Saturday, November 17, 2007

Abdul-Jabbar To Be Inducted Into National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA basketball legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be honored and inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame today. The ceremony will be held at the new College Basketball Experience (CBE) in Kansas City, Mo.

Abdul-Jabbar will be recognized as a member of the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame's founding class. The former UCLA star and two-time national player of the year helped the Bruins to a record of 88-2 and three straight NCAA championships.

He finished his illustrious Bruin career with 2,325 points (26.4 ppg) and 1,367 rebounds (15.5 rpg).

Formerly known as Lew Alcindor, Abdul-Jabbar was inducted into the UCLA Athletic Hall of Fame in 1984 and had his jersey #33 retired in 1990.

After winning NBA championships with the Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers, he retired from the NBA as the league's all-time leader in nine statistical categories, including points scored. He was inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1995.

Another UCLA great Bill Walton will introduce Abdul-Jabbar during the enshrinement ceremonies. Ben Howland and the UCLA basketball team are in Kansas City for the CBE Classic basketball tournament and will attend the pre-ceremony reception.

UCLA Coach John Wooden was inducted into the National Collegiate Basketball Hall of Fame last year as part of a charter class.

(photo credit: Academy of Achievement)


Thursday, November 15, 2007

Howland Cautious With Collison, Westbrook To Be Tested

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Darren Collison is expected to return to the line-up no earlier than the November 28 contest against George Washington, UCLA Coach Ben Howland said at the team's weekly media conference.

"It's only been 12 days since he injured it, and he's not as far along as I had hoped in terms of his conditioning," Howland said. "Were he to play on Monday and Tuesday I'm not even sure he would be very effective because he's so winded right now. He didn't do anything for 10 days."

Howland understands its a long season and he'll need his junior point-guard healthy for Pac-10 conference play and tournament time. More importantly, he wants to make sure Collison does not injure his knee any further.

"We're going to be very conservative and careful with this, " Howland said. "My biggest concern is I don't want anything to happen to him long term." It is not the right thing to encourage him to play Monday and tuesday. The worst thing possible to do is have him come back to soon and re-injure it or tweak it and then he's out for a longer period of time."

When Collison hurt his knee against Azusa Pacific, many braced for the worst, but after an MRI indicated it was only a mild left knee sprain, the prevailing thought was that he'd be back relatively soon.

"It's unfortunate because I was optimistic that he would be ready to go, but it's just probably not prudent to try to push him," Howland said. "A lot of it for him is confidence right now. By doing it more and more every day, I think he'll be fine because there's perfect stability in the leg, he's got good strength, there's no loss of strength there. I am confident that given another 10 days to two weeks be should be back to close to full strength."

For the past week Collison thought he could play soon as well but agreed it was best for him not to push it so early in the season.

"I'm not trying to re-injure it," Collison said. "I can play and I'm sure my instincts would come in and I could do a lot of good things on the court but you never know at that given moment if you might re-injure it and that's the scary part."

Collison has been doing sprinting drills the last few days but has been somewhat hesitant making cuts. For the next few days, he'll also be working on the exercise bike to improve his conditioning.

With Collison out, the Bruins will look for sophomore Russell Westbrook to steer the ship at the point.

Against Maryland, he will be facing a team that will press after every made basket. Moreover, the Terrapins start Greivis Vasquez, a member of the Venezuelan national team. He is a long-armed and experienced 6'6 guard who will challenge Westbrook from the start.

If the Bruins get past Maryland it won't get any easier for Westbrook because it sets up a potential match-up with Michigan State and Drew Neitzel, the Spartan's preseason All-American point-guard.

Nevertheless, Howland has been impressed with Westbrook's progress, in particular in cutting down his turnovers the past couple of contests.

"He's more under control, the last two games," Howland said. "He's had 4 turnovers and 15 assists. He's getting better and better, and with Darren being out he's getting more experience at the point."

Howland was hopeful another injured letterman, Michael Roll, might be back by the George Washington game as well, but thought Roll might take a few days longer. Both Collison and Roll will make the road trip to Kansas City.

BBR Notes: The team is leaving for the CBE Classic on Saturday afternoon after practice. They will have a Sunday practice at 1:30 and then the Bruins will attend a reception in honor of former UCLA great Kareem Abdul-Jabbar who is being inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame this weekend.

(photo credit: AP)


Collison To Miss Games Next Week In CBE Classic

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland announced during the CBE Classic media conference today that junior point-guard Darren Collison will not play in the tournament next week in Kansas City, Missouri.

Previously, it was thought Collison would practice as soon as Friday with a decision to play made afterwards, but with Collison still experiencing soreness in the knee and after being examined by physicians, the team decided to err on the side of caution and hold him out of the games next week.

Collison sprained his left knee on the first play of an exhibition game against Azusa Pacific. At the time, the injury was thought to be more serious but an MRI taken the following day revealed only a sprain.

Sophomore Russell Westbrook will start in place of Collison against Maryland in one of the CBE Classic semifinal games on Monday. If the Bruins beat the Terrapins then they will play on Tuesday against the winner of the Michigan State/Missouri semifinal contest.

Westbrook is the team's third leading scorer, averaging 11.0 points and 6.7 assists a game on 52.4% shooting. He is also averaging 1.7 steals but has also turned the ball over 3.3 times a game.

(photo credit: J Rosenfeld)


Wednesday, November 14, 2007

UCLA Signs Nation's Top Recruiting Class to Letters of Intent

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland announced today high school senior standouts Jerime Anderson, Drew Gordon, Jrue Holiday, and Malcolm Lee have all signed and returned their national letters of intent to play basketball in Westwood next season.

All four players are ranked in the top 50 of their basketball class, as a result, many scouts consider the Bruin's 2008 class as the best in the nation.

"I'm a happy guy because I think we have a great recruiting class," Howland said. "Not only in terms of their abilities but also because all of them are great kids from great families."

Jerime Anderson is a 6'1 point guard from Canyon High School in Anaheim.  Howland views Anderson as another one in the line of excellent point-guards he has recruited to UCLA.

"He is an outstanding true point who is very athletic, an outstanding defender, and is extremely bright," Howland said. "He really showed huge improvement in his game from the summer going into his junior year to the summer going to his senior year."

"In my opinion, he is one of the best guards in the country that I saw all summer long," the coach said of the incoming point-guard. "He has a great mentality and is very outgoing with natural leadership qualities."

Drew Gordon, a 6'9 235lb player from Archbishop Mitty High School in San Jose, is the lone post man in the Bruin's 2008 class. 

"He is an outstanding athlete with great physical ability." Howland said.  "He can be one of the best rebounders we've ever recruited here."

Howland envisions Gordon as a power forward at UCLA who can guard the center position when needed.

"He has huge upside and potential." Howland said. "Drew has good low post scoring ability and he'll compete for playing time right away as a freshman." 

Jrue Holiday, a 6'3 combo guard out of Campbell Hall High School in North Hollywood, is the highest ranked of all four players going to UCLA next season.  Like Kevin Love, Holiday is the top ranked West coast prep player in his recruiting class.

"Jrue is as athletic as anybody we've recruited since Ive been at UCLA and as good an athlete as anybody in the country." Howland said.  "He's very strong, a quick jumper, and an outstanding ballhandler."

Howland likes Holiday's ability to play multi-positions and says he can guard the one, two, and three spots on the floor.

"What sets Jrue apart from other players is he is unbelievably competitive." the UCLA coach said. He has great competitive drive and he's going to be a special player." 

Ultra-quick Malcom Lee, a 6'4 player from John W. North High School in Riverside, is another young player Howland envisions as playing multi-positions at UCLA.

"Malcom is multi-talented, a long athlete who is very skilled."  Howland said. "I've already threatened him that I'm going to pull him out of games if he doesn't shoot more once he gets to UCLA because he's such a good shooter and sometimes I think he passes up good shots."   

"He could really become a lock-down defender, he has extremely quick feet,"  Howland said. "He's got loads of ability and potential, and he's 6'4 and probably still growing."

"Malcolm is a very a good passer as are all three of these guards.  We'll end up playing those three guards together at times as they mature," Howland said. "The ability to pass the ball well is indicative of the IQ of a player's game."

On whether the team has finished signing recruits from the 2008 class, Howland said,  "We have four signed, but never say never. But unless a real great player comes along, I would say yes, this class is complete."

When asked to compare this recruiting class with his previous ones at UCLA, Howland said. "I've been pretty pleased with our past classes.  Ultimately, the classes are judged once they get here and how they perform when they're here. But definitely when you look on paper, I'm very confident all four of these guys are going to be great players and will contribute immediately."

(photo credit: SF Chronicle, LAT, OC Register)



Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Bruins Trounce Coyotes In Mismatch

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Kevin Love dominated in the low post scoring 19 points and grabbing 9 rebounds in the Bruins win over CS San Bernardino, 76-41, in the regional finals of the CBE Classic.

The freshman repeatedly called for the ball inside and manhandled the out-matched Coyote interior players.  Love was 7-10 from the field and 5-7 from the charity line.

He put the Bruin transition game in high gear by tossing a few of his trademark outlet pass strikes to streaking Bruins down the court for easy transition baskets.

Love was also instrumental in helping the Bruins break the Coyotes zone press by receiving the ball in the backcourt and throwing over the top of the zone to advance the ball.

In his first three games as a Bruin, Love is averaging 20.7 points and 10.3 rebounds. 

While he acknowledges the team has yet to face a quality foe, Love is looking forward to playing higher tier opponents.

"When the bright lights come on, I play better," Love said. "I perform better and I'm more focused."

We need to get him more touches because he's such a good passer, especially at the high post," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said.

The Bruins face Maryland on November 19 in the CBE Classic semifinals in Kansas City, Mo.  If they beat the Terrapins then they face the winner of the Missouri/Michigan State contest.

The Coyotes came out with an aggressive match-up zone but the Bruins responded with hot-shooting from the outside to break the zone.

Junior Josh Shipp scored 16 points including two deep three-pointers early in the first-half to help the Bruins pull away early in the game.  Russell Westbrook had a solid game adding 14 points and dishing out 6 assists.  The sophomore guard also committed just one turnover in 26 minutes

While UCLA expertly handled the San Bernardino pressure defense, it was the Bruin's own defense that settled the game.

The Bruins raced out to a 18-4 lead and never looked back and held San Bernardino to just 11 halftime points.  The Coyote's total game points of 41 was only 6 points off the lowest points ever scored at Pauley Pavilion by an opponent.

For the game the Coyotes shot just 33.3% from the field and 1-10 from three-point distance.  While the Bruins were sizzling from the field finishing at 56.5% and 52.6% from three point distance.

As expected UCLA outrebounded the Coyotes 36-24. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Lorenzo Mata each had six rebounds

UCLA will take on Maryland in a CBE Classic semifinal game next Monday on November 19th in Kansas City, MO.  Game time to be announced.

BBR Notes: Collison worked out Tuesday, doing sprint drills and shooting without pain."That's the best news of the day," Howland said. "I'm cautiously optimistic he may be back in time to practice by Friday."

(photo credit: AP)


UCLA vs. CS San Bernardino - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Division II CS San Bernardino earned the right to play No.2 UCLA tonight at Pauley Pavilion after the Coyotes upset Weber State in the first round of the CBE Classic.

Guard Lance Ortiz, a 6'1 junior, made four three-pointers in the second half and finished with 16 points to lead San Bernardino over Weber State, a team that made an appearance in the NCAA tournament last season.

The Coyotes used a stifling pressing defense that rattled Weber State into 20 turnovers with 8 of them coming on steals.  San Bernardino prevailed despite being out-rebounded 30-19 in the game.

David Reichel, a 6'8 forward, added 14 points on four 3-pointers, as a team the Coyotes finished shooting 12-27 (44.4%) on three-pointers.

UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland watched San Bernardino play for the first time yesterday night and came away impressed with the intensity the Coyotes played with.

"They press for 40 minutes and they even press on missed shots," Howland said. "This will be good for us."

It will be interesting to watch how the Bruins handle the pressure without injured point guard Darren Collison. Sophomore Russell Westbrook committed six turnovers in the season opener but only had two against Youngstown State last night.

Since CS San Bernardino is in Division II, this game will not count for
UCLA (2-0) in terms of RPI. However, the winner of the game will advance to the
semifinals of CBE Classic on Nov. 19 at Kansas City, Mo. against

Although the Coyotes walked into Pauley Pavilion in awe of college basketball's most famous shrine, they are ready to take on their next Division I foe.

Ortiz was just 10 years old when he last visited Pauley. "I came to watch Baron Davis," he said.

"You can feel the history here." Reichel said but he was  not intimidated by playing here. "We don't back down from anyone."

San Bernardino finished 26-6  and 8-2 in the CCAA conference last season.  They scored 78.8 per game while averaging 39% from three point distance.  The Coyotes forced opponents into 22.5 turnovers a game and limited them to just 68.2 points.

Date: Tonight
Time: 7:30PM PT
Radio: AM 1150

(photo credit: CSSB)


Monday, November 12, 2007

UCLA Overpowers Youngstown, 83-52

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Lorenzo Mata showed double-doubles aren't just for freshmen as the senior center scored 14 points and hauled down 14 rebounds to lead the Bruins to an 83-52 win over Youngstown in the first round of the CBE Classic.

UCLA had problems scoring over the extended 2-3 zone of Youngstown. The Bruins shot just 3-13 (23.1%) from beyond the arc. After stroking it against Portland State in the home opener, Josh Shipp was just 0-4 on three-pointers in this game although he finished with 11 points.

With the outside shots not dropping, UCLA went inside and dominated the paint. The Bruins outscored the Penguins in second-chance points 18-6 and outrebounding them 45-29. Kevin Love and Mata had 10 of the teams 12 offensive rebounds.

"Coach wants us to outrebound every team at least by 10," Love said.

On the competition the two Bruin big men have with each other in rebounding.

"We're (Mata and Love) battling against each other in practice every day," Love said.

Freshman Love just missed another double-double finishing with 21 points and 9 rebounds on 8-14 shooting. Youngstown had no answer for Love down low who used his wide body and good footwork to get good inside position. In addition, the freshman hit a three-pointer for good measure.

Russell Westbrook bounced back from a subpar game against Portland scoring 9 points and dishing out a game-high 9 assists. Although he committed 3 turnovers, Westbrook did a better job keeping the game under control although he still forced a couple tough offensive chances.

Sophomore Nikola Dragovic had a solid game on both ends of the court. He finished with 12 points and worked hard on the defensive end in 21 minutes of play. With Michael Roll out with a foot injury for a few more weeks, Dragovic is beginning to get comfortable in his role on the wing. He had a nice drive to the basket for a lay-in as the shot clock wound down during the second half.

UCLA started off the game somewhat sluggishly as the Penguins came out with more intensity and stayed with the Bruins in the opening minutes. But after a Ben Howland time-out, the defense kicked into gear and UCLA finally matched Youngstown's intensity.

The Bruins forced 23 Penguin turnovers, Shipp, Love, and Westbrook each had two steals. UCLA held Youngstown to just 39.2% shooting from the field.

In the first game of the evening, Cal State San Bernardino, a Division II school, upset Weber State, 71-59. Weber State reached the NCAA tournament last season.

As a result, UCLA faces the Cal State San Bernardino Coyotes in the second round of the CBE Classic on Tuesday night at 7:30PM in Pauley Pavilion.

BBR Notes: Former UCLA Coach Steve Lavin was at Pauley Pavilion working color commentary on the game for ESPN. The student section had face cut-outs of the former coach and displayed them proudly for the cameras and Lavin to enjoy.

(photo credit: AP/Gus Ruelas)


Sunday, November 11, 2007

UCLA vs. Youngstown St. - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

The No.2 ranked UCLA Bruins host Youngstown State in a first round game match-up of the O'Reilly Auto Parts CBE Classic tournament at Pauley Pavilion tonight.

UCLA is one of four teams, the other three are Maryland, Michigan State and Missouri, serving as host schools for the tournament.  This year's event tips-off with games on November 11 through 14 and will culminate with the championship rounds November 19 through 20 at the newly constructed Sprint Center in Kansas City, Missouri.

If (when) the Bruins defeat Youngstown State they will then face the winner of the Weber State/Cal State San Bernardino game on Tuesday night at Pauley Pavilion.

2007 CBE Bracket Match-ups (PDF)

UCLA will be without junior point-guard Darren Collison who is expected to miss at least the next two games due to a sprained knee.

"It's feeling better," UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland said. "It's a progression of things now. Today will be the treadmill run.  Assuming that the doctor releases him, Tuesday will be lateral slides. Wednesday it will be stops and starts with transition movements on the floor. Hopefully by Thursday he'll be able to practice."

In his place, sophomore Russell Westbrook will be running the point again for the team.  Against Portland State, Westbrook struggled offensively committing six turnovers in the game.  Howland acknowledges Westbrook needs more experience at the point and feels the next two games will be invaluable for Westbrook to get more comfortable at the position.

The Youngstown State Penguins of the Horizon League open their season with this game against the Bruins.  They finished 14-17 in 2006-07, the most games the school has won since the 2000-01 campaign.

The Penguins lost their two leading scorers from last season, but they return seven lettermen and add a number of freshmen and transfers to the club.

The top three players returning for the Penguins are Byron Davis, Jack Liles, and John Barber 

Senior guard Byron Davis (6'2, 180) is the team's top returning scorer (8.6) and assist man (3.9).  He is moving from the point guard slot to the two-guard position this year.

The top returning post man for the Penguins is forward Jack Liles (6'8,240,Jr) who averaged 7.4 points and 6.4 rebounds a contest last year.  He is a solid frontcourt player who shot 55.6% from the field and led the team in blocks with 36 in the season.

Senior John Barber (6'7, 220) averaged 7.6 points and 4.7 rebounds a game as the team's sixth man last season.  A valuable player who does what needs to be done for the team, either it be scoring or grabbing a key rebound.  Barber will move into the starting line-up this season.

The Penguins averaged 66.0 points a game on just 43% shooting while giving up 67 points on defense last season.  Youngstown State will likely try to slow the tempo of the game down to stop the Bruin's transition game.

In the Bruin's  season opener, junior Josh Shipp stepped up his defense and held Dupree Lucas, Portland State's best offensive player scoreless.  Its the type of defensive effort UCLA needs this season from their junior leader to help offset the loss of Arron Afflalo.

"Josh did a very good job defensively," Howland said. " I'm excited to see Josh take on that challenge."

In addition, Shipp was stellar on offensive hitting on 7 of 9 shots including 4 of 6 from beyond the arc in 29 minutes of action.

BBR Notes: The Bruins are 580-87 (.870) all-time in Pauley Pavilion and have won their last 21 home games.  The last team to beat UCLA at home was 12th-ranked West Virginia, which beat the 18th-ranked Bruins 60-56 on Jan. 21, 2006.

Time: 8:00PM PT
Radio: AM 570

(photo credit: YSU)


Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (11/12)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Brandon, Jrue, Tyreke and Lance. The Fantastic Four. The four best prep guards in the nation are staring out at you from the cover of the new issue of PUNKS Magazine that just hit newsstands this week. Brandon Jennings and Jrue Holiday rep the West Coast. (Well, at least Brandon did before transferring to Oak Hill Academy in Virginia). And Evans and Stephenson play with an East Coast attitude....“And Jrue Holiday is just an all-around great guard. He’s got a great physique, great skills. He can shoot the 3. He gets where he wants with the dribble because he’s so strong and I think he’s a really good defender.” SLAM 11/9

The first annual Nor Cal Tip Off Classic will make its debut on Saturday, Nov. 24 at Newark Memorial High School. The event will feature an assortment of Division I talent -- UCLA commitment Drew Gordon comes immediately to mind. ESPN 11/9

After three consecutive years in which the Pacific-Northwest region has produced the top high school basketball player in the West, Jrue Holiday brought that distinction back to Southern California. Holiday, a 6-foot-4 guard at Campbell Hall High in North Hollywood and one of two second-generation first-team selections on the 29th edition of the Press-Telegram's Best in the West squad, edged Demar DeRozan of Compton and Luke Babbitt of Galena High in Reno to head the voting for the 2007-08 season's version of the team. Press- Telegram 11/10

The two best high school basketball players in the western class of 2008 both play for schools located in schools in Southern California. But Jrue Holiday's Campbell Hall team and Demar DeRozan's Compton team, residing in different CIF Southern Section and state playoff divisions, haven't played. That is about to change, and maybe as soon as Dec. 15. Press-Telegram 11/10

There are those who believe that Jrue Holiday, a senior at Campbell Hall in North Hollywood, is not only the best high school basketball player in the West but that the geographical frame of reference should extend to points north, south and east, as well. Then, again, is he even the best player in his own family? What about the youngest children of Shawn and Toya Holiday, 14-year-old Lauren and 11-year-old Aaron? Press-Telegram 11/10

Canyon High School point guard Jerime Anderson will be signing his National Letter of Intent to attend UCLA on Wednesday, November 14, in the Canyon High School Gym at 1:00pm. Bruin Basketball Report 11/12


The Musketeers will be hosting Ari Stewart, a 6-7 forward from Marietta, Ga., who will be on campus and at the game on an unofficial visit. Stewart is regarded by Rivals .com as the 15th-best player in the 2009 class. Cincinnati Enquirer 11/9