Thursday, November 08, 2007

UCLA vs. Portland State - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

The UCLA Bruins open the 2007-08 regular season at Pauley Pavilion tonight with a contest against the Portland State Vikings of the Big Sky Conference.

The Vikings, led by third-year head coach Ken Bone, return three starters and six lettermen from last year's 19-13 squad. Portland State finished fourth in the Big Sky with a 9-7 record last season, and advanced to the Big Sky Tournament semifinals before losing to eventual champion Weber State, 77-74.

Key returning players include a trio of seniors who are expected to help the Vikings challenge for the Big Sky title this season. Portland State has quick and talented players on the perimeter who may give the Bruin defenders problems especially if the Vikings decide to spread the floor with their smaller but quicker three-guard alignment.

Point guard Jeremiah Dominguez (5'6, 150, Jr), a transfer from University of Portland, is a very quick and pesky-type player who can shoot, pass and handle the ball. In the Vikings exhibition game, Dominquez recorded 6 assists and 5 steals.

UCLA's Russell Westbrook will be tested against the speedy Dominguez. With starting Darren Collison still out with a knee injury, he will shoulder most of the point-guard duties Friday night. Considering the Bruin's lack of depth in the backcourt and with facing a quick perimeter team, Westbrook needs to do his best to stay out of foul trouble.

Coincidentally, Dominguez played on the same AAU team as UCLA freshman Kevin Love and longtime summer circuit teammate Kyle Singler.

Dupree Lucas (6'1,170,Sr) , Big Sky Conference Newcomer of the Year, keys the Vikings offense. He transfered from Xavier University two years ago, and after sitting out a season, was a big addition to the team last year, leading the Vikings in scoring (13.2) and assists (3.9)

He is a quick and explosive player off the dribble who has the ability to create his own shot against most defenders and can hit from the outside.

Junior Josh Shipp should be ready to play Friday night after recuperating from a sprained thumb in his right hand. He will be severely tested by the speedy Lucas and will need to do his best to stay in front of Lucas to keep him from penetrating into the paint and creating offensive opportunities.

Portland State has a dynamic scorer from the wing in Deonte Huff (6'4,195,Sr). He is a very versatile player who has the ability get to the basket and finish strong and also has a solid post up game, He averaged 10.7 points and 5.6 rebounds while shooting 59% from the field last season. This year he has added a consistent shot from outside.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will likely match-up with Huff. This should be a good match-up to watch between two physical and quick players.

Big Sky shot-block leader Scott Morrison (6'11,250, Sr) is an experienced player who averaged 11.2 points, 6.5 rebounds, and 2.2 blocks while averaging 57% from the field. An accomplished shot blocker, who played for the National Canadian Developmental Team in the World University games this summer, he should provide a good test for UCLA's Kevin Love in the post.

Starting at a forward spot is Tyrell Mara (6'6,235, So) a redshirt sophomore who suffered from a knee injury last season. He is a solid player who can shoot from the perimeter as well as play inside.

Alfred Aboya will start at the power forward spot again for the Bruins and will match up with Mara to start the game.

Off the bench, the Vikings bring in instant offense with 6'2 junior guard Andre Murray who played at nearby Cleveland high school. A good all around player who gives the team another option in their three-guard offense.

Portland State averaged 78.2 points a game last season including 86.5 points over their last six games. The Vikings raneked 22nd in the nation in scoring offense in 2006-07.

For those who like to do team-team comparisons, later in December the Vikings will face two other Pac-10 teams, Washington and Washington State in regional match-ups.

Even with their injuries, the Bruins have the better overall skills, size, and personnel to win this game going way, however, the Viking's quickness creates interesting mismatches on the perimeter which can cause UCLA some defensive problems. It will be interesting to watch how the Bruins respond to the challenge at such an early juncture in the season.

BBR Notes: The UCLA Athletic department is making the internet feed of the Portland State game available for free over the CSTV website. For more information, follow this link here.

Time: 7:30PM PT
TV: none
Radio: AM 570

(photo credit: PSU)



At Nov 9, 2007, 12:45:00 AM, Anonymous JonW said...

Great write-up. Sounds like Howland did a good job scheduleing this team for us to play in order to get up ready for teams down the liine with similar 3 guard line-ups.
I think we'll be missing our own speedster Collison quite a bit in this game.
Go Bruins!

At Nov 9, 2007, 3:43:00 AM, Anonymous ucla=SOFT said...

WOW! UCLA plays yet another powerhouse. How exciting. I can hardly wait. Good luck. Wonder how this game will turn out.

At Nov 9, 2007, 4:07:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bruins by 30.

At Nov 9, 2007, 7:05:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice that UCLA is making this feed for free, but too bad I already paid $50 earlier for the subscription. That kinda stinks.

At Nov 9, 2007, 3:12:00 PM, Anonymous Prognosticator said...

I hope K-Love gets at least 22 points and 13 rebounds. That would be sweet to record a double double in your first game. Go Bruins!!!


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