Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Trojans Crumble, Bruins Rally For Win

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Arron Afflalo scored 16 points including six free throws in the final 42 seconds to help UCLA rally for a 70-65 victory over crosstown rival USC.

From the tip-off and for most of the game, the Trojans outplayed the Bruins on both ends of the court.  USC came out aggressively staking themselves to a 20-10 lead while shooting 82% after the first six minutes of play.  Eleven of their first points came off UCLA turnovers. 

The Trojans used a 1-4 offensive set to effectively spread the court to allow their perimeter players to breakdown their defenders and penetrate while preventing the Bruins from helping on defense.

On the defensive end, USC started the game in a match-up zone, and the Bruins struggled, playing as if they  were unprepared  to face the zone.  Darren Collison began passively on offense and committed two quick turnovers in the opening minutes which led to an earlier than usual substitution of Russell Westbrook for Collison at the point.

Westbrook immediately went to work attacking the zone at the seams, dishing out three quick assists on dribble penetration and hitting a short jumper over Taj Gibson to spark a short rally. 

After a full time-out called by UCLA Coach Ben Howland with just over six minutes remaining in the half, Arron Afflalo hit a short jumper and the Bruin defense stiffened to help UCLA go on a 11-4 run to head into halftime down by just one point, 30-29.

However, the second half started eerily similar to the first with the Trojans jumping out to a 38-31 lead.  But once again, the Bruins showed their heart and their defense began to lock down on the Trojan offense. 

With 8:45 remaining in the game,  Arron Afflalo hit  his only three-pointer of the night to tie the game, and then took a lead pass from Darren Collison and threw down a monster slam to put the Bruins ahead 50-48.

Then with less than five minutes remaining in the game, the Trojans let the game slip away with a series of missteps.

After Josh Shipp scored a basket and was fouled by USC's Nick Young, senior Lodrick Stewart inexplicably slammed the ball hard high off the court in frustration, and when the ball landed back down he was immediately called for a technical foul.  As a result, the Bruins scored five straight points to put themselves ahead 55-52.

Then after a Trojan timeout with 2:42 remaining, USC Coach Tim Floyd called for Taj Gibson to set a high screen, unfortunately for Gibson, he was still clearly moving when he set the pick and as a result fouled out of the game.

With the Bruins up by six and just 42 seconds remaining USC's Daniel Hackett intentionally fouled Alfred Aboya in front of the referees, giving UCLA two free-throws and the ball resulting in a six point lead.

At this point, UCLA should have been able to walk to the locker room in victory, but the Trojans hit four consecutive three-point shots in the final 30 seconds of the game.  However, the Bruins were able to stave off the late rally by hitting all eight of their free throws to end the game.

Arron Afflalo was only 3-10 from the field and 1-7 from three-point distance, but he was deadly accurate from the line making 9-10.

Darren Collison was able to recover from a miserable start and six turnovers to finish with a team-high 17 points.   

After giving the Bruins a spark in the first half, oddly, Russell Westbrook did not play a single minute in the second-half.  Considering the fact Josh Shipp struggled from the field, going just 1-5, one would have thought Westbrook would have seen more action in the game.  But it appears Coach Howland decided to stick with his more experienced players in a tight game, and it ultimately paid dividends at the end when Shipp hit 5-5 free-throws to help ice the game.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute finished with another double-double, scoring 11 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.  He had difficulty guarding Nick Young for most of the game with Young finishing with 20 points, but in the final minutes of the game Mbah a Moute had two big blocked shots of Young and Gabe Pruitt to help the Bruins preserve the win.

The Trojans out-shot the Bruins from the field 53.8% vs. 44.9%.  However, UCLA was better from the free-throw line making 24-31 (77.1%) while USC shot just 3-5 (60%) from the stripe.  Although there appears  to be a wide disparity between free-throws attempted, one needs to keep in mind the Bruins shot 13 free-throws in the final minutes due to intentional fouls committed by the Trojans.

With the victory No.2 ranked UCLA improves its record to 21-2 overall and 10-2 for first-place in the Pac-10.  While USC falls to fourth place in the conference with a 8-4 record.

UCLA leaves on a flight tomorrow morning for a trek to West Virginia.  The Bruins face the Mountaineers in a nationally televised 10:00 AM PT match-up on Saturday in Morgantown.

(photo credit: Jack Rosenfeld)


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

UCLA Superlative Statistics 2/7

By Bruin Basketball Report

College basketball fans are familiar with published statistics such as rebounds, assists, points scored, and field goal and free throw percentage as a marker of a player's performance and contribution to his team.

Those who follow UCLA basketball and know the value Head Coach Ben Howland places on hustle, toughness, and performance under pressure will appreciate a different set of statistics kept by the team.  Statistics referred to as the "Superlative Statistics".

Charges Taken
1. Lorenzo Mata - 10
1. Alfred Aboya - 10
3. Russell Westbrook - 4
4. Ryan Wright - 3
5. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute - 2
UCLA 30, Opponents 24

Dives For Loose Balls
1. Lorenzo Mata - 20
2. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute - 12
3. Darren Collison - 9
4. Russell Westbrook - 8
5. Arron Afflalo - 7
UCLA 78, Opponents 53

Second Chance Points
1. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute - 51
2. Josh Shipp - 43
3. Lorenzo Mata - 31
4. Alfred Aboya - 29
5. Arron Afflalo  - 28
UCLA 229, Opponents 184

Points in the Paint
1. Josh Shipp - 146
2. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute - 120
3. Lorenzo Mata - 112
4. Arron Afflalo  - 102
4. Darren Collison - 102
UCLA 726, Opponents 516

3-PT Plays Attempted
1. Arron Afflalo - 9
2. Josh Shipp - 8
3. Darren Collison - 7
4. Lorenzo Mata - 4
4. Alfred Aboya - 4
UCLA 39, Opponents 36

FT% Last Four Minutes in Game
1. Michael Roll - 2 of 2 (1.000)
2. Josh Shipp - 10 of 12 (.833)
3. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute - 5 of 6 (.833)
4. Darren Collison - 18 of 23 (.783)
5. James Keefe - 3 of 4 (.750)
UCLA 54 of 76 (.710), Opponents 35 of 54 (.648)

Control the Tip
1. Lorenzo Mata - 15 of 21 (.714)

see Superlative Statistics from 1/11

Source: UCLA Athletic Department (2/7/07)


Pauley Pavilion Architect Chosen For Renovation

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA has selected HOK Sport, from among ten other firms, as the architectural firm to prepare preliminary renovation and
expansion designs for Pauley Pavilion.

HOK Sport, based in Kansas City, MO, has designed a number of award-winning sports venues including; Camden Yards in Baltimore, MD; Coors Field in Denver, CO; AT&T Park in San Francisco, CA; and Hong Kong Sports Stadium.

As for college basketball arenas, HOK was responsible for Wichita State's Charles Koch Arena and University of Missouri's Mizzou Arena.

"HOK has designed some of the finest sports venues in the
industry and is noted as being one of the best in the business," said
UCLA Director of Athletics Dan Guerrero. "We are very pleased to have
taken the next step in the renovation of Pauley Pavilion and eagerly
await HOK's pre-design plan."

Enhancements to Pauley Pavilion currently under consideration include; a new retractable
seating system to bring spectators closer to the court, new
concession areas and restrooms; new and expanded locker rooms, dedicated practice facilities, modern arena technology to enhance fan experience, medical treatment and media rooms, and a main lobby to serve as a central entrance and to celebrate UCLA's illustrious athletic
tradition.  A development of the area between Spaulding Field and
the arena is also planned.

The goal is to dedicate the restored Pauley Pavilion on October 14,
2010, to honor Coach John Wooden on his 100th birthday.

(photo: AT&T Park from HOK Sport)


Monday, February 05, 2007

UCLA vs. USC - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

The No. 2 ranked UCLA Bruins take on crosstown rival No.19/21 ranked USC at Pauley Pavilion in a battle for first place in the Pac-10.

The Bruins enter the contest sitting atop the Pac-10 with a conference 9-2 record, while the Trojans are tied for second-place with Washington State with a record of 8-3.

In the team's first meeting in January, Arron Afflalo hit a 15-foot jumper with 4.7 seconds remaining to help UCLA beat USC in a thriller, 65-64.

UCLA had fallen behind by as much as ten points in the second-half, but Afflalo and Darren Collison rallied the Bruins to set up the game-winner.   Collison led all scorers with 17 points and Afflalo added 15.

Sophomore wing Josh Shipp missed the first USC game due to a hamstring injury with Michael Roll taking his place in the lineup, but Shipp has completely recovered and is anxious to play the crosstown rivals.

"He (Shipp) makes everybody's job easier," Afflalo said. "We're a team where we
rely on everybody for something. Whether it's scoring, rebounding,
defending, everybody has to play their part. When Josh is out, is makes
it harder on me, harder on Darren, harder on other players."

USC Head Coach Tim Floyd has his team playing excellent defense.  The Trojans are allowing Pac-10 opponents just 40.5% shooting from the field, good enough for second-best in the conference.  Against UCLA, the Trojan defense will alternate between a man-to-man and an aggressive match-up zone.

The Bruins have recently countered against match-up zones to varying success by either going to a four-guard alignment to attack the zone, or by using the motion offense they use against man-to-man defensive alignments.  It will be interesting to see how the Bruins fare against the Trojans this time around.  In the first game the Bruins struggled against the Trojan zone until they started hitting their outside shots late in the second-half.  Obviously, the Bruins will want to attack it aggressively from the start in this game.

Offensively, USC has weapons all over the court.  They are second-best in the Pac-10 shooting 48.9% from the field and have begun shooting well from three-point distance at a conference best 43.1%.  They will likely try to spread the floor and attack the Bruins from the perimeter off the dribble.  It was effective last season against the Bruins, however with the lack of a true point-guard, the Trojans may not have the ball-handling and quickness on the perimeter to pull it off this season.

USC Probable Starters

Nick YoungG-F6-6195Jr.2432.417.04.61.5
Lodrick StewartG6-4210Sr.2430.513.63.81.3
Taj GibsonF6-9210Fr.2432.
Gabriel PruittG6-4170Jr.1330.
Dwight LewisG6-5190Fr.2420.

Junior Nick Young is the team's leading scorer at 17 points a game.  His shot-selection has improved tremendously under the tutelage of Tim Floyd. Young is shooting 52.4% from the field and an astounding 46.4% from three-point distance.  Young can also slash to the basket and finish strong and has an excellent mid-range game.  The best way to guard Young is to keep the ball out of his hands.  Once he has the ball, Young has the ability to score in an array of ways.

UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will get the initial assignment against Young.  Mbah a Moute has recently shown renewed vigor in his play.  Bothered by knee tendinitis for parts of the season, in the past few games he has been quicker to the ball and has rebounded better.  Offensively, he is finding the ball close to the basket and has been knocking down his midrange shots.  He has made twelve consecutive shots spanning the last two games.

Center Taj Gibson has had an outstanding freshman campaign.  Opponents are beginning to key on him in games which has resulted in his points and rebounds to decrease slightly, but it has conversely created scoring opportunities for teammates.  Still, Gibson is shooting an impressive 61.4% from the field - since slam dunks tend to be high percentage shots.  He is agile and extremely quick off his feet.

Gibson will certainly command the attention of UCLA's big men again.  In the first meeting, the tag team of Lorenzo Mata and Alfred Aboya recorded 17 points and 16 rebounds to Gibson's 9 points and 8 rebounds in 40 minutes of play.  UCLA doubled down on Gibson at times in an effort to great turnovers, since he tends to be turnover prone, and will no doubt apply similar pressure on him Wednesday.

Since returning to the line-up, Gabe Pruitt has been a steadying influence at the point.  While still adjusting to distributing the ball to teammates, he has maintained an admirable 1.63 assists-to-turnover ratio.  At times he battles against his own bad shot selection and has a tendency to force things on offense, but the Trojans would not be where they are now without Gabe Pruitt.

Arron Afflalo effectively checked Pruitt in the last game, limiting him to 3-10 shooting.  At certain times, UCLA tried Darren Collison on him, but at 6'4, Pruitt was just too big and rangy for Collison to handle.

Senior Lodrick Stewart is a streaky shooter who can sometimes win or lose games for the Trojans with his shooting alone.  Blessed with outstanding shooting range, he is 43.9% from three-point distance with nearly half his shots coming from beyond the arc.  He is shooting 45% overall from the field.

A healthy Josh Shipp will get the initial assignment against Stewart.  Shipp will be fighting multiple screens all night to guard Stewart and will need to close out effectively against the Trojan long-range bomber.

Stewart is a solid defender and is usually assigned the opponents toughest scorer on the wing.  He was guarding Arron Afflalo when he hit the game-winner against USC in January.

Dwight Lewis has been the fifth starter for most of the season, although at times RouSean Cromwell and Abdoulaye N'diaye have started to give the Trojans more size up front.  Lewis will likely get the start on Wednesday since the Trojans will probably try to spread their offense and attack with four perimeter players.  The freshman Lewis can hit from the outside but his value comes from his defense and hustle on the floor.

The first game in January between the two schools was a classic with Arron Afflalo's game-winning shot surely to go down in history as one of the greatest moments of the rivalry. 

The Trojans had outplayed the Bruins for most of the game, only to allow them to rally for the victory.  At Pauley, the Bruins are a different ball club having won 17 consecutive games at home.

With the support of the home crowd and excitement of the rivalry game, UCLA should have no trouble starting the game with an intense effort.  The Bruins' quickness advantage on the perimeter and ability to create transition basket opportunities will be a key to the game.

UCLA did an excellent job defensively against Oregon last week in denying dribble penetration to Aaron Brooks and rotating defensively when he did get through.  Although they lack the quickness of Oregon, USC will be trying to do the same thing with their four-guard alignment, nonetheless, the Bruins will need to put forth the same keen defensive effort against the Trojans.

BBR Notes: UCLA moved to the second spot in the Associated
Press poll and the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll. In the AP poll,
five other Pacific 10 Conference teams were ranked, more than any other
conference, with Oregon, Washington State, USC, Arizona and Stanford
all making the list.

"It's very clear six teams in our conference are for sure in the NCAA tournament right now and there's still a
chance to get a seventh," UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland said.

1/12 UCLA vs. USC - Game Preview

1/14 UCLA Bigs Get It Done, Afflalo Hits Game Winner

(photo credit: AP and USC Athletics)


Sunday, February 04, 2007

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (2/5)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Chace Stanback, Fairfax. Finished with 35 points, 12 rebounds and six blocks as the visiting
Lions, ranked No. 4 by The Times, defeated Western League foe Venice,
71-53. LA Times 1/31

Jerime Anderson
, Canyon, Jr. -Smart player who understands
the dangers of trying to do too much. Needs to learn to set up for his
outside shot a fraction of a second sooner. OC Register 2/1

They say he is one of the best high school players in the country.
They say he rebounds like Moses Malone and his outlet passing is like
Wes Unseld. They say he will become UCLA's next great big man, in the
company of Lew Alcindor and Bill Walton. They say a lot about Kevin Love. OC Register 2/2

Yes, he is that good. Kevin Love lived up to the hype.
UCLA's top recruit scored 36 points, made some great passes, grabbed
just about every rebound in his vicinity (he finished with 15), and
blocked three shots, as the 6-foot-9 senior led Lake Oswego of Oregon
to a 61-52 victory over Mater Dei on Saturday in the final game of the
two-day Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei. OC Register 2/4

The Monarchs tried to front Kevin Love, mostly using 6-10 sophomore David
Wear. There always was plenty of weakside help, often provided by
Wear's twin brother Travis. But Love was just too much. Is his
strength his quickness, or his muscle? On Saturday, he was so good at
so many things, and in so many ways, that it was difficult to single
out one outstanding attribute. OC Register 2/4

Chace Stanback
, Fairfax: Had 24 points, but it wasn't enough to prevent Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy from defeating the No. 4 Lions, 70-54, in intersectional play at the Nike Extravaganza. LA Times 2/4


James Harden scored 27 points, including 13 of Lakewood Artesia's 16
fourth-quarter points, to help the Pioneers (21-1, 8-1), ranked No. 2
by The Times, hold off No. 9 host Lakewood Mayfair, 77-72....Renardo Sidney had 21 points for Artesia, which took the team bus
immediately after the game to catch a 10:40 p.m. flight to Raleigh, N.C. LA Times 1/31

The 6-foot-8 King, who had already made six 3-pointers, was the obvious
choice to attempt a score-tying shot. Instead, the Monarch's Blake
Arnet launched a 3-pointer that fell short as time expired and Oak Hill
(27-1) escaped with a 77-74 win....Andy Brown and Travis Wear scored 11 and 10 points, respectively, while
Kamyron Brown and David Wear had nine each for the sixth-ranked Monarchs. News Observer 1/31

Mayo's surprise appearance came after Mouth of Wilson (Va.) Oak Hill Academy beat Santa Ana Mater Dei, 77-74....Artesia's Renardo Sidney, a 6-10 sophomore who was coming off a
three-game suspension for what his coach, Loren Grover, called "a team
situation," scored 10 of his 14 points in the first half, and Mayo's
future Trojans teammate, Malik Story, scored 12 of his 21 points in the
first half as the 11th-ranked Pioneers (20-2) took a 40-30 lead by
halftime. LA Times 1/31

Luke Babbitt scored 34 points for Galena (8-0 in
the High Desert League) in a little over a half. "Luke really shot the
ball extremely well," Mauer said. "He just really was in the groove. Nevada Appeal 1/31

Profile: Drew Gordon, Archbishop Mitty; The 6-foot-9 center showed why he is one of the top boys
basketball recruits in the nation when he had 25 points, 12 rebounds
and seven blocks in a victory at St. Francis on Jan. 24. Mercury News 1/31

Nothing official yet, but word is Mitty High School-San Jose junior
prospect Drew Gordon is down to six potential college destinations:
North Carolina, Duke, UCLA, Washington, Arizona and Cal. Contra Costa Times 1/31

After playing at Duke's Cameron Indoor Stadiumn Tuesday night,
Artesia flew home Wednesday and landed at the airport at 12:30 p.m.,
rested and then went out and beat the Matadores 72-55 to take over sole
possession of first place in the Suburban League. Sophomore forward Renardo Sidney led all scorers with 24 points Press Telegram 2/1

As has been the script all season, juniors DeMar DeRozan (a game-high
22 points, 14 of those in the second half when he didn't miss a shot
from the field) and Edgar Garibay (14 points, 16 rebounds and six
blocked shots) led the way for the Tarbabes. Press Telegram 2/1

Twins' success is ever-growing
Sophomores David and Travis Wear are ready to demonstrate their on-court talents for scouts at the Nike Extravaganza. Three days before Dave and Gloria Wear gave birth to their first child, doctors prepared them for twins. "David
Jr.," the only boy's name they selected, was their first child born
Sept. 21, 1990, 19 inches long, weighing 5 pounds, three ounces. A
minute later, Travis weighed in 8 ounces heavier but identical to his
blond, brown- eyed brother in every other way. OC Register 2/1

Los Alamitos High boy's basketball player Corbin Moore admitted that he
was upset when he lost his starting spot eight games ago because he was
too inconsistent...Ever since he's been on the bench to start the game, the 6-foot-9 junior
forward has been playing great, and nothing changed against Fountain
Valley. He recorded 23 points, 11 rebounds and three blocked shots in a
50-40 win on the road. Press Telegram 2/2

#2 Mitty-San Jose 74, Sacred Heart Cathedral 49: Mitty's Drew Gordon
scored 16 of his game-high 18 points and had eight rebounds and six blocks in
the first two quarters, as Mitty (17-4, 10-1 West Catholic Athletic League) put
on a first half passing clinic, leading 46-28 at halftime. San Francisco Chronicle 2/3

GALENA 82, MCQUEEN 52: Luke Babbitt scored 29 points, Goose Robinson had
14 points, Brice Crook had 13 points and J.D. Peters added 11 points.
In addition, Mauer praised the way Crook hit the offensive glass. Nevada Appeal 2/3

Luke Babbitt scored 14 points in limited action for
Galena (16-9, 10-0 in the High Desert League). Babbitt scored 12 points
in the first half. He hit just one field goal, but was 9-of-10 from the
foul line. Brice Crook added 11 points for the Grizzlies. Nevada Appeal 2/4

Justin, the 6-foot-6 senior, is headed for Washington. Jrue, the
6-foot-4 junior, hasn't made a call yet, but is believed to be deciding
between UCLA and Washington. "I'm going to let it run its course," Jrue Holiday said. "I'm not close to making that decision." "I
don't get involved in what he's deciding," Justin said. "Obviously the
fact that I'm going to Washington probably has a bearing, but I'm not
really even keeping up with it." OC Register 2/4

(photo credit: Daniel A. Anderson, OC Register and Tracey Roman/Press-Telegram)