Saturday, January 20, 2007

Bruins Tame Wildcats, Afflalo Leads The Way

By Bruin Basketball Report

Arron Afflalo scored 22 points on 9-14 shooting to lead the UCLA Bruins to a stunning 73-69 victory over the reeling Arizona Wildcats before a crowd of 12,249 at Pauley Pavilion.

Playing without sophomore dynamo Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, fellow Cameroonian Alfred Aboya started in his place and responded with a career-high 11 rebounds, including 8 in the first-half, to help the Bruins improve their record to 16-1 overall and remain in a first-place tie in the powerful Pac-10 conference.

"I thought Alfred was really strong for us today." Howland said. "No one works harder than Alfred Aboya.  He always has such a great attitude."

Meanwhile, Lute Olson's Arizona Wildcats dropped their third straight game and are now in seventh place in the Pac-10 at 4-4.  UCLA currently has a four-game winning streak against Arizona.

As expected, the Wildcats played primarily zone throughout the game against UCLA, and except for Afflalo who hit three early three-point shots, the Bruins struggled early falling behind by eight points in the first half. 

But the UCLA defense clamped down allowing them the team to go on a 18-4 run to end the half with a 35-29 lead.  The UCLA defense held Arizona to just 28.5% shooting and 2-9 from three-point distance in the first-half.

In addition, Howland introduced for the first time this season, a four-guard alignment against the zone with Afflalo,
Darren Collison, Russell Westbrook, and Michael Roll on the perimeter.
The quicker line-up allowed the Bruins to aggressively attack the Wildcat zone at the seams, creating shots off
good interior passing or kick-outs for open jumpers.

"After watching game film we went to four guards a lot today to attack their zone, " Howland said. "That's what's shown the most effectiveness, having four out and
one in and we did a good job of that."

In the second half, the Bruin defense remained solid and the offense continued to pick apart the Wildcat zone.

UCLA point-guard Darren Collison benefited from the four-guard alignment finishing with 12 points and 8 assists.

"I thought we did a much better job of attacking the zone," Collison
said. "We had some problems against Arizona State, just penetrating.
But last night we looked over some film of us attacking the zone and
Coach, he just wanted us to be more aggressive and I thought we did a
much better job of that today."

Collison did an excellent defensive job on Arizona's senior point-guard Mustafa Shakur, holding him to just a single field-goal for most of the game.  Shakur finished with 12 points with all but four points coming at the end of the game when the Bruins were trying not to foul and allowing drives to the basket.

UCLA had extended the lead to twelve points with just under four minutes remaining to play in the game when Arizona began to intentionally foul to stop the clock and send the Bruins to the line. 

Michael Roll, who had shot only two free-throws all year, sunk both his free-throws, and so did Aboya who calmly went to the line and confidently swished his pair. 

Ironically, it was Afflalo who missed the front end of one-and ones in the final minutes that allowed Arizona back into the game.  But with eight seconds remaining,  Afflalo made his final free-throw to put his team up by four and seal the game.

Arizona's leading scorer Marcus Williams was held to just 10 points on 2-8 shooting by the suffocating defense of Afflalo.  Although he gave up two inches in height, Afflalo never allowed Williams to catch the ball where he liked it on the floor, and when Williams did get the ball, Afflalo forced him to put it on the floor where he coerced him into 4 turnovers.

The Bruin bench contributed 18 points in support of the victory. Michael Roll finished with 13 points on 4-11 shooting in 25 minutes including a key jumper near the free-throw line off a nice shot fake in the second-half.

Freshman Russell Westbrook provided the Bruins with a spark off the bench, attacking the zone with a pull-up jumper from the wing.  Westbrook, who always seems to be in attack-mode offensively, gives the Bruins athleticism it lacks at times on the perimeter. 

James Keefe played nine crucial minutes in support of Mbah a Moute's absence.  In the first half, he confidently hit a three-point shot from straight away and had a nice block on Arizona's Daniel Dillion shot on the baseline, giving fans a glimpse of what Keefe can bring to the team in the near future.

UCLA finished the game shooting 49.1% from the field and 33.3% on three-pointers.

These guys are great , they are unbelievably tough." Howland said. "We got behind today, but we came back every time, and it starts with the leadership on the team, we have great team leaders.  We have great kids."

BBR Notes: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute remains questionable for next week's games at California and Stanford.

"He came to me right before the game and said he was feeling a lot
better," Howland said. "We're not going to be doing anything until
Tuesday, but I don't know. I would say it could be another week, you
just don't know until he gets out there and we haven't done anything
yet. But it's not long term."

(photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld)


Friday, January 19, 2007

Mbah a Moute To Miss Arizona Game

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will sit out the Arizona game due to a sprained right knee.  He reportedly aggravated the knee against Arizona State on Thursday night.

An MRI taken yesterday showed no structural damage. The time frame for Mbah a Moute's return is unknown and he is questionable for next week's games.

Mbah a Moute grabbed a career-high 14 rebounds against the Sun Devils in UCLA's 60-50 win. No replacement to the line-up has been announced.

The loss of Mbah a Moute means the Bruins lose one of their best defensive players and it creates a match-up problem for the Bruins against Arizona.   

It'll be interesting if the Bruins decide to go smaller with Roll or go bigger with Alfred Aboya. 

But since Arizona plays without a true power forward, and both Marcus Williams and Chase Budinger are quick 6'7 wings, the Bruins may have no choice but to go smaller/quicker to match up with the Wildcats.

(photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld)


UCLA vs. Arizona - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

“We are the standard; I don’t think UCLA is the standard.”
– Marcus Williams, Arizona

The Arizona Wildcats, losers of their last two games, visit Pauley Pavilion for a Saturday afternoon contest.

Arizona (13-4, 4-3) lost at home to Oregon last week before venturing out to Los Angeles for what has become one of the toughest road trips in the Pac-10 this season.  On Thursday, the Wildcats were upset by a much improved USC Trojan club, 80-73.

Coach Lute Olson’s Wildcats are an explosive offensive team, leading the Pac-10 in scoring at 84.9 points a game and shooting 50.5% from the field.

Arizona has scorers at every position on the floor with all five Arizona starters averaging double-figures in scoring.  The team also hits 37.8% from beyond the arc.
However, due to the loss of key players on the team they lack depth off the bench.  Playing just one or sometimes just two reserves in games, all five Arizona starters average over 31 minutes played a game.   

While offensively, Arizona pushes the ball aggressively looking to push the action, the lack of depth has begun to take its toll on the team as they’ve looked fatigued at the end of some games.

Moreover, the Wildcats play much more zone defense than they have in the past in order to preserve their starters.  With the loss of defensive stand-outs Hassan Adams and Carlos Rodgers, the Wildcat defense is no where as athletic or aggressive as in past seasons.  While averaging over 12 steals a game last season, the Arizona defense has managed only 6.6 steals a game, and the zone has been porous at times this season.

Arizona switches up their defense throughout the game, playing a 1-3-1, 2-3, and some man-to-man defense.  Considering how the UCLA offense has sputtered against zones this season, the Bruins should expect to see zone defenses throughout Saturday.

The Wildcats have an extremely talented-offensive starting line-up, and it starts with forward Marcus Williams.

Williams (So, 6’7, 205) has NBA skills and will likely go pro after this season.  He is the team’s leading scorer at 18.5 points and second-leading rebounder with 7.4 a game while shooting 53.4% from the field.
The sophomore forward can score a variety of ways, back the basket or face-up, and is the team’s go-to-guy when they need a score.

Mustafa Shakur (Sr, 6’3, 190) flirted with the idea of going pro last summer but wisely took the advice of scouts who told him he wasn’t ready yet.  He went back to Tucson with a great attitude and has improved many facets of his game, especially his decision-making and leadership.

The senior point-guard leads the Pac-10 in assists with 7.6 a game and has an good 2.3/1 assist-to-turnover ratio.  He is also averaging 14.7 points a game while shooting 53.8% from the field including 39.5% on three-pointers.

UCLA’s Darren Collison gave Shakur loads of problems last season by using his speed and quickness to frustrate the Wildcat guard.  Shakur averaged only 4.3 points in three games last season including zero points in Tucson, in addition, he committed 12 turnovers.

It will be interesting if a more mature and experienced Mustafa Shakur can shake off his poor past performances against Collison.   

At the shooting guard spot is Jawann McClellan (Jr, 6’4, 225).  Injured most of last season, McClellan averages 11.9 points a game and is dangerous from beyond the arc shooting over 40%.  He’s also a strong physical guard who hits the boards, especially on the offensive end.   

Chase Budinger (6’7, 190) has had a solid freshman season started every game for the Wildcats. He is averaging 15.5 points and 5.6 rebounds a game.   
However, he has struggled offensively in three of his last four games. 

Budinger is an excellent shooter from the perimeter but lacks strong ball-handling skills from the wing spot.  As a result, teams are forcing him to put the ball on the floor rather than allow him to shoot jumpers from outside. 

Senior center Ivan Radenovic (6’10, 244) is having a break-out season.  Always a threat from outside, he’s shooting 45.5% from beyond the arc and 61.5% from the field.  He is averaging 16.1 points and leads the team in rebounds with 8.0 a game.   

With his solid outside shooting, Radenovic usually drags his defender to the perimeter but also has the ability to put the ball on the floor and go by his man.   Radenovic will be a tough match-up for Lorenzo Mata especially defending him on the perimeter.  Alfred Aboya has played solidly of late, especially on defense and with rebounding, and may see added action on Saturday. 

Daniel Dillon (Jr, 6’3, 195) has been the primary player off the bench for the Wildcats this season.   He is averaging only 2.1 points in 11.6 minutes of action a game.  Dillion holds the spot on the floor when one of the Wildcat starters need a rest.  He does not make many mistakes on offense and is a solid perimeter defender.

Forward Jordan Hill (Fr, 6’8, 210) has given the Wildcats a shot-blocker at times during the season but has not played much during Pac-10 conference play.   

Nic Wise (Fr, 5’10, 180) was reportedly recently reinstated back onto the team.  He can provide Shakur some back-up minutes but he has struggled with turnovers sporting a 1/1.7 assist-to-turnover ration in thirteen games this season.

Not wanting to fall too far back in the ultra-competitive Pac-10 conference race, much less face going back to Tucson with a three-game losing streak, Arizona will be ready to play on Saturday.    With a senior at the point and a talented and experienced club, Arizona will go far in the tourney this season.

The Bruins, who got off to a slow start against Arizona State, will also be sky-high for the game and will ready to face their rival at home.  Expect the Bruins to come out with the same electric intensity it did against Washington earlier in the year, in what will likely be a hard-fought game which goes down to the wire.

BBR Notes: As he usually does with practices between Thursday-Saturday games, UCLA Coach Ben Howland only had his team do a walk-through on Friday. 

Howland was pleased with the play of freshman Russell Westbrook against Arizona State.” Russell is a competitor and a real tough kid.” Howland said. “He goes out there and has a lot of confidence and makes things happen.  He gave us a nice lift yesterday.”

J.P. Prince recently transferred from Arizona to Tennessee.  He will be eligible to play for the Volunteers next season.  Center Kirk Walters and wing Bret Briemaier have been injured adding to the Wildcat’s depth problems this season.

(photo credit: AZ Athletics)


Thursday, January 18, 2007

Defense Keys Bruin Rally Against Sun Devils

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Sophomore Darren Collison scored 12 of his 16 points in the second half to lead a UCLA rally and defeat the Arizona State Sun Devils, 60-50, before 10,188 at Pauley Pavilion.

The Bruins (16-1, 5-1) stumbled out of the gates again against an inferior opponent committing five turnovers in the early going and the Sun Devils capitalizing on the miscues by jumping out to a 17-6 lead. 

"It was disappointing we let a team come out and jump on us like that," Arron Afflalo said. "We have to do a much better job of being ready to play."

UCLA struggled mightily against Arizona State's 3-2 match-up zone settling for long-range jumpers rather than aggressively attacking the zone with dribble penetration or quick passes to find the open shooter.

In the first half, defensively, the Bruins were slow in their rotations, especially off their double of the high screen resulting in easy lay-ups or kick-outs for open shots for the Sun Devils.  In addition, Arizona State was blazing hot shooting 14-23 (58.3%) from the field and 4-7 (57.1%) from beyond the arc in the first half.  In contrast, the Sun Devils had entered the game shooting 42.8% from the field and just 30.7% on three-pointers.

UCLA climbed back into the game with a 23-12 run in the first half keyed by the play of Alfred Aboya and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute who each had three offensive rebounds giving their team second chance baskets.  As a result, the Bruins had five more shot attempts than the Devils and trailed only 37-34 at halftime despite shooting only 46.4% from the field and 25% (4-16) from three-point distance.

Arizona State was unable to maintain its torrid shooting in the second half shooting just 1-10 from the field to start. Meanwhile, UCLA scored seven straight points to finally take the lead, 41-39, including a reverse dunk by Josh Shipp on a breakaway following a steal. 

"On that reverse dunk, I think he wanted to show everybody he was okay," said UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland.

Then Michael Roll and Darren Collison hit consecutive three-pointers to cap off a 16-4 run to put the Bruins ahead for good, 50-41.

The UCLA defense stepped it up a notch in the second-half holding the Sun Devils to just 12 points on 6-21 shooting (28.6%).  In addition, Arizona State seemed to tire and was unable to play with the same intensity they started the game. 

"I thought we did a better job of not getting beat on some curls," Howland said. "They were screening, and instead of trailing, we went underneath the screens. We did a good job of contesting shots."

For Arizona State (6-12, 0-7), freshman guard Christian Polk was impressive scoring 16 points while Jerren Shipp finished his first collegiate game against his brother with 8 points in 32 minutes off the bench.

One time when Jerren Shipp was at the free-throw line, the UCLA student section started chanting "Josh is better", something Josh Shipp didn't exactly appreciate. "It was a little harsh," Josh said smiling. "He's my little brother."

Both Josh Shipp and Arron Afflalo had off-shooting nights, scoring 12 and 13 points, respectively, and combining for just 3-15 from beyond the arc.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute finished with only 2 points but he also had a career-high 14 rebounds which included 7 on the offensive end.   He helped the Bruins outrebound the Sun Devils 32-22 in the game.   

Michael Roll finished with 8 points on 3-6 shooting including 2-5 from three-point distance.

Sophomore Alfred Aboya had another good game off the bench scoring 3 points and grabbing 5 rebounds.  He played 26 minutes to Lorenzo Mata's 18 minutes in the game primarily due to the fact Aboya's speed and quickness allowed him to better rotate defensively against Arizona State's spread offense.

UCLA will face Arizona on Saturday.  The Wildcats lost their game across town Thursday night, 80-73.

(photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld)


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

UCLA vs. Arizona State - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA will host the Arizona State Sun Devils (6-11, 0-6) in a Thursday night contest.  UCLA returns home to Pauley Pavilion after playing three straight games on the road. 

The Bruins (15-1, 4-1) are coming off a stunning one-point victory over crosstown rival USC on Saturday.  Arron Afflalo hit a jumper with 4.7 seconds remaining for the game-winner.

Arizona State Head Coach Herb Sendek was hired this summer to lead the Sun Devils on the bench after spending ten years at North Carolina State.  He is an excellent coach and is well-respected by his peers. 

"A steal. It's a complete steal for Arizona State," Virginia Tech Coach Seth Greenberg said. "I'm sitting in these league meetings with Roy Williams and Mike Kryzewski and [Sendek} is by far the brightest guy in the room.  He always sees things from a unique angle, an intelligent light."

So while it appears the Sun Devils are in good shape at the top, the same can't be said of their current basketball roster.

After finishing 11-17, 5-13 last season with no senior starters, Arizona State fans were looking forward to big improvements with a more experienced team - except it hasn't work out that way.

When former Sun Devil coach Rob Evans was replaced by Sendek, Kevin Kruger, the team's leading scorer, took advantage of a new NCAA rule and transferred to UNLV, to play for his father Lon. Later in August, another top player, Bryson Krueger, was dismissed from the team for an off the court incident.

Fortunately for Sendek he has help coming next season when high school stud James Harden and Duke-transfer Eric Boateng join the team.  In the meantime, the Sun Devils are struggling and will have difficulty getting even a single conference victory in the tough Pac-10 this season.

While Arizona State is giving up just 63.9 points per game, fourth lowest in school history, they are scoring just 62.5 points.  The Sun Devils are shooting only 42.8% from the field, and aren't getting it done at the free-throw line either at 63.7%.

Sendek runs a variation of the Princeton offense which stresses ball control and motion.  But the team is still learning the new offensive system and perhaps lack the right personnel to run it effectively at this point.  Although the offense should result in low turnover totals and high percentage three-point opportunities, the Sun Devils commit 15.3 turnovers a game (9th in Pac-10) and shoot just 30.7% from three-point distance (9th in Pac-10). 

With all the changes in the roster, four true freshmen are combining to average 87.1 minutes, including three who play more than 25-minutes a contest.  As a result of depth issues on the team, the Sun Devils have played primarily a seven-player rotation in conference games.

Jeff Pendergraph (So, 6'10, 210) is the top returning player.  He is averaging 13.4 points and 9.3 rebounds a game, including seven double-doubles.  Over his last four games, he is shooting an astounding 31 of 38 for 81.6%.

A former Etiwanda HS star and teammate of UCLA's Darren Collison, Pendergraph is a long and agile post player.  He has an excellent inside game and effective mid-range jumper.  Last season, he started off well in two games against UCLA but then was saddled on the bench for most of the game with foul trouble.

"Outside of Jeff Pendergraph, we continue to have a hard time doing what Dr. Naismith intended and that's put the ball in the basket," Sendek said. "As a result, our defense has little to no margin for error."

Last season Angounou played around the basket and bullied his way to the rim.  This season he has transformed himself into a perimeter player who takes half his shot from three-point distance. 

Angounou is the team's top three-pointer threat at 41% from beyond the arc while shooting 43.6% from the field.  The fact the Sun Devils' best three-point threat is their power forward gives an indication of the state of the team.

Both Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Alfred Aboya struggled defending Angounou in Tempe who seemed intent in putting the younger Cameroonians in their place.  The elder Angounou will be hard pressed to repeat his performance this year against the Bruin duo.

Antwi Atuahene (Jr, 6'4, 205), a returning letterman, is averaging 8.4 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.3 assists.  He is quick and is a good penetrator off the dribble, but Atuahene struggles from the perimeter shooting just 26.3% from three point distance.  Atuahene is a very solid defender.

Christian Polk (6'3, 175) is one of the team's freshmen playing major minutes this year.  He is averaging 12.9 points on just 37.9% shooting including 31.9% from beyond the arc. He is a gutsy young player who isn't afraid of stepping up and making big plays as he did by hitting two last second three-point shots to send the games into overtime.

Derek Glasser (Fr, 6'2, 180) had verbally committed to play at USC but then changed his mind and signed with Arizona State.  He has done a good job handling the ball for the Sun Devils recording a 2.23 assist-to-turnover ratio, but he has struggled from the field averaging 5.2 points on just 30% field goal shooting.

Sendek has been using a seven player rotation and returning sophomore Sylvester Seay (6'9, 232) has not been a part of it.  Seay has only played two minutes in the last five games.

Freshman Jerren Shipp (Fr, 6'4, 200), brother of Josh, is averaging 7.5 points and 3.4 rebounds.  He has scored in double-figures five times already including a 23 point performance against Northern Arizona.  Jerren is not the tough, physical player that brothers Josh and Joe are, instead he prefers to stay on the perimeter.  The other reserve off the bench is senior Allen Morill (6'7, 232) who is averaging 2.4 points.

The only question about Thursday's game against Arizona State is the Bruin's margin of victory.  With the Arizona Wildcat game looming on Saturday, UCLA players need to guard from looking past this game, and making this home game more difficult than it needs to be.

BBR Notes:  UCLA Coach Ben Howland spoke to Bill McCabe, the Pac-10 coordinator of officiating, about the USC's tactic of intentionally fouling Lorenzo Mata off the ball in the closing minutes of the game.  At minimum, Howland is planting the seeds into officials' minds that team's are trying to take advantage of Mata's woes from the free-throw line.


Shipp To Be Game Time Decision

By Bruin Basketball Report

Sophomore wing Josh Shipp, who missed the USC game due to a slightly torn right hamstring muscle, participated in a 45-minute shoot-around this morning and practiced hard for an hour this afternoon.  Afterwards he was evaluated by UCLA Associate Team Physician, Dr. John Difiori.

It was determined his playing status would be a game time decision for UCLA's game against Arizona State on Thursday at Pauley Pavilion.

Shipp is averaging 14.7 points and 4.1 rebounds a game this season.  Sophomore Michael Roll started in place of Shipp against USC and played 29 minutes scoring 3 points on 1 of 6 shooting and grabbed 4 rebounds.

(photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld)


Monday, January 15, 2007

Bruins Climb in Polls, Still No.1 in RPI

By Bruin Basketball Report

With North Carolina's upset loss to Virginia Tech last weekend, UCLA climbed a spot in both national polls this week coming in at No.2 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches and No.3 in the AP polls.

Florida jumped into the No.1 spot in both polls; Wisconsin is No.3 in the Coaches and No.2 in the AP; and North Carolina fall to No.4 followed by Kansas to round out the top five.

The Bruins (15-1, 4-1) are coming off a stunning one-point victory over crosstown rival USC, 65-64.  They are tied for first-place with the Oregon Ducks in the powerful Pac-10 conference race. 

Pac-10 teams are well represented in both polls. In addition to UCLA, No.10 Oregon, No.12 Arizona, and No.21 Washington St. are ranked in the Coaches poll while Stanford, USC, and Washington each received notice from voters.  In the AP poll, only three teams remained with Washington St. just missing the final spot in the ranking.

The Bruins remained No.1 in the RPI rating and is now No.1 in strength of schedule (SOS).  With tough remaining games against Pac-10 teams and non-conference opponent West Virginia, UCLA will finish with one of the toughest schedules played in Division I this season.

UCLA will host Arizona St and and Arizona at home this week after playing three consecutive games on the road. 


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Kevin Love's Backboard Destroying Jam (VIDEO)

By Bruin Basketball Report

(VIDEO)Lake Oswego's Kevin Love has won a state basketball championship and is going to UCLA next year on a full-ride scholarship. On Friday against Rex Putnam, he achieved another dream - a backboard-destroying dunk. KATU-TV Portland Oregon


Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (1/15)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Roy Williams: We only had one scholarship and we held that scholarship for Kevin Love, a youngster out on the West Coast that I just loved to death. He throws the best outlet pass I’ve ever seen in high school basketball and the only one who ever came close was Wes Unseld.... Because of putting all the emphasis on him, and the fact that we only had one scholarship, we decided not to recruit anyone else from this class at this time. CU Tigers 1/9

Chace Stanback, Fairfax: Had 35 points and 12 rebounds for Fairfax (9-3, 2-0), ranked No. 4 in the Southland by The Times, in an 86-44 Western League victory over visiting Los Angeles University. LA Times 1/10

Clackamas boys had no answer for 6-9 Kevin Love, as they yielded to the Lakers 90-56 in last week’s league opener. Love tallied 40 points and had half as many rebounds. Clackmas Review 1/10

In the West, it seems, there are talented young big men everywhere you look -- from Gonzaga sophomore Josh Heytvelt and the Washington duo through the Bay Area contingent, which includes Santa Clara's 6-11 sophomore John Bryant, to Arizona State sophomore Jeff Pendergraph, USC freshman Taj Gibson and UCLA recruit Kevin Love, an Oregon native who is the top high school big man in the country. Mercury News 1/11


"It's been good," says Renardo Sidney, a 6-foot-10, 245-pound power forward who's rated the nation's No. 1 sophomore recruit by RISE. "I really like all of my teammates because they joke around and they've taken me under their wings like a brother. I was nervous, but I had already met James and Malik, so it was all right." "[Sidney] gets along well with everybody," says Artesia first-year head coach Loren Grover. "He's blended in here like he's been here for four years. The one thing we've been blessed with here is guys who don't bring the big ego and they just love to play. He's one of them." . Sports Illustrated 1/9

Renardo Sidney, Artesia: Had 21 points, 15 rebounds and five blocks for the Pioneers (14-0), ranked No. 1 in the Southland by The Times, in a 74-32 Suburban League victory over visiting Cerritos.  LA Times 1/9

Eric Maupin and Luke Babbitt combined for 40 points Tuesday as Galena's boys' basketball team easily defeated Fallon, 78-48, in a High Desert League game at the Greenwave's Elmo Dericco Gym. Nevada Appeal 1/10

Not only will the top two boys' basketball teams in the San Fernando Valley face each other Saturday night at Pierce College, but so will two of the top juniors in the nation, when Woodland Hills Taft plays North Hollywood Campbell Hall at 8:30 p.m.Guard Jrue Holiday will lead Campbell Hall (13-1), ranked No. 3 in the Southland by The Times, against guard Larry Drew Jr. and sixth-ranked Taft (10-3) in the featured game of the San Fernando Valley Showcase. LA Times 1/12

Brendan Lavender, a 6-foot-4 junior shooting guard from Mountain View High in Mesa, Ariz., is among the elite prospects at his position in the West Coast class of 2008. He told us recently that his top three schools at the moment are Arizona, UCLA and Utah. Lavender said he's also hearing from Arizona St., Washington and Oregon, among other schools. Fox Sports 1/12

#4 Mitty 66, #15 Sacred Heart Cathedral 52: In San Jose, Mitty's Drew Gordon scored 20 points and Collin Chiverton added 15 as the Monarchs overcame a seven-point deficit at the half and defeated a shorthanded Sacred Heart Cathedral squad.  San Francisco Chronicle 1/12

Jordan Hamilton is special," said Johnson, who is coaching Hamilton for a second season. "He has the ability to play the point guard, shooting guard or small forward at any time. By the time he's a senior, he could be the No. 1 senior in the country." LA Times 1/13

Jordan Hamilton said. "I also took 1,000 shots a day. I like the three-pointer, and I love the pull-up jumper. I worked on that shot the most — two dribbles and pull up. I also like to drive to the basket and pass it out to my teammates." But regardless of the skills possessed by the 6-foot-7, 208-pound Hamilton, who is averaging 21 points, seven rebounds and six assists, sports comes second to academics. LA Times 1/13

Jordan Hamilton said the increased attention to his schoolwork is beginning to pay off. He said his GPA is now "between 2.8 and 3.0," and he's beginning to seriously think about college. Gibson said he has received inquiries about Hamilton from Syracuse, UCLA, USC, Notre Dame, Cal State Fullerton and Florida, among others. LA Times 1/13

GALENA BOYS 84, SPANISH SPRINGS 45: Luke Babbitt and Brice Crook each scored 23 points, J.D. Peters had 11 points and Brad Bosse added nine points for Galena. Nevada Appeal 1/13

Down by 21 points with just over four minutes left in the third quarter, Woodland Hills Taft, ranked sixth in the Southland by The Times, rallied to take the lead over third-ranked North Hollywood Campbell Hall as two junior All-American guards, Larry Drew Jr. and Jrue Holiday, took turns putting on a show Saturday night at the San Fernando Valley Showcase at Pierce College in Woodland Hills. Holiday made one of two free throws with 14 seconds left to give Campbell Hall a 73-71 lead. Then Drew drove to the basket and was fouled with no time left on the clock. As the sellout crowd stood in the bleachers, with Taft and Campbell Hall fans making lots of noise, Drew missed on his first free throw, ending the game and giving Campbell Hall its 15th victory in 16 games this season. LA Times 1/14

They contained two of Northern California's top players, Mitty juniors Drew Gordon and Colin Chiverton, who combined for 19 points....Mitty's No. 1 threat, Gordon, a 6-9 junior who is one of the country's top-ranked inside players, was saddled in foul trouble throughout but still finished with 10 points and six blocks, a couple of which were spectacular.  San Francisco Chronicle 1/14

(photo credit: Seattle Times and LA Times)