Thursday, November 23, 2006

Afflalo and Mbah a Moute Naismith Trophy Candidates

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA junior Arron Afflalo and sophomore Luc Richard Mbah a Moute were named as preseason candidates for the Naismith Trophy, the Atlanta Tip-Off Club announced.  The Naismith Trophy is presented annually to the men's and women's players of the year.

A Top 50 list was compiled by the Atlanta Tipoff Club’s Board of Selectors, comprised of leading basketball journalists, coaches and administrators from around the country. The board based its pre-season criteria on player performances from last season and expectations for the 2006-07 season.

“It’s still very early in the process, but there seems to be more parity among this year’s pre-season candidates,” said Gary Stokan, Atlanta Tipoff Club president. “There are just a lot of excellent players on this list. This year’s Naismith Trophy winner will continue the tremendous legacy of some of the most outstanding players in college basketball history. Now it’s in the players’ hands.”

In January, the Naismith Trophy Voting Academy will narrow its pre-season list to the Top 30 players in the nation. Those players, and others who distinguish themselves throughout the season, will be eligible for the final ballot in March. Beginning in mid-February, CBS’ “Cingular at the Half” will feature a weekly Naismith Trophy update highlighting the players in contention. In April, the Naismith Trophy winner will be recognized at the NCAA Men’s Final Four in Atlanta.

J.J. Reddick of Duke won the Naismith Trophy in 2005-06.   

Previous UCLA Bruin men's basketball winners of the Naismith Trophy were: Lew Alcindor '69 (inaugural winner); Bill Walton '72,'73,'74; and Marques Johnson '77.

Last month, both Afflalo and Mbah a Moute were also named preseason candidates for the Wooden Award.

(photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld)


Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Bruins Step On Jackets, Collison MVP

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Darren Collison scored 15 points and handed out 7 assists to lead No. 5 ranked UCLA to an 88-73 rout of Georgia Tech to win the EA Sports Maui Invitational.

Using a stifling and trapping defense, UCLA took Georgia Tech out of its normal offensive flow and imposed their will in almost every facet of the game. 

UCLA led by 11 at halftime and streched their advantage to 20 points halfway through the final period.

Collison harassed Georgia Tech’s freshman star, Javaris Crittenton, limiting him to just eights point and causing him to be a non-factor for most of the game. Crittenton entered averaging 15.4 points and 6.2 assists a contest.

Josh Shipp and Arron Afflalo took turns guarding the Yellow Jacket’s other talented freshman, Thaddeus Young, holding him to just 4 of 12 shooting for 13 points with many of those scores coming late after the game had been decided.

In the interior the UCLA frontcourt was simply more physical and aggressive than their opponents and kept control of the boards, 33-31.  A day earlier Georgia Tech had out-rebounded Memphis by 15 caroms.

On offense UCLA executed with surgical precision. The Bruins shot 57% from the field and 38% (8 of 21) from beyond the arc.

To start the game Georgia Tech defended UCLA with a straight man-to-man defense, but Collison patiently directed the offense and carved up the Tech defense through dribble penetration and good use of well executed low and high screens to create easy scoring opportunities for teammates.

When Georgia Tech switched to a zone, designated zone-buster sophomore Michael Roll came through with 5 of 7 shooting including 3 big shots from beyond the arc. The Tech zone also allowed UCLA’s Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to roam free and chase down five offensive rebounds in just the first half.

Roll finished with 13 points while Mbah a Moute finished with 14 points on a perfect 7 of 7 shooting and had time to haul down 7 rebounds.

Afflalo overcame a bad shooting game against Kentucky the night before to finish with a team-high 19 points on 6 of 13 shooting. He also had 2 steals.

Lorenzo Mata was close to another double-double finishing with 9 points and 10 rebounds.

Georgia Tech’s Lewis Clinch scored a game-high 21 minutes, but it wasn’t nearly enough as UCLA improved their record to 4-0 while Tech suffered their first loss of the season after winning five.

"This was a great team effort," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said. "I'm just so excited about how we're playing right now this early in the season. This was a hard, hard place to play and to put together three good days in a row was tough."

The only negative from the game for UCLA was their poor free-throw shooting. The Bruins struggled at the line making only 18-31 for 58%. No doubt the coaching staff will have players shooting many free throws when they return to Westwood.

But before they return home, the team will enjoy some time on the island.  The players and coaches will stay in Maui through Thanksgiving and spend the holiday together.

Darren Collison was selected as the tournament MVP, and both he and Arron Afflalo were named to the All-Tournament team.

"It's crazy," Collison said of being chosen the MVP. "Any of us could have won it. I'm just glad we got the victory and came out champions."

It was UCLA's first Maui Invitational championshp after three tries. The Bruins finished third on Maui in 2001 and were sixth in 1995.

BBR Notes: UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland showed his players he can walk the talk when he stood his ground and took a charge from Georgia Tech’s 6’9 250 lb center Ra’Sean Dickey who ran into Howland on the sidelines in pursuit of a loose ball. Howland quickly recovered and stood up - smiling that his team got the ball off the turnover.

"My knee started to hurt at halftime. Hopefully an MRI will show nothing," Howland said drawing a laugh. "I took a charge for the team. He whacked me good."

(photo credit: AP)


Tuesday, November 21, 2006

UCLA vs. Georgia Tech - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

The UCLA Bruins face the Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets in the finals of the Maui Invitational Wednesday evening.

After finishing last season 10-17 overall and 4-12 in the ACC, Georgia Tech Head Coach Paul Hewitt has reloaded with one of the top freshmen classes in the nation.

Georgia Tech (5-0) starts a young line-up which includes one junior, one sophomore, and three freshmen. 

They are a very athletic team especially along the front court.  Against a talented Memphis team, the Yellow Jackets dominated inside and controlled the glass outrebounding the Tigers by fifteen - ten on the offensive end.

One of the question marks about Georgia Tech coming into this season was the quality of their three-point shooting.  Junior Anthony Morrow had been counted on to contribute but he has struggled with his range this season.  Sophomore guard Lewis Clinch (6'3 190 lb) has stepped forward and provided a three-point threat shooting 50% from the field. He is averaging 16.0 points a game.

Starting at point-guard is highly-rated Javaris Crittenton (6'5, 195 lb).  Although just a freshman, Crittenton has a very mature game and is well-fitted for the Yellow Jackets uptempo attack.  His size and length will cause problems for opposing point-guards.

Mario West (6'4, 208 lb) is the team's only senior.  West is Georgia Tech's best defender in the backcourt and is a calming influence on the floor.  He may see extensive time against the Bruins especially if the younger players get rattled by the Bruin's half-court pressure.

Darren Collison will likely start on defense against Crittenton and use his speed to harass the young freshman, although it wouldn't be surprising to see Arron Afflalo switch off and guard him at times depending on the situation. Freshman Russell Westbrook played only 9 minutes against Kentucky but may see more floor time against Georgia Tech due to match-ups.

Freshman forward Thaddeus Young (6'8, 215 lb), who many felt would have jumped to the NBA if not for the new eligibility rule, is averaging 15.3 points and 4.8 rebounds a game so far this season.  He is a slasher-type player who is quick off the dribble and an excellent offensive rebounder - more than half his rebounds are on the offensive end.   While extremely talented, Young is still learning the game and is foul prone.

Another freshman starting at the forward is Zack Peacock (6'7, 238 lb).  One of the many Yellow Jacket front court players who are active and physical inside.  He is averaging 10.0 points and 3.3 rebounds a game.

At the other front court position is junior Jeremis Smith who is listed at a generous 6'8, 232 lb- he's closer to 6'6.  Despite his size, he likes to bang in the low post and knows how to use his body to get off shots and get to rebounds.  Most of his offense comes from inside the paint or off the offensive glass.

The first big man off the bench will be junior Ra'Sean Dickey (6'9, 255).  He is another very physical player.  His play has been somewhat erratic and inconsistent, however, he can score off the low blocks and has an effective mid-range jumper.  He is the team's leading rebounder (7.5) and shot-blocker (1.8).  He may start tomorrow depending on how Coach Hewitt wants to match-up with the Bruins.

With so many young players playing key roles, the Yellow Jackets are still learning how to play as a unit.  The Bruins pressure defense may be difficult for the young Yellow Jackets to handle, especially since UCLA can match their athleticism and quickness. 

Against Kentucky, the Bruins played solid defense for almost the length of the entire game - the first time this season.

If the Bruins can maintain order on the boards and limit Georgia Tech to just one shot per possession, they should do well on Wednesday.

(See comments for additional coverage)

(photo credit: AP)


UCLA Edges Kentucky, Bruin Defense Keys Win

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

On a night when they had no business winning a game of any magnitude, the Bruins pulled out a 73-68 victory over Kentucky in the semifinals of the Maui Invitational with tough defense.

Junior center Lorenzo Mata recorded a double-double scoring 12 points and grabbing 11 rebounds while given the difficult assignment of guarding Kentucky’s big man, Randolph Morris. With the help of double-teams, Morris was limited to just 11 points and was a non-factor for most of the game.

At the outset it appeared UCLA might turn the game into a blow-out early when they outscored Kentucky 26 to 9 in the first twelve minutes of the contest.

But then the shots stopped falling, UCLA players started pressing too hard, and Kentucky roared back into the game reaching halftime only behind by nine points when Wildcat guard Joe Crawford hit a three-pointer at the buzzer before intermission.

UCLA shot a miserable 2 of 10 from three-point distance in the first-half, and then missed nine more in the second-half to finish at an embarrassing 10.5%. To compound matters worse, UCLA shot only 56% from the free-throw line (13-23).

Guard Arron Afflalo had a frustrating night, shooting 5 of 19 from the field including a wretched 1 of 9 from three-point distance. As the misses mounted, Afflalo started to press himself more which not only led to him taking forced shots but it also appeared to take the rest of the team out of its offensive flow.

"My adrenaline was up a little bit but I never lost confidence. Maybe I was a little fatigued," Afflalo said. "I don't expect to ever shoot 1-for-8 on 3s. It was one of those nights."

In addition, both Darren Collison and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute picked up three fouls in the first-half which took them out of their normal aggressive style for a large portion of the game.

Collison had started the game spectacularly scoring 7 points and harassing Wildcat’s starting point-guard, Ramel Bradley into early turnovers and foul trouble.

In the second half with the Bruin offensive woes continuing and behind the solid play of freshman guard Derrick Jasper, the Wildcats took the lead 50-48 midway with two Jasper free-throws and it stayed close until the final moments of the game.

With less than a minute remaining in the game, Collison’s defensive pressure and then steal of a Bradley mishandle led to a Mbah a Moute dunk to put the Bruins ahead 69-65 with just 27 seconds left in the game.  Then Morris forced and missed a shot attempt over two Bruin defenders, Mata rebounded and outlet passed to Collison who found a streaking Arron Afflalo for a game-winning slam.

"I capitalized on it as soon as I saw him fumble it," Collison said.

The Bruin starting point-guard finished the game with 10 points, 7 assists, and three steals.

Mbah a Moute finished with a game-high 18 points including six of the last ten UCLA points in the game despite playing a majority of the second-half with four fouls.  He also helped with the doubles on Morris.

"Luc was a tough match-up for them," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said, "He does so many of the little things. Defensively he does a great job rotating and taking punishment, and Randolph Morris punishes you."

In spite of their poor shooting and sloppy play at times; this game should be considered a good character-builder and lessons learned for a UCLA team which fields no seniors and only two juniors.

Defense wins championships.

"We won the game not shooting well," Howland said with pride. "That goes back to our philosophy of playing defense each and every possession."

With the victory the Bruins advance to the championship game against Georgia Tech.  The Yellow Jackets rallied from a 16 point halftime deficit to defeat Memphis, 92-85, in their semifinal match-up.

(photo credit: AP)


Monday, November 20, 2006

UCLA vs. Kentucky - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

A dream match-up between the two most storied programs in college basketball takes place Tuesday evening when the No.5 UCLA Bruins (2-0) face off with the No.20 Kentucky Wildcats (3-0) in a second round game at he EA Sports Maui Invitational.

The last time these two schools met was at the 2003 Wooden Classic, Coach Ben Howland's first season at UCLA, when the Wildcats edged the Bruins 52-50.

Despite advancing to the second round of the NCAA tournament last season, Kentucky's Head Coach Tubby Smith has been under fire from fans and alumni demanding better results.  Expectations for their basketball team in Lexington are just as high as those for Bruin basketball teams in Westwood. 

No teams have won more NCAA men's basketball titles than UCLA with eleven and Kentucky with seven, and it is a match-up Maui tournament officials had in mind when the schedule was made.

Kentucky has a number of superb athletes who prefer an uptempo game and will run at every opportunity.  The Bruins will need to get back in defensive transition better than they did against either BYU or Chaminade if they expect to slow down the Wildcat's offense.

With Rajon Rondo playing in the NBA this season, the Wildcats  now have junior Ramel Bradley (6'2, 170 lb) at the point this year. He had suffered from off-court problems in the past but appears to have left all those issues behind him.  Bradley has a reputation as a first shoot point-guard and Coach Tubby Smith has pleaded with him to distribute the ball more and to improve his defense in order to help the team.  His play at the point has been erratic but he remains a dangerous offensive player.  Against DePaul, he scored 16 points and had 4 assists in the win.

It will be an interesting match-up between Bradley and Collison, both are ultra-quick point guards who are establishing themselves as starters this season.

Joe Crawford (6'5, 211) starts at shooting guard for Kentucky.  Strong and athletic, Crawford has struggled at times with consistency on offense and his effort on the defensive end.    He scored 13 points and dished out 6 assists against DePaul on Monday.

Both Crawford and UCLA's Arron Afflalo are physical shooting guards and will be guarding each other most of the game.  Afflalo's stellar defense and leadership on the team gives him a decided advantage in this match-up.

Starting at the other wing position will be Bobby Perry (Sr, 6'8, 215) who does a lot of the little thing to help a team win. He can hurt opponents if left unguarded from the outside.  He scored 11 points against DePaul and also blocked two shots.

UCLA's Josh Shipp will need to keep an eye on Perry especially in defensive transition where Perry is known to pull up for three-point shots.

The Wildcats have two very athletic freshmen who can fill in at both wing positions; Jodie Meeks (6'5, 206) and Derek Jasper (6'6, 213).  They each can get up and down the court and have provided the Wildcats with a spark off the bench on both ends of the court.  If the offense becomes stagnant or the defensive effort is absent with the starters, Coach Tubby Smith has not been hesitant to insert both freshmen in the backcourt at the same time.

At power forward, Perry Stevenson (Fr, 6'9, 178) is an excellent shot-blocker.  Although his slight build allows skilled opponents to knock him off the block, he possesses good timing and will improve as he gains more bulk.  Sheray Thomas (Sr, 6'8, 236 lb) was suspended for the first two games of the season but returned against DePaul.  As a junior last season, he averaged 4.3 points and 3.5 rebounds and  gives the Wildcats more size up front

Both Stevenson and Thomas are not tremendous scorers, in addition, they will have their hands full checking UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute off the boards.

During the offseason, Coach Tubby Smith marveled over the improvement of 7'2 250 lb center Jared Carter; unfortunately, Carter injured himself and will be out for at least 4-6 more weeks.  In the meantime, the Wildcats move big Randolph Morris (6'11, 259) back to center.

Morris is a good low post threat although he doesn't fully leverage his size and strength underneath.  At times he lacks the explosiveness and aggressiveness to be considered an elite big man at this level.  After three games this season, he is averaging almost 17 points and 9.7 rebounds a game.  The Wildcats also bring in Luskasz Obrzut, a 7'0 270 lb from Poland, to spell Morris for a few minutes.

With Carter out with an injury, the Wildcats are somewhat thin on the front line and the Bruins may be able to exploit the fact that both Morris and Obrzut are foul-prone.

Although Mata's minutes have been limited due to his recovery from knee surgery, he has been the Bruin's anchor on defense.  He played 19 minutes against Chaminade and it will be interesting how his knee responds to consecutive games in the tournament.   

Mata has the size and defensive skills to neutralize Morris - but his minutes on the court will be short, in which case sophomores Alfred Aboya and Ryan Wright will be counted on to provide quality minutes in the middle.  More than likely, the Bruins will double down on the post when Morris receives the ball.

Although the Wildcats will show a zone in certain situations, they are primarily a man-to-man defensive team and apply heavy defensive pressure in the half-court which helps to spur their running game.   

The Wildcat's own transition defense has been somewhat suspect in the first few games this season, a weakness a more uptempo Bruin offense may be able to exploit on Tuesday.

It is imperative the Bruins take good care of the ball and control the boards, but most importantly, improve their transition defense if they expect to come out with a win.

(photo credit: AP)


Afflalo Leads UCLA Over Chaminade

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Arron Afflalo scored a game-high 25 points to help lead the UCLA Bruins to an 88-63 win over Maui Invitational host Chaminade in an opening round game. 

The Bruins raced out to a commanding 17-2 lead after the game's first five minutes with Afflalo scoring 11 points during the span.   The junior guard finished the contest making 10 of 14 from the field including 5 of 7 from three-point distance.

As a team, UCLA shot 56.% from the field and were 11-24 from the three-point line for a sizzling 45.8%.

Sophomore Darren Collison had another productive game directing the Bruin offense scoring 15 points on 6 of 8 shooting .  As he did against BYU, Collison patiently ran the half-court sets and pushed the ball up the court effectively to create easy transition baskets for teammates, Collison finished with 7 assists.

On the defensive end, Collison struggled at times defending Chaminade's All-Conference point-guard Zack Whiting who repeatedly used his size advantage and posted up Collison on the block.  Whiting finished with 14 points and 9 assists.

Normally, UCLA Head Coach would have given the defensive assignment of guarding the opponent's best offensive guard to Arron Afflalo, but decided to give Collison the chance to defend a bigger guard.  There are a number of upcoming opponents, including Memphis, which will employ bigger backcourts against the Bruins.  Collison did have 4 steals.

Sophomore forward Josh Shipp chipped in 16 points in the winning effort.  Although he did not shoot well from the perimeter, going 0 of 4 from three-point distance, he moved extremely well without the ball, especially along the baseline, scoring all his points around the basket.

Center Lorenzo Mata grabbed 6 rebounds and contributed 8 points on 4 of 4 shooting in just 19 minutes. Both Alfred Aboya and Ryan Wright struggled in the game recording just 1 point and 3 rebounds in a combined 22 minutes of play.  With Mata still on the mend and only able to play limited minutes, UCLA will need much better efforts from Aboya and Wright, especially in upcoming tournament games against tougher opponents.

The UCLA  offense struggled somewhat when Chaminade switched to a 1-3-1 zone midway through the first half, but sophomore guard Michael Roll helped the Bruin cause with two key three-pointers.  Roll finished with 10 points.

Freshman James Keefe played a solid 12 minutes grabbing 5 rebounds including two on the offensive end.  He was particularly effective stationed at the high post swinging the ball to the open man when the Silver Swords went into their zone defense.  Keefe has great basketball IQ and fundamentals, and it wouldn't be surprising if he earns more minutes on the floor as the season progresses.   

The Bruins used a swarming half-court defense to stifle Chaminade into just 20 first half points and 33% shooting.  But the Silver Swords did much better in the second half scoring 43 points mainly on three-pointers in transition.   

Coach Howland has been concerned about his team's transition defense in the early going, and the Bruins will need to improve it immediately since they face an uptempo Kentucky Wildcats team on Tuesday in their second game of the tournament.

Kentucky earned the chance to meet UCLA when they held off DePaul for a 87-81 victory earlier in the day at Maui.

"Both our schools have a lot of tradition," UCLA guard Arron Afflalo said. "They're two of the winningest teams in college basketball. A lot of our fans are from the Wooden era, and a lot of their fans are from throughout their history. Both schools are used to winning, so it's very important, let alone we're playing for (a berth in) the championship of the Maui classic."

(photo credit: AP)


UCLA Up To No.5, Opponents Move Up In Polls

By Bruin Basketball Report

Both AP and ESPN/USA Coaches agree, the UCLA Bruins are the No.5 team in the nation in polls released this week.

UCLA rallied for a tough 82-69 win over a quality BYU team in their home opener last week. Mbah a Moute led the Bruins with 24 points and 11 rebounds while fellow sophomore Darren Collison added 16 points and 10 assists.

The Bruin's potential opponent at the Maui Invitational tomorrow, the Kentucky Wildcats, are ranked No.20 and 22 in the polls.  The Wildcats had opening week victories over Miami (OH) and Mississippi Valley State.

At least for this week, UCLA now has a top 10 opponent on their schedule with Texas A&M moving into the elite group in the Coaches poll.  The Aggies are No. 11 in the AP.

Washington and Arizona remain the only other two Pac-10 teams in the polls.  The Huskies are No.13 and 16 while the Wildcats are No.15 in both polls.  The Oregon Ducks are the only other Pac-10 team to receive votes.

The Kansas Jayhawks took a dive out of the top five after their upset loss to Oral Roberts last week landing at No. 10 and 12 in the weekly polls.

Florida, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, and Ohio State round out the top 5 in both polls.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

Chaminade Hosts UCLA in Maui Opener

By Bruin Basketball Report

The Chaminade Silver Swords play host to the No. 6 ranked UCLA Bruins tonight in a first round match up of the EA Sport Maui Invitational tournament.  Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 PM Pacific and will be televised on ESPN2.

It will be the first game of the season for Chaminade which is coming off a successful 2005-06 campaign.  Last season, the Silver Swords won the Pacific West Conference with a 19-9 overall and 9-3 conference record, and earned a bid to the NCAA Division II post-season tournament.

After leading his team to its highest victory total in 17 years, Chaminade Head Coach Matt Mahar was voted Pacific West Conference Coach of the Year.

However with the loss of five seniors including leading scorer and Pacific West Conference Player of the Year, Chris Reeves, 2006-07 looks to be a rebuilding year for Chaminade. The Silver Swords return only three players who saw significant action last season.

The Silver Sword's best player and floor leader is All-Pacific West point-guard Zack Whiting. (6'3, 205) from Chico, California.  A Bob Cousy Award nominee, Whiting averaged 14.1 points, 8.1 assists, and 5 rebounds last season and is the only senior on the squad.

Whiting considers himself an "old school" type player, while coaches comment on his excellent court vision and ability to get the job done on both ends of the court.

Junior wingman Stewart Kussler (6'5, 215) from Santa Maria started in 23 games last season averaging 7.7 points and 3.8 rebounds in 19 minutes of play per game.  He is a hard-nosed player and shot an impressive 61% from the field.

Chaminade has 7'0 230 lb Marko Kolaric from Serbia in the middle.  The junior averaged 5.9 points, 5.4 rebounds and shot 53% from the field.  In a NCAA post season Division II game against Alaska Anchorage last season, Kolaric recorded career-highs of 21 points and 16 rebounds.

In last year's Maui Tournament, the Chaminade squad went 0-3 losing by an average of 33 points to Michigan St, Maryland, and Kansas.

With respects given to the ghosts of Chaminade victories over Virginia and Ralph Sampson, and later Villanova, the Bruins should easily win and advance to the second-round game on Tuesday against the winner of the Kentucky and DePaul match-up

Both UCLA's Arron Afflalo and Josh Shipp are expected to play tonight against the Silver Swords.  Afflalo bruised his knee in the game against BYU but MRI tests were negative.  Shipp was sore after a fall on his surgically repaired hip but reports he is ready to play. 

BBR Notes:  Adidas recently informed us of a basketball shoe the company created specifically for the UCLA team to wear at the EA Sports Maui Invitational.  Only 125 pairs are for sale and can only be purchased at the Footlocker store on Maui or from the Adidas online store:

(photo credit: Honolulu Star-Bulletin)


Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (11/20)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Malcolm Lee is an elite guard who is rated the #33 and #52 top recruit in the 2008 class by Scout and Rivals, respectively. At 6'4 170 lb and solid ballhandling skills, Lee can play both the point and shooting guard positions. Along with Jerime Anderson (Canyon HS, Anaheim), who committed to UCLA over the summer, Lee and Anderson will form a dynamic 2008 backcourt in Westwood. Bruin Basketball Report 11/16


Luke Babbitt, Galena High School's 6-foot-7 star forward, has narrowed his possible college choices to Nevada, UCLA, Arizona, Gonzaga and Ohio State.  Babbitt is a junior so still has another year left at Galena.  Babbitt, one of the most highly recruited players in the country, said he has eliminated Stanford, Washington, Kansas, Texas, Illinois and Duke from the list this week.  Seattle Post-Intelligencer 11/14

The Southern and Riverside boys' basketball teams will square off against each other as part of the Hoop Hall Classic tripleheader on Jan. 30 at Cameron Indoor Stadium.  In the nightcap, the country's top-rated senior, O.J. Mayo of Huntington (W.Va.) will face Artesia (Cal.) and the nation's top-rated sophomore, Renardo Sidney. Oak Hill, Mater Dei, Huntington and Artesia all are ranked in the top 20 in the country. Herald-Sun 11/15

The buzz has been all over the internet for a while concerning a showdown with two of the nation's most recruited players in the class of 2008. Galena's Luke Babbitt will have a chance to showcase his talents across the country this season, including right off the bat in the season opener. Babbitt and Galena will take on Drew Gordon and Archbishop Mitty in the Bay Area on Dec. 1. The 6-8 Babbitt and the 6-8 Gordon are two of the most recruited juniors in the country. Nevada Appeal 11/16

The early signing period is just winding to a close, and the past couple days have really shook up the rankings as USC jumped into the Top Five with the addition of O.J. Mayo and Davon Jefferson. CSTV 11/17

A top 25 recruit, Drew Gordon, a 6-foot-8, 235-pound junior forward from San Jose's Archbishop Mitty High School, attended the UW game, apparently making an unofficial recruiting visit. He seemed to enjoy himself, sitting near the student section. He had his last name loudly chanted by the Dawg Pack and received a free purple T-shirt in a promotional giveaway that was snagged by a student and handed over to him. Seattle Post-Intelligencer 11/20

(photo credit: MyBlogBlueDevils)


Wooden Inducted into Hall of Fame

By Bruin Basketball Report

Legendary UCLA Coach John Wooden was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame today in a ceremony held in the Crown Center Exhibit Hall in Kansas City. 

Wooden was joined in the inaugural class by Dean Smith (North Carolina), Oscar Robertson (Cincinnati), Bill Russell (USF), and Dr. James Naismith.

They stand for more than 100 former players, coaches and contributors currently members of the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame (Springfield, MA) with strong college roots, who will be automatically included in the new college hall.

"Our committee identified these five. You could make it 12, or 30 or 50. Wherever you draw the line, you could say what a great group," said Jim Haney, executive director of the National Association of Basketball Coaches. "But the five representing this founding class had significant impact on college basketball."

Wooden and Russell traded a few good old memories from their days together with the audience.

"A couple of times I thought that I had a pretty good team and we had to play them in the tournament and they knocked us out," said Wooden, his lips curling into a smile. "He never said he was sorry."

"We won those back-to-back championships, and I remember the last game we lost was to Coach Wooden in Westwood," Russell said. "And we left there with the conclusion that if you wanted to lose a game, go to Westwood."

The Hall of Fame is part of the College Basketball Experience, an interactive attraction that will eventually be incorporated into the new Sprint Center arena, set to open in downtown Kansas City next year.

Organizers say the Kansas City Hall is not meant to compete with the Naismith hall nor with the Women's Basketball Hall of Fame in Knoxville, Tenn

Coach Wooden coached at UCLA from 1948 to 1975 compiling a record of 620-147. (808) and led the Bruins to 10 national championships. As a collegiate basketball player in Indiana, Wooden was a three time All-American at Purdue (1930-32) and was named College Basketball Player of the Year in 1932.

(photo credit: L.A. Times)