Thursday, November 09, 2006

Bruins Win Final Exhibition Game Tune-Up

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Josh Shipp scored a game-high 21 points to lead UCLA to an 87-61 victory over Humboldt State in the second and last exhibition game for the Bruins.

Shipp was efficient from the field, hitting on 7 of 8 attempts including 3 of 4 from three-point distance in 28 minutes of play.  The sophomore forward also recorded a team-high three steals.

The Lumberjacks stayed within a 12-14 point range of the Bruins for most of the game, but eventually UCLA's overwhelming athleticism and depth took over as they led by as much as 30 points in the second half.

However, Humboldt State, with a nucleus of solid players, provided the Bruins with a competitive game for the most part.  Kevin Johnson, a big and athletic 6'7 forward, Johnson finished with 17 points and 12 rebounds and gave UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute a tough match-up all evening.

Lumberjack 6'9 center Cy Vandermeer scored 16 points on 7 of 10 shooting and exposed the Bruin's weakness in guarding the low post. 

Starting center Alfred Aboya had difficulty handling the size and bulk of Vandermeer.  When Aboya gave way to sophomore Ryan Wright, he did not fare much better. Although Wright was a better physical match-up underneath, he still needs to improve his ability to defend the post and control the paint.

The Bruin's inability to effectively guard the low post for a second straight exhibition game highlights the need for junior center Lorenzo Mata to return to the line-up soon. 

Mata dressed up for the game last night and went through warm-ups with the team.  He is expected to play some minutes in the season opener against BYU, but UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland realizes it will be some time before Mata fully regains his conditioning.

Offensively, the Bruins sizzled from the outside making 10 of 19 for 52.% shooting on three-pointers.

Arron Afflalo added 18 points on 6 of 10 shooting and was 3 of 6 from beyond the three-point arc.  He took a number of nasty spills during the game, and in the second half he briefly left the game to have his knee iced down, but Afflalo was able to return and finish the game 

After committing 24 turnovers in a sloppy game against Cal Poly Pomona last week, UCLA cut its turnovers to 15 against Humboldt State.

"I think we played much better tonight," Afflalo said. "We limited our turnovers a little more. Overall, it was a better game. But we still have a lot of room to improve."

Freshman Russell Westbrook continues to impress.  He finished with 11 points and played excellent defense.  Although he still has the propensity to force the issue too much on offense, Westbrook showed the ability to breakdown defenders to get into the paint for a pass or pull-up jumper.

"I was pleased with Russell (Westbrook)," Howland said. "He did a great job."

Sophomore Micheal Roll showed much better shot selection against Humboldt State than he displayed last week.  He finished with 10 points on 3 of 4 shooting from three-point distance.

The Bruin's next game will be their regular season opener against BYU on November 15 at Pauley Pavilion.

BBR Notes: As a precautionary measure freshman James Keefe did not play in the exhibition game after suffering a neck strain when he collided with Arron Afflalo during practice.  Nikola Dragovic, who was not expected to play major minutes in the game, logged 12 minutes and scored 1 point.

(photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld)


Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Humboldt St Visits Pauley for Exhibition Game

By Bruin Basketball Report

The Humboldt State Lumberjacks visit Pauley Pavilion this evening for UCLA's final exhibition game of the season.

Humboldt State, a Division II opponent, begins its first season playing in the California Collegiate Athletic Association this year after five seasons in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.

Street & Smith recently ranked Humboldt State as the No.6 team overall in NCAA Division II.  They have had some success against Division I teams in the past, including an upset victory over Nevada two years ago.

The Lumberjacks are a veteran club and return all 12 players from last year's squad that advanced to the NCAA Tournament II West Region.  The team prefers to play an uptempo offense and has excellent shooters on the perimeter.

Humboldt State's best all-around player is forward Kevin Johnson (Sr, 6'7, 215) who averaged 18.6 points and 9.7 rebounds per game last season.  He is a very active player with a strong perimeter game and can also take it to the basket.

With senior Jeremiah Ward (6'2, 195) averaging 13.8 points, including 44 three-pointers, and junior Will Sheufelt (6'2, 185) averaging 10.4 ppg and 46% from beyond the three-point arc last season, the Lumberjacks return a potent scoring duo in the backcourt.

In addition, swingman Grayson Moyer (Jr, 6'5, 205) can also light it up from three-point distance.  He averaged 14.2 points last season.

Although Junior Devin Peal (6'4, 230) is not big for an interior player, nonetheless, he can cause trouble in the paint and is a solid rebounder.  He averaged 10.3 points and 6.3 rebounds last season for the Lumberjacks.

Big Cy Vandermeer (Jr, 6'9, 255) is in the post for Humboldt State.  He looks to improve upon his 6.4 points and 4.8 rebound numbers from last season.

Even though the Bruins beat Cal Poly Pomona last week by 30 points, UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland feels the team still has much work to accomplish before the season opener against BYU on November 15. 

In particular, Howland wants the players to cut down on their turnovers - against the Broncos last week the Bruins committed 24 turnovers, in addition, Howland wants the team to focus this week on improving their transition defense.


Pauley Pavilion Remains a Mecca of College Basketball

By Mike Morrow
The Eureka Reporter

Edwin W. Pauley Pavilion turned 41 years old this month, very much alive and doing better.

But haunted.

It’s haunted by ghosts of champions past and while it may no longer be the mecca of college basketball, it retains a certain mystique.

For years, it was a home away from home between November and February, a place that was more than just a place to scribble a few hundred words two or three times a week.

This is where the Bruin Beasts, forerunners of the Cameroon Crazies, did their thing (“Is thiiiissssss a basketball?” “Yes, that isssssssss a basketball.”), where a young Dick Enberg donned a yellow poncho and sang “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head,” and where Coach John would tap the floor below his chair three times before the start of every game and then turn to blow a kiss to his Nellie.

So, here are a few memories and a couple words of advice to members of the Humboldt State men’s basketball team, which plays at UCLA on Thursday night:

* When it’s quiet, listen for the squeaking sound of past UCLA players being put through their drills, the constant sliding back and forth and side to side.

* Visiting coaches have often led their players to the court, giving them a walk-through and then returned them to the entrance door and let them do it over again for real.

* The most vivid memory is an almost scary picture of Lew Alcindor, then a UCLA sophomore, soaring high above the visiting team’s basket to barehand an opposition shot attempt.

* The Bruins are good hosts, very good hosts, actually.

* Watch the down stairs that lead to the pavilion. They’re steep and uncompromising, and the walk up has become particularly difficult for members of the opposition.

* Try to time your pregame warm-ups at the same time as UCLA’s. There was nothing worse than having the Bruins take the court when your players are trying to get prepared.

* It’s a no-frills college basketball arena, though the 16-ounce cup of frozen Carnation chocolate ice cream, disguised as a malt, remains a favorite.

* Crowds have averaged almost 10,900 in the 41 years, but there may be less than half that Thursday.

* Who can forget watching the UCLA freshmen beat up on the two-time NCAA champion UCLA varsity team in a preseason warm-up in November 1966? A year later, in his first varsity game, Alcindor had 56 points.

* Jump off U.S. Highway 405 at Sunset Boulevard, go a little more than two miles east to the campus, go a little farther and you’ll run into the real LaLa Land – Hollywood.

* The Sixth Man has returned.

* There’s no swagger or trash talking because the coach is in charge.

* Don’t gawk at the championship banners overhead.

* Show your respect for Coach John Wooden, who may or may not be in attendance. But, don’t gawk.

Though this is an exhibition game and won’t be included in any season statistics, it’s a memorable experience for Humboldt State.

Just enjoy yourself.

(reprinted with permission)

BBR Note: Mike Morrow is a former sportswriter for the Daily Breeze.  While working in Los Angeles he covered the UCLA Bruins from 1967 to 1979 and was a six-time president of the Southern California Basketball Writers Association.


Love and Stanback Sign NLIs with UCLA

By Bruin Basketball Report

Kevin Love, a 6-10, 250-pound center from Lake Oswego HS (Lake Oswego, OR) and Chace Stanback, a 6-7, 210-pound guard/forward from Fairfax HS (Los Angeles) both signed a National Letter of Intent to attend UCLA, Bruin head coach Ben Howland announced Wednesday.

Wednesday is the first day of the early signing period that extends until Nov. 15.

Entering 2006-07, Love has many preseason prep honors, including being chosen as the number one center in the nation by virtually every scouting website and magazine in the country.

"Kevin Love signing with our program at UCLA is a huge and significant signing," Howland said. "He's the number one player in the country and he's the best passing and outlet passing big man that I've seen since Bill Walton at the college level. It is absolutely incredible the skill level he possesses for his size.

"In the history of UCLA basketball, we have never had a freshman average a double-double and I think that he definitely has that capability as a freshman next year. He's a very special talent, a great kid and has an unbelievable work ethic and attitude. The thing I appreciate the most about Kevin is that he makes everyone on his team better. This is a huge day for UCLA basketball."

Under head coach Harvey Kitani, Stanback led the Lions to a 24-3 overall record while averaging 18.3 points, 7.5 rebounds and 2.5 assists per game.

An All-State performer his first three prep seasons, Stanback was named first team All-City last year and was named co-Most Valuable Player for Fairfax last year. He was also named the Fairfax Most Outstanding Player his sophomore season and played with current Bruin Josh Shipp on the Lions' state championship team as a freshman (Shipp was a senior) in 2004.

"Chace Stanback is going to be an outstanding college basketball player," Howland said. "He comes from an outstanding high school program that also produced Josh Shipp."

"Chace has improved every year and also has a great attitude and work ethic. He has a great understanding of the game and is also a great passer and has always been a winner. He is a great addition to our program."

(photo credit: Oregonian and Rivals,com)


Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Dragovic Ruled Ineligible For First Ten Games

By Bruin Basketball Report

Nikola Dragovic has been ruled ineligible to compete in UCLA’s first ten regular season games this season, Head Coach Ben Howland announced at the Bruin's weekly news conference.

The NCAA ruling is a result of Dragovic competing on a Serbian team, Mega Ishrana, which was determined to be a professional team when it was recently found a player on the roster had signed a professional contract while on the team with Dragovic.

Per NCAA regulations, a player is allowed to play in games against professionals and maintain their college eligibility, but it is forbidden to play on the same team with a professional player.  Although, Dragovic never received compensation for playing, his association with this team led to the infraction.

“Nikola and his father had always planned for him to go to college and always made sure they did things the right way to maintain his eligibility.” Howland said. “They were unaware anyone on the team had accepted money. This is unfortunate, but we will comply with the NCAA ruling.”

Since Dragovic played ten games with this Serbian team, the NCAA ruled he should be ineligible for ten collegiate regular season games.

“We were expecting Nikola to play minutes this season,” Howland said. “He is one of our top shooters and best passers on the team."

With Dragovic unavailable to play, the team is expected to adjust player rotations in upcoming games. Coach Howland stated Russell Westbrook may play some two-guard; in addition, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute may move down at times to the small forward position once Lorenzo Mata returns to action in a couple of weeks.

Dragovic will still be able to practice with the team; however, he will not be allowed to accompany the team on road games and will miss the team trip to Maui.

“I am disappointed and very frustrated I will not be able to play for ten games,” Dragovic said. “But I will continue to work hard and to improve my play in practice - especially my defense.”

The young Serbian is allowed to play in the upcoming exhibition match against Humboldt St., but Howland is expected to minimize his minutes in order to give other players time on the floor in preparation for the start of the regular season against BYU on November 15.

Dragovic will be reinstated in time for the Bruin’s eleventh game of the season when they face Michigan at Pauley Pavilion on December 23rd.

BBR Notes:  Junior center Lorenzo Mata is expected to return to action this Friday depending on how his knee responds to treatment and increased activity over the next few days.  He has already begun participating in non-contact walk-throughs with the team.  Mata is expected to be back in time for the BYU season opener.

(photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld)


Monday, November 06, 2006

UCLA No.6 in AP Preseason Poll

By Bruin Basketball Report

Ben Howland's UCLA Bruins start at No.6 in the AP preseason poll. The ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll released last week ranked the Bruins at No.5.

Similar to the Coaches poll, Florida, North Carolina, and Kansas are the top three ranked teams in the AP poll.  Pittsburgh and LSU are ranked No.4 and No.5, respectively, ahead of the Bruins.

Along with UCLA, Arizona - No.10 and Washington - No.17 represent the Pac-10 conference in the AP poll.  In addition, USC (5) and Oregon (1) received points in the writer's poll.

Upcoming non-conference opponents, Texas A&M - No.13, Memphis - No.14, and Kentucky - No.22, are ranked in the top 25.  Michigan, which visits Pauley in December, received 6 points.

Duke, ranked No.12 in the poll, marks the 186th poll appearance by the Blue Devils - the second longest streak of all-time.  UCLA owns the mark at 221 consecutive weeks from 1966-1980.


Sunday, November 05, 2006

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (11/6)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Top 25 Fall Recruiting Classes:  No. 24 - UCLA; Commitments: Kevin Love 6-9 C Lake Oswego, OR; Chace Stanback 6-8 WF Los Angeles, Fairfax. No Top 25 could be complete if the team Kevin Love chooses isn't in it.  He is an impact talent who will make Ben Howland's club a contender for Pac Ten & national honors for as long as he's in Westwood. 11/3

Kevin Love has some unfinished business - only another state crown will do, of course, and there is no question he's looking forward to wreaking havoc in the Roundball Classic (Chicago) and McDonald s All-America East-West (Louisville) all-star games next spring - to attend to in his final year of high school. A year from now, though, he'll be rapidly approaching his debut as a UCLA Bruin And the only person who might be more eager for those 12 months Lake Oswego center Kevin Love towers over the 2006-2007 Best in the West selections. Press-Telegram 11/6

Who is the best high school basketball player in the senior class? It all depends on whom you ask.  Van Coleman of Hoopmasters picks 6-9, 250-pound Kevin Love of Lake Oswego, Ore., who is committed to UCLA. Hoop Scoop's Clark Francis also rates Love at the top of his list.  Bob Gibbons of All-Star Sports favors guard Eric Gordon of Indianapolis, who jilted Illinois for Indiana. Harv Schmidt of Chicago-based Illinois Prep Bulls-Eye rates Love No.1 and Gordon No. 2. But his brother Roy favors Gordon over Love. Chicago Sun-Times 11/6


Kansas State coach Bob Huggins announced that Class 2007 Top 100 forward Bill Walker of Cincinnati-North College Hill, Ohio, has enrolled early as a part-time student and will be eligible to compete for the Wildcats at mid-year of the 2006-07 season. 11/5

As expected, Chicago Simeon High School senior Derrick Rose announced he will attend Memphis to play basketball next season. Rose made his decision public Saturday at a reception in Burbank, choosing the Tigers over Illinois and Indiana. Memphis had been the favorite since early summer to land Rose, a point guard who carried Simeon to the Class AA state title in March. State Journal-Register 11/5

Drew Viney de-committed a couple weeks ago from Cal, and after visiting this weekend, Viney, a 6' 5" guard/forward who's the 20th rated at that spot nationally, committed to Oregon. Viney's close friendship with Kamyron Brown was cited as one of the reasons for his initial interested in the Ducks. But apparently the assistant coaches, Kent, the team and the situation won him over. Oregon Live 11/5

Oregon's also apparently still has a small shot at Darnell Gant, a 6' 8" forward from Crenshaw High in LA who also has offers from Kentucky, Washington, Nevada, and Cal. To date, he's visited Washington, Oregon and Kentucky. His trip to Eugene came back on the 23rd of September. Oregon Live 11/5

(photo credit: Oregonian)