Friday, October 19, 2007

Howland Shares Thoughts After Bruins' 7th Practice

(courtesy of UCLA Athletics)

Kevin Love has a left calf contusion, but should be able to practice tomorrow.

on Lorenzo Mata-Real's sprained foot

"He's not at 100 percent. He's playing with a painful sprain. He's actually gone through two practices. It was a little swollen and sore this morning, and he's gotten through it. He's doing a good job."

on players who have stood out the last two days

"It's been two hard practices. I don't know that anybody has really stood out, any different from where they were after the previous five practices. Kevin got kneed again in the left calf. He got kneed in the same spot three times, so he's got a contusion there. It's been by Alfred the last couple days, but I think it was Luc one day, too. He just keeps getting kneed in the same spot. Hopefully, he'll be OK tomorrow. We had to take him out the last five minutes of practice so that he could get it iced. But with our guys, it's been a very intense practice the last couple of days. They are playing very hard. I think that, offensively, we've got a long way to go to run good motion. We don't have a first team and second team situation in there. It's hard to run real good motion right now, but we'll get there."

on Kevin Love's performance

"The best thing is that he's going to play a lot down low. Our team, as you know, doubles the ball a lot in the post. He's been really good at reading that and making quick passes before the double even gets there and getting his teammates wide open shots."

on recruiting visits during the weekend

"Today, they have been on campus all day. They have gone to a class and took a tour of the campus. They ate in the dorms, to get a feel for dorm food. At UCLA, it is [a good thing]. Our dorm food is really good. It's actually a positive. Some of the parents are on the trip and all of them will be with us tonight. So it's nice for them to see the dorms and see where they are going to be living. Obviously, we do a lot of academic meetings. But they have already all done that previously. We go over everything again in detail. They all get a chance to meet with our athletic director and a number of different people on campus. They all go to practice. And tonight, we're all going to my house for a meal. We have practice [Saturday] morning from 10-11:45. We're going to take a quick shower and hope to get out there [for the UCLA-Cal football game] by the end of the first quarter, and maybe even before that."

on number of scholarship players

"We really don't have that many moving parts. Right now we have 10 healthy scholarship players, including Lorenzo with a sprained foot. We don't even have the full allotment of scholarship players. We're allowed to have 13, and we have 11 this year. We're out with James Keefe right now, so we're down to 10. So it's not like we're going to be a pressing team with this group. We may press some, and with certain lineups in there it may be a good pressing group. But to make that a main staple, that isn't something I plan on doing."

on Darren Collison

"Darren had a very good practice yesterday. He is playing with a lot of intensity on the defensive end of the floor. He's doing a good job pushing the ball. He's being very unselfish. He led us in assists the first week of practice and again yesterday. He has done well."

on Kevin Love getting kneed in the calf

"He's pretty tough. When you're playing in the post, in general, it's so physical in there. He's got two big scratch marks on his back. Somebody scratched the heck out of him yesterday. So, I checked everybody's fingernails today to make sure everybody had nice, short fingernails. Fingernails that are long can be very dangerous playing basketball. You can scratch somebody's cornea. You should see his back. Those marks will still be there on Monday. I saw it when it happened. It was a pretty significant scratch."

on Nikola Dragovic

"Well, Nikola is definitely doing a good job right now. He is smart in that he plays within himself and doesn't try to do too much. He's a good passer, he's a good shooter and he's trying to do better defensively. At times, he's matched up with Chace (Stanback). He's going to have to hold his own on the defensive end of the floor."

on Michael Roll wearing orthotics

"He's got them and he's wearing them. He had a little soreness in his knee yesterday. Sometimes, you worry about how it changes the pitch of your foot."

on UCLA's dorm food

"I've had it many times, both during camp and when we have recruits on campus. Scott Duncan, who is on my staff now, has been at about eight or nine different jobs at universities over the last 25 or so years. He was just commenting how much better it is here than anywhere else he's ever been."

on his overall thoughts about practice thus far

"It's just scary that we have to play a real game three weeks from tonight. There is a lot of work and a lot of things to put in."

(photo: Bruin Basketball Report)


Thursday, October 18, 2007

Josh Shipp Q&A After the Bruins' Sixth Practice

(courtesy of UCLA Athletics)

on how he's feeling after the first several practices

"I feel good for the most part. There is not any joint pain in my hip, mostly just muscular stuff that comes from getting back into basketball shape. Overall, practice is going well and I'm getting back into shape. I'm feeling good about it."

on improving his game

"I've worked on everything. I take pride on being an all-around player. I don't want guys to focus on just one part of my game. This past year was kind of hard. I was doing a lot of rehab, and I wasn't able to get out there and do a lot of the individual stuff that I wanted to do. But we've been working on little things in practice, just shooting and dribbling and creating for others. In every aspect of the game, I just try to get better."

on emphasis on defense versus offense

"Our emphasis is on the defensive end, and that's what we do first and foremost. Every night we will play defense - our shot might not be falling sometimes, but first and foremost is defense. If we add our offense and shoot along with that, it's definitely going to be a hard night for the other team."

on Lorenzo Mata-Real's first practice today after sitting out with an ankle injury

"He cut it a little short (today in practice), but when he was out there he looked really good. I was very impressed with him. He's coming back into shape, and I'm not worried about him. He'll be OK."

on Chace Stanback

"Chace is looking good. He's a freshman, so coach is riding him, but he needs that. At the same time, that is helping him out a lot. He's learned a lot of the little things, and he'll be good this year. I've definitely seen a lot of progression with him. His overall game has really improved. His ability to shoot looks really good, and he's able to create and do things for other players. Playing against him is a little different - I'm used to playing with him on my team. At the same time, it's fun. I like playing against good players. Plus, we come from the same neighborhood, so we have that little rivalry going, so that's good, too."

on playing with Kevin Love

"We're definitely going to try and fast break a lot more with him in the game. He is great at throwing the outlet pass and the guards are looking to get out early and catch those outlet passes. With him in there, we will try to fast break a lot more. With Lorenzo, he's going to be good at getting it out. Darren is quick and can also get the ball up to us. We're still going to fast break either way."

on Darren Collison

"Darren is looking really good. He's so quick, that he creates things for others. That's so key for us in this offense. He steps up in a leadership role for us. I think he's looking really good, and he's had a great first week of practice.

on Darren Collison and Josh Shipp stepping up as leaders

"We definitely feel that, and we've stepped into that role. Arron (Afflalo) was a great player for us last year, and we lost a lot of things when we lost him. Darren and I have been working hard, and it's our time now to prove that we are great players and great leaders out there."

on preseason hype

"I don't really read those [preseason magazines]. They don't mean anything to me. We have to go out and prove every night that we are the No. 1 team. It doesn't matter to me. It's not going to make or break my day if somebody doesn't say that we are No. 1."

on Luc Richard Mbah a Moute working on his shot

"Luc has improved a lot. I think that Luc has done a great job working on his shot. He's a lot more consistent."

(photo: Bruin Basketball Report)


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Howland Updates On Team Progress After First Five Practices

UCLA mentor pleased with progress as the Bruins prepare for another exciting season.

[courtesy of UCLA Athletics]

on Lorenzo Mata-Real

"He was just cleared to practice today and he'll practice with contact on Thursday. He did go today, the first 45 minutes of practice we had a lot of skill work. He was able to go 45 minutes today because there was no contact."

on Josh Shipp

"Josh is looking good. He was sore, which is to be expected - but they're all sore, since it's the first week of practice. They're all going hard and things are really physical. So, he was definitely sore and he practiced very well. He shot the ball extremely well. He's probably shooting it better than I've ever seen him shoot it right now, since he's been at UCLA. He's very strong and he's surprisingly in good condition. I'm really pleased with how Josh practiced."

on Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Alfred Aboya

"I thought Luc has had an unbelievable week of practice. He was great this week. Tomorrow is our off day and we start back up again on Thursday. Alfred Aboya had a great week of practice. He really is making it good for Kevin to compete everyday against someone who really works hard and is competing physically. Kevin, the last few days in practice, was both our leading rebounder and scorer. And yet, he's earning every point and every rebound because he's going against Alfred. There is nobody who works harder than Alfred Aboya."

on Luc and Alfred returning to Cameroon this summer

"I think it was great for him. And they both played for their national team. Alfred did the first time they went home, and Luc went back to Africa for the Afrobasket that was shown on TV against Egypt that we got to see. There's no question that had to be great for them. I just felt bad because Alfred went home and then he was gone to Algeria for the next two weeks. He only got to spend about eight days in Cameroon.

on playing on national teams and the risk of getting injured

"I think there are more benefits than risks. For both of those kids, they have a strong love and feeling for their country, and they have great pride in representing it. That's the best that Cameroon has ever done in a tournament.

on Luc changing his shot

"He improved his shot by changing his stroke. He now has a much shorter, more compact stroke. Through proper fundamentals and lots of repetition. He did it, number one, through his efforts and hard work. We started in the spring having him shooting one-handed. So for the first couple of weeks, all he did was shoot one-handed shots, getting his elbow under the ball. In other words, the only way to consistently make it one-handed is to have proper balance and have good follow through. Then he started putting his other hand on the ball and, as you remember, he didn't do any shooting or jumping for three months. So all he did was keep shooting one handed with his guide hand on the ball. He got the managers to come in and rebound for him. So he spent the time and effort, and then he watched film of himself. Even when he went home to Cameroon he took home film. It's really been exciting to see him, as you are for any player, to see hard work pay off.

"He started playing basketball four years total when he got to UCLA. His high school coach did a great job with him. But that was probably his biggest need to improve. He's shooting the ball with a much shorter stroke - less motion, less chance of error.

on what influenced Luc to change his shot

"We talked about it, being able to spend the time doing it. I'll be honest with you - Scott Garson did a great job working with him. Scott was really the one that spent a lot of time with him. Scott really deserves a lot of credit helping Luc improve his shot, without question. It's hard during the middle of the season to change your shot like that. So in the offseason is where it takes place, and he spent the time and the effort. He's going to have to continue to work at it. I just feel good about it and I'm happy for him."

on James Keefe

"James was able to put his left hand on the ball today and start to shoot now. James Keefe looks like he's going to be able to start shooting regular shots now. He's been only shooting one handed up to this point. Other than that, everything is pretty much the same."

on Chace Stanback

"He had a great practice on Sunday. And then he had a poor practice on Monday. There are a lot of things he has to learn about playing lower. He competes hard, and he's got a lot of things coming at him to learn. He has to go against good players every day. Josh has been taking it right at him. He's playing against experience guys who are very good players. I think he's doing a good job when you look at that."

on Nikola Dragovic

"Nikola has done a good job this week. The tough thing for him is that he's got to match up against Luc in practice, and that's no fun, as far as trying to block him out and keep him off the boards. Nikola has been doing a good job of shooting the ball this week, and that's one thing we know he does well. He's playing the four right now in our practices, exclusively. With James and Lorenzo out this first week of practice, our only bigs are Alfred, Kevin, Luc and Nikola."

on Michael Roll

"He's been playing very well in practice. For example, in yesterday's practice he had 11 assists and zero turnovers. He's shooting the ball well and playing like a veteran player. He's playing smart defensively, taking good shots, he's a good passer and post feeder and he's battling through sore feet. Suffering through plantar fasciitis symptoms in his feet that haven't gone away

(photo credit: SI)


James Keefe

its been two months I was just cleared by the doctor yesterday and I'll be able to run and polymetric exercises and start getting back into shape, getting my legs ready.

Right now the course is mid-December to begin playing in games, right now I'm ahead of schedule so hopefully I can get my muscle back and my upper arms and start lifting. It'll probably take me about a month.

My main focus over the spring and summer was to work out and get my weight by hitting the weights but after the surgery I haven't been able to lift in my upper body for the last two months.

I hurt my shoulder playing pickup in Orange Country, Mike Roll and bunch of local guys. I made a move towards the basket with my left hand and a help side defender reached in and popped my shoulder out, it sublexed, and popped back .

I've never had an injury to that shoulder.

I moved it around and iced it that night and knew I was coming up to UCLA for the skills camp in a week so I thought I'd just have it looked at up there. I got the x-ray it was negative but then got the injury news from the MRI.

I was very disappointed when I learned I was injured. I was actually playing great from the time I got the MRI and the injury

gaining more confidence by the end of the year

I had more experience with the college game and understanding the game better by the tournament.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Collison Wants More Than Final Four

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Two trips to the Final Four in two years would satisfy most college basketball players.

Not Darren Collison.

"I came to UCLA because of the basketball tradition", Collison said. "You look up at all those championship banners and you just want to be part of that tradition. I won't be satisfied if we don't win a championship this year."

Collison has already left an imprint on a team that should challenge for the top spot all season. The speedy point-guard, whom freshman Kevin Love remarks as being the fastest player he's ever played with, makes the Bruin team offense go. Last season, he used his quickness in transition and to breakdown offenses while adding another weapon to his repertoire - hitting on 44.7% of his three-point shots.

Prior to last season some had wondered if Collison could fill the large void left by the early departure of Jordan Farmar to the NBA, but Collison showed he was more than up for the challenge.

The former Etiwanda star finished the 2006-07 campaign ranked in the top ten in the Pac-10 conference in five statistical categories. He averaged 5.7 assists and 2.2 steals a game last season and returns with Josh Shipp as the top two scorers from last season's club.

With the addition of Love, and the rebounding and outlet passing that comes with his arrival, Collison is excited about the prospects of this season.

"Its going to be a fun and exciting year with Kevin (Love) here." Collison said. "He's a legitimate big man inside, and along with Luc (Mbah a Moute), Alfred (Aboya), and Lorenzo (Mata-Real) who are all more mature and older now, it gives us a lot of choices and depth inside."

"Kevin's outlet passes will give us some opportunities in the open court. We'll definitely use it to our advantage in transition."

Collison is also thrilled by the play of sophomore Russell Westbrook, who is slated to back him up at the point and play alongside him at the two-spot at times during the game.

"I think Russell Westbrook is going to surprise some people this year," Collison said of his teammate. "He brings a lot of energy. He'll give us a spark whenever he comes into a game."

Along with Shipp, Collison will be looked upon to lead the team this season.

Reflecting upon past players who have played leadership roles on the team during his first two years in Westwood, Collison said, "I know what Jordan brought to the table and what Arron meant to us last year, I feel its our turn to step up to the challenge."

"Looking back at the last two years - it has been fun, but back-to-back Final Fours aren't good enough for us. We want to win a all."

(photo credit: Bruin Basketball Report)


Sunday, October 14, 2007

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (10/15)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


UNC already has commitments from Ed Davis, the No. 20 prospect, and Larry Drew, the No. 78 prospect. Add Zeller (No. 22) and Shumpert (No. 26), and I would give North Carolina's class the edge over UCLA's present class for the No. 1 spot. The positional diversity of UNC's hypothetical four-man class gives it a slight edge over UCLA's four-man class of Jrue Holiday (No. 3), Jerime Anderson (No. 48), Drew Gordon (No. 49) and Malcolm Lee (No. 51). Rivals 10/12


If the Crimson Tide could add the two players who visited last weekend — 6-foot-10 J’mison Morgan of Dallas, Tex.,
and 6-9 Xavier Gibson of Dothan — it would be a class to rival the
Dukes and UCLAs of the college basketball world. To get an idea of the
esteem in which Morgan is held by recruiters, he’s made four official
trips: Alabama, Kansas, UCLA and LSU. He’s trying to pick between
Kentucky and Louisville for his fifth visit. Dateline Alabama 10/9

Since he's been at North Carolina, Williams is still drilling away out West. The current roster boasts three California natives in guard Quentin Thomas and forwards Alex Stephenson and Deon Thompson. The Tar Heels have a commitment from Southern California point guard Larry Drew in the 2008 recruiting class.
Williams isn't closely the pipeline any time soon, either. Twins David Wear and Travis Wear will be in Chapel Hill for North Carolina's midnight madness festivities this weekend. Rivals 10/10

Although I knew there would be a bevy of talent at the camp, I was curious to see if prep phenom 6-9 sophomore Jeremy Tyler (San Diego) would make the trek up north from San Diego to wow fans and scouts alike with his basketball prowess at a Frosh/Soph camp -- and he would.
Tyler demonstrated why he is arguably the No. 1 prospect in the national Class of 2010 as he was head-and-shoulders -- both in height and talent -- above the rest. ESPN 10/10

Our No. 59 prospect in the class of 2009, Milton Jennings is a valued prospect as a skilled power forward. Jennings has strong face-up skills and is much more of a "four" – power forward – than he is a "five" – center. In fact, one of the main areas where Jennings could improve is being more physical around the basket. His body still is developing, and he should be able to play the four and the five in college, but at this point, he projects primarily as a four. Rivals 10/12

With committed recruits Ed Davis (’08), Larry Drew (’08) and Kendall Marshall (’10) joining Tar Heel junior targets Dominic Cheek, Mason Plumlee and David Wear and Travis Wear on the front row, Roy Williams even got into the action with some dance moves alongside local musical group Liquid Pleasure. Canes Time 10/12

Tim Floyd is changing the culture of recruiting in Los Angeles,
traditionally a hotbed of prep basketball stars. Where UCLA used to
keep a lot of the local talent and coaches like Roy Williams would
poach elite West Coast prospects to play at Kansas and North Carolina,
a lot of the Southern California talent is looking at USC now. Demar
Derozen, the top-ranked small forward in the 2008 class and a USC
commit, is a good example....Jeremy Tyler, a San Diego resident and elite 2010 prospect, and Los
Angeles resident Renardo Sidney, a top 2009 prospect are also seriously
considering suiting up for the Trojans CSTV 10/13.

As the Midnight Madness contest shenanigans continued, I was able to catch up with Jeremy Tyler, a 2010 power forward who looks like a top-10 prospect in his class. And he sounds real high on USC. The Southern California native, who once lived in Los Angeles and now resides in San Diego, had a lot of good things to say about USC.
On his feelings about USC:
"I love USC. USC's a great school, it's in a great place -- L.A. What could be better than L.A.? A lot of students come and support the basketball team. The studies are real good. I like USC."
On growing up a USC fan and his family connections:
"Always. I always grew up - 'I like the Trojans.' I used to live in L.A. too. My little brother's mom - she goes here. She's getting her doctorate degree. My little brother loves USC. " CSTV 10/13

Monroe and fellow high-profile recruits, senior Renaldo Woolridge and junior Hollis Thompson were present at Friday's Midnight Madness and spent most of the evening together. The trio sat together throughout the night's events and left together after the festivities.
They offered similar assessments of Georgetown....Thompson, a lanky small forward from Los Angeles had similar words for Midnight Madness, saying he was impressed but still taking in the recruiting process and had not yet reached a decision. The Hoya 10/13