to be OK because you’re in shape. Anybody else, it might take them two to three years to recover.’ I was up and around in four or five months.”

Wicks has done few interviews since his coaching days at UCLA, but not because he won’t cooperate.

“I have spoken to the media on occasion,” he says, “but a lot of times, I’ve been living in places where most people don’t know where I am. I haven’t done an interview (for a media outlet) in the Northwest in, oh, 30 years. I’m more than willing to talk about my time in Portland. I loved it there. Portland is a great place to live.”

Wicks recalls that his home was in the Hillsdale area of Southwest Portland.

“I still have friends there I made from back then,” he says. “Not people I played with; I’m talking about neighbors and friends and acquaintances I made there.”

Asked if he keeps in touch with any of his ex-teammates from Portland, Wicks thinks.

“Not really,” he says. “I spoke with LaRue Martin maybe four, five years ago. Other than that, not really.”

An immediate impact

An L.A. native, Wicks was the guiding light on UCLA teams that won three consecutive NCAA championships and lost four games in three years under coach John Wooden.

“It was the best college experience a kid could have had,” says Wicks, who earned his degree in sociology. “Athletically, it was the best; personally and academically, it was the best situation you could have at any college. The curriculum, the campus life, the way of life there was unbelievable.”

In essence, Wicks was the No. 1 player in the 1971 draft. Portland paid Cleveland to take Austin Carr with the first pick, paving the way for the Blazers to select Wicks.

There was little question about Wicks’ talent. He led Portland in scoring in three of his five seasons. He still holds the franchise record with 27 rebounds in a game. He ranks fifth in career rebounds and ninth in scoring.

But before he played an NBA game, Blazer management questioned its own selection.

“When you talk about Sidney Wicks, it’s hard for me,” says Stu Inman, then Portland’s director of player personnel. “I would have drawn the conclusion he would have had a much better career.”

The summer of 1971, Inman says, the Blazers began a relationship with sports psychologist Bruce Ogilvie in which he would provide psychological profiles on prospects before the draft. That summer, though, he tested Portland’s picks after the draft.

“In drafting Sidney, I was going on what John Wooden and his assistant coach told me, and what I saw on the court,” Inman says. “We needed a power guy who could score, and Sidney was both. There was no question about his talent level.

“I remember I was sitting in a Lewis & Clark College lecture room with our owners (Larry Weinberg and Herman Sarkowsky) and (general manager) Harry Glickman. Bruce was unbelievably honest about the frailties in Sidney’s athletic personality. The more Bruce talked, the more the owners slumped in their chairs. Sidney didn’t fall down in just one or two categories, but four or five, which really raised the red flag. Had we known, we probably would not have taken him.”

But Wicks proved immediately he was a gifted player.

“He was the prototype of power forwards today,” says Lionel Hollins, whose rookie year with Portland was Wicks’ last season there. “He was big, could run the court, shoot, post up, pass, put the ball on the floor … he could do it all as a player, and he played hard.”

Wicks joined a Portland team led by second-year guard Petrie, who had averaged 24.8 points while earning All-Star recognition and co-rookie of the year honors. Two strong personalities clashed immediately. Through five turbulent seasons, they never really jelled, though each respected the other’s abilities.

“Sidney was a unique blend of power, speed and quickness,” Petrie says today. “He was also was a pretty good passer for a frontcourt player.”

At times, though, it appeared the court wasn’t big enough for the both of them.

“There were clearly problems between Wicks and Petrie,” says Bobby Gross, also a rookie during Wicks’ final year in Portland. “You didn’t see it so much in the practice or games, but you kind of felt it.”

“Sidney and Geoff didn’t really get along,” says Jack McCloskey, Wicks’ coach for two seasons in Portland. “I tried to get them to communicate. I don’t know why they had the problem. I’m sure they did the best they could.”

The incident

It didn’t take long for things to come to a head. On Dec. 30, 1971, two months into Wicks’ rookie year, Portland lost 117-92 at Chicago. Wicks, who had 23 points and 14 rebounds, unloaded on the team in a post-game radio interview with Bill Schonely.

“We degenerated into a group of individuals tonight and never resembled a team,” Wicks told Schonely. “We played like it was just a pickup game in a high school gym. Guys just wandered on and off the court and never gave up the ball. Everybody out there is playing for themselves, and it stinks. Some people are playing team ball; some people aren’t. We’re out there getting the crap kicked out of us by teams we can play with. There are too many guys dribbling with their heads down and not looking for others.

“All this, coupled with the fact that everybody expected me to somehow turn this franchise around, has been very disappointing to me. A lot of people in Portland are supporting us right now, but I don’t think we warrant that support. I wouldn’t go see the Trail Blazers because we’re not playing professional basketball.”

The media took Wicks’ comments to be directed mostly at Petrie, now president of basketball operations for the Sacramento Kings. So did Petrie, who the following day was quoted as saying: “Twice (when Petrie took shots), he (Wicks) just stood there and shook his head like he should have had the ball. I ran around for six games and never saw the damn ball. Now all of a sudden, he doesn’t think he’s getting it enough? He is just as guilty as anyone else. We have all chiefs and no Indians. Something has to be done, or we won’t win another game all year.”

But Petrie agreed with Wicks that there was too much selfishness among the Blazers, “and I’ll take a lot of the blame.” He also said there was no reason he and Wicks couldn’t play together.

Wicks remembers his outburst in Chicago.

“I said we as a team were not playing well,” he says. “I included myself. I wasn’t directing it at one person, but people construed it as being toward Petrie.”

Teammates often baffled

After the 1971-72 season, Inman and his wife took Petrie, Wicks and their wives on a trip to Israel. It was the brainstorm of Weinberg, who hoped it could cement a better relationship between the two stars.

Ironically, Petrie saved Wicks’ life. The group had gone out for a swim in the Sea of Galilee when Wicks found himself in peril.

“Sidney got cramps in both of his legs and started calling for help,” Petrie says. “He wasn’t far out, and I got him to shore. He coughed up a lot of water. Finally, he said, ‘Thanks a lot. I’m too young to die.’ ”

Did it help heal their relationship?

“There was really nothing wrong with it to begin with,” Wicks says. “Of course I was appreciative that Geoff pulled me out of the water. The trip, it worked out. We got a chance to be exposed to one another in a social setting, which was really cool.”

To their teammates, however, nothing seemed to change.

Most of those on the team and within the organization agree that Wicks and Petrie share responsibility for their rift.

“They were both big names, young and selfish, and never figured it out during their time together,” Inman says. “Geoff was Geoff, and Sidney was self-destructive.”

Lenny Wilkens took over the Blazers, first as player-coach and then as coach, for Wicks’ final two seasons in Portland.

“The chemistry on the team wasn’t great,” says Wilkens, now retired and in the Hall of Fame. “When I came to that situation, one of the things they hadn’t learned to do was how to play together. The whole team needed to understand one another. We started to get it toward the end, but then they broke us up.”

Some of Wicks’ teammates resented his demeanor. Hollins recalls his first meeting with Wicks, at the doctor’s office when the players were taking preseason physicals.

“I had rooted for him at UCLA and had really been looking forward to meeting him,” Hollins says. “He was one of the last to get to the doctor’s office. We were sitting around playing cards and waiting. He came over to me and said, ‘My name is Sidney Wicks. You can call my Sidney, or you can call me Sy, but don’t call me Sid.’

“A lot of his attitude had to do with the success he had playing for John Wooden. On several occasions he mentioned there was only one really good coach in basketball, and only one really good school. He was very stat- and image-conscious. I wouldn’t say he was a great teammate. He was about Sidney Wicks, about making sure he was taken care of. Sidney got along with everybody he wanted to get along with. He’d always talk about himself in third person. But I can’t say Sidney’s a bad guy. I never really knew him.”

Besides Wicks’ admonition not to call him Sid, Gross noticed other things.

“A lot of times, Sidney wouldn’t pay close attention to what (Wilkens) was talking about,” Gross says. “Being a rookie, that flabbergasted me. He broke my nose in practice one day and seemed to be very proud of it. It bothered me that he was very proud of the fact.

“I remember Sidney was often the last one to practice and the first one to leave. And he liked to shoot at a basket by himself.”

Thirty years later, this is not the portrait Wicks paints of himself as a Blazer.

“Was I a loner? Not to my knowledge,” he says. “I’ve never been that kind of guy. I’m one of the guys who is gregarious and outgoing.

“Look, it was a difficult situation when I was in Portland. Our team was in constant turmoil, changing players and coaches.”

And, “in my early 20s, there was a lot of growing up to do.”

Moving on

The Blazers got a little better each year during Wicks’ time with the team, and his scoring average went down every season, to a team-high 19.1 points in 1975-76. His shooting percentage went up every season until the last one.

“The better quality of team you have, your average is supposed to go down some,” he says. “You don’t have to score as much.”

With second-year center Bill Walton missing 31 games due to injury in 1975-76, the Blazers went 37-45 and missed the playoffs for the sixth straight year. After the season, Portland hired Jack Ramsay as coach, acquired Maurice Lucas and Dave Twardzik in the expansion draft and got Johnny Davis in the college draft. In October, Wicks was sold to Boston. Eight months later, the Blazers reigned as NBA champions.

“Go figure,” Wicks says. “And (the Celtics) almost played them in the finals, which would have been even more ironic. We lost to Philadelphia in seven games in the East finals. But Portland added all the ingredients, including a healthy Bill Walton, and got a championship. I can honestly say God bless everyone for that.”

Wicks is remembered as a good but not great NBA player. There’s a certain sadness to that, because in a different situation he might have achieved greatness.

And chances are, the teammates who resented his comportment 30 years ago would find him much more appealing today. He moves about in a different world now, away from the spotlight.

“The limelight is there to enjoy when you’re in it,” he says. “And when you’re not in it anymore, enjoy wherever you are. I’m not a professional athlete anymore. I’m just a different person. I have great memories and some accomplishments, and I have moved on.”

Originally published 2/17/06 in the Portland Tribune
(Reprinted with permission)

(alumni tracker)
(photo credit: AP)

Bruins Climb Polls After Sweeping Oregon Schools

By Bruin Basketball Report

After defeating both Oregon schools at home last week, UCLA (22-6, 12-4) climbed to No.13 and No.15 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches and AP polls, respectively. The Bruins moved up four spots in each poll from the prior week.

The only other Pac-10 team in the top rankings is Washington (22-5, 11-5) which moved up three spots in both polls to No. 16 and No.14. Cal was the only other school in the conference to earn points in the polls.

Duke remained No.1 and are followed by Connecticut, Memphis, and Villanova in both polls.

In the official NCAA RPI released last week, the Bruins are ranked No.14. After the two home victories last week, UCLA should move up when the new NCAA RPI rankings are released on Wednesday.

The Ken Pomeroy College Basketball RPI ranking has the Bruins at No.16 with a SOS of No.27.

UCLA travels to the Bay area this week for conference title deciding games against California (17-8, 11-5) on Thursday and Stanford (14-11, 10-6) on Saturday.

The Bruins are in first-place one game ahead of both California and Washington in the Pac-10 conference race.

While California plays both UCLA and USC at home this week, Washington will play both Arizona schools on the road.

At the moment, the Pac-10 most likely will have only four teams selected to play in the NCAA tournament; UCLA, Washington, Arizona, and California; unless of course another team in the conference, besides the four mentioned, wins the Pac-10 tournament in March.


Monday, February 27, 2006

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (2/27)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup published every Monday during the season.


In a CIF-Southern Section Division III-AA seminfinal game, James Keefe scored 24 and grabbed 13 rebounds to lead Santa Margarita to a 65-43 victory over La Canada at Saddleback College on Friday (2/24). The Eagle's Mychel Thompson added 12 points and 10 rebounds in the win. Santa Margarita will face Artesia in the finals. Bruin Basketball Report.

But, ultimately, the Gladiators (19-10) couldn't begin to compensate for the impact that Santa Margarita's James Keefe had on the proceedings. The 6-foot-8 Best in the West selection finished with 25 points, 19 rebounds nine in the fourth quarter and blocked eight shots to help the No. 2-seed Eagles improve to 25-3 and advance to a semifinal Friday night. "We tried to mix it up (defensively) even more than usual," Becker said. "But they were still able to pound the ball inside to him. (Keefe's) a great player and that's why he is UCLA-bound." Press-Telegram 2/21


Kevin Love had 34 points and 19 rebounds as No. 2 Lake Oswego (20-3, 13-0) won 71-51 over the visiting Pacers. Oregonian 2/22

Interestingly, the biggest challenge Kyle Singler had to claiming his top honor came from his peers in the South lineup. Still, the 6-foot-8 wing’s impact on South and the landscape on the SOC was undeniable when it came down to voting. Singler averaged 21.7 points, 7.7 rebounds, 3.4 assists and almost two blocked shots per game to pave the way for an undefeated run through the SOC. He converted 70 percent of his field goal attempts (121-for-173), and was 10-for-22 from 3-point range. Mail Tribune 2/27

South Medford junior Kyle Singler was making an unofficial visit to Duke and popped up on FSN's national telecast a few times during the Blue Devils' 92-71 victory over Miami on Sunday.
Just another weekend on the recruiting trail for the the top prep basketball players in Oregon. The Register-Guard 2/22

Kyle Singler finished with a game-high 32 points and 10 rebounds, and South outscored Roseburg 44-13 in the final 14 minutes of the game on its way to a 92-53 victory that clinched the Southern Oregon Conference title for the Panthers. The News-Review 2/20

Playing at home, Leuzinger looked like the team that had the long bus ride, turning the ball over nine times in the first quarter alone. Donnell Beverly Jr.'s 23 points were not enough to overcome the early sloppiness as the Olympians lost, 63-58, to East Valley of Redlands in the CIF I-AA quarterfinals. Leuzinger standout Russell Westbrook scored only two points in the first half and finished with nine. Daily Breeze 2/25

Senior Russell Westbrook led the Olympians (26-4) with 23 points, followed by 13 points from Christein Stribling and Beverly Jr¹s 11 points. Westbrook, who entered the game averaging 25 points, was forced to sit out a crucial stretch in the fourth quarter due to leg cramps. He would return, hitting a 3-pointer that drew the Olympians to with 61-58 with 12 seconds left. Redlands Daily Facts 2/26

Leading the Olympians are seniors Russell Westbrook and Donnell Beverly Jr.
Westbrook is a 6-foot-3 guard who leads the team in scoring and rebounding. He averages 25 points per game, grabs eight rebounds and is among the team¹s leaders in every statistical category. Redland Daily Facts 2/24

South Lakes center Julian Vaughn, who finished with 22 points, 12 rebounds and three blocks, proved to be his team’s best inside and outside player, hitting three three-pointers — two of which he made down the stretch. The Connection 2/22

Wilson (14-13) sports a powerful lineup, featuring Wilson is led by 6-foot-9 center Anthony Randolph, who averages 18 points a game, Matthew Garth (15.5 points), Chad Washington (13.3 points) and William Dowell. McKinney Courier Gazette 2/21

"Everything just seemed not to go our way," said Wildcats sophomore Andy Poling, who had a team-high 16 points. "We looked a little timid out there and we didn't play like we know we could play." Oregonian 2/26

Many of the country's Division I college basketball programs are beginning to chase after Andy Poling. The 6-foot-11 Westview sophomore showed why Tuesday night. Poling dominated inside, scoring a game-high 32 points while leading Westview to a key 80-72 Metro League victory over Hillsboro at Westview High School. Oregonian 2/22

All it took for Larry Drew to get the ball in is hands Friday night was a simple hand clap. On occasion, he needed to do it twice to let his teammates know that it was time for him to take over, but rarely did it take three times. The Taft High sophomore point guard dominated the City Section semifinal game from the opening whistle to the final buzzer, scoring a career-high 29 points to lead the host Toreadors of Woodland Hills to a 71-54 victory over Sylmar and into the championship game. "The game was in slow motion," Drew said. "I felt like I could do whatever I wanted." L.A. Daily News 2/25

Taft regrouped on the sideline during the one-minute break, came back out on the floor with a newfound resolve and regained the 20-point advantage by the end of the third quarter en route to an 84-63 championship bracket quarterfinal victory. Haynes finished with 24 points and four 3-pointers, and Bellfield scored 16 points. Larry Drew added five points, nine rebounds and 10 assists. L.A. Daily News 2/23

On Tuesday, they traveled to Santa Barbara and won 70-51 behind senior guard Patrick Christopher and sophomore guard Brandon Jennings, who scored 26 and 17 points, respectively. Press Telegram 2/24

No. 1 seeded Campbell Hall had no trouble finding plenty of production, mainly from the Holiday brothers, a pair of highly touted juniors. Justin Holiday, a 6-foot-6 forward, scored 18 of his game-high 33 points in the second half. Jrue Holiday scored 11 of his 19 points in a third quarter in which Campbell Hall pulled away with a 10-2 run to begin the half. Robert Ford also added 13 points. Daily Breeze 2/26

Fairfax 87, Dorsey 59. Chace Stanback had 31 points and 11 rebounds for top-seeded Fairfax (24-2), with Matt Shaw and Jerren Shipp each adding 21 points. Carlos Garcia had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Dorsey (17-10), with Mark Dorsey adding 16 points and nine rebounds. L.A. Times 2/22

Oxnard (23-6) scored 17 of the final 20 points of the game to defeat Perris (21-8), 57-52, Friday night at home in the CIF-Southern Section Division I-A boys' basketball quarterfinals. Omondi Amoke had a game-high 29 points for Oxnard. Ventury County Star 2/25


(photo credit: OC Register)
(photo credit: Mail Tribune /Roy Musitelli)

Afflalo and Farmar Expected To Return Next Season

UCLA's four seniors were honored before Saturday's 70-53 win against Oregon, and it appears those were the only four Bruins playing their last game at Pauley Pavilion.

Point guard Jordan Farmar said recently he expected to return for his junior season, and shooting guard Arron Afflalo made similar comments after the victory.

"I'm in no rush to get out of here," Afflalo said. "I'm not going to lie, the NBA is definitely a dream of mine, but unless it's clearly the best, best thing for me, then there's no way."

In the past two weeks, several scouts said both players should return for at least one more season before thinking about an early jump to the NBA.

Of course, sometimes college players leave school early despite feedback to the contrary. Bruins coach Ben Howland experienced that after his first season when Trevor Ariza left for the NBA.

Afflalo, who scored 14 points in the win against the Ducks, leads the Bruins in scoring at 16.8 points per game. Farmar is second on the Bruins in scoring with 14.3 points per game, and leads the Pacific-10 Conference in assists with 5.4 per game.

"I'm not even thinking about (the NBA) right now," Farmar said recently.

Farmar was the Pac-10 freshman of the year last season, and was a much more known commodity entering this season.

Meanwhile, Afflalo averaged 10.8 points last season. After an efficient start this season, he has leveled off in conference play, in which he is shooting 45.2 percent from the field, including 30.5 percent from 3-point range.

"I have my own drive, my own will and I've gotten a lot of great teaching before I got here," Afflalo said. "But I've also gained a lot since I've been here. Coach Howland taught me a different side of being a different type of player. This year I'm moving a lot more without the ball. I've learned so much." L.A. Daily News/Brian Dohn


Luc's Double Trouble for Ducks, Bruins Sweep

By Bruin Basketball Report

On a day when UCLA seniors took their final bows at Pauley Pavilion, it was a freshman who took center stage.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute scored 14 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Bruins to a 70-53 victory over the Oregon Ducks on Senior Day at Pauley Pavilion.

Mbah a Moute, the favorite for the Pac-10 conference freshman of the year award, recorded his seventh double-double of the season.

The crowd was still buzzing after an emotional ceremony in which students, alumni, and fans said thanks to the four Bruin seniors; Cedric Bozeman, Ryan Hollins, Michael Fey, and Janou Rubin.

UCLA (22-6, 12-4) started all four seniors in the game along with sophomore Jordan Farmar. The game was tied 4-4 when coach Ben Howland substituted for Michael Fey and Janou Rubin, but not before Fey tipped in the first basket of the game off a rebound.

However for the second game in a row, UCLA needed a furious second half offensive display to overcome a sluggish first half of a game.

The Bruins trailed the Ducks at halftime 28-23 as they struggled again with scoring against an opponent’s zone defense.

UCLA shot 43% from the floor in the first half but committed nine turnovers from which the Ducks converted into 13 points.

Against Oregon’s match-up zone, the Bruins were hesitant to attack and penetrate the defense and instead passed the ball around the perimeter which resulted in either a turnover or forced shot attempt to beat the expiring shot clock.

To start the second half, the Bruins started attacking the zone more effectively.

First, Cedric Bozeman passed the ball into Ryan Hollins right below the free throw line, and Hollins converted on a soft 12-foot jumper.

Then after a time-out, Howland designed a play for freshman Michael Roll to get the ball in the left corner - after a ball reversal and pick down low by Alfred Aboya – Roll found himself open for a three-pointer to tie the score 30-30.

A minute later, Roll got free again on the opposite side for a shot to put the Bruins ahead 33-30 and forcing the Ducks to call off the zone and change to a man-to-man defense for the rest of the game.

"Roll hit two big threes that hurt us," Oregon coach Ernie Kent said.

After shooting 75% in a second-half rally against the Oregon St. Beavers on Thursday, UCLA shot 62.5% in the second half against the Ducks and scoring 47 points after only 23 in the first half.

Sophomore guard Arron Afflalo also contributed to the Bruin’s second-half resurgence. After not scoring in the first half, he scored all his 14 points in the second half on 5-8 shooting.

Afflalo also did another stellar defensive job on Oregon’s leading scorer Malik Hairston. Hairston was held to 3-13 shooting for only 6 points, almost 9 points below his season average.

Farmar had 11 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists. The sophomore leader felt the same way at halftime about his team's performance as he did during the Oregon St. game on Thursday.

"In the first half I don't think we were being as aggressive," Farmar said. "But in the second half, we were more aggressive and got stops on defense, so they couldn't set that up. We got a lot of stuff in transition, and that helped us a lot. It all starts with our defense and our intensity."

Oregon’s Aaron Brooks scored a team-high 19 points to help pace the Ducks, but at the end it was too much Bruin offense and defense. UCLA held Oregon to only 29% field goal shooting in the second half.

"It was a tale of two halves.” Kent said, “We played a fantastic first half that was some of the best defense we have played, but we didn't have the legs in the second half and didn't match their intensity. I think we were worn down a little bit."

After committing nine turnovers in the first half, the Bruins took better care of the ball in the second half committing only two errors.

UCLA out-rebounded Oregon 31-26; and after their torrid second half shooting the Bruins finished at 53% from the field. The team also shot 16-18 from the free throw line for 88.9%.

Howland paid further homage to his out-going seniors in the game when he substituted them all in with less than two minutes remaining in the game, and then having them come out again but this time to the roar of appreciation from the home crowd at Pauley Pavilion.

Fittingly, Bozeman was the last senior Bruin to leave the game after he scored the last points for the team on free throws. Bozeman scored 8 points on 6-6 free throws.

In his pre-game farewell statement to the crowd, Bozeman said he wanted to be remembered at UCLA for his “unselfish play” and as someone “who played to make his teammates better.”

Ryan Hollins scored 7 points, grabbed 2 rebounds, and blocked 2 shots in his final game at Pauley.

“It hasn’t hit me yet that this is my last game here.” Hollins said. “So many things happening today I’ll probably think about it after today.”

With the sweep of Oregon, UCLA has sole possession of first place in the Pac-10. The Cal Bears lost to Washington in Seattle, 73-62.

The Bruins now travel to the Bay area next week to settle the Pac-10 conference title. On Thursday they play Cal in Berkeley and then play their final conference game against Stanford on Saturday.

"That's the focus now. We're the two teams (UCLA and Cal) atop the Pac-10 right now, so it's definitely going to be a pivotal game for us," UCLA's Aaron Afflalo said. "A few days of tough practices are really going to benefit us."

Howland said the team would rest up tomorrow before two intense practices on Tuesday and Wednesday before traveling up north for the season ending series.


Sunday, February 26, 2006

UCLA Senior Day Tribute

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA seniors will play their final home game of their career at Pauley Pavilion on Sunday.

All four seniors on the team: Cedric Bozeman, Ryan Hollins, Michael Fey, and Janou Rubin, will be in the starting line-up for the game against the Oregon Ducks.

UCLA will hold a special"Senior Day" tribute for the players prior to the tip-off.

Career Highlights:

#21 Cedric Bozeman: Forward, Mater Dei HS, Los Angeles CA

2005-06: After playing point guard his entire career at UCLA, he was switched to small forward this year where he has flourished. Bozeman has provided his team with steady play on offense, and has been one of the team's best on-ball defenders. He missed 8 games earlier with a shoulder injury but came back and in 19 games, he is averaging 8.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 2.2 assists in 29 minutes per game.

2004-05: Redshirted. He suffered a right knee injury (ACL) in practice and had season-ending surgery.

2003-04: In 28 games, he averaged 7.5 points, 5.54 assists (1st in Pac-10) and 3.8 rebounds in 33.7 minutes per game. He was given the Bruin Hoopsters J. D. Morgan Memorial Award for Outstanding Team Play.

2002-03: In his 21 games, he averaged 7.3 points, 3.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists, and 0.8 steals in 26 minutes per game. Named Athlon No. 2 Top 10 Emerging Star in the U. S. and Lindy's third-team All-Pac-10.

2001-2002: In 26 games, he averaged 4.0 points, 2.5 rebounds and a team-high 3.5 assists in 23.4 minutes per game. He shared the Seymour Armond Memorial Award, for Most Valuable Freshman, with Dijon Thompson and Andre Patterson.

High School: A 2001 McDonald All-American. Led Mater Dei High School to the CIF Div. I State title in 2001. In his senior year, he averaged 19.5 points, 5.7 rebounds, and 5.1 assists per contest. Named Parade Magazine third-team All-American, First-team All-State, and CIF Division 1A co-Player of the Year.

#15 Ryan Hollins, Center, Muir HS, Pasadena, CA

2005-06: After missing 6 six games with a groin injury, he returned to the line-up and sparked the Bruins with his rebounding and defense. In 21 games, he is averaging 5.1 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 0.8 blocks in 20.2 minutes per contest.

2004-05: In 28 games, he averaged 4.5 points, 3.4 rebounds and 0.82 blocked shots in 16.4 minutes per game and shot 52% from the field.

2003-04: In 28 games, he averaged 6.5 points and 4.3 rebounds in 25.4 minutes per game and shot 55% from the floor. He was given the Bruin Bench Basketball Award for Most Improvement in All-Around Play and Mental Attitude.

2002-03: In 24 games, he averaged 16.7 minutes, 4.3 points, 3.5 rebounds and 0.9 blocks in 16.7 minutes and shot 59.4% from the floor. He was given Honorable Mention All-Pac-10 Freshman performer and was given the Seymour Armond Memorial Award as the Bruins' Most Valuable Freshman. Hollins was a member of the 2003 USA Junior World Team

High School: As a senior, he averaged 15.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocked shots. Earned first-team Div. III All-CIF. He was also Div. III CIF champion in the triple jump and Pacific League champ in the long and triple jumps

#45 Michael Fey, Center, Capital HS, Olympia, WA

2005-06: Battling injuries most of this year, in 11 games, he is averaging 2.5 points and 1.6 rebounds in 7.9 minutes per game. Started his first game of the season on Thursday against Oregon State.

2004-05: In 29 games, he averaged 8.6 points and 4.8 rebounds in 23 minutes per game and shot 55% from the field.

2003-2004: In 28 games, he averaged 6.0 points, 2.4 rebounds and 0.5 blocks in 15.3 minutes per game and shot 56% from the field.

2002-03: In 20 games, he averaged 2.3 points and 1.6 rebounds in 8.0 minutes and shot 55.2 from the field

High School: As a senior, he averaged 20.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 2.0 blocks and shot 56.0 from the field. He was a finalist for the 2001 McDonald's All-American game.

#10 Janou Rubin, Guard, Logan HS, Union City, CA

2005-06: In 11 games this season, he is averaging 0.5 points in limited play.

2004-05: He earned Pac-10 Player of the Week honors for his efforts in UCLA's conference opening home wins over Oregon State and Oregon. The first walk-on to ever to win the honor. Missed last 19 games of season with left knee injury and received medical redshirt.

2003-04: In 27 games, he averaged 4.4 points, 1.6 rebounds and 1.3 assists in 14.8 minutes per game and shot 46% from the field and and 40% from three-point range.

2002-03: In 10 games, he averaged 2.1 points in 5.1 minutes per game.

2001-02: Redshirted.

2000-01: In 4 games, he averaged 1.5 points and 0.3 rebounds in 1.3 minutes per game. He shot 100% from the field by hitting all three of his field goal attempts.

High School: As a senior, he averaged 26.8 points, 4.6 rebounds, 2.1 assists, and 1.6 steals per game and shot 50% from the field, and 37% from three-point range. Earned Top 50 in the State and second-team All-Bay Area.


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