Saturday, January 06, 2007

UCLA Falls From Unbeaten, Lose to Oregon

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Aaron Brooks scored 25 points including the game-winner with only thirteen seconds left in the game to lead Oregon to an upset win over top-ranked UCLA, 68-66, at McArthur Court in Eugene.

"I never thought I'd feel like this again in my entire career here," junior Arron Afflalo said. "I truly thought this team couldn't be beat. The way we played and the type of heart we play with, and the type of leadership we have on this team -- I wouldn't say we're invincible but I didn't think we could be beat.

"This is probably my worst loss ever."

Considering the Bruins have gone 27-2 since their last regular season loss, the hyperbole of Afflalo's comments could be excused, if not understood.

UCLA (14-1, 3-1) jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead to start the game but then Oregon switched to a match-up zone, and once again, the Bruins struggled scoring against it.

With Arron Afflalo missing all five of his shot-attempts in the first-half, the Bruins played sluggishly and appeared a step slower than the Ducks.  UCLA blew nine lay-ups on their way to just 36.4% field-goal shooting in the first-half.

The Bruins also fumbled away easy baskets underneath with the ball twice slipping out of Lorenzo Mata's hands as he went up for a dunk.  UCLA had come into the game leading the Pac-10 in least turnovers committed with 12.9 turnovers a game but finished with 17 against Oregon.

Point-guard Darren Collison had his second consecutive sub-par game on this road trip scoring only one point while going 0-4 in the first-half.  In addition, both he and Afflalo struggled defensively containing the lightning quick Brooks.

The senior Oregon point-guard was the star for the Ducks shooting 9-16 from the field with many of them coming off isolation plays on the wing in which he easily blew by his defender.

Brooks led a hot-shooting Ducks team to 70% field-goals in the first-half.   Moreover, Oregon did not miss a shot until ten minutes into the game when Bryce Taylor missed a jumper, and by then, the Ducks had pulled out to a 20-14 lead.

Despite their sloppy play and bad shooting, the Bruins stayed within reach of the Ducks for most of the half on the strength of their rebounding which gave them numerous extra chances at the basket.  UCLA had thirteen more shot attempts (33 vs. 20) than Oregon at the half.

Still, the Ducks went into intermission with a 40-30 lead, the momentum of the game, and raucous crowd on their side

UCLA came out of at the start of the half scoring eight straight points to pull within two, but then Brooks hit a jumper and Maarty Leunen converted on a three-point play to stop the Bruin run.

The Bruins executed better in the second half shooting 50% but each time they appeared ready to overtake the Ducks, they either committed a turnover or missed key free throws.

After shooting above 75% over the past few games, the Bruins resorted back to poor shooting from the stripe converting only 12-18 for 66.7% while the Ducks were dead-eye from the line making 19-21 for 90.5%

Did we report the Bruins lost by only two points?

UCLA made one final run when Arron Afflalo hit a three-pointer to cut the lead to just three with 2:49 remaining.  After Bryce Taylor missed a jumper, Darren Collison made a three-point shot to tie the game with 22 seconds remaining. 

But then Aaron Brooks came to the rescue again scurrying quickly down the court and made an open 12-footer from the baseline to the put the Ducks back ahead 68-66 with 13 seconds. 

The Bruins had one last shot to tie or win the game. 

After Oregon called time-out on Brook's basket, UCLA inbounded the ball into Collison who penetrated into the paint, but instead of shooting an open 15 footer at the elbow, he passed the ball to Josh Shipp who was forced to take a tough three-pointer which he missed with time expiring. 

"The last play of the game was really my fault. I wanted to go for the win," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said. "I thought we would be able to penetrate and kick out for a 3, and it wasn't there. We were really tentative and did not get a good shot at the end of the game."

Shipp finished with 14 points and played well on both ends of the court including getting 4 steals.  On a couple of instances, Shipp over dribbled into the paint resulting in a turnover and charge late in the game, but the offense was sputtering and he was trying to make something happen for the team.

Afflalo finished with 14 points  - all in the second-half, including 4 three-pointers which almost brought the Bruins back.

One bright spot for UCLA was the play of freshman Russell Westbrook who was the most effective Bruin on the floor.  Both times he was inserted into the game, he provided a spark for the team.  He finished with 10 points on 3-5 shooting in just 13 minutes.  Westbrook did a good job defensively and seemed to be effective guarding Aaron Brooks when he had the chance. 

After his impressive game in Eugene, it would not be surprising to find Westbrook getting more chances in the near future. 

UCLA travels back home with a 1-1 road trip record.  They have a week before their next game on Saturday against USC to work out some kinks including more effectively attacking a zone defense which they will undoubtedly see more of until they show they can beat it.

(photo credit: AP)


Friday, January 05, 2007

UCLA vs. Oregon - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

All hopes for a battle between two undefeated teams went up in smoke when the Oregon Ducks lost to the Trojans on Thursday.

For the first thirteen games of the season, Ernie Kent's Oregon Ducks (13-1, 1-1) ran the table on a schedule of relatively week opponents (SOS > 250) with Georgetown and Nebraska representing the only quality teams they faced.

The two games this week at home against the L.A. schools were going to help determine whether the No.17 Ducks were for real or cheap decoys.

Perhaps looking ahead to the UCLA (14-0, 3-0) game cost the Ducks some focus against the Trojans, regardless, Oregon now enters Satruday's game against UCLA with even more to prove than they did before.

Oregon disappointed fans with their 2005-06 regular season performance going 15-18 overall and 7-11 in conference play.  However, the Ducks finished strong in the Pac-10 tournament advancing to the semifinal game against California before losing in double-overtime.

With the core of the team returning from last year's club - now a year older and experienced, some have projected at least an upper-tier finish in the Pac-10 and NCAA post-season bid for the Ducks. 

Oregon has been playing improved defense this season by applying better pressure on the perimeter.  They have allowed just 63.6 points a game on just 42.4% shooting, and average over 8 steals a game. 

The Ducks have good three-point shooters and like to spread the floor on offense.  They are 14th in the nation in scoring averaging 82.9 points and are 11th in three-point shots-made with 9.6 a game.

Oregon's early success has been accomplished for the most part without their best all-around player Malik Hairston who has played in only five contests this season.  Bothered by injuries all season, Hairston did not play against USC on Thursday and will likely not face UCLA.

"Malik will play once he is able to participate in two straight practices," Coach Kent said. "As of today, he hasn't been able to do that."

Without Hairston, some players have stepped up with improved play while others have made unexpected contributions.

The Ducks are led by Aaron Brooks (Sr, 6'0, 165) who is having the best year of his collegiate career.  He is averaging 16.5 points and 4.8 assists while shooting  44.9% from the field and 31.1% on three-pointers. 

The senior point-guard takes good care of the ball and usually makes the right decision with it although his shot selection could improve. Nonetheless, Brooks has a solid 1.50 assist-to-turnover ratio.  He is also doing it on the defensive end using his quickness and experience, he averages 1.6 steals a game.

Once considered by many a rising star after his sophomore season, Brooks had an extremely difficult junior year on and off the court in which all his statistical numbers tumbled.  It appears he's recovered and is looking to make a statement in his final collegiate year.

So far, he's scored over 15 points in all but two games this season including two 30 point performances while recording career highs in assists and field goal percentage.

If his 31 point outburst against USC is any indication, Brooks will present UCLA's Darren Collison with one of his toughest tests of the season.  Although not as quick as Collison, Brooks has excellent speed, handles the ball well, and has more experience.  Collison did not have a good first road game against Oregon State, it will be interesting how he bounces back in this game.

At shooting guard is Chamberlain Oguchi (Jr, 6'5, 195) who is averaging 10.4 points and 1.5 steals a game.  A very streaky shooter who can help or hurt his own team since he's never met a shot he hasn't liked.  Oguchi has struggled this season shooting just 34.5% from the field and even worse from beyond the arc at 29.6% where he takes over 40% of his shot attempts   He missed five games earlier this season due to an injury and is still looking for his rhythm.

Josh Shipp has improved his defensive effort over the past games, and despite Oguchi's shooting problems, will need to make sure he closes him out quickly on the perimeter.

The most improved player on the Ducks is junior guard-forward Bryce Taylor (6'5, 205).  He is averaging 16.8 points and 5.7 rebounds on 55.5% shooting and 41.5% from beyond the arc. 

Taylor has rehabilitated fully from an injury which ended his season early last February.  He has scored in double figures in 13 of 14 games this season. 

His improvement was noted during the last summer league where he displayed his athleticism above the rim and from beyond the arc.  Taylor was named Pac-10 player of the week for Dec. 11-17.

UCLA's Arron Afflalo will likely get the nod to guard Taylor.  Afflalo got into early foul-trouble against Oregon State which took him out of the game offensively in the first-half.  The Bruins can't afford to have the same thing happen to Afflalo on Saturday.

Forward Maarty Leunen (6'9, 215), another player from Oregon's excellent junior class, is having a fine season averaging a double-double, 12.1 points and and a career-high 10.4 rebounds, while shooting 48.3% from the field.  He is an offensive threat from the perimeter shooting over 40% from three-point distance. 

UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will have the responsibility to track down Leunen on the defensive end although Leunen's perimeter shooting will take Mbah a Moute away from the defensive boards.

The Ducks will likely go bigger against the Bruins and start forward Adam Zahn (Sr, 6'8, 230) at the final starting spot.  He has come on strong in his last five games. averaging 4.7 points and 2.4 rebounds in that span

Zahn is a solid pivot man who gives the Ducks more size inside and rebounding against the Bruins.  If the Ducks decide to go smaller, they have freshman Tajuan Porter (5'6, 160) who has  already started 12 games this season.

Porter started off the season like gang-busters averaging 31 points and shooting over 55% in his first three games, but he has since come down to earth.  Bothered by a toe injury which forced him to miss two games, Porter has averaged 8.8 points on just 29% shooting over his last nine games. 

Besides Tajuan Porter/Adam Zahn the Ducks have some depth off the bench.

Joevan Catron (Fr, 6'6, 225) is an under-sized power forward but a tough low-post scorer.  He has been an unexpected contributer in just his first season for Coach Ernie Kent.  Catron is averaging 4.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in just over 15 minutes of play. 

Churchill Odia (So, 6'6, 205) has helped spell some minutes at small forward during the absence of Hairston while Mitch Platt (Jr, 6'10, 275) has given the Ducks additional depth in the low post.

The Ducks' wounds from their loss to the Trojans on Thursday still sting.  They're at home in noisy and shaking Mac Court, and feel they have much to prove against the No.1 ranked Bruins.

As for UCLA, they also perhaps looked past their opponent, Oregon State, in anticipation of this match-up. 

The Bruins should win this game, but the Ducks have a lot of talent and outside shooting, even without Hairston, to be dangerous to any team visiting them on their home court.

(photo credit: Oregon Athletics and Wire Images) 


Thursday, January 04, 2007

Bruins Outlast Beavers, 71-56

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Josh Shipp scored 18 points to lead five Bruins in double-figures as UCLA defeated the Oregon State Beavers in Corvallis, 71-56.

Playing in their first road game to a visitor's gym this season, the Bruins came out very tentative on both ends of the court.

Oregon State started the game in a 2-3 zone defense and UCLA did not attack it well.  Many times the Bruins forced ill-advised passes inside which resulted in turnovers or were timid in taking perimeter shots over the top of the zone

As a result, UCLA missed eight of its first ten shots and did not score a basket until two minutes into the game when forward Josh Shipp finally buried a three-pointer.

The Bruins were still trailing 19-17 to the Beavers until Shipp scored the next five points to give the Bruins a lead they would not relinquish.

Point-guard Darren Collison struggled against the full-court pressure applied by the Beavers in the first-half.  In addition, Oregon State's Josh Tarver's defensive pressure seemed to bother Collison at times and take him out of his rhythm.  Tarver had three steals by halftime while Collison had five turnovers in the game. 

Although Collison finished with 11 points and 6 assists, it was certainly not one of his better games.  Either it was the result of Collison having a sub-par performance or Oregon State' defense - or perhaps both, the Bruin offense sputtered without Collison directing it efficiently.

UCLA had an uncharacteristic nine turnovers by halftime with seven of them off steals by Oregon State.

Junior guard Arron Afflalo had a tough defensive match-up against Beaver's 6'8 forward Marcel Jones and got into early foul-trouble in the first-half limiting his production.

With Collison and Afflalo struggling, Shipp was left to carry the offensive attack, and the sophomore responded scoring 10 points in the first-half to stake the Bruins to a 36-30 lead at intermission.

UCLA could easily had been behind at halftime but Oregon State struggled offensively as well shooting just 35.7% from the field including 14.3% (1-7) from three-point distance.  The Beavers only shot 9-16 from the free-throw line for 56.3%.

The Bruins scored the first four points to open the second-half to push the lead to ten.  The Beavers tried to stay close but a combination of their lack of team depth and the Bruins physical play eventually wore them down.   When Darren Collison hit a three-point shot with just over eight minutes remaining to push the lead to 14 only the final score was in question.

Arron Afflalo finished strong down the stretch scoring 14 points in the game while center Lorenzo Mata recorded 10 points, 5 rebounds, and 3 blocks. 

Sophomore Luc Richard Mbah a Moute barely missed another double-double finishing with 11 points and 9 rebounds.

Although the Bruins struggled attacking the zone, they still managed to shoot 47.9% from the field including 38.9% from beyond the arc.

"Any win is a good win," UCLA's Josh Shipp said. "We're not out to impress people. We're just out to win ballgames."

The top-ranked Bruins remained unbeaten with a record of 14-0 and now head to Eugene for a match-up on Saturday against the Oregon Ducks who suffered their first defeat of the season on Thursday losing to USC, 84-82.

(photo credit: AP)


Hawks Waive Cedric Bozeman

By Bruin Basketball Report

The Atlanta Hawks have waived rookie guard and former UCLA Bruin Cedric Bozeman.

Bozeman played in 23 of 29 games averaging 1.1 points and 1.0 rebound a game.  He started five games at point-guard for the Hawks when Speedy Claxton went down with an injury.

The 6'6 versatile guard-forward made the team as a free-agent training camp invitee.  The coaching staff raved about Bozeman's ability to handle the ball and guard three different positions.

The Hawks would have had to guarantee Bozeman's contract for the remainder of the year if he had stayed on the roster past Jan. 10.

Head Coach Mike Woodson told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "We're trying to bring some guys in on 10-days [contracts] and see if we can't jump-start this thing. It's not a knock on Boze. We knew what he could bring to the table. He has a future in our league. But I think he needs to go somewhere he can play. It just won't happen just sitting."

As a red-shirt senior, Bozeman was a key to UCLA's run through the NCAA tournament last season. Playing through various injuries during his senior year, Bozeman played in 31 games averaging 7.6 points and 3.3 rebounds while shooting 50% from the field.

In an interesting twist to the story, due to an injury to starting small forward Josh Smith who will be out for three weeks, the AJC is reporting former UCLA Bruin Dijon Thompson may be signed by the Hawks to a ten-day contract as early as tomorrow. 

Thompson currently stars for the NBDL's Albuquerque Thunderbirds where he is the league's sixth-leading scorer with 20.3 points and also averages 9.3 rebounds and 4.0 assists. 

The 6'8 Thompson split time with the Albuquerque Thunderbirds and the Phoenix Suns last season.  He played limited minutes for the Suns before injuring his knee which required surgery.  With his contract not guaranteed he was released by the club over the summer. 

Thompson was invited to the Golden State Warrior training camp earlier this year but did not make the team.  He later joined the Albuquerque Thunderbirds at the start of the NBDL season citing a desire to play for Albuquerque's Head Coach Michael Cooper.

(photo credit: AP)


Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Fox To Televise UCLA-OSU Game

By Bruin Basketball Report

Fox Sports Network has reversed its decision and announced Thursday's UCLA game against Oregon State in Corvallis will be televised live by Fox Sports Prime Ticket and FSN Northwest starting at 7:00PM.

UCLA Coach Ben Howland first learned on Tuesday the game was not going to be televised at his weekly press conference. "That's a surprise to me," Howland said.  "That's disappointing.  We should get that changed."

The Pac-10 conference has a contract with Fox Sports to have its games televised regionally and nationally.  Last summer, it was decided the game between two likely high-ranked teams, Washington vs. Arizona, would be televised as opposed to the UCLA vs. Oregon St. game.

Oregon St. had been asked to move its game to an earlier 5:30PM start time to accommodate the TV scheduling but it was denied by their administration.  Then earlier this week UCLA Athletics asked Fox Sports for a waiver so the Bruin game could be televised at least in Southern California but the request was declined by the network.

Apparently after multiple calls from irate fans and increased pressure from the university, Fox Sports Network finally relented and reversed its decision.

"We thank Fox Sports Netork and FSN Prime Ticket for deciding to show the fans in Los Angeles this important Pac-10 game," said Associate Athletic Director Marc Dellins. "This is a great service to Bruin fans throughout Southern California."

Kudos to Fox Sport Network for doing the right thing.


Tuesday, January 02, 2007

UCLA vs. Oregon St. - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

The No.1 ranked UCLA Bruins (13-0, 2-0) travel to Corvallis for their first real road test of the season to face the Oregon St. (OSU) Beavers on Thursday.  UCLA had played road games on neutral courts in Maui and at the Wooden Classic but this will be their first in an opponent's hostile home gym.   

"This is going to show the real heart and soul of this team," UCLA's Darren Collison said. "What players are going to step up? Are we going to continue to do what we've been doing? It's going to be a big challenge for us."

UCLA takes on a OSU (8-6, 0-1) team in the middle of a prolonged rebuilding program.  Although OSU Head Coach Jay John was hired four seasons ago, all the pieces haven't yet come together for the program.

"When we began, our starting point was such that we had a total and complete rebuilding process before us.  We're still in the midst of that," Coach John said. "We've had some measure of success that had not been experienced here in prior years.  Yet, we're still on the outside looking in, especially as it relates to post-season play."

Not since the days of Gary Payton, over 15 years ago, have the Beavers been back to the NCAA tournament, and although there is talent on this team, its unlikely they will break that streak this season.

OSU is coming off a tough loss in their Pac-10 opener to cross-state rival Oregon last Saturday, 76-73, in which all five Beaver starters scored in double-figures.

The Beavers count on heavy minutes from their starting five, especially their front-court, primarily due to a lack of depth on the bench. 

OSU plays both man-to-man and zone defense, but it would not be surprising to see the Beavers go primarily zone to counter their depth issues and to protect their big men from foul trouble.  In addition, UCLA struggled initially against Washington's zone in the second-half which allowed the Huskies to mount a short rally, but a hot-shooting Michael Roll helped the Bruins break the zone.  No doubt the Beavers defense will test the Bruins outside shooting in this game.

Offensively, the Beavers have struggled shooting only 40% from the field and 31.3% on three-pointers, worst among all Pac-10 teams this season; and not surprisingly average only 63.6 points a game. 

They also rank last in the conference in assists averaging only 11.2 assists a game and possess a low 0.81 assist/turnover ratio.

The Beavers do return a solid starting front-court in Marcel Jones, Sasa Cuic, and Kyle Jeffers who are the foundation of the team.  However, the loss of senior guards Jason Fontanet, Chris Stephens, and Lamar Hurd to graduation have left OSU with an inexperienced back-court.

Junior Marcel Jones (6'8, 215) is the team's leading scorer at 15.9 points a game while shooting 46.4% from the field and 34% on three-pointers.  He is also the team's second-best rebounder with 5.9 a game.

Although his shot-selection is somewhat suspect at times, Jones is an athletic and extremely active player on the floor who can score in a variety of ways.

Jones will be matched-up against summer league teammate Josh Shipp in what should be an interesting competition between two players very familiar with each other.   Shipp, who sprained his ankle in practice last week and suffered leg cramps against Washington, is fully recovered and is expected to play on Thursday.

Sasa Cuic (Jr, 6'10, 253) played well against UCLA in their first meeting last season in Corvallis scoring 24 points mostly on screen and rolls where Cuic would pop-out and hit the outside jumper, but the Bruins defended him much better at Pauley holding him to just 6 points in the second meeting. 

The Beavers were expecting better production this season from Cuic who is averaging 12.8 points but shooting just 37% from the field.  Last season, Cuic averaged 13.5 points and shot 49% from the field and three-point distance.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will be checking Cuic.  Even though his stat line may not reflect it, Mbah a Moute has been one of UCLA's most valuable players the past few games.  He has been extremely active, especially on the defensive end, disrupting offenses and playing solid post defense, and as always - active on the boards.

Kyle Jeffers (6'9, 258), the only senior scholarship player on the team, is a tough post defender and solid rebounder.  He is averaging 6.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, and 1.1 blocks a game.  Typically not an offensive threat, Jeffers has shown he can score when called upon.  Last season he scored 20 against Oregon at the end of the season.  He is shooting 52% from the field.

Starting at point-guard for OSU is Josh Tarver (Fr, 6'3, 175).  Despite his inexperience, the red-shirt freshman has performed admirably.  Tarver is averaging 10.7 and 3.8 assists while playing in a team-high 32.1 minutes a contest. He has a good feel for the game and runs the offense adequately but needs to improve his outside shooting.  He is shooting 40% from the field and just 30% from three-point distance.

Tarver will face one of his toughest tests of the season playing against Darren Collison who has taken on a leadership role on the UCLA team.

Former Mater Dei star, Wesley Washington (Jr, 6'3, 175) starts at shooting guard. He is averaging just 6.4 points on 43% shooting and just 11% from three-point distance.

An athletic player, Washington has struggled to put it all together and to regain his form as one of the top-ranked guards coming out of high school a few years ago.

Sophomore Jack McGillis (6'6, 210) is the primary reserve off a rather thin bench.  McGillis gives the Beavers another long-distance scoring threat.  He is shooting 44.8% from three-point distance while averaging 5.7 points in 16.3 minutes a game.

Seth Tarver (Fr, 6'5, 205) is averaging 3.1 points a game on 45.9% shooting.  An athletic player who has the ability to get to the basket, Tarver should become a mainstay in the Beaver starting lineup with more experience. 

Angelo Tsagarakis (Jr, 6'3, 195) and Michael Johnson (Sr, 6'5, 230) have given the Beavers some veteran minutes off the bench.   Tsagarakis is averaging 3.0 points and Johnson 1.5 points in reserve.  Liam Hughes who stands 7'3 and weighs 320lb won't be missed when he enters the game although he has played in only three games this season.

UCLA should win this game rather easily.  The only concern for Ben Howland's UCLA team is if they get caught looking ahead to the Oregon Ducks game to be played on Saturday and make this contest tougher than it really should be. 

The obvious best UCLA scenario would be for them to start off fast and put OSU away early, but the Bruins have had a habit of playing down to the level of their competition.

BBR Notes: Updated 3:00 PM - Fox Sports has reversed its decision and will now televise the UCLA-OSU game on Thursday on FSN Prime Ticket at 7:00PM.

The UCLA-OSU game will not be televised.  Due to contractual conflicts, Fox Sports will be televising the Arizona-Washington game instead.  The only way the UCLA game could have been shown is if OSU had agreed to an earlier starting time of 5:30PM but the OSU administration declined.

"That's a surprise to me," Coach Ben Howland said Tuesday at the press conference. "That's disappointing.  We should get that changed."

(photo credit: OSU athletics)


Monday, January 01, 2007

UCLA No.1 in Polls, Move to No.1 in RPI

By Bruin Basketball Report

With a sweep of the Washington schools last week at home, the UCLA Bruins retained their hold of the No.1 ranking in both the AP and ESPN/USA Today Coaches national polls. 

The Bruins received all but one first-place in the AP poll but were a unanimous No.1 selection in the Coaches poll.

In addition, UCLA has the No.1 RPI rating (Rating Percentage Index) and has played the 2nd toughest schedule (SOS) in the nation according to the Ken Pomeroy RPI ratings.

Last week UCLA disposed of Washington St. 55-52 in a tough Pac-10 opener, and then routed rival Washington on Sunday, 96-74. 

After losing both their games last week, the Washington Huskies dropped to No.24/No.20.  The Arizona Wildcats remained No.7 in both polls while a fourth Pac-10 team, Oregon, is ranked No.16/No.17

West Virginia, an upcoming non-conference UCLA opponent, recently moved up to No.25 in the AP poll and is on the cusp of joining the top-ranked in the Coaches poll.

In their first road trip of the season to a visitor's gym, the Bruins face the Oregon St. Beavers (8-6, 0-1) on Thursday and then travel to Eugene to play the undefeated Oregon Ducks (13-0, 1-0) on Saturday. 


Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (1/1)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Moments after basketball practice, Kevin Love, still draped in a soaking-wet uniform, climbs out of the family Toyota and heads into his Lake Oswego home. He walks through the kitchen, past a 10-foot Christmas tree in the living room and down a hallway to his bedroom, where he pulls the door shut and smacks a piece of paper taped to the front. "Check it out," Love says of the paper, which reads: "Will they surpass Love??? Check back in March." The Oregonian 12/26

The 11th annual Les Schwab Invitational, one of the premier prep basketball tournaments in the United States, starts today at Liberty High School in Hillsboro with perhaps its finest field of teams ever...Kevin Love, 6-10 forward, Lake Oswego: The No. 1 player in the Class of 2007 according to many recruiting experts, Love was MVP of the Schwab as a freshman in 2003. Has signed with UCLA.  The Oregonian 12/27

Kevin Love was as sensational as ever, and Lake Oswego appeared ready to defend its state championship during opening-round play of the Les Schwab Invitational. Love finished with 35 points and 15 rebounds, and the Lakers trounced Sheldon 60-30 on Wednesday night at Liberty High School, easily advancing to the second round and a matchup against Aloha. The Oregonian 12/28

Competing in their third December tournament and second in two weeks, the Lions of Los Angeles got off to a quick start, beating state power O'Dea 54-41 on Wednesday night in the first round of the T-Mobile Invitational at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. Senior forward Chace Stanback -- a UCLA signee -- had 26 points, four rebounds and four assists. Seattle Post-Intelligencer 12/28

The 6-foot-3 Jerime Anderson was a little careless with the ball at times, with five turnovers, and would have had 20-plus points if not for a wobbly (8 of 14) performance at the free-throw line. But Anderson, who also had six assists and four steals, presented a myriad of issues for the Poly defense to deal with. Press-Telegram 12/28

King, a senior forward for Santa Ana Mater Dei, broke the 32-year-old Orange County career-scoring record in the first quarter of a 69-38 victory over Anaheim Canyon in a semifinal of the Orange Holiday Classic....Jerime Anderson, who came in averaging 20.8 points for Canyon (10-5), was held to 12 points on three-for-17 shooting. LA Times 12/29

When Fairfax and LeFlore met 365 days ago in the Academy National Invitational in Houston, Fairfax snatched a 55-54 victory after trailing 20-6 after the first quarter....Senior forward Chace Stanback poured in a game-high 25 points. Seattle Post-Intelligencer 12/29

The win set up Thursday's second-round matchup (late for Argus publication) against 2006 Class 4A Oregon state champion Lake Oswego, which routed Sheldon, 60-30. Laker senior center Kevin Love, who has signed with UCLA, scored 35 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the one-sided win over the Irish.  The Oregonian 12/29

No. 2 South Medford Panthers to a 71-63 victory over No. 1 Lake Oswego in the semifinals. Kevin Love, who was in foul trouble in the first half, finished with a game-high 27 points on 11 of 23 shooting and had nine rebounds but no assists and only one blocked shot. Lake Oswego Review 12/30

In the third-place game, Kevin Love recorded another double-double, 27 points and 13 rebounds, as Lake Oswego (Ore.) beat local-rivals Westview (Beaverton) 63-37. Love, who signed with UCLA, made 10 of 18 shots from the floor. USA Today 12/31


The dilemma occurred when center-forward Luke Babbitt, Galena's best player, wasn't - at least in Maurer's opinion - among the five hardest working guys during Tuesday night's practice. True to his word, Maurer didn't start Babbitt and didn't summon his best player until there was 7:53 left in the first half. "We're not afraid to teach our kids what's right," Maurer said. Babbitt, a junior, responded with a team-highs in points (26) and rebounds (nine). The Sun News 12/28

amp;In a matchup between two of the nation's top sophomores, Artesia's 6-foot-10 center Renardo Sidney was outscored by Dorsey's 6-foot-7 forward Jordan Hamilton, but the second-ranked Pioneers won the other championship semifinal at Chapman. Sidney, ranked No. 2 in the nation among sophomores by, scored 16 points for Artesia (12-0). Hamilton, ranked No. 5 by the same publication, scored 28 points for Dorsey (9-3). LA Times 12/29

It was none other than Blue Devils coach Mike Krzyzewski. "They're not recruiting me," Larry Drew Jr. said. "They might start now." The 6-foot point guard netted eight points and dished out seven assists in the Toreadors' 57-39 win over Durham Riverside. Drew's biggest impact, however, came on the defensive end. News Observer 12/29

Luke Babbitt of Galena (Nev.) is further proof that basketball is changing for today's big men. The 6-foot-8 Babbitt plays a little bit of everything for the Grizzlies. He often goes down low as a post presence, but he can just as easily drain the outside jumper. After scoring 26 points in Galena's first game, he dropped 25 points and hit four 3-pointers on Thursday. He is shooting 57 percent in the tournament and is 13-for-15 on free throws. Sun News 12/29

Undefeated St. Benedict (Newark, N.J.) won for the 10th time in as many starts, this time 69-43 over Taft (Woodland Hills, Calif.) to take the eight-team boys championship for the 35th annual GlaxoSmithKline Holiday Invitational. Taft point guard Larry Drew Jr. managed just nine points on 2-of-12 shooting, but dished out five assists. News Observer 12/30

Galena lost to Scott County, the No. 1 team in Kentucky, 70-64 while Douglas beat Immanuel of Reedley, Calif., 60-56....Luke Babbitt scored 34 points. Nevada Appeal 12/30

Finals of the Orange Holiday Classic....Now they're joined by 6-foot-10 sophomore Renardo Sidney, who looks ESPN- ready right now. Sidney scored seven of Artesia's first nine points and, although he didn't play his best, showed off his skill from outside as well.  Mater Dei also was strong in the class of '09. David and Travis Wear, twin brothers at 6-foot-10, already fit in, as does fellow sophomore Andy Brown. OC Register 12/30

The final of the Orange Holiday Classic between the two top teams in California couldn't have been any tighter down the stretch, as the Artesia Pioneers prevailed, 58-57, after rallying from a 14-point deficit in the third quarter...Sophomore center Renardo Sidney, chosen the tournament's Most Valuable Player, finished with 16 points, 17 rebounds and a couple of blocked shots for the Pioneers. Press-Telegram 12/30

Artesia hates to see the year end: But the difference-maker so far has been 6-foot-10 sophomore forward Renardo Sidney, a transfer from Jackson, Miss. Sidney, ranked No. 2 in his class by, did not play high school basketball as a freshman, instead focusing on elite travel-ball tournaments. He had 16 points and 17 rebounds against Mater Dei.  LA Times 12/30

Jrue Holiday scored 18 points and pulled down seven rebounds to help Campbell Hall (Calif.) win Saturday's fifth-place game of the National Division in the Bay Ball Classic with a 64-63 victory over Philadelphia's Simon Gratz. Delaware News Journal 12/31

(photo credit: Seattle Post-Intelligencer and Oregonian)


Sunday, December 31, 2006

Bruins Trounce Huskies, 96-74

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Arron Afflalo tied a career-high 27 points to lead top-ranked UCLA to a convincing 96-74 victory over the Washington Huskies before 12,042, the largest crowd at Pauley Pavilion this season.

"They basically picked us apart and there was not a whole lot we could do," said Washington coach Lorenzo Romar, "They beat us in every way you could."

The Bruins started out of the gate energized and ready to play going on a 8-0 run. The offense was keyed by an aggressive defense which was no more clearly displayed than when Luc Richard Mbah a Moute stole the ball and went in for a one-handed slam over Jon Brockman erupting the Pauley crowd.

UCLA (13-0, 2-0) aggressively pressured the ball on the perimeter, Darren Collison showed Washington's Justin Dentmon what was in store for him when he stole the ball twice in the opening moments, once feeding Josh Shipp for a lay-up and then taking the other one himself for a rousing slam dunk.

The Bruins were able to extend the lead to 11 points in the first half but the Huskies were able to crawl back and stay around primarily on sharp shooting from the free-throw line.  Washington went 8-8 in the half including 6-6 by their freshman sensation Spencer Hawes.

But UCLA went on a 9-0 run to finish the first half, 47-33, capped off by a three-pointer by Arron Afflalo on an assist by Darren Collison.

Afflalo poured in a career-best 20 points including four three-pointers in the first-half.  The Bruins shot 50% in the opening stanza, but as it turned out, they were only warming up.

To start the second-half, UCLA scored the first six points to push the lead to 20 points over Washington and it appeared the rout was on.

However, the 13th ranked Huskies (10-3, 0-2) still had one more rally in them going on a 12-2 run keyed by a pair of three-pointers by Ryan trail by only 12 points with twelve minutes remaining in the game.

With Washington back in the contest and gaining some confidence , UCLA's Michael Roll got into the action by hitting a three-pointer from the corner to halt the Huskies' run and then scored the remaining of his 13 points in the second half to help build a lead as large as 27 and put the game away.

Roll finished with 15 points on 6-11 shooting including 3-6 from beyond the arc, but his offensive game went beyond just his perimeter shooting.  Roll ran the wing on the break finishing strong twice in transition and again displayed his developing midrange game on a couple of drives into the paint.

Darren Collison finished with a double-double, 15 points and 12 assists, while committing only 2 turnovers in an up-tempo game.  He also did a great job defensively holding Justin Dentmon to just 6 points on 2-8 shooting.

"It was great, Collison said. "It's going to be hard to beat us if we have that kind of intensity. It's our best game by far, but we can definitely improve"

Sophomore Josh Shipp added 15 points on 5-10 shooting before pulling up lame in the second-half suffering from apparent leg cramps. 

But even with Shipp out for part of the second-half, the Bruin attack was smoking finishing with a season-high 72.4% from the field in the second half on their way to 59.7% in the game.  They also shot 48% from three-point distance.

Led by Collison, the Bruins dished out a season-high 29 assists mostly on transition baskets.  Arron Afflalo also had 8 assists as he was effective attacking the basket and drawing defenders then finding open teammates for easy scores.

"Arron Afflalo played the best game of his career," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said. "We really answered the bell. That was a very good team we beat."

UCLA's defense forced 22 turnovers which led to 34 points in the game.  Luc Richard Mbah a Moute had 3 steals.  He also added 8 rebounds, 2 blocks, and played solid interior defense on Washington's Jon Brockman.

Huskies' Spencer Hawes finished with a team-high 21 points including 9-10 from the free-throw line.  But the freshman, along with Brockman, had difficulty with the Bruin's aggressive double-team in the post.  Hawes committed 6 turnovers while Brockman turned it over 3 times.

The Bruins will now travel up to Oregon to play in their first road games of the season at a visitor's gym.  On Thursday evening they will face Oregon St. and then go to Eugene to meet Oregon in an early Saturday afternoon game.

(photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld)