Friday, November 30, 2007

Pauley Pavilion Renovation

Renovation discussed for UCLA's Pauley Pavilion



University invites architectural firms to meetings.

By Greg Johnson, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
December 1, 2007

The long-discussed renovation of Pauley Pavilion on the UCLA campus took another step forward on Friday with the university inviting several architectural firms to discuss a planned $90-million to $110-million update of the aging facility.

Bruins Sports Information Director Marc Dellins confirmed that the Ellerbe Becket, NBBJ and Rossetti architectural firms have been placed on a short list of candidates that includes a joint proposal from architect Michael Hallmark and Nadel Architects.

Pauley Pavilion, which opened in 1965, has a rich heritage given its role as home court for the UCLA basketball, gymnastics and volleyball programs. But the building lacks comfortable, close-to-the-action seats, big-screen television monitors, luxury seating, modern concession stands and other amenities that universities increasingly rely upon to generate revenue.

Crosstown rival USC, for example, has spent about $130 million on its new Galen Center, with 10,258 seats that bring fans close to the court, easily accessible concessions stands, modern locker rooms and a state-of-the-art weight room.

Pauley Pavilion can accommodate more than 13,000 fans, but its courtside seats are relatively far from the court -- a design dictate handed down by former Bruins coach John Wooden, who had a strong say in the building's original floor plan.

The proposed renovation could include improved locker facilities for athletes, support facilities for athlete program personnel and premium seating or club facilities for fans. Much of the proposed renovation would occur in Pauley Pavilion's interior, but the university also is considering exterior modifications, including a possible new entry concourse. Seismic and fire-safety improvements also are being contemplated.

New seats could be added, existing seating could be rearranged and the arena's acoustics would be improved. In addition to close-in seating, UCLA also is considering state-of-the-art video replay technology that also could present in-game statistical information.

UCLA initially had worked with HOK Sport, a firm that specializes in athletic facilities. But in October, UCLA invited additional architectural firms with arena and stadium design expertise to submit proposals.

The firms announced on Friday have been invited to make presentations to UCLA in mid-December, but Dellins said that it is too early to say when the project might move forward.

"We don't really have an estimated timetable yet for the rest of the process," he said. "We'll have a better idea on that once we've met with the architects and picked one."

According to sources close to the UCLA Athletic Department, Athletic Director Dan Guerrero has commitments for about $45 million, or approximately half of what the proposed renovation would cost.

UCLA vs. Texas - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

No.1 UCLA will play the No.8 ranked Texas Longhorms in the inaugural Big 12/Pac-10 Hardwood Series at Pauley Pavillion on Sunday.

The Hardwood Series matches teams from each respective conference against each other. Many experts consider the Pac-10 the top college basketball conference in the nation and the Big 12 a close second.

The Bruins (7-0) are coming off a 83-60 thumping of George Washington on Wednesday. Sophomore Russell Westbrook led the way with 19 points as UCLA shot 50.9% from the field and committed just 11 turnovers.

The game marked the return of preseason All-American Darren Collison who had 14 points and 5 assists. He experienced no pain or swelling after the GW game and should be ready to start against Texas. Collison will continue to wear a protective knee brace.

With the early departure of phenom Kevin Durant over the summer, some thought it might be a transition year for Texas; however, the Longhorns have started the season with six straight victories, including an impressive win over then No.7 ranked Tennessee, 97-78. In addition, they've won all of their games this season by at least a margin of 15 points.

"I watched them from my living room destroy Tennessee," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said of Texas' win over Tennessee last week. "It wasn't even close. And Tennessee is very, very good."

All five Texas starters average double-figures in scoring and the team is averaging 88 points a game on an 55.6% shooting and 50% on three-pointers. The Longhorns play a run and gun style of offense and will try to beat the Bruins from outside, and they have the shooters to do it led by their triumvirate of small, athletic guards: D.J. Augustin, A.J Abrams, and Justin Mason.

D.J. Augustin (6'0, 180, So) is the team's playmaker, a quick penetrating guard who can also beat you from outside. The sophomore guard is averaging 17.5 points and 7.0 assists in 34.2 minutes a game and is shooting a lights-out 51.6% from beyond the arc.

UCLA's Darren Collison, who roomed with Augustin during the summer in a basketball camp, will get the defensive assignment. Although Collison may be hampered by the lack of conditioning as a result of the three-week layoff from his knee injury, this will be a marquee match-up between two of the quickest players in the nation.

Collison will need to take away Augustin's penchant of getting into the lane and dishing to open teammates while closing out quickly on Augustin at the three-point line. Howland considers Collison to be the team's best on-the-ball defender and his ability to apply tough pressure on Augustin whenever he handles the rock will be a key to the game.

A.J. Abrams (5'11, 155, Jr) is a deadly outside shooter who leads the Longhorns in scoring with 20.7 points a game while shooting 54.8% from the field and 49.1% on three-pointers. Two-thirds of his field-goal attempts are from beyond the arc where he has made at least one three-point shot in 44 consecutive games.

Sophomore Russell Westbrook will likely start at the shooting guard while also backing up Collison at the point. Some wondered who on this year's club could replace Arron Afflalo's defensive presence, Westbrook has improved his defense tremendously since last season and looks like he can be the defensive stopper the Bruin's need.

Against Abrams, Westbrook needs to use his strength and physical play to take Abrams out of his game, forcing him into spots he may not be comfortable shooting from.

Justin Mason (6'2, 198, So) is the more physical of the three guards. Mason is averaging 12.0 points and 3.7 rebounds. A dangerous player off the bounce, Mason knows how to get to the basket and finish. He was 8 of 11 from the free throw line against the Volunteers and finished with 21 points and 5 rebounds.

Josh Shipp will likely move over and start at the small forward spot and defend Mason. Shipp needs to stay in front of Mason, who is not a great three-point shooter (28.6%), and keep him outside of the paint.

In past games, Howland has posted Shipp up in the low post to take advantage of his size against smaller guards. In addition, the Bruins will need Shipp to be on with his outside shooting since they expect to see a lot of zone defense by the Longhorns.

Although Texas mixes up their defenses between man and zone, they will likely play a lot of zone against the Bruins who have a decided size and physical advantage inside. Similar to the George Washington game, expect the Longhorns to pack it tight inside to prevent UCLA's Kevin Love from getting many touches.

Love showed some frustration in not getting the ball inside against GW, however it was more a result of the packed in GW zone versus his teammates not getting him the ball.

While some might say the perimeter players need to do a better job in getting Love the ball inside, sometimes you have to take what the defense is giving you. Which means if Texas is going to pack it tight inside then the Bruins need to move Love to the high post to take advantage of his passing and shooting skills.

The two starting Longhorn forwards are long and athletic but not very physical players.

Connor Atchley (6'10, 226, Jr) is averaging 11.8 points and just 4.8 rebounds a game. Atchley's physical mismatch against Love is the primary reason the Bruin's will see a lot of zone.

If Atchley gets into foul trouble or is unable to handle Love inside, Texas does have some beef on the bench to march out against Love to expend their fouls including fellow Oregonian 6'10 240lb freshman Clint Chapman who played against Love numerous times in high school and AAU circuit.

Damion James (6'7, 230, So) is the other forward. Although he leads the team in rebounding with 8.2 a game, he is more of a finesse player. James is averaging 10.5 points on 51% shooting.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will likely slide to the four spot to begin the game although he'll play the three as well during the contest. Mbah a Moute is one of the Bruin's best defenders, however his rebounding numbers have been down since he's moved to the wing. It'll be interesting to see if his totals increase in this game based upon the match-ups.

With the Bruins physical brand of defense and quickness on the perimeter, it is doubtful the Longhorns will match their 88 point per game average. The return of Darren Collison from injury could not have come at a better time for the Bruins with the quick and smaller Longhorns coming into town.

With the Bruin's physical size inside and the return of Collison to the point, the Bruins seemingly have an advantage at every spot on the floor. In addition, the home court advantage at Pauley may be too much for the Longhorns to overcome.

While Texas potentially has the weapons to pull an upset, especially with the three-point shooting it possesses, the Bruins should be able to pull away in the second-half with the victory.

BBR Notes: There will be 39 scouts (37 from the NBA, one from the NBDL and one international scout) at the UCLA-Texas game on Sunday, representing 29 of 30 NBA teams.

Sunday's contest marks the third meeting between Texas and UCLA. The Bruins hold a 2-0 lead in the all-time series, both of which have been played at Pauley Pavilion. In the first meeting between the two schools, then-No. 2 UCLA posted a 99-54 win on Dec. 13, 1969. In the last matchup, then-No. 1 UCLA recorded a 115-65 victory in the opening round of the Bruin Classic on Dec. 29, 1971.

(photo credit: Texas Athletics)


UCLA Coach Ben Howland on Upcoming Texas Game

Ben Howland Media Teleconference Quotes
November 30, 2007

(courtesy of UCLA Athletics)

On Darren Collison
“We didn’t practice yesterday, but he did do a little bit of conditioning on the bike and some rehab. He said that he felt fine. We’ll have a fairly rigorous practice today, so that will be a better judge. He felt fine afterwards [the game on Wednesday], so that was great. Provided that we have no issues here in the next couple of days, yes [Collison will start].”

On the guards in the game
“I want to know who has a better backcourt [than Texas]. They not only have [A.J.] Abrams and [D.J.] Augustin, but also [Justin] Mason. They are very hard to match up with because they shoot it so well from three. They make plays for one another. They are very, very good. Abrams was their second-leading scorer on last year’s team. Mason is a very good player. He shot 40 percent from three last year, and Augustin was 44 and Abrams – who shoots a ton of them – he took 284 threes last year and made 42 percent of them. He is a great shooter with a really quick release. It’s really going to be a matchup nightmare for us trying to deal with those three guards.”

On the series against Texas
“We’re just looking at Sunday’s game and then we know we have to return there the following year.”

On the Pac-10/Big-12 Series
“It’s good for our conference because there are a number of teams in our conference that have a hard time getting good games against BCS conference opponents. It really forces you to play in this situation. For the University of Texas or the University of Kansas or UCLA or Arizona or USC, it’s not as hard because of the media markets and their ability to attract good television share to be able to put games together for our respective programs. But, there are a number of other programs that have a more difficult time in scheduling. Therefore, it helps both conferences. For Oregon to win at Kansas State and for USC to beat Oklahoma, that’s great for the Pac-10. It matters in general, absolutely.”

On Kevin Love
“I think that we’ve got to do a better job of getting the ball to him in the post, especially against zones. When you’re a team that zones quite a bit, what you’re saying is that we’re going to give you outside shots. If you do a good job attacking the zone, you’re going to have some wide open shots, but you’re going to take away the paint. We have to do a better job moving him around and do a better job of sealing inside and getting it to him when he is inside. We need to take advantage of his skill level.”

On Michael Roll
“Michael definitely helps us because he stretches defenses with his ability to shoot. [Michael] practiced for 45 minutes with the team, some contact, on Tuesday. And then he did an individual workout Wednesday and did a bunch of shooting yesterday and we expect him to practice today, hopefully for about an hour or so. He had some soreness in his foot after Tuesday’s practice, which is to be expected.”

On Texas’ defense
“They’ll go back and forth. They do press quite a bit. They do a lot of 2-2-1 pressing. They do play a 2-3 zone. So they’ll go back and forth and play both.”

On Darren’s progress
“I was really amazed, number one, at how we played after being out of action for 24 days and having had two practices – one of which he was a little hesitant. Monday he was a little hesitant, thinking about it. Tuesday, he was much better. Wednesday in reviewing the film, he wasn’t even thinking about his leg. Normally, when you’re out for 10 days, two weeks or three weeks, it takes quite a bit of time to get back into a normal rhythm. He’s not where he would be if he had never missed this time. It just speaks to his great athletic ability and what a great player he is to step in and do what he did on Wednesday. We’re playing against arguably one of the top two or three point guards in Augustine. He’s really good, and I’m amazed watching this kid on film. We’ve got our hands full just trying to defend him. They’re both really good point guards.”

(photo by Bruin Basketball Report)


Thursday, November 29, 2007

Bruins in the NBA Report

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Jordan Farmar, Los Angeles Lakers: Farmar and Derek Fisher have formed an effective tandem in the backcourt.  Fisher brings veteran leadership and championship experience while Farmar provides the Lakers with a burst of youthful energy off the bench.  Farmar has improved in every category versus his rookie season, he's averaging 9.4 points, 2.9 assists in 20.5 minutes while shooting 48.5% from the field including 38.6% from beyond the arc.  While he still needs to improve with consistency from game to game, Farmar is still only 21 years old and along with center Andrew Bynum form the pillars of the future for the Lakers team.

Arron Afflalo, Detroit Pistons: Rookie Arron Afflalo continues to do a solid job for the Pistons.  With veterans Richard Hamilton and Flip Murray ahead of him on the depth chart, Afflalo isn't expected to play major minutes this season unless there is an injury to players, however, he continues to play solid defense and doesn't make many mistakes when he's on the floor.  Afflalo is averaging 3.5 points and 1.1 rebounds in 11.5 minutes and has no turnovers in his last nine games  If he expects to earn additional time on the floor, he'll need to improve upon his outside shooting where he is shooting just 42.5% from the field and an anemic 7.7% (1-13) from three-point distance.

Matt Barnes, Golden St. Warriors: Tragically Matt Barnes beloved mother, Ann Barnes, passed away from cancer on Tuesday.  He had missed five games in November due to a leave of absence in order to be with his mother during her final days.  She had urged Barnes to play again despite her sickness because it was one thing that made her very happy.  Upon returning to the line-up and playing against the Sacramento Kings, she passed away shortly after the end of the game.  Barnes has been hobbled by nagging injuries for most of the season but has been coming on as of late despite playing with a dislocated ring finger, and of course, having to face a difficult personal situation.

Baron Davis, Golden St. Warriors: Davis is having one of his best offensive performances in his career this year.  After struggling with outside shooting earlier in the season, he has improved his field goal shooting to 42.5% and 32.2% from three-point distance while averaging a career-high 24.0 points a game.  He is also dishing out 8.6 assists and grabbing 5.4 rebounds a contest.  Davis, along with the return of teammate Stephen Jackson, is one of the main reasons for the Warriors stellar play of late .  After starting off the season with six straight losses, the Warriors have won 8 of their last 9 games to vault into third place in the Pacific Division standings.

Trevor Ariza, Los Angeles Lakers: After struggling to get into Stan Van Gundy's rotation in Orlando, Ariza received a pleasant surprise by being dealt last week to the Los Angeles Lakers in exchange for reserves Brian Cook and Maurice Evans.  Ariza, a Los Angeles native, is expected to provide the Lakers with intensity off the bench especially on the defensive end.  He has only played in one of four of the Lakers games since the trade, and it may be awhile before he learns the intricacies of Phil Jackson's triangle offense and earns minutes on the floor.

Dan Gadzuric, Milwaukee Bucks: With Andrew Bogut, Charlie Villaneuva, and Jianlian Yi each playing major minutes at the four and five spots, Gadzuric's minutes have been limited this season. Still, he is averaging a respectable 2.4 points and 2.8 rebounds in 11.1 minutes of action per game.

Ryan Hollins, Charlotte Bobcats: Hollins suffered a strained left shoulder earlier in the week. Although an MRI revealed no tear or damage, he has missed the Bobcat's last three games and is listed day-to-day.  Up to that point he was averaging 3.0 points and 3.8 rebounds a game in 14.3 minutes of action.

Jason Kapono, Toronto Raptors: After starting the first six games of the season for the Raptors, Kapono is now coming off the bench in favor of Jamario Moon who provides the Raptors with better rebounding and defense. But the move has been a plus for both Kapono and the Raptors.  Since becoming a reserve, Kapono has shot over 55% from the field and is now averaging 9.8 points a game while shooting 52.6% from the field and 48.9% from beyond the arc for the second-place Raptors.

Darrick Martin, Toronto Raptors: Due to an arm injury to guard T.J. Ford,  Martin was activated on the Raptor roster four games ago and is averaging 9.3 minutes a game.  Once Ford returns in a couple of days, Martin will return to inactive status and continue his role as veteran leader in the locker room.

Earl Watson, Seattle Supersonics: Watson is in a battle with Delonte West for the starting job in Seattle.  The Sonics who have struggled all season were in need of a shake-up and replaced Watson with West a couple of games ago.  Watson has suffered from inconsistent shooting all season, he is averaging 7.2 points and 5.9 assists a game this season on just 38.5% shooting.

Jelani McCoy, Denver Nuggets: The Nuggets signed center Jelani McCoy off the Los Angeles Lakers' Developmental League affiliate Thursday, bringing back a big man who had played with them in the preseason. McCoy averaged 8 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4 blocks and 3.5 assists in two games with the L.A. D-Fenders.  McCoy had played overseas the past two seasons.

(photo credit: NBA)


Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Collison Returns, Westbrook Sparks Bruins To Victory

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Sophomore guard Russell Westbrook scored 19 points, grabbed 7 rebounds, and dished out 8 assists to lead UCLA (7-0) to a 83-60 thrashing of George Washington before a crowd of 9,691 at Pauley Pavilion.

Westbrook seemed more relaxed on the court in this game, yet and at the same time was more aggressive on offense attacking the seams of the Colonial's zone defense for inside shots or dishes to open teammates.

Perhaps the reason for Westbrook's play was the return of preseason All-American point-guard Darren Collison who came off the bench to play a surprisingly long 26 minutes in the game.

With Collison on the floor, Westbrook moved back to his natural spot at the two, and with the burden of running the offense off his shoulders, he was able to get back to the strength of his game, mainly creating offense with his speed and incredible athleticism. Just as impressive, Westbrook was a perfect 9 of 9 from the charity stripe.

Collison, playing in his first game of the regular season after spraining the MCL of his left knee on November 2nd, finished with 14 points on 4 of 9 shooting and 5 assists. He wore a protective brace on his knee.

At first Collison started off slowly, and seemed tentative jumping off his left leg, but as the game continued he increasingly gained confidence in his play and ability to move on the court, he even took some off-balance shots which landed him on the floor a few times as his coaches and Pauley fans winced with every fall.

"He made a big jump," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said. "Now he's playing out there not thinking about the injury anymore. It's incredible how he played after he'd not done anything in 24 days and not having played a game for 26 days."

George Washington was able to stay with UCLA for most of the first half with some timely three-point shooting while on defense their press and zone gave the Bruins some difficulty. UCLA went into the half with just a 44-35 lead.

The Colonial's zone defense sagged down to suffocate Bruin freshman Kevin Love who only managed 2 of 4 from the field but he still managed to record another double with 11 points and 11 rebounds despite GW defenders grabbing and mugging him whenever he went into the post.

In future games, Love's teammates need to do a better job finding him in the high post when opponents sag down inside on him, to give Love some relief and to also take advantage of his passing and shooting ability.

The Bruin's grinding, physical play eventually took its toll on their opponent in the second-half as George Washington scored only 25 points on a meager 32% shooting.

UCLA was also more effective in attacking George Washington's defense after halftime.

Junior Josh Shipp added 15 points on 6-12 shooting including two three-pointers early in the second-half to help the Bruins pull away in the game for good.

"We really did a good job in the second half, coming out and attacking the press," Howland said. "I was especially pleased with Westbrook's penetration to a jump stop to kicking it back out. He hit Josh for those two threes in a row."

Despite facing a pressing team, the Bruins committed only 10 turnovers. Collison had zero turnovers in his return. On the other side, UCLA's own pressure halfcourt defense forced the Colonials into 19 giveaways.

Alfred Aboya, who fractured a bone below his eye in the game against Yale, started at power forward wearing bright yellow goggles to protect his injury. He was 3 of 4 from the field before fouling out late in the game. He complained of some headaches during the game as a result of playing with the goggles.

UCLA will now face the No.8 ranked Texas Longhorns on Sunday at Pauley Pavilion in the inaugural Big-12/Pacific-10 Hardwood Challenge.

(photo credit: AP)


Tuesday, November 27, 2007

UCLA vs. George Washington - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA takes on the George Washington Colonials tonight at Pauley Pavilion in a non-conference contest.

The Bruins received some good news over the past couple of days when they learned forward Alfred Aboya was cleared to play tonight. The forward/center injured his eye when he was inadvertently elbowed in the Yale contest. Aboya will be fashioned with eye goggles in the game to protect his injury.

Freshman center Kevin Love, who sprained his ankle in the same Yale game, has practiced the past few days and will be in the line-up as well.

Point-guard Darren Collison, out since November 2nd due to a sprained knee ligament, started light workouts with the team and is a game-time decision tonight.

Last Friday night, the Bruins (6-0) easily disposed of Yale, 81-47. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds to lead the team to victory.

The Colonials (2-1) hail out of the Atlantic-10 conference, and are lead by Head Coach Karl Hobbs who has taken the team to three consecutive NCAA tournaments. Last season the Colonials finished 23-9 and third-place in the A-10.

Coach Hobbs has a very athletic team this season and will try to leverage it by pressing and trapping on defense for the entire 40 minutes of action. They have held opponents to 69 points a game on just 39% shooting

On offense, they are averaging 75 points a contest while shooting 45.6% from the field and 37.3% from three-point distance. The Colonials have struggled with turnovers in early games perhaps a result of losing their only pure point-guard Travis King to season-ending knee surgery.

George Washington returns two starters from last season but will be a decidedly different team after losing three senior starters who accounted for over 40% of the team's production last season.

Senior guard Maureece Rice (6'1, 224) was voted the Most Outstanding Player in last year's A-10 tournament. He has had a rocky start this season averaging 9.0 points on less than 39% shooting. Rice did not play in GW's last game due to a suspension after violating an unspecified team rule. However, he is the team's top returning scorer from last season at 15.9 points on 45% shooting from the field including 43% from beyond the arc.

Rice will be matched-up against Russell Westbrook. Westbrook will be sporting a new, actually an old, look tonight since he shaved off his "flaming mohawk" over the weekend. The sophomore Bruin guard has played splendidly, especially on defense, in the place of injured starting point-guard Darren Collison. Westbrook will need to to handle the full-court pressure applied by GW, as he did against Maryland a few games earlier. This season he is averaging 6.0 assists while turning the ball over 2.8 times a game.

Junior Rob Diggs (6'8, 187) is a very long and athletic forward who is a big time leaper and shot-blocker. He is leading the team in scoring with 20.0 point on 61.5% shooting. He has a good midrange jumper and finishes very strong around the basket.

This will be a good test for freshman center Kevin Love who will be challenged with Digg's over-the-top athleticism. However, Love is expected to give Diggs a tough time on the other end of the court as well. Love is the Bruin's leading scorer and rebonder at 19.3 points and 10.5 rebounds a game.

Wynton Witherspoon (6'7, 197), a sophomore transfer from Virgina Tech, will play the forward spot and handle some of the point-guard responsibilities. He is averaging 15.0 points and 5.3 rebounds a game. He shoots well from outside to the three-point arc and can drive to the basket. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute should match-up well with Witherspoon.

Damian Hollis (6'8, 198), an All A-10 freshman team selection last season, will be another very athletic forward to contend with. He is averaging 9.3 points and leads the team in rebounding with 8.7. Hollis is another player who can take responsibility for handling the ball on offense.

How much Alfred Aboya plays tonight will depend on how well he adjusts to playing with the goggles. Aboya has excellent footspeed and should match-up with Hollis, although it wouldn't be surprising if freshman Chace Stanback gets a lot of action tonight due to the GW match-ups and Aboya's injury.

Forward Cheyenne Moore (6'5,210, Jr.), a transfer from Clemson, is averaging 4.3 points and 4.0 rebounds and gives the Colonials a tough defender. Junior leader Josh Shipp should match-up initially with Moore.

Noel Wilmore is a three-point specialist off the GW bench and a player the Colonials depend on to inject instant offense when he gets onto the floor. Wilmore is shooting 50% from three-point distance.

While George Washington lacks height and width inside, they make it up somewhat with their speed and athleticism. The Colonials pressing style of play fits their personnel very well.

However, the Bruins have taken good care of the ball in the early part of the season, even with the absence of Collison, and their brand of physical play has a tendency to wear teams, such as the Colonials, down by game's end.

Place: Pauley Pavilion
Time: 7:30PM PT
TV: FSN Prime Ticket
Radio: AM 570

(photo credit: GW Athletics)


Coach Howland Updates Status Of Injured Players

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland updated the status of his injured players this afternoon in Westwood.

Point-guard Darren Collison has started working out with the team but his playing status remains day-to-day.

"Darren went through a little practice yesterday, not the whole practice," Howland said. "We had all our guys doing some extra shooting this morning and he shot the ball real well."

Collison is not feeling any pain, Howland said, but it was more of an issue of Collison feeling comfortable with playing on his knee.

"Every person is different, for Darrren, its gaining confidence in his knee," Howland said. "But each day he's getting more confident with it. He'll probably be wearing a brace for the first few weeks after he gets back."

Alfred Aboya has been cleared to return from an eye injury to play Wednesday night against George Washington, but he'll be donning new eye wear when he sets foot on the court.

"He's going to do goggles, not a mask, we just got the goggles today," Howland said. "He saw the doctor yesterday, and Dr. Goldberg an expert in the field at the Stein Insitute thought it would be better to wear goggles than a mask. He thought it would protect the injury better."

The team has been looking for the right set of goggles for the doctors to approve for Aboya to wear in the game, even borrowing a few pairs from Gary Vitti, a trainer with the Los Angeles Lakers. Aboya will likely have to wear the protective eye wear for at least three weeks.

Guard Mike Roll, who injured his plantar fascia a few weeks ago, went through about 35-40 minutes of non-contact drills yesterday with the team and will practice more today depending on how his foot feels when he visits the trainer.

"I'm not sure when I'm coming back yet," the junior Roll said. "It depends when the doctor clears me to play."

Howland still feels forward James Keefe can return to practice during the first week of December and then be back in the line-up by mid-December. Keefe is currently doing conditioning and non-contact drills with the team.

With the spate of injuries the team has endured this season limiting it to just eight scholarship players for Wednesday's game , Howland was asked if this year was worse than the injuries the team faced two year ago.

"This is worse than two years ago because in that year we had twelve scholarship players and the thirteenth player was Janou Rubin, a veteran walk-on."

(photo by Bruin Basketball Report)


Bruins Receive Verbal Commit From HS Sophomore

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Kendall Williams, a 6'2 165 lb point-guard from Los Osos High School in Rancho Cucamonga, announced today he has verbally committed to play at UCLA in 2010.

Entering his sophomore year, Williams emerged as one of the top prospects in his class over the summer in AAU ball.

Aside from UCLA, other major powers including Florida, Arizona, and Duke, showed high interest in him.

Williams is a bright and unselfish player. He is a good athlete who can find teammates anywhere on the floor and has an excellent feel for the game.

As a freshman at Los Osos High School, Williams averaged 8.2 points on 46% shooting, 1.8 assists, and 1.7 steals a game for the Grizzlies. He has an excellent shooting stroke and good range to the three-point line as evidenced by his lights-out shooting over the summer.

Williams joins a growing list of elite point-guards who have entered the UCLA basketball program since Coach Ben Howland arrived in Westwood, which includes current-NBA player Jordan Farmar, future-NBA player Darren Collison, and three incoming future stars next season in Jrue Holiday, Jerime Anderson, and Malcolm Lee.

Still only a tenth-grader, Williams has some physical and mental development left and it will be interesting to follow his progress before he joins the Bruins in 2010.

(photo credit: Rivals)


Monday, November 26, 2007

Kevin Love Named Pac-10 Player of the Week

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA freshman Kevin Love was named the Pac-10 Conference Men's Basketball Player of the Week for November 19-25. He becomes UCLA's 46th Player of the Week all-time.

Love averaged 18.0 points and 10.7 rebounds in the Bruin's three wins last week including leading the team to the CBE Classic championship while earning CBE Classic MVP honors.

Against Maryland, Love scored 18 points and hauled down 16 rebounds, a UCLA freshman record, to help UCLA win 71-59. The previous freshman rebounding record was held by Jelani McCoy and JaRon Rush with 15.

In the 68-63 win versus No. 10 Michigan State, Love poured in 21 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, recording his third double-double of the season.

Against Yale, Love sprained an ankle and had to leave the game early but still managed to score 15 points and record 5 rebounds in the 81-47 win.

Love practiced yesterday and is expected to start against George Washington on Wednesday.

For the season, the Bruin center is averaging a double-double, 19.3 rebounds and 10.5 rebounds while shooting 56.1% from the field. He is also hitting on 37.5% from three-point distance.

BBR Notes: The Bruins remained atop the ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll at No.1 this week. In the AP writers poll the Bruins are No.2 just points behind No.1 North Carolina.

(photo credit: J Rosenfeld)


Junior Alfred Aboya Cleared To Play Wednesday

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Great news on the injury front for the UCLA Bruins basketball team.

Junior center/forward Alfred Aboya met with a specialist today and has been cleared to play on Wednesday against George Washington, the UCLA Athletic department announced today.

Aboya will begin non-contact practice today and will return to full practice tomorrow wearing protective goggles.

In the game against Yale, Aboya was hit in the face with an elbow, fracturing his right orbital floor.

Freshman center Kevin Love practiced yesterday and will play on Wednesday as well.

(photo by Bruin Basketball Report)


Sunday, November 25, 2007

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (11/26)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


There were lots of alumni basketball games scheduled this week, and none should have been more entertaining than Tuesday night's girls' game at Granada Hills Kennedy. Coming out of retirement were the DeCree sisters, Toya, Fonda and Diane, all of whom were All-City selections at Kennedy during the 1980s. Toya Holiday is the mother of UCLA-bound Jrue Holiday of North Hollywood Campbell Hall, and Jrue was wondering if his mother and aunts still have a shooting touch. "I heard they're all mad ballers," he said. "I couldn't beat my mom until I was 12. I heard all my aunts were good. It's going to be exciting and funny because I know they're all out of shape." LA Times 11/21

Some of the top boys basketball teams in Northern California will converge on Newark Memorial High on Saturday for the first NorCal Tipoff Classic. The all-day event will include 14 teams and approximately 30 Division I prospects. Highlighting the list is 6-foot-9 senior Drew Gordon of Archbishop Mitty, who is headed to UCLA in the fall. Inside Bay Area 11/23

The 36th Tournament of Champions at Ocean View (Dec. 10-15) will also serve to put these rankings into some very serious perspective. That's because seven teams from the P-T's Southland Top 20 ratings, Nos. 5-8 (Compton, Santa Margarita, Campbell Hall and Westchester), and Nos. 11 Pasadena, 13 Harvard-Westlake and 19 JSerra, are in the event's 20-team field. Jrue Holiday (Campbell Hall), Demar DeRozan (Compton), Malcolm Lee (JW North), Renaldo Woolridge (Harvard-Westlake) and Klay Thompson (Santa Margarita), all first-team selections to the Press-Telegram's 29th Best in the West team, will be participants. A potential championship matchup between future UCLA Bruin Holiday and USC Trojan-to-be DeRozan would make entrance into the Ocean View gymnasium the most sought-after-ticket for a prep hoops event since Artesia and Mater Dei hooked up at Chapman University last December in the final of the Orange Holiday Classic.Press Telegram 11/21


Modesto Christian High's boys basketball team, buoyed by the return of junior forward Reeves Nelson and the arrival of Cal-bound guard D.J. Seeley, is No. 9 in the state preseason poll. Modesto Bee 11/20

He does not have a commitment yet for 2009, but the top prospect in that class, Renardo Sidney of Los Angeles, said a couple of times this summer that Ohio State topped his list. We're a long way from signing day next November, however, and Sidney has plenty of ardent suitors, including Southern California coach Tim Floyd. "How else to explain Floyd showing up for a meaningless junior college basketball game this month in which Sidney happened to be sitting in the bleachers?" the Los Angeles Times reported last week. "When Sidney left at halftime, so did Floyd." Per NCAA rules, Floyd could not talk to Sidney. Face time was all he wanted. OSU Insider 11/20

Hoping to avoid the media frenzy that accompanied Kendall Marshall's similar announcement last month, Los Osos has scheduled a Nov. 27 press conference where it's expected that 6-foot-2 sophomore point guard Kendall Williams will announce his collegiate future. Williams has narrowed his choices down to four and hopes to relieve some of the recruiting pressure by making his non-binding decision public. It should mean fewer phone calls for parents Robert and Debbie Williams and coach Dave Smith. At one point, there were six Pac-10 schools at a Los Osos practice. Plus, Smith was averaging more than 10 daily calls and receiving untold text messages. Daily Bulletin 11/20

Defending Division I state champion Fairfax, still at that level in large part because of the addition of 6-foot-9 Artesia transfer Renardo Sidney, is the headliner for the 56th Pacific Shores Tournament that begins Monday at Redondo Union High. And Harvey Kitani's Lions won't have to wait until the championship game for their first major test of the season. That should come in the semifinals, where the Mayfair Monsoons will be waiting. Press Telegram 11/21

So how did I settle on Dominguez for the overall No. 1 slot? Two coaches whose teams are ranked in the overall Top 10 and played the Dons over the summer, pointed to at least three factors in giving Russell Otis' club the nod over everyone else. "Their depth, quickness and defense are better than anyone else's," said one. "And now, with the addition of (Dorsey transfer) Jordan Hamilton, they have a guy they can go to anytime they need a big shot." Press Telegram 11/21

But the Warriors were nowhere near peak form on Tuesday night and, consequently, were trampled 93-61 by the bigger, more athletic Panthers. Junior Ryan Bogdin was absolutely torrid from beyond the arc, hitting eight 3-pointers en route to scoring 33 for Pinewood Prep. Shifty guard K.J. Manigault had 22 points and Milton Jennings added 17. 11/21

Hollis Thompson, a 6-foot-8 junior forward from Los Angeles Loyola who emerged this summer as one of the top boys' basketball prospects in the nation, announced Wednesday that he has committed to Georgetown. Thompson, who has a 4.2 grade-point average, said the chance to attend college on the East Coast combined with Georgetown's fast-pace style led to his decision. "I thought it would be good to get away from home," he said. Thompson was a second-team All-Mission League selection as a sophomore. During the spring and summer, he improved so rapidly that dozens of college coaches joined in the recruiting battle. He has generated praise and respect for his shooting and scoring skills, plus his improving athleticism. LA Times 11/22

But his true purpose for the visit was to personally evaluate 6-foot-11 Warsaw, Ind., native Mason Plumlee. Plumlee overcame a shaky start — he missed his first four shot attempts — to net 20 points and rip down a team-high nine rebounds in the Greenies’ 96-70 drubbing of Asheville High. Plumlee’s older brother, Stanford recruit Miles Plumlee, led Christ School (2-0) with 29 points. “It was great to have coach (Roy) Williams here tonight in our gym,” Mason Plumlee said. “I really wasn’t nervous at all. I just wanted the game to turn out well for our team.” Citizen Times 11/22

(photo credit: Mercury News)