Saturday, June 24, 2006

ProCity Notebook: James Keefe In Opening Game

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA incoming freshman, James Keefe, played his first game of the Nike L.A. Procity League at West Los Angeles College on Saturday afternoon.

Playing for the Sinclair Bruins, Keefe scored 10 points on 5 of 12 shooting and grabbed 5 rebounds to help the Bruins to a 80-72 victory over Salvatori's Squad.

Keefe began the game slowly making only 1 of 4 from the field and missing on 0 of 5 from the free throw line in the first half, but he became more comfortable with his teammates as the game progressed.

The former Rancho Santa Margarita HS senior played primarily power forward in the game, although on offense he was more effective playing from the wing than in the low post.

In the low blocks, Keefe had problems sealing off his defender at times - compounding this problem was the Bruin team's point-guard who seemed disinterested in passing into the post, if at all.

Keefe displayed excellent instincts with most of his baskets coming off either put-backs or on loose balls. He scored only once from the perimeter.

The incoming freshman will need to improve his strength and bulk if he is to play effectively in the low post next season. Keefe was too easily rooted out of rebounding position during times in the game.

Keefe has the body frame to accomadate additional bulk, and Coach Howland will no doubt have him in the weight room all summer and fall.

Although Keefe has better than average athleticism for a player his size, he does not appear to possess the quickness or sensational jumping ability to be a shotblocker at the college level. However, he plays excellent position defensive and changes a number of shots inside with his size and length.

The Sinclair Bruins featured many UCLA players on the team last summer. This summer's team should be not different although Keefe was the only UCLA Bruin playing on Saturday.

Other players expected to play on the team include Russell Westbrook and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.


Phoenix Will Not Pick Up Option On Dijon Thompson

By Bruin Basketball Report

According to a local Phoenix paper, the Suns have decided not to pick up the second-year option on former UCLA Bruin, Dijon Thompson.

Thompson had a tumultuous season as a first-year professional basketball player.

Initially taken by the New York Knicks as the 54th overall pick in the second round of the 2005 NBA draft, Thompson was immediately dealt to the Phoenix Suns for Nate Robinson to complete a prior deal in which the Suns had sent Quentin Richardson to the Knicks for Kurt Thomas.

Thompson played well for the Suns in the Summer Pro League and was signed by Phoenix to the NBA minimum salary of $398,762 per year with a second-year team option.

Just prior to the start of the regular season, Phoenix decided to send Thompson down to their NBDL team, the Albuquerque Thunderbirds, to refine his game.

The UCLA graduate averaged 16.7 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.33 steals in three games with the NBDL club before being recalled to the Suns after Leandro Barbosa suffered a knee injury.

Thompson remained with the Suns and averaged 2.8 points and 1.1 rebounds in 4.3 minutes per game.

But in early March, Thompson suffered a right knee injury and was placed on the DL. The injury required microfracture surgery and he was expected to miss up to six months.

It's unfortunate Thompson did not have the entire season to showcase his talents for the Suns, and even more regrettable, he was cut from the team while recuperating from his injury.

Yet it is the cold reality of the NBA, where business most always comes first.


Friday, June 23, 2006

Zeigler A Finalist For Central Michigan Job

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA assistant coach Ernie Zeigler is one of three finalists for the Central Michigan University head coach position.

The other two finalists are Michigan State assistant coach Mark Montgomery and Mott Community College head coach Steve Schmidt.

Zeigler, 40, is a Michigan native with strong ties to the area. He was born in Detroit, prepped at Detroit Cody High and played at Schoolcraft College in Livonia, Mich., and Northwood University in Midland, Mich.

Starting his fourth season as an assistant at UCLA, Zeigler is a highly valued coach and recruiter for the Bruins.

It was Zeigler who discovered a little known high school player by the name of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute at Florida's Montverde Academy, and convinced UCLA coach Ben Howland to travel to Florida and have a closer look.

Zeigler also recruits for UCLA in the state of Michigan.

All three candidates for the Central Michigan University job were scheduled to have on-campus interviews this week.


"A Midsummer Night’s Dream” Charity Game

By Bruin Basketball Report

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream”, the annual celebrity and all-star charity basketball games, comes to Staples Center on Sunday, July 9.

After 20 years, Earvin "Magic" Johnson has selected All-Stars Paul Pierce and former UCLA star Baron Davis to host the event.

"I am so excited to carry this torch," Pierce said. "It's just such an honor to be picked by Magic to build on what he's done over the last 20 years."

Davis shares Pierce's enthusiasm. "Magic Johnson has been a huge influence in our lives. It is a privilege to bring the best of entertainment and pro basketball to Los Angeles for a fun weekend to benefit worthwhile charitable organizations," said Davis.

Some NBA players who have committed to play include: Lamar Odom, Sam Cassell, Shaun Livingston, Mike Bibby, Gilbert Arenas, and former UCLA star Earl Watson.

Ryan Hollins, UCLA's center last season, will also play in the game.

Visit the "A Midsummer Night’s Dream" site for ticket information.


Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Pac 10 Hopes Series With Big 12 Tunes In Viewers

By Bud Withers, Staff Reporter
The Seattle Times

Angling for ways to improve its modest national profile in basketball, the Pac-10 Conference is in serious discussions with the Big 12 that would bring about a "challenge" series of games between the leagues as soon as the 2007-08 season.

The concept would be modeled after the ACC-Big Ten Challenge, which began in 1999 and features teams from one league pitted against the other, usually paired similarly top to bottom in strength. That made-for-TV event is played over two nights, with a final tally providing a "victory" for one league.

"We're working very hard on that," said Duane Lindberg, Pac-10 assistant commissioner for electronic communications. "I'm optimistic."

Lindberg and assistant public relations director Dave Hirsch were in Dallas last week, helping formulate a draft proposal to be reviewed next week by the league commissioners, Tom Hansen of the Pac-10 and Kevin Weiberg of the Big 12.

One of the issues to be worked out is involvement of the leagues' television partners. Fox Sports Net has the rights to Pac-10 games, and ESPN has the Big 12.

Lindberg said Pac-10 coaches discussed the concept at an annual meeting in May.

"Certainly, I think it has potential," said Ben Braun, California coach.

Games would likely take place in late November or early December 2007.

"What it does, it helps the entire league," UCLA coach Ben Howland said Monday. "There are some teams in our conference that have a harder time scheduling quote, unquote, quality opponents from the other power conferences. We [at UCLA] have a pretty easy time scheduling because of the media market we're in, where others don't.

"But in terms of helping the whole [Pac-10] power rating, it's a real good thing. It locks everybody into another good game every year."

After a season in which its computer ranking lagged, the Pac-10 has been making a renewed push to maximize national exposure, long a sore point in the league.

Washington athletic director Todd Turner is chairing a committee to that end, also including Lindberg, Braun, athletic directors Dan Guerrero of UCLA and Bob Bowlsby of Stanford (newly hired), coaches Ernie Kent of Oregon and Herb Sendek of Arizona State (also new) and Washington State faculty athletic representative Ken Casavant.

Partly because of constraints related to the Pacific time zone, the Pac-10 has had a long relationship with Fox, and not long ago renewed a contract with the Los Angeles-based partner that runs through the 2011-12 academic year.

That has been less than satisfying to many, including some coaches in the league who believe that the lack of a contract with college basketball's heaviest carrier, ESPN, hurts the Pac-10.

Referring to some of the league's coaches, Lindberg said, "They believe the college-basketball world revolves around ESPN. But Fox has been a good partner for us."

Two factors essentially have prevented the Pac-10 and ESPN from getting together:

• Academic advocates in the conference have been against making drastic changes to the Thursday/weekend conference scheduling, which precludes playing on other weeknights, including ESPN's "Big Monday" offering.

• The 8:30 p.m. (Pacific) time for ESPN's "SportsCenter" news program means Pac-10 games would have to air earlier (6 p.m.) or later (9 p.m., 10 in Arizona) than the league wants.

Since the Pac-10 signed the previous contract with Fox, ESPN2 has grown significantly, without the "SportsCenter" limitation that troubles the Pac-10. But, says Lindberg, the league re-upped with Fox in its exclusive negotiating window before talks with ESPN really got started.

"We never had the opportunity to sit down and go through that exercise with ESPN," Lindberg said. "We felt we had good intelligence to know what kinds of opportunities we potentially would have with ESPN in basketball that dealt with exposure, number of games and revenue."

Lindberg says the Pac-10 fares better financially with Fox, and "the athletic directors have significant bills to pay."

One thrust advanced by Fox is more Pac-10 games on Sundays to pair with its weekly ACC game. Including nonleague games early in the year, the Pac-10 will have 10 such games in 2006-07, up from seven last season.

At its May meetings, the Pac-10 also heard a presentation from a charter-aircraft carrier. Unlike most conferences, the Pac-10 flies commercial because of costs, and that limits flexibility in scheduling because of potential missed class time.

(reprinted with permission)


Basic Training With Don MacLean

By Brian Dohn
L.A. Daily News

Former UCLA star MacLean becomes trusted instructor

Adam Morrison was having fits. He talked to some of his buddies about their daily workouts, and found he was doing more running. Way more running, and he didn't like it one bit.

He was getting ready to work out for NBA teams, so his shooting needed to be spot on. His legs had to be fresh. And here was Don MacLean, enjoying his retirement, running the scoring machine from Gonzaga ragged.

"We didn't quite get along at first, but I still listened," Morrison said. "He played in the league for a few years, so he knows what he's talking about. It sucked at first, but I stuck with it."

Morrison, a highly rated wing, was MacLean's latest pupil in a two-month crash course on getting ready for the NBA, and more importantly, preparing for individual team workouts leading up to the June 28 draft.

MacLean, a former Simi Valley High standout who went on to become UCLA's and the Pacific 10 Conference's all-time leading scorer, has been doing this for three springs after his agent, Mark Bartelstein, introduced the idea. MacLean's camp helps Bartelstein's clients get ready to work out for NBA clubs.

"I told Mark I'd try it, but in three weeks if I call you and say I don't want to do it any more, you have to let me off the hook," MacLean said.

"Coaching never really interested me that much, the whole process of networking to get the initial job and then moving your family around the country. I've done pretty well, so I don't need to do that. But this kind of quenches my thirst for coaching, in a sense. If you told me I had to do this for eight months out of the year, I don't know if I'd do it. But for two months, I really, really enjoy it."

MacLean retired in 2001 after a nine-year career in the NBA. The past three seasons, he was the analyst on UCLA radio broadcasts, and last season also was a commentator on Fox Sports Net.

But it is on the basketball court where MacLean is most at ease.

Beginning in mid-April, MacLean worked out Morrison at the 360 Health Club in Reseda six days a week. Some days other college players would stop by, or the Lakers' Devean George, the Knicks' David Lee, or Indiana's Danny Granger.

Lee and Granger both prepped for the NBA draft by working out with MacLean, and Granger is a testament to how much a player can improve under the former UCLA star. Projected as a second-round pick coming out of the University of New Mexico, Granger improved his stock so much he was selected No. 17 overall by Indiana in last year's draft. Granger and Lee came back to work out again with MacLean this offseason.

"I goof around a lot, but (Bartelstein) knows I take this very seriously," MacLean said. "He trusts me. He knows that I'm going to push (Morrison). He knows I know how important conditioning is for this process, because there are two different things.

"We have these two months to present (Morrison) to teams. Guys like Lee and Granger, we don't run. We just instruct. David Lee's shot needs to be worked on. Danny Granger still needs a lot of work on the perimeter."

One day earlier this month, MacLean arrived wearing a golf visor, polo shirt and a pair of shorts. His NBA career was littered with injuries, and his achy knees are evident as soon as he begins drilling Morrison.

Morrison's day began with running, and progressed to shooting drills. There were the 3-point shots from five locations on the court, the one-on-one competition in which a player cannot dribble more than twice after getting a start-up pass from MacLean, penetration drills, coming off screens, etc.

"I can work out point guards and I can work out big men, but my expertise is wing guys," MacLean said. "It's helping them improve their footwork and help them get better at scoring.

"That's why Adam's been so interesting. I ran through the checklist of what he had, and it was, yeah, he has everything. He's really been easy once I got him buying into doing it."

That's where the running comes in, like the full-court breakouts and the timed suicide runs.

"I think the thing that helped me the most is I'm in a lot better shape," Morrison said. "I'm a lot more explosive."

But that doesn't mean MacLean doesn't know a few things about defense, and he quickly tells Morrison the importance of absorbing an initial post-up move with a forearm before using his body and feet to defend.

"I think Adam knows now that I know how to play perimeter NBA basketball and he listens to what I have to say," MacLean said. "Its pretty high-end, technical stuff because you're talking about guys that are already pretty good."

When Morrison's jab step is done with little intensity, MacLean draws on his NBA experience to explain why that move won't work in the NBA unless it's done with full commitment.

MacLean averaged 10.9 points during his NBA career after scoring 20.5 per game in four seasons at UCLA.

"He's helped me with a lot of little stuff," Morrison said. "He always says to pick up the rim when I'm shooting, get my eyes on the target. We worked on footwork stuff that gives you a little extra time to get a shot off. My faceup game is a lot better and I can create my shot a lot better."

Morrison said MacLean's experience is the reason he didn't leave after the first week of workouts. Now, Morrison is poised to be a top-five pick in the draft. And MacLean satisfied his coaching itch for another year

(reprinted with permission)


Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Collison Will Need Help At Point

By Bruin Basketball Report

With Jordan Farmar's decision to enter the NBA draft and forego his final two years of college eligibility, the UCLA coaching staff will be spending the next few months evaluating the Bruin point guard situation.

Although Coach Ben Howland said he had not yet spent much time thinking about the Bruins' options at the point, he did state the obvious - Darren Collision would be the starting point guard next season.

Collison had a solid freshman campaign in which he averaged 5.5 points and 2.3 assists per game, and was an honorable mention on the All Pac-10 Freshman team.

The former Etiwanda High star unexpectedly saw major minutes last season when Farmar suffered multiple ankle injuries.

Collison averaged 19.2 minutes per contest and was one of only three Bruins to play in all 39 games last season which included gaining valuable experience during the NCAA tournament.

When the Bruin half-court offense often stalled, Collison would be inserted into the lineup to change the tempo of the game and open up the floor with his speed.

Moverover, Collison’s defense improved as the season progressed.

In the opening games of the season, Collison often gambled or was found out of position on defense, but as he learned the importance of staying in front of his man - he began to harass opponents into deflection or turnovers with his quick hands and feet.

Collison will be looked upon to regularly play 30-35 minutes next season.

He is working hard to add bulk to his thin frame, and has reportedly already gained 10-15 lbs since the end of last season.

But Collison will need help at the point, and it appears the competition for the spot is wide-open.

A single player may emerge to be the back-up for Collison, but more likely, the spot may be filled by a committee of players.

Below is the list of potential candidates for the job:

Russell Westbrook

Westbrook, a 6’3 175 lb incoming freshman, averaged 25.1 points, 8.7 rebounds, and 2.3 assist in his senior year, but he also committed 3.6 turnovers per game.

The former Leuzinger standout handles the ball extremely well, possesses an excellent mid-range shot, and is a strong man-to-man defender.

Westbrook would be the most natural candidate to back-up at the point; however, he must demonstrate to the coaching staff he can take good care of the ball and show the court vision and decision-making skills of a point guard at the Division 1 level.

Arron Afflalo

Afflalo played some point in high school and filled in at the spot for UCLA during his freshman year after Cedric Bozeman went down with an injury.

However, Afflalo tends to play a little “too fast” and sometimes out of control when he’s handling the ball – it's a part of his game NBA scouts told him he needed to improve upon next year.

On the other hand, the Bruins need Afflalo to be a scorer from the wing, and of course, be their primary defensive stopper - it may be asking too much of Arron to run the team as well.

Josh Shipp

Besides Darren Collison, Shipp is without a doubt the Bruins’ best ballhandler returning to the team next season.

He has the ability to effectively take defenders off the dribble to get to the basket, and is an excellent passer with good court vision.

With a healthy Shipp already slated to play the 2 and 3 position next season, it would not be surprising if he saw time at the point as well, especially if the younger players are unable to step up.

Mustafa Abdul-Hamid

Abdul-Hamid is a 6’2 walk-on recruit from the Saint Louis area. He caught Coach Howland’s attention at last year’s Bruin skills summer camp.

He averaged 22.8 points per game as a senior in high school, and Coach Howland has called him “one of the more underrated guards in the nation”.

Abdul-Hamid received multiple scholarship offers from Division II schools, but if he is as good as Howland projects, he may provide the Bruins needed depth at the position.


(photo credit: AP)

Monday, June 19, 2006

Good Deal For Bruins?

By Gregg Patton
The Press-Enterprise

Farmar and Afflalo. Afflalo and Farmar.

For the past two years, as that backcourt, sophomore pair helped lead UCLA back to the elite levels of college basketball, they were linked like peanut butter and jelly, Lewis and Clark, and Mercedes and Benz.

Now they're like Brad and Jen.

Arron Afflalo goes his way -- back to school for his junior year. And Jordan Farmar goes his -- on to the NBA draft and a professional career.

That's life in college basketball these days. You hold your best players as long as you can, even if it's only for one or two years, then wish them well.

The good news for Bruins fans is that it wasn't the other way around. Afflalo would have been missed more than Farmar on Nell and John Wooden Court.

Oddly enough, while point guard Farmar determined from his travels around NBA camps and workouts this spring that he would likely be a first-round draft pick, Afflalo gleaned from his research that he needed more work against the Arizonas, Washingtons and Floridas of the world.

Weird twist. In their Bruins uniforms, Afflalo would have been -- will be -- the more valuable one next year. The shooting guard is the team's best perimeter defender, the one asked to shut down the opposition's best forward or guard.

Coach Ben Howland, who has coached from the West Coast to the East Coast and back again, has called Afflalo one of the best defenders he has ever tutored.

Afflalo also happened to be the Bruins' top scorer in their run last season to the NCAA title game, but with the talent that will take the court next year, scorers figure to be the least of UCLA's worries. What the Bruins valued most offensively from Afflalo -- along with Farmar -- was the chip they wore on their shoulders, the willingness and eagerness to take the shot that counted most.

Besides that, Farmar was best at controlling the ball on offense and asserting his will on the floor.

Considering the progress that freshman Darren Collison made at the end of last year, and displayed most noticeably in the Pacific-10 and NCAA tournaments, the point guard spot should be in good hands. The Rancho Cucamonga native pushes the ball as well, if not quicker, than Farmar, and only needs to ride the learning curve.

Farmar will be missed, but the Bruins aren't in trouble. Assuming underclassmen get better, Lorenzo Mata, Alfred Aboya and Luc-Richard Mbah a Moute should be a dominating lead trio inside. Assuming Josh Shipp is healthy, and Howland's recruits are worthy, the Bruins will have an embarrassment of riches, even with Farmar in the NBA angling for playing time.

No doubt, visions of a fully stocked, Farmar-led UCLA team taking the Bruins back through a spine-tingling March adventure in 2006-07 were percolating among the Westwood faithful. But it's all such a serendipitous jaunt, who knows how these things would play out?

Farmar was ready to leave, and so he does. Just because last year unwound so magically, there is no reason to presume next year's Farmar would have been the right guy in the right place at the right time. A player who thinks he belongs in the NBA has his own liabilities at the NCAA level.

The Bruins will move ahead without him, possibly for the better. There should be no lamenting Farmar's departure. The NBA beckoned, he went. There are others behind him to pick up the assists, the clutch points and -- more than anything -- the sense of confidence and leadership he brought to Pauley Pavilion in two back-to-the-glory seasons.

Farmar said he was anxious to get to the next level.

Even without him, the Bruins should feel the same way.


(photo credit: AP)

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (6/19)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup published periodically during the offseason.


The fourth Rose City Showcase takes place Friday through Sunday at Grant High School in Northeast Portland. Eight of the nation's top AAU basketball teams are scheduled to participate. Players expected to compete include Lake Oswego's Kevin Love, O.J. Mayo of North College Hill High School in Cincinnati, Michael Beasley of Oak Hill Academy in Mouth of Wilson, Va., and Bill Walker, also of North College Hill. The Oregonian 6/13

At one end of the court at the Bo Jackson Center at the Nike Inc. headquarters in Beaverton, raspy-voiced John Lucas pushed and pulled Medford’s Kyle Singler through a drill teaching how to blitz a pick-and-roll. At the other end, Kevin Eastman’s heavy-decibeled voice taught NBA defensive cover principles to players — including Lake Oswego’s Kevin Love — in a four-on-four drill. Many of the premier sophomores and juniors in the country were on hand for the third annual, three-day Nike Skills Academy, which ended Monday. Portland Tribune 6/13

“I missed one or two (shots),” says Kyle Singler, a 6-9, 210-pound small forward who will be a senior at South Medford in the fall. “I’m having a blast. This is right up there in terms of the best camps I’ve attended. It’s more of a skills workout than a camp — that’s what I really like about it. Coach Eastman does a great job with it. His coaches know their stuff. The competition from top to bottom is outstanding. There are no bad players out here. And the intensity level of the coaches is great.” Portland Tribune 6/13

Kevin Love has attended all the top-level shoe-company camps in recent years. “This is one of the best,” says the 6-10, 255-pounder, who led Lake Oswego to the state championship over Singler’s Panthers as a junior last winter. “This is really good for me, working out against the best players in the country, the best competition you can find. I like that it’s 100 percent all the time. Everybody is working hard, trying to get better. All these guys have aspirations of playing in the NBA. Me, too.” Portland Tribune 6/13

Kevin Love’s Southern California All-Stars won an AAU tournament in North Carolina over Memorial Day weekend. He toured the UNC campus afterward. “It was a great trip,” says Love, who has narrowed his college choices to North Carolina and UCLA. “(Coach) Roy Williams is a class guy. Love him to death. That opened my eyes going back there. It was real fun.” Are the Tar Heels ahead of the Bruins on his list? “I don’t know, but they are looking really good after that,” Love says. “They showed me a lot of stuff. (North Carolina) is a lot like here. It’s a lot more humid, there are a lot more bugs, but I can deal with that.” Portland Tribune 6/13

This past weekend, in the northwest corner of Oregon, 21 of them got one step closer to making that dream come true, when Nike hosted 21 of the top male high school basketball players in the country for a three-day clinic dubbed the Nike Skills Academy. "The premise is to get our best young kids, high school All-Americans, working out, and not just running up and down," camp director Kevin Eastman said. "We want to bring teaching and drilling into the equation." Camp roster including : Kevin Love and Kyle Singler. ESPN 6/16

Taft of Woodland Hills was one of the area's top boys' basketball teams during the winter, and the Toreadors have picked up right where they left off this summer. Larry Drew, Terran Carter, Eugene Phelps, Bryce Smith and Garrett Green return, seemingly better from the experience, and have played a majority of the minutes so far. L.A. Daily News 6/16

23 participants in the USA U18 National Team Trials hit the hardwood for a second session Saturday evening. Gator Bait 6/17

Kyle Singler hit for 10 points on 4 of 12 shooting, including 1 of 5 from three. He also had 2 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block and 4 assists to 0 turnovers. Singler continues to standout as the most complete player on the court. Two possessions standout-on one he crossed over Nolan Smith right to left in the open court and got to the rim. On the other he cut Jerryd Bayless off on a baseline drive and then blocked his hop back jumper. Gator Bait 6/17

Drew Gordon scored 8 points on 3 of 5 shooting while matching his points with 8 rebounds. As active as ever, he also had 2 steals, 1 block, 3 assists and 2 turnovers. Gordon is an exceptional rebounder and is a quality passer in the high post. He does need to improve his range and ability to create his shot. Most of his points come off put backs and in transition. Gator Bait 6/17

The USA U18 National Team Trials began Friday night to select the 16 finalists for the USA Basketball U18 squad that will compete in San Antonio at the 2006 FIBA Americas U18 Championship For Men June 28-July 2. The buzz going into Saturday morning's action was the strong play of Kyle Singler. Drew Gordon recorded 8 points on 4 of 5 shooting, 4 rebounds, 1 steal and 1 turnover. An extraordinary offensive rebounder, Gordon picked up his points on the glass.Gator Bait 6/17

California 15-year-old pursuing Team USA spot : Drew Gordon is 6-foot-8, wears a size 17 shoe, and at a glance looks old enough to run for Congress. Gordon, who will begin his junior year at San Jose's Archbishop Mitty High School in the fall, is among the 23 players challenging to make the roster for Team USA. The team will compete in the Tournament of the Americas beginning June 28 at St. Mary's. San Antonio Express-News 6/18

The final training session before first round cuts for the USA U18 National Team took place Sunday morning with 16 out of 23 players making the first round cut. After another week of practice, the squad will be reduced to 12 players who will compete against Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico, Uruguay and Bahamas in the FIBA Americas U18 Championship beginning June 28. Cardinal Sports 6/18

Having another strong all around performance, Kyle Singler had the play of the morning when he blocked a dunk attempt by Spencer Hawes. Singler also scored 5 points to go along with 4 rebounds and 2 assists to 0 turnovers. Cardinal Sports 6/18

Kevin Love's So-Cal All-Stars edged out O.J. Mayo's D-One Greyhounds in the RCS championship thriller. Oregonian 6/19


(photo credit: AP)

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Farmar To Leave UCLA For The NBA

By Bruin Basketball Report

Jordan Farmar officially announced his intention today to remain in the NBA Draft and forego his final two years of college basketball eligibility at UCLA.

Farmar was the Bruins' second-leading scorer (13.5) and led the Pac-10 in assists (5.1) this season.

"It was really tough. It went down to the wire," Farmar said. "There were so many positives both ways."

Farmar said he plans to hire an agent within days. He worked out a number of NBA teams, including the Lakers, Clippers, Phoenix, Sacramento and New Jersey.

"I feel like I'm ready mentally. I know I can play at that level against anybody," he said during a conference call. "I've got nothing but positive feedback from many of the teams. My lifelong dream has been to play in the NBA."

Farmar said he surprised teams with his strength.

"At 170 pounds, they thought I would be a lot weaker than I was. I tested at the top of the charts in just about everything," he said.

Farmar recorded the highest step vertical jump at 42" at last week's NBA Pre-draft camp in Orlando. In addition, he bench-pressed 180 lbs. eleven times - more than some power forwards and centers including Texas' LaMarcus Aldridge.

He declined to say whether any team had guaranteed taking him in the first round, since second-round picks do not receive guaranteed contracts.

"I'm mentally prepared if that happens," Farmar said.

After leading Taft High School to a city championship his senior year, Farmar was heavily recruited by Gonzaga and Florida but not UCLA.

When Ben Howland was hired to replace Steve Lavin as UCLA's new head coach, Howland make a strong recruiting push and convinced Farmar to play in Westwood.

Along with fellow McDonald All-American Arron Afflalo, the young Bruin backcourt proclaimed they would return UCLA to it rightful place among college basketball's elite.

The Bruins reached the Final Four this season for the first time since 1995, and played in the championship game before losing to the Florida Gators.

Farmar was the Bruins leading scorer (12.5) in tournament play and was named to the NCAA All-Tournament teams in Oakland and Indianapolis.

"I'm proud and excited about all the great play he brought to UCLA," coach Ben Howland said. "We are totally supportive of his decision."

The 2006 NBA Draft will be held June 28 at Madison Square Garden in New York City.

Arron Afflalo announced yesterday he withdrew from the upcoming draft and will remain at UCLA for the upcoming season

BBR congratulates Jordan Farmar on a stellar career at UCLA, and wishes him the best in his NBA pursuits.


Farmar's Legacy At UCLA

With a return to the Final Four, Farmar has accomplished his goal of helping to return UCLA to elite status.

Although some Bruin supporters will point up to the championship banners hanging from the rafters in Pauley Pavilion and claim only twelfth championsihp banner would signify the programs return.

His legacy in the UCLA basketball program may be debated; however, Farmar's contributions to the Bruin team over the past two years is indisputable.

Farmar will be remembered as one


Honor Thy Father: Joshua Wooden

By Sam Farmer
Los Angeles Times


No indoor plumbing. No electricity. No money to speak of.

No complaints.

That was a way of life for the late Joshua Wooden, a soft-spoken Indiana farmer who passed along his wholesome values to each of his four sons. The second-oldest Wooden boy became the greatest coach in the history of college basketball.

"My dad was a gentle man," said John Wooden, 95. "I never heard him use a word of profanity. I never heard him say an ill word about anybody else. He tried to teach us the farm, and he read Scriptures and poetry to us every night by coal lamp."

Decades after their deaths, Joshua and Roxie Wooden watch over their lone surviving son. Their yellowed photos, in a small silver frame, rest over the desk in the office of his Encino condominium. The simple shots have an "American Gothic" feel.

In 1924, when John Wooden finished eighth grade, his father gave him a card. On one side was an inspirational verse by Rev. Henry van Dyke. On the other was a seven-point creed that included "Make each day your masterpiece," which Wooden later used in coaching. To this day, he keeps a copy of that card in his pocket.

"While Dad only finished high school, his reading later gave the initiative to all four of his sons to get through college when there were no athletic scholarships and they had no financial help," Wooden said. "We all became teachers."

Maurice, the oldest, went to college in New Mexico before moving to Southern California and becoming principal at West Covina High. Daniel, five years younger than John, also went to college in New Mexico and stayed there as a high school teacher. The youngest, Billy, remained in Indiana and attended Purdue — John's alma mater — and raised seven children as a high school teacher.

The Woodens also had two daughters. Cordelia died at 3 of diphtheria. An unnamed daughter died at birth.

Each of the boys played sports in high school, and the two oldest played in college as well. John was an outstanding basketball and baseball player.

"Dad always used to say, 'There must be time for play,' " Wooden said, "but only after the chores and studies were done."

On the farm, Joshua Wooden, whose friends called him Hugh, raised cows and hogs, and grew corn, alfalfa, tomatoes and watermelons. The farm, which Roxie inherited from her father, was near Centerton, Ind., about 25 miles south of Indianapolis.

John recalls his father as a horse whisperer of some renown, with an uncanny ability to put restless animals at ease.

"With fractious horses, he could just talk to them and pat them and they'd pull together," Wooden said. "Whereas some younger driver might be whipping them and they'd be stomping and foaming at the mouth, Dad would take over, stand between them, talk to them, and they'd be gentling down and pull right out.

"With dogs that would scare me, he'd just be petting them and they'd wag their tails. [President] Lincoln said there's nothing stronger than gentleness, and I think that sort of applied to my dad."

When John was a sophomore in high school, a stock deal gone bad and the death of dozens of hogs led to the family's losing the farm. His father took a job as an attendant at a hot springs in nearby Martinsville, Ind., where he spent the rest of his career.

Joshua Wooden died of leukemia at 69 in 1950, 14 years before John Wooden's UCLA basketball team won its first national championship.

"He was a tremendous influence on me, more so than anyone else," Wooden said of his father. "I didn't realize so many things at the time, nor did I realize how difficult it was for my mother at the time — raising four sons without electricity or running water, with the laundry, the cooking, the canning, the sewing. Pretty rough."

(reprinted with permission)


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