Friday, November 23, 2007

Aboya's Eye Injury Confirmed

By Bruin Basketball Report

The UCLA Athletic department confirmed tonight that Alfred Aboya has a fracture of the orbital floor of his right eye.  He is expected to undergo further evaluation early next week.

Alfred Aboya took an elbow to the right eye in Friday night's 81-47 victory over Yale.  Aboya was experiencing blurred vision and immediately walked off the court and into an evaluation room. UCLA team doctors decided to send him to the UCLA Medical Center for further evaluation.

Its unknown at this point how long Aboya will be out of action.  The Bruin's next game is this coming Wednesday, November 28th against George Washington at Pauley Pavilion and it would seem doubtful he would play in the game.  The following game would be against Texas on December 2nd.

When Aboya does return to action, he will likely play with a protective face mask for a prolonged period of time to prevent further injury.

UCLA is already without three scholarship players James Keefe, Michael Roll, and Darren Collison.  Keefe is scheduled to return in mid-December while Roll may return in the next few weeks as well. Collison may come back as soon as the George Washington game but may return as late as the Texas game


UCLA Overpowers Yale But Can't Avoid Injuries

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

In the type of game UCLA hoped to win without experiencing any further player injuries, it managed to at least accomplish one of those goals as the Bruins overpowered the Yale Bulldogs, 81-47, before a Pauley Pavilion crowd of 10,420, but two more key players suffered injuries.

Already starting the game shorthanded with just eight scholarship players, forward Alfred Aboya was elbowed in the left eye and had to leave the game midway through the first-half. He was transported to the hospital for x-rays for a possible orbital fracture.

Then with six minutes remaining in the blow-out victory UCLA had more misfortune when freshman Kevin Love landed on an opponent's foot and sprained his left ankle. He limped to the locker room with his shoe removed to the cheer of the crowd, but a few moments later with his ankle newly taped he came jogging back to finish the game with his teammates.

"He wanted me to put him back in," UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland said.

Love said he had never suffered an ankle sprain before and that it felt a little sore after the game

"I was just trying to be tough, and I did want to get back out on the floor," Love said. "We had a substantial lead, but I wanted to get back out there and play a little bit. I've never sprained an ankle before, so that's a little something different for me."

More information will follow on both injuries in the upcoming days, but needless to say, the Bruins can ill afford to lose either Aboya or Love for any extended time.

As for the game, Yale managed to keep it close for most of the first-half and could have made it closer if they had made more of their open shot opportunities. The Bulldogs were initially effective setting picks to get open shots and going back door against the Bruins who started off the contest with less defensive intensity than Coach Howland would have liked.

But after a jumper by Love and a stepped up defensive effort led by Russell Westbrook and Lorenzo Mata, the Bruins went on a 16-1 run to end the half and go into the locker room with a 33-18 margin.

In the second half, the Bruins opened with a 14-4 run to blow open the game as their physical play and superior talent eventually wore down the Bulldogs on both ends of the court.

Junior Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, who has struggled somewhat with his transition to the small forward spot this season, had his best statistical game recording a double-double by scoring 14 points on 6 of 9 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds.

But the game-high rebound honors went to back-up big man Lorenzo Mata who hauled down 12 rebounds. The Bruins also stepped up their defensive intensity whenever he was on the floor as he appears to be easing into his reserve role off the bench after being a starter all of last season.

Love went 4 of 5 from the field and had nine points in the first half. He finished with 15 points and 5 rebounds in 28 minutes before leaving with his ankle injury.

Point guard Russell Westbrook had another efficient game tying for game-high honors with 15 points on 6 of 7 shooting and added 6 assists. And once again, Westbrook sparkled on the defensive end recording 2 steals and holding Yale's leading scorer Eric Flato to just 5 points.

UCLA outrebounded Yale 39 to 25. In addition, they shot 54.7% from the field while holding the Bulldogs to just 35.1%.

"It was a nice win for us, but it was obviously tempered by the fact that Alfred got hurt," UCLA Head Coach Howland said. "That's really my biggest concern. If there's a lot of (bone) displacement, he could be out for a month and a half, but if it's just a fracture he can wear a mask."

(photo credit: AP)


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Thursday, November 22, 2007

UCLA vs. Yale - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

No.1 UCLA (5-0) is back home after a 68-63 victory over No. 10 Michigan State in the championship game of the CBE Classic. Freshman Kevin Love was named the tournament MVP after scoring 21 points and grabbing 11 rebounds in the title game.

Head Coach Ben Howland said that Alfred Aboya's knees were sore after Michigan State as a result of a fall to the floor late in the game after bumping knees with a Spartan player.

"We did a precautionary MRI and it didn't show anything wrong. I spoke with him a few minutes ago and he said he felt fine," Howland said. "He had some soreness, but nothing serious."

Aboya's playing status is expected to be a game-time decision.

The Bruins welcome the Yale Bulldogs (1-2) of the Ivy League to Pauley Pavilion on Friday night.

Yale has played Division I opponents tough this season. Against UMass the Bulldogs dropped a close 89-80 decision, and then on Wednesday at Maples Arena they lost to Stanford 72-61 where they trailed by only three points midway through the second half.

The Bulldogs return four starters from last year's team that finished second in Ivy league play with a 10-4 record. Five of last year's top six scorers are back as well.

Senior guard Eric Flato (6'1, 185) is the Bulldog's leading scorer at 15.3 points a game. A long-range bomber, Flato is shooting 37.5% from beyond the arc. He was unanimously voted a first team All-Ivy League selection last season.

Yale starts a pair of 6'6 205lb twins, Nick and Caleb Holmes. The brothers play on the wing and take more than half their shots from beyond the three-point line. Caleb is averaging 14.7 points a game while Nick has been struggling from the field averaging 6.7 points but is the team's leading rebounder with 6.7 caroms a game.

At center, the Bulldogs have big senior Matt Kyle (6'10, 240) who is averaging 14.7 points a game while shooting 61% from the field. He scored over 20 points in his first two outings but struggled against Robin Lopez and Stanford getting into early foul trouble and only playing 17 minutes.

At the final starting spot is Ross Morin a 6'7 junior forward who is averaging 6.4 and 4.3 rebounds.

The Bulldogs mix up their defenses between a zone and man-to-man defense. Against Stanford they doubled down often on Robin Lopez while shadowing Lawrence Hill on the perimeter. Considering the Bruins size advantage inside and the presence of Kevin Love down low, it wouldn't be surprising if Yale to applied the same defensive strategy against UCLA.

No doubt some will look at the Yale contest in the schedule as a respite between the Michigan State and George Washington games. But not Coach Ben Howland who had his team practicing the day after returning from Kansas City on Thanksgiving.

“Now we’ve got to bounce back and play a good Yale team. I watched the Yale tape this morning and they have three guys that average 15 points," Howland said. "They have good players and we are going to have to play well tomorrow to have success.”

BBR Notes: The first and last time Yale and UCLA met in basketball was on Dec. 26, 1963, when Gail Goodrich scored 25 points to lead the Bruins to a 95-65 victory.

Where: Pauley Pavilion
Time: 7:30PM PT
TV: None
Radio: AM1150

(photo credit: Yale Athletics)


Ben Howland Thanksgiving Teleconference Notes

(courtesy of UCLA Athletics)

Teleconference Quotes
November 22, 2007
UCLA Men’s Basketball
Head Coach Ben Howland

on Alfred Aboya’s Right Knee Injury
“Alfred is coming in today for treatment. He did have some swelling after the game. We did a precautionary MRI and it didn’t show anything wrong. He has injured that [right] knee before so that’s why we were so cautious. I spoke with him a few minutes ago and he said that he felt fine. He had some soreness, but nothing serious.”

on the hard fall and awkward Russell Westbrook took during the game
“I’ll tell you what, when I watched that fall of Russell’s on film after the game, it was a pretty serious fall. I regret what I said after the game because he’s done that many times – where he makes a bad play and then gets up slow like he’s injured but he’s really not – that could have been a season-ending injury the way he fell. It was really something. The good news is, he’s fine.”

on Darren Collison’s schedule of return
“I have no idea.”

on his reaction to the Michigan State game after watching the film
“Just how physical the game was. I have watched it twice on film and it was unbelievably physical. They were being really physical with Kevin [Love]. A lot of guys got into foul trouble because of the way they were playing him. They screen really physically. I said before the game that I thought it would be very similar to the Texas A&M game last year, and I think that was really true, maybe even more physical than that game a year ago. It was really a high-level game. Now we have to bounce back and play a good Yale team.”

on Friday’s game with Yale
“Now we’ve got to bounce back and play a good Yale team. I watched the Yale tape this morning and they have three guys that average 15 points. They played UMass very tough and ended up losing by nine – and it was the same thing with Stanford – it was a three-point game with 14 minutes left. They have good players and we are going to have to play well tomorrow to have success.”

on Kevin Love’s adjustment to different styles of play
“We haven’t had that many games yet. Both of those games [Maryland and Michigan State] were high-level games in terms of the size of the bodies, but he’s rebounding consistently in every game. That’s really a key statistic. The ability to get 16 rebounds one night and 11 the other, that’s hard to do. To get double figures on the board every night is incredibly tough. He did a great job of battling against a very good team. Michigan State, in my mind, will be a very high seed and has a great chance to be the Big 10 champion. I watched Ohio State last night and they are very good. I know Indiana is very good. Illinois and Purdue are going to be very good teams. But they [Michigan State] are going to be a force to be reckoned with and that’s a good sign to play that well against a team like that.”

on what he’s doing for Thanksgiving
“We are getting ready to go to practice here in about 50 minutes. Everybody has somewhere to go and they will all be well fed. My wife and daughter will be making our standard meal with turkey. I love gravy. So, gravy, mashed potatoes, stuffing, turkey, it all sounds very good.”

(photo by Bruin Basketball Report)

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

UCLA Rallies Past Michigan St., 68-63

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute hit a three-point shot from the corner with 31 seconds remaining in the game to cap off a furious second-half rally as UCLA edged Michigan St., 68-63, in the finals of the CBE Classic.

Up to that basket, UCLA had not held the lead at any time during the game.

After this hard fought contest, there should absolutely be no question that Kevin Love is the real deal. The freshman from Lake Oswego scored 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds while single-handedly keeping his team in the game. And he did it against a rotation of four Spartans who pounded him all night while expending 14 personal fouls on him.

Love kept his cool and let his game do the talking, hitting 9-12 from the line. Of his 11 rebounds, 8 were on the offensive boards as he battled and hit back.

"That's an everyday thing for me," said Love. "If we're going to be a great team, we're all going to have bang down low."

UCLA got a little bit of their own medicine in the first half when the Spartans came out more physical and took it right at them. Michigan State went into halftime with a 36-25 lead.

But the Bruins came out in the second-half with an intensity that finally matched the tempo of the game and started cutting into the lead. UCLA cut the margin to just four points on a lay-up by Mbah a Moute with under ten minutes left in the game.

The Spartans fought back and and built the lead to 63-58 on a Drew Nieizel three-point shot with 2:18 left in the game. But Kevin Love wasn't about to let the Bruins falter as he followed up moments later with a post up three-point play to bring the Bruins back to within two points.

The UCLA trap, which was very effective in the second-half, netted another steal - this time by Alfred Aboya who went in for a lay-up and missed but Mbah a Moute was there for the follow-up slam to tie the game.

After a Drew Neitzel missed three-pointer and a UCLA time-out, the ball was inbounded and Mbah a Moute hit the big shot from the corner to win the game. Josh Shipp added two free-throws for the final margin.

UCLA Coach Ben Howland made big adjustments at halftime that led to the Bruin victory. First the Bruins started aggressively trapping the Spartan point guards along the sidelines which resulted in key turnover points.

On offense, Howland took advantage of Love's size and passing skills by moving him to the high post while positioning Josh Shipp down low to post up against the smaller Spartan guards. Shipp scored 14 of his 18 points in the second-half.

Point-guard Russell Westbrook had a gutty performance playing the entire 40 minutes in the game. He added 13 points and 6 rebounds but it was his defense and two late game steals which were key for the Bruins.

"I'm really proud of our toughness mentally," Howland said. "The one thing about our team is they never give up. They never give up, ever and that's a sign of mentally-tough kids."

With the victory over Michigan St., the Bruins claimed the CBE Classic championship trophy.

The Bruins head back to Westwood for a quick Thanksgiving rest and then suit up again on Friday night to face Yale at Pauley Pavilion.

(photo credit: AP)


Trevor Ariza Dealt To Lakers

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

The Los Angeles Lakers have acquired former UCLA Bruin Trevor Ariza from the Orlando Magic in exchange for forward Brian Cook and guard Maurice Evans, it was announced today by General Manager Mitch Kupchak.

Ariza, a 6'8 forward in his 4th NBA season, averaged 8.9 points and 4.4 rebounds in 22.4 minutes per game last season with the Magic.

Under new Magic head coach Stan Van Gundy, Ariza had fallen out of the regular rotation, averaging 3.3 points and 2.2 rebounds a game in just 10.5 minutes.

Ariza has struggled with nagging foot and leg injuries which limited him to an average of 57 games the past two season.

The Magic front office had been high on Ariza and were enamored with his defensive capabilities and potential. However after the team acquired forward Rashard Lewis via free-agency this summer, it seemingly made Ariza expendable.

Still just 22 years old, the former Bruin has good size, athleticism and gives the Lakers a much needed defensive presence on the wing.

Ariza was originally drafted by the New York Knicks with the 43rd overall pick in the second round of the 2004 NBA Draft. He was traded to the Magic during the 2006 season.

Its a homecoming for Ariza, he attended Westchester High School in Los Angeles and played one season at UCLA prior to entering the NBA. He averaged 11.6 points and 5.5 rebounds in his single season at Westwood.

Although Ariza had been recruited to UCLA by Steve Lavin, it was current head coach Ben Howland who coached him in his year at UCLA.

(photo credit: NBA)


Monday, November 19, 2007

UCLA vs. Michigan St. - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

The top two seeded teams of the tournament will meet for the CBE Classic championship when No.1 ranked UCLA takes on the No.10 ranked Michigan Spartans on Tuesday.

The Bruins (4-0) are coming off a sluggish performance against the Maryland Terrapins (3-0) last night.  Although UCLA won 71-59 and was never in danger of losing the game, they struggled against the trapping defensive pressure applied by Maryland and were out of sync most of the game.

Michigan State barely edged Missouri, 86-83, in the other semifinal contest.  Spartan guard Drew Nietzel hit a late three-pointer and two free throws to seal the win down the stretch.  He finished with a game-high 21 points.

The Spartans, under Head Coach Tom Izzo, have always played tough defense and executed well in the half-court.  This season Izzo is urging the team to open up more and push the ball in transition.  As a result, the team has uncharacteristically committed more turnovers than in the past.  Against Louisiana-Monroe the Spartans had 20 turnovers and against Missouri they had 17 miscues.

Drew Nietzel (6'0, 180, Sr), a preseason All-American candidate, is averaging 13.5 points and 6.5 assists a game.  He is a gritty point-guard and the player his team looks for when a play needs to be made.  Nietzel is shooting 46.7% from the field and 66% on three-pointers in the early going.

UCLA's Russell Westbrook has played extremely well on defense since replacing the injured Darren Collison at point-guard.  The spotlight match-up in the game will be between Westbrook and Nietzel.  Westbrook needs to keep Nietzel out of the lane and wrap him on the perimeter while staying out of foul trouble.  Against Maryland, Westbrook was charged with four fouls and the Bruins can ill afford to lose him in this game.

Raymar Morgan (6'7,220, So) was expected to have a break-out year after a successful freshman campaign.  A scorer who can go inside and also hit from outside to the three-point line, he is also leading the Spartans in rebounding so far in the early going. Against Missouri, Morgan went 6-6 from both the field and free throw line for 19 points and grabbed 5 rebounds.

The Bruins will counter Morgan with one of their best perimeter defenders, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute - this will be another interesting key match-up to follow in the game. Mbah a Moute had 8 points and 4 rebounds against Maryland in 35 minutes

At power forward the Spartans start Marquise Gray (6'8,235,Jr).  Gray is a tough interior player who is shooting over 75% for the season.

Alfred Aboya has been struggling with foul trouble this season and fouled out late in the game against Maryland.  However, Aboya's foul troubles have been covered up by the stellar play of senior Lorenzo Mata who has backed-up the front line this season.  Against Maryland, Mata hauled down 9 rebounds in the winning effort.

At center the Spartans start junior Goran Suton a 6'10, 245 big man out of Lansing, MI.  Against Missouri Suton scored 17 points and grabbed 9 rebounds.

The Bruins will counter with Kevin Love who has become a double-double machine in his first few games of the season.  Love had his left hand bandaged against Maryland after he chipped a bone in his left-hand.  He complained that it affected his free throw shooting and was sore after the game. 

Kalin Lucas (6'0,165, Fr) is a speedy player who takes over the playmaking roles at times to allow Nietzel to move over to shooting guard.  Lucas is averaging 6.0 assists a game.  Reserve guard Chris Allen (6'3, 190, Fr) will also see time in the guard rotation.  Allen is a good shooter from beyond the arc and gives the Spartans a different look on offense.

BBR Notes: UCLA Coach Ben Howland stated during his press conference that the team has faced some adversity since the start of the tournament.  First, the Bruins had thousands of dollars in computer equipment stolen from them over the weekend.  Second, the team bus broke down on the way to the airport thus delaying their arrival

Time: 7:00PM PT
Radio: AM 570

(photo credit: MSU)

Love Doubles Up Maryland, Bruins Win Ugly

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Freshman Kevin Love notched another double-double scoring 18 points and hauling down 16 rebounds to lead UCLA to a 71-59 win over the Maryland Terrapins to advance to the finals of the CBE Classic in Kansas City. The Bruins will face the Michigan State Spartans in the championship game.

The game was far from a basketball clinic as both teams struggled to find their rhythm.

UCLA was bothered most of the game by the Terrapin's trapping defense.  Although Maryland forced just 14 turnovers, their pressing defense took the Bruins out of their comfort zone on offense.

While Love's double-double was impressive, it was his passing and basketball IQ on the court that helped the Bruins the most in this game.

Love's ability to pass over the top of the press and his knowledge to deliver the pass to the right person was the key to UCLA breaking the Maryland press in the second half as the Bruins pushed the lead to 20.

However, when Love was removed from the game to rest, the Bruins struggled again attacking the zone which required Love to be reinserted into the lineup.  Love played a season-high 34 minutes.

Josh Shipp  added 18 points on 6 of 13 shooting and looked every bit recovered from his offseason hip surgery - especially on one highlight reel tomahawk dunk over Bambale Osby at the end of a breakaway.  Point-guard Russell Westbrook scored 13 points and 7 assists with 8 of the points coming from the free throw line.  However, both players committed 3 turnovers each and  appeared tentative playing against the Maryland press.

UCLA's offense missed injured guard Darren Collison terribly in this game.  Against the Maryland press, the Bruins were missing another sure-handed ballhandler as well as an experienced player who could break the press and then set the offense. 

Too many times, the Terrapins were successful in speeding up the Bruin offense into quick or forced possessions.  Collison would have been a steadying forced with the ball. The Bruins shot just 37.7% from the field in the game.

"To win shooting 37 percent says a lot about our defense," UCLA coach Ben Howland said.

Another deciding factor was the boards where UCLA, led by Love, outrebounded Maryland 40-28.  Lorenzo Mata-Real added 9 rebounds  off the bench including 6 on the offensive end.

As for Maryland, they continued their sloppy play from earlier games by committing 21 turnovers, many of them unforced, in the game. 

If the Terrapins had played under more control offensively, the game would have been much closer or could even have been a Maryland victory instead.

A few times when it looked like the Terrapin's defensive pressure might turn the game, a Maryland player would kick the ball out of bounds or take a wild three-point shot which took away any momentum that may have gained on the defensive end. 

Venezuelan point-guard Greivis Vasquez led the Terrapins with 19 points but his bad shot selection and 4 turnovers negated much of his contributions.

Maryland shot just 40.0% from the field and were only 1-11 from beyond the arc. 

The Terrapins had 8 blocks in the game, led by 6'8 center Bambale Osby who had 4 blocks before fouling out late in the game.  Osby, a good defensive player, gave UCLA's Love a glimpse of the type of competition he'll face down low against better Division I big men.  Love had difficulty getting off a shot in the low post most of the game due to the defensive pressure of Osby and help defenders.

UCLA will face the No.10 ranked Michigan State Spartans Tuesday night in the CBE Classic championship game.  The Spartans edged Missouri in the other semifinal game, 86-83.

BBR Notes: Kevin Love reportedly chipped a bone on his left index finger during practice.  His hand was bandaged for most the game.  He shot just 7-12 from the free throw line.

ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll had UCLA and North Carolina tied at No.1 each with 744 points.  The Bruins remained at No.2 in the AP poll.

(photo credit: AP/Dick Whipple)


Sunday, November 18, 2007

UCLA vs. Maryland - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

The No.2 ranked UCLA Bruins (3-0) take on the Maryland Terrapins (3-0) in a semifinal game of the CBE Classic in Kansas City, Missouri tonight.  It will be the inaugural game of the newly built Sprint Center.

UCLA is coming off three blow-out home victories against over-matched opponents including a win over CS San Bernardino last Tuesday to advance to tonight's game.  This will be the Bruin's first contest on the road this seaason, albeit in a neutral site match-up.

The Bruins will suit up just eight scholarship players for the tournament.  Darren Collison (sprained left MCL), Michael Roll (ruptured plantar fascia), and James Keefe (left shoulder surgery) will be watching from the sidelines.  All three players are expected back in action during December.

Freshman Kevin Love leads the Bruins in scoring (20.7) and rebounding (10.3) while hitting on 65.6% of his shots.  He will get a better measure of his play at the collegiate level when he matches up against the tough front line of Maryland.

Despite winning all their games so far this season, the Terrapins have had problems in the early going.  They struggled against Hampton before beating them 70-64, and then had to go into overtime to defeat Northeastern 74-72.

Maryland has actually outplayed their early opponents in most every facet of the game; however, they have struggled with turnovers.  The Terrapins are averaging 21.3 turnovers per game.  Point guard Greivas Vasquez has been the main culprit turning the ball over 15 times in just three contests, while forward/center Bambale Osby has exhibited stone hands inside turning the ball over 11 times.

Aside from the turnovers the Terrapins are shooting 44.9% from the field while holding opponents to just 32.7% field goal shooting.  Maryland is also controlling the boards with their front line grabbing 43.7 rebounds versus 32.7 by opponents.

Maryland is a pressing team that will apply fullcourt pressure after every made basket including free throws.  They have an experienced front line and athletic perimeter players who can cause problems on both ends of the court.

James Gist (6'8, 233, Sr) is the Terrapins leading scorer (21.5) and rebounder (8.5), a tough low post scorer and offensive rebounder.  The Bruins need to keep him in check and off the boards.  He scored a career-high 27 points in his last game.

UCLA's Alfred Aboya will get the initial assignment Gist.  Aboya has suffered from early foul trouble in past games, and with the Bruins shorthanded and facing a quality opponent they can not afford to lose Aboya to foul trouble.

Senior forward/center Bambale Osby (6'8, 250, Sr) recorded his first career double-double with 16 points and 13 rebounds in his last game.  He also had six blocked shots.  In three games he is averaging 12.3 points and 8.3 rebounds although he's had problems holding onto the ball inside averaging 3.7 turnovers a game.

Love will get the match-up against Osby although Osby will probably get plenty of help from his swarming teammates on the defensive end.  While Love is just a freshman, he has certainly not played like one in his first three games.

At the small forward spot for the Terrapins is Landon Milbourne (6'7, 205, So) who is averaging 6.5 points and 5.5 rebounds a game.  Milbourne took over the starting spot when junior Dave Neal dislocated his shoulder in an earlier game.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will be match-up against Milbourne.  Mbah a Moute is averaging 6.7 points and only 2.7 rebounds a contest.  Spending most of his time on the wing this year has reduced his rebounding chances. Over the last two seasons, Mbah a Moute was the team's leading rebounder averaging 7.8 a game. 

At shooting guard the Terrapins start Eric Hayes (6'3, 175, So).  He is averaging 11.0 points and 4.3 assists while shooting 45% from the field.  A good long range shooter who is averaging 45.5% from three-point range.

UCLA's Josh Shipp will try to keep Hayes in check.  Shipp has shown improvements in his defensive game so far this season and has been deadly from outside averaging 15.0 points a game on 58.6% shooting and 44.4% from beyond the arc. 

The Terrapin's point guard Greivis Vasquez (6'5, 195, So) may be the wild card of this game.  He has struggled with his handles and his shooting touch in the early going, however, if he steadies himself and starts to play like someone who plays on the Venezuelan national team, then the Terrapins may have a chance in this game. Greivis is averging 16.7 points and 6.7 assists but has also committed 5.0 turnovers a game.  He is also shooting just 41% from the field.

Russell Westbrook will get his first real test against a quality point-guard.  He will try to hound Vasquez on the defensive end while continuing his improvement on the offensive end.  After struggling with turnovers himself, Westbrook committed just one in the Bruin's last game. 

UCLA has been playing good ball despite struggling early with injuries, and are favored to win this game.  On the other hand, Maryland has had problems in their first three game and perhaps has played down to the level of their opponent.  Against UCLA, Maryland should have no trouble getting themselves up for the game.  With this contest being on a neutral site, depending on which Maryland team shows up tonight, the game could be closer than some might expect.

The winner of this semifinal game takes on the winner of the other semifinal battle between Missouri and Michigan State.

BBR Notes:  Kareem Abdul-Jabbar was inducted into the College Basketball Hall of Fame on Sunday.  In addition, former Maryland head coach Lefty Driesell was also one of the eight honorees inducted into the Hall of Fame.

Time: 4:00PM PT
Radio: AM 570


Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (11/19)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


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."  Bruin Basketball Report 11/15


"He brings a size and presence that we haven't seen since Amir Johnson," Taylor said of  Renardo Sidney. "He could have the same effect, and his offensive game is far more advanced. He's a matchup problem for anybody who has to deal with him." Sidney is considered the No. 1 center prospect in the nation for the class of 2009, but the challenge for Kitani is to get him to play hard and play consistently. Perhaps that's why in Sidney's first appearance in a Fairfax basketball class the second week of October, after taking a month off because of a knee problem, he faced an immediate challenge from Kitani, who made it clear what he expected. "I was breathing hard and getting frustrated," Sidney said of the practice. That didn't prevent Kitani from getting his point across, stressing fundamentals. "Coach Kitani is a hard coach," Sidney said. Kitani is almost certain to challenge Sidney to put forth the work ethic of past Fairfax standouts, Josh Shipp, Chace Stanback and Jamal Boykin. If Sidney comes close to doing that, coupled with his talent, the opposition will be in deep trouble. LA Times 11/14

Jordan Hamilton (6-7, Jr., Dominguez): He's not going to score nearly as much as he did last season at Dorsey, when he was an All-L.A. City selection. But, at least in fall settings, he's looking like a more complete player with a group that could be good enough to win the Southern Section's most challenging divisions (I-AA). The addition of point guard Dominick Lacoste also made the Dons even deeper, quicker and better in transition. Press Telegram 11/14

The arrival of 6-foot-10 transfer Renardo Sidney from Lakewood Artesia has thrust the Lions back into the favorite's role. Senior guard Chris Solomon and junior guard Lance Bailey distinguished themselves during the summer, and 6-6 junior Solomon Hill has gained in strength and skill. The one question mark about the Lions is at point guard, after teams exploited that weakness during the summer when Sidney was not on the team. LA Times 11/14

UCLA also had an assistant coach at Saturday’s game to evaluate Mason Plumlee. The Bruins are among a growing list of schools that have already offered the junior a scholarship. The others are Indiana, Wake Forest, Virginia, Louisville, Notre Dame, Stanford, Georgetown, Michigan and Miami. The tallest of the Plumlee brothers is versatile enough that Greenies coach David Gaines put him at point guard during last winter’s 3-A tournament, which Christ School won for the second time in three years. Mason averaged 9.5 points as a junior, but the forward saw his stock shoot up during spring and summer AAU tournaments. Citizen-Times 11/18

(photo credit: LA Times)