Saturday, November 03, 2007

Teleconference Notes Coach Howland - Player Injuries

(courtesy of UCLA Athletics)

Teleconference Quotes
Head Coach Ben Howland


At the beginning of today’s teleconference, UCLA head men’s basketball coach Ben Howland announced that three Bruins had sustained injuries either in last night’s exhibition game or in today’s practice. Junior guard Darren Collison tweaked his left knee in the first two minutes of last night’s 111-61 exhibition win over Azusa Pacific. An MRI performed today revealed a grade one sprain of the Medial Collateral Ligament (MCL). He will be out four-to-five days (meaning he will miss the Bruins’ exhibition game on Monday, Nov. 5 with Chico State and will be questionable for the season-opener against Portland State on Nov. 9). Junior guard Michael Roll ruptured his plantar fascia in his left foot and will be out 3-5 weeks. Finally, junior guard/forward Josh Shipp sprained his right thumb in the second half of the exhibition game. His X-rays were negative, but he was pulled out of today’s practice due to pain he experienced when trying to catch the ball. He is doubtful for Monday’s exhibition game with Chico State.

on Darren Collison’s Knee Injury

“It is basically going to be a pain tolerance situation with Darren. He can start playing as soon as he doesn’t have limitations because of the pain. He will not play on Monday and we will see how he feels as the week progresses. He will be getting treatment every day. Based on the findings today, I can’t see him being out longer than a week to two weeks at the most. It shouldn’t be a long-term issue.”

on when and how Darren Collison’s injury occurred

“He said that it happened on the first play of the game. He went for a steal in the middle of the floor and he reached out with his right hand and as that happened, his left leg made a funny movement, like a twist. There wasn’t any contact. I saw it on the film and it looked like he tweaked it with a sudden motion of his leg stopping and starting while twisting.”

on Michael Roll’s injury

“I have another unfortunate announcement, Michael Roll ruptured his plantar fascia in his left foot today. Two months ago, he had an injection put into that foot, and he has had problems with plantar fasciitis over the last year and a half. It just happened today. He just jumped up and then boom, he fell into a pile. It is terrible timing because he has been playing so well. Mike, clearly, is one of the guys that makes our team the best offensive team it can be. Our best offensive team was and will be this year (Darren) Collison, (Michael) Roll, (Josh) Shipp, Luc (Richard Mbah a Moute) and Kevin (Love). So we are going to definitely miss him. It seems unbelievable that we just had our first exhibition game and then we have two injuries that are fairly serious, it never ends.”

on Josh Shipp’s injury

“It happened in the game last night. I knew he had sprained it (right thumb), but I didn’t know how bad it was. Today was just hard for him. He started to practice, but every time he caught the ball, it was painful, so I pulled him out. I expect him to play on Friday (season opener against Portland State on Nov. 9). We had it X-rayed today and there was no break.”

on hearing that Darren’s injury was just a grade one sprain

“It is an unbelievable relief. As you can imagine, I was sick to my gut just thinking about all of the possibilities, but didn’t want to talk about them until I knew what the facts were. Now with (Michael) Roll out, the question is who fills into that position and gets more minutes. Both Nikola (Dragovic) and Chace (Stanback) will have a chance to play some more minutes. It probably puts Luc (Richard Mbah a Moute) playing more minutes at the three and less at the four because it gives us one less perimeter player that I was counting on
on who will start Monday night vs. Chico State

“Right now I don’t know who will start because I don’t know if Josh (Shipp) is going to play. I know that Luc (Richard Mbah a Moute), Kevin (Love), Alfred (Aboya) and Russell (Westbrook) will start and the other is up in the air based on our health. The next guy would probably be either Nikola (Dragovic) or Chace (Stanback). I will obviously err on the side of caution and there’s a good chance I won’t play Josh (Shipp) on Monday and hope that we can beat Chico State without Josh, Darren (Collison) and Mike Roll, who all played well last night.”

on the team’s outlook after all the injuries
“Our guys are resilient and all very supportive of one another. No one has a season-ending injury so that is the good news. Josh (Shipp) will be fine by Friday, assuming that he doesn’t re-hit it, but he’ll be okay. Darren (Collison) will hopefully be back by Friday, but we will just have to wait and see.”


UCLA Basketball Injury Update

By Bruin Basketball Report

Darren Collison was diagnosed with a mild sprain in his left knee, an MRI test revealed this afternoon. Collison felt a pop in his knee against Azusa Pacific and complained the knee was sore after the game. He is expected to be out 1 to 3 weeks.

However, UCLA received bad news this afternoon about junior Michael Roll. He ruptured the plantar fascia in his left foot in Saturday's practice after going up for a rebound and landing awkwardly and may be out three to five weeks. Howland said he had recieved an injection in the foot two months ago and has struggled with plantar fascia for the past 18 months.

Josh Shipp had his right hand heavily bandaged at practice today as a result of an injury he sustained against Azusa Pacific on Friday. Shipp is questionable for Monday's exhibition game against Chico St.


Friday, November 02, 2007

Bruins Sparkle in Preseason Win, Collison Hurts Knee

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Freshman Kevin Love recorded a double-double in his first game as a collegiate to lead the Bruins to a 111-61 trouncing of the Azusa Pacific Cougars in front of 8,211 at Pauley Pavilion. Love finished with 15 points on 6 of 10 shooting and a game-high 12 rebounds. 

However the victory celebration was short-lived when it was revealed after the game that junior point-guard Darren Collison injured his left knee.  He left the locker room with his knee wrapped and walking on crutches. 

Collison felt something in his knee pop after the second possession of the game but decided to continue.  After the game he reported that the left knee was sore.

"It was bothering him after the game," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said. "There's no swelling. Normally with a torn meniscus there's some swelling."

He will have an MRI performed on the left knee on Saturday.

Collison scored 12 points in the winning effort including a game-high 7 assists in 26 minutes of play.

He set the tone in the first possession of the game when he stole the ball at the top of the circle and scooted down for a rousing slam to electrify the home crowd.  The Bruins raced out to a 10-0 lead capped by a three-point shot by Love.

Howland, who had been non-committal about naming his five starters, perhaps surprised some by starting sophomore Russell Westbrook at shooting guard alongside Love, Collison, Josh Shipp, and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.  The sophomore guard finished with 14 points including 6 of 7 from the line.

Westbrook brings a level of intensity, especially on the defensive end, however one of the concerns with starting Westbrook is the potential for foul trouble since he is the primary back-up at point to Collison. 

The problem became evident in this game when Westbrook picked up quick two fouls in the first eight minutes of the game and had to sit down.  Although he returned in the half of this exhibition, in a real game he may have been forced to sit out the entire half thereby forcing Collison to play without a back-up.  It will be interesting to watch how this evolves over the next week.

Josh Shipp lead all scorers with 20 points on 8 of 11 shooting including a couple of monstrous slams in transition. 

Michael Roll came off the bench to hit 3 of 5 three-pointers to finish with 16.  Roll is a different offensive player this season.  In prior years, Roll would settle for outside jumpers, but now a junior, he has filled out physically and is much stronger. He attacked the basket on a few occasions, in one instance he received the ball off a cut and made a tough lay-up while being fouled hard by the defender.

Nikola Dragovic has never been shy about shooting and took advantage of the numerous open looks he had in the game finishing with 11 points on 3 of 5 shooting from beyond the arc.

The Bruins shot 54.5% (12-22) on three-pointers for the game.  Shipp was also 3 of 6 from beyond the arc.

With Love leading the way, the Bruins dominated the boards 49-29.  Mbah a Moute grabbed 6 caroms an Lorenzo Mata snagged 6 rebounds coming off the bench.

UCLA went into halftime with a 48-26 lead and extended the lead to as great as 55 points in the second half.

The Bruins next face Chico State in their last preseason match-up on Monday, November 5th at 7:30PM at Pauley Pavilion. 

In the meantime, they'll be nervously waiting to hear about the condition of their star point-guard.

BBR Notes: J'Mison Morgan. a high school center recruited by UCLA, decided to commit to LSU today. Morgan's AAU coach has a strong relationship at the LSU program, and Morgan was impressed by his visits to the school as well by visits by former LSU alumni Tyrus Thomas and Shaquille O'Neal.

The Bruins came out with their commemorative gold "C" on their uniforms, however, the gold "C" is now outlined by Bruin blue to help the letter itself stand out better against the home white uniforms.

(photo credit: AP)


Thursday, November 01, 2007

UCLA vs. Azusa Pacific - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

The UCLA Bruins play the first of two preseason games tonight when they face the Azusa Pacific Cougars at Pauley Pavilion. It will be the first meeting ever between the two schools.

The Cougars are one of the winningest basketball programs in NAIA play, compiling a 437-98 (.816) since 1993. They have advanced to the NAIA Elite Eight each of the past 3 seasons and played for the NAIA championship in 2005.

Over the past fifteen seasons, they have garnered 14 NAIA tournament berths and 13 Golden State Athletic Conference (GSAC) championships.

Bill Odell, the team's head coach the past 16 years, stepped down this summer to become the school's full-time athletic director. Twenty-nine year-old protege Justin Leslie, an assistant under Odell, was named to replace him.

"Obviously this is a great opportunity for our program," said Azusa Pacific coach Justin Leslie. "We're honored that UCLA would consider us an appropriate opponent to prepare them for the season ahead. We’re excited about going to Pauley and playing one of the best, if not the best college basketball team in the nation this year."

In preparation for the game against UCLA, the Cougars played a scrimmage game against another Division I team, UC Riverside, on Tuesday.

Azusa Pacific returns six reserve players from a 29-7 squad that averaged 87.6 points a game on 50.1% field-goal shooting. Joining the team this season are two key Division I transfers; David Burgess (Gonzaga) and Davon Roberts (Sacramento State).

Some people in Southern California may remember Burgess from his playing days at Woodbridge High School in Irvine. The 6'10 260lb center has been plagued by injury for most of his collegiate career. He signed to play at BYU in 2005 but missed his entire freshman season due to surgery on both ankles.

After playing limited minutes as a red-shirt freshman, Burgess transferred to Gonzaga, where after sitting out a year he injured his knee and missed half the season last year. Playing limited minutes while averaging 1.0 points and 1.3 rebounds in six games, he decided to transfer to Azusa Pacific this year, since it was an NAIA school and did not require him to sit out another season.

The Cougars top returning scorer from last season's team is sophomore Mike Danielian (6'2, 180), a solid marksman from outside. He averaged 9.2 points in 17.2 minutes of play as a freshman.

There is an obvious difference in the level of play between top NAIA and NCAA Division I schools, however, Azusa Pacific is a well-coached team and will give the Bruins a chance to fine-tune their game tonight.

(photo credit: BYU Athletics)


Mbah a Moute Hurting, Howland Near Decision On Starters

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Junior forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute returned to  practice on Thursday after bruising his left shoulder while diving for a ball during Wednesday's practice.  X-rays taken were negative.

Mbah a Moute is expected to play tonight against Azusa Pacific.

At Thursday's Pac-10 Conference media day, UCLA Coach Ben Howland said that Mbah a Moute, Darren Collison, Josh Shipp, and freshman Kevin Love would start and that the fifth spot was still undetermined.

"There's really four options," Howland said, "Roll could start, but if I bring him off the bench we get a lift offensively because he'll come in firing. Defensively, either Alfred or Russell makes us the best defensive team to start the game with. It could be Lorenzo."

"Once I get a lineup I like to stick to that lineup," he said. "Alfred, Lorenzo, Russell, Michael, regardless of who does start all those guys will play a significant role."

Mbah a Moute Injures Shoulder

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Junior forward Luc Richard Mbah a


Wednesday, October 31, 2007

BBR: UCLA Bruins 2007-08 Basketball Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

With back-to-back Final Four appearances the last two seasons there is little doubt UCLA has reclaimed its place among elite college basketball programs.

Blue-chip recruits around the country are regularly listing UCLA as a top destination, and kids in the West look first towards Westwood before anywhere else. A top-ranked incoming class in 2008 attests to the program's renewed drawing power.

Despite all the recent success, the eleven basketball championship banners hanging in the rafters at Pauley Pavilion remain a stark reminder to players and coaches of the annual expectations set for the team.

Yet, players and coaches alike don't shy away from the lofty expectations, moreover many of them embrace the challenge set by Bruin greats of the past, claiming the reason why they chose UCLA in the first place was due to the tradition of winning.

In four seasons Head Coach Ben Howland has compiled a record of 91-41 (.689) including 30+ win seasons the past two years - only one coach (John Wooden) in UCLA history has more 30+ win seasons.  His turnaround of a program, which had fallen on hard times under his predecessor, is now complete.  The next goal is a NCAA championship, whether it happens this season remains to be seen; but it appears this 2007-08 team may give him his best chance of winning it all since he's been at UCLA.

Although Coach Howland may change his offense to an extent based upon the strength of his personnel, the focus on defense remains unchanged.  Defense wins championship is still the working theorem followed at UCLA practices.

The Bruins lost Arron Afflalo, who was taken in the first-round of the NBA draft, from last season's club, but they return a solid nucleus of veterans and have added key pieces for their tourney run. The Bruins have a total of eleven scholarship players on the roster which includes: one senior, five juniors, three sophomores, and two freshmen.

Incoming Freshmen

Kevin Love: As one of the most anticipated arrivals in recent Bruin history, Love finally joins the Bruins amid sky-high expectations and hype.  Has he been worthy of all the attention?  Since practice began over two weeks ago, Love has been the leading rebounder on the team, scored effectively off the low blocks, and has proved he can hit from the outside consistently.  Despite getting a little banged up during practice, the 6'10 260 lb freshman has shown he can dish it out too as he learns the nuances of the team's system and rigors of playing against quality big men everyday.

While Love gives the team a consistent inside scoring presence it has lacked in past seasons, it's his ability to rebound and outlet pass effectively to ignite the fastbreak that may change the Bruin offense from one that relied heavily on its half-court execution to one that scores more often in transition.

One of the biggest adjustments for Love this season will be on defense.  He'll be consistently facing bigger and faster competition than he's ever played before.  But its a challenge Love embraces since he understands that he needs to improve his defensive skills if he expects to be successful at the next level.

Coach Howland has not announced his starting line-up for the first regular season game, however, Love has worked hard in practice and has been one of the team's top players.  There is nothing to suggest at this point that he won't be lining up on the court at tip-off time.

Chace Stanback: Stanback quietly slipped into Westwood amid all the attention given to his fellow freshman, however, he has been solid in practice and has impressed Howland with his effort, especially in rebounding.  Howland reported the 6'8 Stanback was the team's fourth best rebounder during all scrimmages.  He has shown a knack for finding the ball and an aggressiveness which lends to his rebounding ability.  Stanback still needs to improve his outside shooting and overall understanding of the game at this level. 

Barring injuries on the team, Stanback is not expected to play a significant amount of minutes this season, however, he appears to be a solid Howland-type player who should be a solid contributer over the next few seasons.

Returning Players

Darren Collison: The Bruins' starting point-guard seriously considered entering the NBA draft after last season where he was projected by some to be a first-round draft choice.  At the end, Collison made the right decision to return to UCLA for another year to hone his skills further under Coach Howland.    

Collison, who is known for his speed and quickness, expanded his game last season by improving his outside shooting and his play-making skills.  He shot 44.7% from beyond the three-point arc for third best in the Pac-10 while averaging 12.7 points and 5.7 assists a game.

Howland considers Collison to be the team's best on ball defender.  His quickness allows him to hound opponent guards endlessly throughout games - he averaged 2.2 steals last season.

With the addition of Kevin Love and the subsequent improvement in team rebounding, the Bruins are expected to run more in transition this season.  In practice, Howland has been urging his guards, specifically Collison, to push the ball up after every change in possession to put pressure on retreating defenders.  With the personnel on the team, this may be the season the Bruins begin to rely on their fast-break as a primary weapon on offense.

Josh Shipp:  The red-shirt junior underwent hip surgery over the summer but he appears to have fully recuperated.  Shipp is the team's top returning scorer from last season and is expected to help make up some of the scoring slack from Afflalo's departure.

He was inconsistent with his outside shooting last season averaging just 31.6% from three-point distance.  However, Howland has reported that Shipp has shot extremely well in practice and expects him to be one of the team's top scorers. 

Shipp will likely start the season at shooting guard, but will probably spend time at small forward as well.  On offense, Shipp's ability to hit from the outside and drive the lane gives the team options on the wing, but its still unclear how effective he will be in defending the opposition's shooting guard.  While Shipp averaged 1.8 steals a game last season, he finds himself out of position at times on defense and may have difficulty covering a quicker guard.  If Shipp expends the effort on defense to stay in front of his man, he can be effective, if not, then the Bruins will need to either go to Russell Westbrook at times at shooting guard or even perhaps shift Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to guard the two if necessary.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute:  Mbah a Moute is looking to improve on his sophomore campaign where both his scoring and rebounding totals decreased from his prior year.  Although the junior forward won't readily admit it himself, he was bothered most of last season by tendinitis in both knees which seemed to limit his explosiveness.  However, he underwent therapy and improved his training regimen to strengthen the muscles around his knees over the summer and declares himself completely healthy.

He worked with assistant coach Scott Garson to improve his outside shooting over the summer.  Mbah a Moute has shortened his shooting stroke which has resulted in a more consistent motion, and he has reportedly been shooting well in practice.  If he can carry over his success in practice into the regular season, then Mbah a Moute may be in store for a break-out season.

Lorenzo Mata-Real: The senior center has improved his game every season at UCLA and his physical presence underneath anchored the defense last year. Mata-Real will likely split time at the the center position with Love, although he will also likely play alongside him with Love moving over to the four spot.  It wouldn't be surprising to have both Mata and Love in the line-up to start the game.

Mata-Real worked hard over the summer to improve his offensive repertoire, and reports from practice indicates he is scoring more effectively from the post.  He has been injury-prone during his career at UCLA, mainly due to his all-out style of play, however for the team to be successful this season, Mata-Real needs to stay healthy.  With only eleven scholarship players, the Bruins can ill afford to lose Mata-Real, or any player for that matter, for prolonged periods.

Michael Roll: The junior sharpshooter has been impressive at practice this year.  While he is not the quickest player on the team, Roll works extremely hard on defense and does a good job staying in front of his man to the point that the coaches have confidence in playing him against good offensive scorers.

In his third year at UCLA, Roll has a solid understanding of the system and knows his role on the team.  He is a good passer, especially in feeding the post, which is important this season with Love in the paint.  Roll's ability to play both the two and three spots and his experience will play a big part in the Bruins' success this season.

Russell Westbrook: At the start of practice this year, Coach Howland stated he thought Westbrook may be the most improved player.  Over the summer, Westbrook worked hard everyday at the Men's Gym playing against NBA players and top college players to improve his game. He is explosive off the dribble and is arguably the team's most athletically-gifted players.

Westbrook will start the season backing up Collison at the point, although Howland expects to play him alongside Collison at times during the game.  He feels a dynamic combination of Westbrook and Collison in the backcourt will be difficult for most teams to defend. 

More recently in practice, Westbrook has not demonstrated the level of patience at point-guard that Howland expects at the position, at times playing too out of control.  With limited options after Collison at point, much of the team's success will depend on Westbrook's ability to harness his game and play within the team's system.

Alfred Aboya
: Aboya's role on the team the past two season has been to be a physical presence.  While the Bruins need him to continue his aggressive play, he now may be able to provide some scoring as well.  Over the summer, the junior worked on his mid-range jumper and has improved to the point that Howland has confidence in his ability to hit the open jumper in games. 

Aboya's ability to play both the four and five off the bench gives Howland flexibility in his rotation.  His ability to hit the shot consistently will make players guard him honestly rather than play off him when he has the ball away from the basket as they did last season.

Nikola Dragovic:  Where does Dragovic fit on the team?  On one hand, he is perhaps the team's best outside shooter from deep and is an excellent passer.  Dragovic is also a seasoned player, having played a significant role on the Serbian national team's championship over the summer.  On the other hand, he needs to demonstrate to the coaching staff that he can play effective defense at the Division I level.  At 6'8 with average speed, Dragovic may have problems guarding quicker wing players, while at the same time does not have experience in guarding post players inside.

While Dragovic may be useful against zone defenses and provide the team instant offense off the bench, unless he improves his defense it may be difficult for him to find time in the rotation.

James Keefe:  From most reports, Keefe had been playing very well over the summer and his strength and weight conditioning had much to do with his success.  However, his shoulder injury and subsequent surgery has set him back. 

The Bruins need Keefe this season to provide depth inside the paint.   He is not expected to return to the line-up until mid-December.

(photo credit: AP and Jack Rosenfeld)


Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Love and Mata Collide - Just Another Day At Practice

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

How tough is Kevin Love? He's Howland-tough.

Nowadays UCLA basketball practices are just as rough and competitive as any game the team might play against an actual opponent.

Players bump, they grind, and dive after loose balls. Its the type of practice philosophy Head Coach Ben Howland has instilled in his players that has helped the Bruins develop a reputation for their toughness.

Freshman Kevin Love is learning this quickly.

Although Love has been the recipient of bruises and cuts from practices, he is not the type of fellow to back down.

In today's open practice, Love received a pass near the foul circle and drove hard though an open lane to the basket, but the lane was only open momentarily as 6'9 Lorenzo Mata stepped in to seal it off, but Love not to be deterred continued his drive until both player's knees collided violently under the basket. Both players rolled onto the floor as the next five minutes at Pauley Pavilion was filled with stunned silence from the hundred of fans who showed up to watch the team practice.

Mata was sitting up on the floor in agony, but it was obvious Love had gotten the worse of the collision as he laid under the basket writhing in pain and rubbing his knee. Coaches and trainers quickly tended to the freshman and after some long moments it was determined the knee was only bruised.

Love returned to the scrimmage a few minutes later but then removed himself again after the knee seemed to stiffen up.

"I got the ball out top and drove to the basket, Lorenzo swiped at the ball and we just banged knees," Love said. "I think he got hit on the top of the knee and I got hit on the side of the knee where I already had a bruise."

"I'll be back tomorrow a 100%," the freshman big man said. "It felt a little weak after I came back on to the floor and couldn't jump off it. I decided to take myself out of practice because I didn't want to hurt it since we have a game on Friday."

Since the start of practice, Love has been getting a daily dose of physical play from his own teammates.

"It's just the physicality of college ball," Love said. "I'm a big guy so I'm going to take a beating inside but Lorenzo and Alfred are going to take a beating as well. I figure that I just need to keep building up that scar tissue (smirking) and I'll be all right."

When asked what has been the biggest transition from high school to college ball, Love said, "Probably the defense. That's why I decided to come here, so that I could learn to play better defense. Coach Howland is not only the best in teaching individual defense but he's also the best in teaching team defense."

Junior Alfred Aboya continued to show a new and improved outside shot, hitting a number of jumpers during scrimmage games.

"Alfred has really improved his shot," Howland said. "He's a much better shooter now than he's been his first two years. I have confidence in his shot 17-18 feet that it will go in."

Howland has also been impressed by freshman Chace Stanback's effort and willingness to learn during practices.

"Chace Stanback is a good rebounder." the UCLA Head Coach said. "He's working hard to improve his shot and getting bigger and stronger by working hard in the weight room. He's going to be a good player - it just takes time and experience."

Sophomore Russell Westbrook showed up proudly at practice today sporting a new short-version of a mohawk. When asked what they thought of Westbrook's new hairdo, both Darren Collison and Love agreed, "That's just Russell, he just wanted to do something that would get him noticed."

Not the case, said Westbrook. "I was thinking about this for two or three weeks," he said. "I just had to wait for my barber to be around."

When asked if he'd like to get a hair cut to match his sophomore guard, Howland responded, "No, I'm just lucky to have some hair - and I'm going to try to keep it as long as I can."

(photo: Bruin Basketball Report)


Monday, October 29, 2007

Bruins in the NBA Report

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

When the NBA opens its regular season, ten former Bruins will be on NBA rosters, including rookie guard Arron Afflalo of the Detroit Pistons.

All teams were required to trim rosters to the league mandated fifteen players yesterday. Two former Bruins were cut prior to the end of preseason camp: Jelani McCoy (Nuggets) and Andre Patterson (Lakers).

Here is a look at the former Bruins around the NBA at the start of the regular season.

Arron Afflalo, Detroit Pistons: With the hand injury to fellow rookie Rodney Stuckey, Afflalo finds himself in the Detroit rotation as the back-up shooting guard to starter Richard Hamilton. Afflalo followed a solid summer league with an impressive preseason camp shooting over 50% and playing aggressive defense. While he still has much to learn in the league, Piston management has already taken notice of Afflalo's unique work ethic and warrior mentality.

Jordan Farmar, Los Angeles Lakers: Farmar had a stunning preseason for the Lakers, which even prompted Lakers Coach Phil Jackson to state he might be one of the most improved players on the team this season. Farmar has been more aggressive on offense and has developed an explosiveness in his drives, something rarely seen during his career at UCLA. While veteran Derek Fisher will start in the backcourt, the Lakers feel very comfortable, and perhaps play even better, when Farmar is on the floor.

Matt Barnes, Golden St. Warriors: Barnes has come a long way since last summer when he was simply hoping for a spot on a roster. He has solidified his role on the team and was named one of the team's tri-captains. Look for Barnes to have another good season, especially since he's only signed to a one-year contract with the Warriors and is looking for a lucrative long-term deal next spring.

Baron Davis, Golden St. Warriors: With the departure of Jason Richardson, Davis understands he'll need to pick up some of the scoring slack from his departed backcourt mate. Davis is looking to continue his elite-play from the post-season. He announced during the preseason that he would wait until the end of the year before negotiating a new contract extension with the Warriors.

Trevor Ariza, Orlando Magic: Orlando management remains high on Ariza's potential; however, nagging foot and leg injuries have hampered his rise. Expected to battle for the starting spot at shooting guard, Ariza never had the opportunity due to a injured foot he suffered in camp. When he gets healthy, Ariza will likely come off the bench backing up both shooting guard and small forward spots.

Dan Gadzuric, Milwaukee Bucks: Gadzuric had a solid preseason camp and started a few games in place of an injured Andrew Bogut. He averaged 7.0 points and 5.3 rebounds in 19 minutes of play and impressed coaches with his energy and hustle. Bogut is expected to return for the start of the season with Gadzuric returning to the bench.

Ryan Hollins, Charlotte Bobcats: With multiple injuries along the Bobcat front line, the coaches experimented with Hollins as their starting center during the preseason. However, Hollins struggled at times, mainly due to his inexperience in the league, and will likely see most of his his action coming off the bench. Veteran center Primoz Brezec is slated to start the season in the low post.

Jason Kapono, Toronto Raptors: Kapono, the reigning three-point champion, left the Miami Heat and signed a lucrative free-agent contract with the Raptors during the offseason. It appears he has beat out Joey Graham and Carlos Delfino for the starting small forward spot. Playing with a very young roster, Kapono finds himself as one of the few veterans on the club.

Darrick Martin, Toronto Raptors: Martin is the dean of all active former Bruins in the NBA. He will start his 13th year in the league on the inactive list. Martin will serve as the emergency back-up point guard and clubhouse mentor for the Raptors.

Earl Watson, Seattle Supersonics: It appears Watson will be the Sonics starting point guard when they open the season. Luke Ridnour is still recovering from a broken nose and his play has been limited. Watson and Ridnour have been locked in a battle for the starting spot in Seattle the past two years - this season shouldn't be any different.

(photo credit: NBA)


Message from

Message from

Join the Sports Department crew as we preview the 2007-2008 UCLA basketball season.

The Bruins run for title number 12 starts with us on Tuesday October 30th from 7-8pm. Highlights of the show include a 1 on 1 interview with UCLA sophomore combo guard Russell Westbrook, in depth analysis of the Bruins and their Pac 10 competition, as well as their expert predictions of who will be crowned king on April 7th, 2008 in San Antonio.

Don’t miss out…listen live only at


Sunday, October 28, 2007

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (10/29)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Woodland Hills Taft boys' basketball Coach Derrick Taylor is predicting a big season for UCLA-bound guard Jrue Holiday of North Hollywood Campbell Hall. "You're going to see a high school version of Kobe Bryant," Taylor said. As for how he's going to deal with 6-10 center Renardo Sidney of Los Angeles Fairfax, Taylor suggested that Sidney's coach, Harvey Kitani, encourage him to shoot lots of "threes." LA Times 10/27


Morgan visits Cincy: J’Mison Morgan, a 6-10 senior center from Dallas South Oak Cliff High, told he had fun on his official visit to Cincinnati over the weekend. He now has completed his NCAA-allotted five visits: to KU, Cincy, UCLA, LSU and Alabama. “It’s a nice campus,” Morgan told of Cincy. “Everything is real close together, and I was able to watch the team practice and hang out with the players. Coach (Mick) Cronin was telling me I should be an automatic force if I work hard, and there should be immediate playing time. I want to get minutes my freshman year but I don't have to start.” Morgan will announce his college choice on his birthday, Nov. 2. LJ World 10/22

“I like North Carolina a lot,” Stephen Van Treese said. “They didn’t offer me. Roy hasn’t seen me play yet and he said he doesn’t offer players that he hasn’t seen yet. He said he was going to come see me play the first couple weeks of our season.” A week prior to his visits to Wake Forest and UNC, Van Treese made the two-hour drive from Indianapolis to Louisville to check out Louisville’s campus and meet with Rick Pitino. “I enjoyed it,” said Van Treese, who has a scholarship offer from the Cards. “Their facilities are amazing. Everything there was real nice.” To go with offers from Wake Forest and Louisville, he also claims offers from Xavier, UCLA, Indiana, Kentucky, Notre Dame, Ohio State and Purdue. Van Treese said Kansas, Florida, Duke and North Carolina round out his list of 13 schools. Deacon Sports 10/23

But KU also is in the running for 6-7 point forward Jordan Hamilton (No. 8), 6-3 guard John Wall, 6-9 forward Daniel Orton (No. 11) and 6-10 center DaShonte Riley (No. 13). Between now and 2009, the Jayhawks are sure to lose eight players off the current roster, not including sophomores Darell Arthur and Sherron Collins, both potential NBA defections. Topeka Capital-Journal 10/26

Another piece of the 2009 graduating class put himself into the Arizona State men’s basketball puzzle on Thursday, as point guard Jared Cunningham made a verbal commitment to the Sun Devils, less than a week after making an official visit to the school. The 6-foot-3, 155-pound junior from San Leandro (Calif.) High School also drew interest from California, Gonzaga, Washington State and San Diego State, but made up his mind when he and his father returned home from Tempe last weekend. lists Cunningham as the No. 8 point guard and No. 56 overall prospect among this year’s junior class. East Valley Tribune 10/26

(photo credit: LJ World)