Saturday, December 29, 2007

Bruins Waltz To Easy 76-48 Win Over UC Davis

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Darren Collison scored 14 points and Kevin Love added 13 to lead No.5 ranked UCLA to an easy 76-48 thumping of UC Davis (5-7) before 10,242 fans at Pauley Pavilion.

The Bruins (12-1) led for the entire 40 minutes of the game, and despite some sloppy play at the start and missing 9 of their first 11 shots, they were in control from the opening tip-off.

Love grabbed a game-high 9 rebounds as UCLA outrebounded the undersized Aggies 31-16.

Moreover, UCLA grabbed 15 offensive rebounds and forced 21 turnovers which resulted in the team taking 62 field goal attempts versus just 37 by the Aggies. For the game, the Bruins shot 53.2% from the field.

Collison sprained his ankle at practice two days ago and was a game-time decision to play tonight, but he showed no ill-effects from the injury as he aggressively attacked on both ends of the floor. The junior point-guard shot 6 of 9 from the field, including 2 of 4 from beyond the arc, and had two steals in the contest. This was Collison's last game wearing his protective knee brace which he's worn since his return from a knee injury.

"It was real uncomfortable. We'll see how it goes without the brace," Collison said. "It was limiting me defensively."

UC Davis played primarily a 2-3 zone all evening, and the Bruins responded, as Coach Howland announced last week, with Russell Westbrook moving to the top at point guard with Collison shifting to the wing. Westbrook finished with 6 assists and 9 points. Its too early to proclaim the strategy a success yet, considering the level of opponent, but the results were at least promising in this game.

Josh Shipp and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute each scored 10 points. Shipp had a Pauley-pleasing tomahawk dunk in the first half. Mbah a Moute has played better and seems more comfortable since his move back to the power forward spot on the floor a few games ago, he also finished with 5 rebounds.

UCLA led by as much as 15 points in the first half before going into halftime with a 37-24 lead. Then midway through the second half, the Bruins went on a 20-3 run to move ahead 57-30, to put the game on ice with a little over six minutes still remaining.

The Bruins will now prepare for their trip up north to face Stanford next Thursday and California on Saturday as they finally, and mercifully, put an end to their non-conference schedule and begin Pac-10 play.

"Now, it's the 18 games we're looking forward to," Love said. :We want to win the Pac-10 outright."

Senior center Lorenzo Mata-Real did not dress up for the game tonight although he was on the bench supporting his teammates. He is still bothered by his groin muscle strain and its still undetermined if he'll be able to play against Stanford on Thursday.

Stanford has a big front line of 7'0 twin brothers, Brook and Robin Lopez, and California has athletic big men in DeVon Hardin and Ryan Anderson. Not having Mata-Real available for the game would be a huge blow to the Bruins.

"The Cal and Stanford trip is going to be extremely tough," Howland said. "They have four NBA-caliber big men between them. Both teams also have good players around their front court."

(photo credit: AP)


Friday, December 28, 2007

Howland Updates on Team Injuries

By KS Wong
Bruins Basketball Report

UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland provided an update on player injuries at his weekly press conference this afternoon.

The team took three days off from practice after the Michigan game in Ann Arbor and held their first practice after returning on Wednesday.

Junior point guard Darren Collison sprained his ankle yesterday towards the end of practice. He collided with Russell Westbrook and as both players got their feet tangled, Collison twisted his ankle by stepping on Westbrook's foot.

He will be held out of practice today and is questionable for tomorrow's game against UC Davis. Collison's injury is not serious enough for him to wear a boot at this time.

"He could probably do some shooting today," Howland said. "But I thought it was better to hold him out so he'll probably just get some treatment today."

Howland remarked that Collison has continued to improve his play since his return from a knee injury and was satisfied with his play in the Michigan game, but confirmed he is not yet 100% back.

"I think he played the best since he's come back but he's still not all the way back yet," Howland said. "It takes time to get back, its an arduous process. He hasn't even been back a month yet."

Collison is scheduled to be able to play without his protective knee brace next week, the start of the Pac-10 season.

As reported yesterday, Lorenzo Mata-Real injured his groin at practice on Wednesday. He is also questionable for tomorrow's contest against UC Davis. Howland is somewhat more concerned about Mata-Real's injury due to the possibility of lingering effects from a groin type of injury.

"I've seen where groin injuries can linger for an entire season," Howland said. "His injury isn't major but we want to be careful."

The flu bug has been going around the team. Howland stated that both Lorenzo Mata-Real and Michael Roll had the flu during their road trip to Michigan last week which affected their play. Mata-Real only played 8 minutes in the game.

This week freshman center Kevin Love did not practice on Wednesday due to the flu and Howland, himself, is suffering from lingering effects of the flu as well.

Howland is good friends with UC Davis Head Coach Gary Stewart which is part of the reason why the game with the Aggies was scheduled.

"They run a Princeton offense and are super patient," Howland said. "Coach Stewart and his team beat Stanford two years ago, and we don't want to be in that same boat this year."

(photo by Bruin Basketball Report)


Thursday, December 27, 2007

UCLA vs. UC Davis - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

The Bruins return to action with a non-conference contest against the UC Davis Aggies on Satuday at Pauley Pavilion. It will be UCLA's last non-conference tune-up game before they begin Pac-10 action next Thursday.

After defeating Michigan, 69-54, in Ann Arbor last Saturday, UCLA (11-1) moved up in the polls to No.5 in both the Coaches and AP rankings. Josh Shipp scored a game-high 19 points while freshman Kevin Love recorded a double-double with 17 points and 16 rebounds in the win against the Wolverines.

UCLA Coach Ben Howland gave his players three days off over the holidays. Unfortunately, the team suffered an injury in its first practice session back from the break on Wednesday when senior center Lorenzo Mata-Real strained a groin muscle. He is listed as doubtful for Saturday's game against the Aggies.

UC Davis (5-6) officially made their move up to Division I from Division II this season. The Aggies play in the Big West conference where they've been an unofficial member during the four year transition period to Division I. Over this time, they've beaten every Big West team at least once, except for Pacific.

In their last game on December 21st, UC Davis lost to Jackson State, 81-57. They lost to Texas, a common UCLA foe, earlier in November by the score of 73-42. Against Pac-10 Oregon State at home two weeks ago, the Aggies lost 73-59 to the Beavers.

UC Davis is a ball control team which will try to maintain a slower tempo and keep the Bruins out of transition. They average just 66.9 points a game while shooting 44.9% from the field including 37.3% from three-point distance. Opponents have outrebounded the Aggies this season by a 5.9 margin.

It is a young ball club which does not return any seniors this season.

UC Davis is led by returning starting guard and top scorer Vince Oliver (6'3, 195, Jr). He's averaging 13.6 points on 38.7% shooting. Oliver grew up in nearby Inglewood and played his prep ball at Loyola High. He has scored 19 points in three games this season.

Two other Aggies score in double figures; guard Shane Hanson (6/7, 230, So) averages 11.4 points, and forward Kyle Bruculleri (6'8, 230, Jr) is at an even 10.0 a game.

They also have imposing 7'2 285 lb junior center Michael Boone out of Loma Linda on the roster, but he has been limited to just 5.3 minutes a game.

UC Davis is not expected to give UCLA much trouble on Saturday, which is unfortunate since the Bruins could use some additional practice playing against stiffer competition prior to the start of Pac-10 play.

UCLA travels up to the Bay area next week to start their conference season. On Thursday they will play No.22 ranked Stanford at Maples Pavilion and then face a very tough California team on Saturday.

Game Information
UCLA vs UC Davis
Date: Dec. 29
Time: 4:30 PM PT
Place: Pauley Pavilion
TV: FSN Prime
Radio: AM 570

(photo credit: UCD Athletics)


Tuesday, December 25, 2007

19 year-old Bill Walton Talks UCLA Basketball

By Bruin Basketball Report

Searching through the news archives, we came across an October 1972 article from the Los Angeles Times penned by writer Bill Libby titled "Reluctant All-American: The games Bill Walton plays."

Bill Walton was just 19 years old at the time and ready to embark on his second season at UCLA under Coach John Wooden. Just seven months earlier, he had helped lead the Bruins to an eighth NCAA basketball championship.

In the article, the strapping 6'11 All-American center shared his thoughts about teammates, Coach Wooden, and his experiences as a collegiate basketball player.

Below are excerpts from the vintage article by Libby:

Walton on dealing with all the fame he received after winning the NCAA championship as a sophomore:

He shakes his head and says, "I'm just starting in sports and already I'm being called a superstar. It's just not right. I don't like it when everyone wants to interview me and no one pays any attention to my teammates. Without them, I'd be nothing. This is a team game, and I'm just one of the guys on our team."

"I don't go out on the court to impress anyone. I just try to play my game and help us win. I'm sorry that I stand out. It hurts when people talk as if I'm the only player on the team. I wish that sportswriters wouldn't ask me anything personally at all. I'd prefer that they get the whole team together to talk. I don't like to be singled out as an individual because I don't play as an individual. We play as a team."

"I don't give many interviews, because I don't think I'm all that important. I don't want to be made into some kind of cardboard cutout, and I don't want people to be disappointed when they find out that I'm something other than what they want me to be."

Walton on his UCLA teammates:

"The other regulars have been high school stars, big men all the way until now. Here they've been asked to sacrifice themselves, and they've been shoved into the shadows, yet it hasn't affected their desire or altered their personalities. They've been just great, and I think that what they've had to do is a lot more admirable than anything I've done."

Walton on Coach John Wooden:

"I have been very fortunate with all my coaches. They all have done their best for me. Coach Wooden is a very good person. He coaches the whole person, not just the player. We disagree on many things. For instance, I wish he didn't insist on short hair. But he is not one of our generation, so I cant expect him to see things as we see them. And he is a very logical man. When we discuss things with him and can explain something logically, he is prepared to go along with us."

UCLA Coach John Wooden on Walton:

"Walton fostered a spirit of togetherness that helped build an unusual team spirit."

UCLA athletic director J.D. Morgan on Walton:

"This has been the most compatible team we've had since I've been here, largely because of Bill's personality and unselfish attitude towards his teammates."

Walton on the rich offers he received to go professional early

Libby wrote: He says that he knows that if there is a merger between the warring pro leagues he will not be offered as much money to sign as he has been offered already, but he says that he doesn't care.

He says, "I figure I still have to put on weight and get stronger and get better as a player. When the time comes to play, if I want to play pro, I'll be able to get the money, but money and material things simply don't mean that much to me."

(photo credit: UCLA Athletics)


Bruins Move Up To No.5

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (12/24)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Somogyi plays defense, too. Mitty's Drew Gordon, the area's top player, struggled offensively against the 7-footer in an AAU matchup last spring. "I think I did a good job on him on defense, but I couldn't do much on offense," Somogyi said. SF Chronicle 12/19

As a former point guard, I'm quick to admit that Jrue Holiday is my favorite player that I've scouted for As you pointed out, he can make pretty much all the plays with and without the basketball. On top of that, he is a fierce competitor and one of the best, if not the best, perimeter defenders that I've scouted. Rivals 12/19

Spartans coach Tom Hofman would have loved to have had Malik against Riverside J.W. North's Malcolm Lee. Unfortunately for Hofman, all Malik could do was watch as the UCLA-bound point guard put on a show. Lee made a short bank shot with 34 seconds left in overtime to give the Huskies a 67-66 victory and the tournament title. The 6-foot-3 senior scored 22 points as J.W. North (5-3) snapped the Spartans' four-game winning streak. "We knew they were going to be hungry, and they played a great game," said Lee, who was named the tournament's most valuable player. LA Daily News 12/21

Jerime Anderson scored 25 points for Canyon. That was in Capistrano Valley’s plans. Also in Capistrano Valley’s plans — Anderson’s teammates would not be as much a hindrance. Anderson’s teammates scored only 22 points between them, and Capistrano Valley beat Canyon, 59-47, Friday in the Orange County North-South Challenge at El Toro. Anderson, a senior guard who was All-Orange County first team and has signed with UCLA, is at his most dangerous when he is distributing the basketball to teammates for easy baskets in addition to his own scoring. OC Register 12/21

Oak Grove battled hard before Drew Gordon took over to lead Mitty to a 57-47 non-league victory at Independence High on Saturday night. It was the smallest margin of victory for the Monarchs (5-0) this season. Oak Grove twice closed to within three in the fourth quarter, but each time Gordon responded - first with a midcourt steal and breakaway slam, and then by getting to the free-throw line. Gordon outscored Oak Grove 9-3 down the stretch to break open a game that stood at 47-44 with 2:30 left. He finished with 15 points, 13 rebounds, four steals and three blocks. Mercury News 12/22


Most come to pursue Ater Majok, a 6-10 forward from Australia who is considered perhaps the best uncommitted big man in the 2008 freshman class. Majok has worked out in front of more than 25 colleges during the past month. Smith, the Australian coach who handles Majok's recruitment, keeps his cellphone turned off unless he's making an outgoing call. Otherwise, Smith said, "These recruiters would talk all day and make me go broke." Washington Post 12/19

There's a buzz now, wherever the team goes. The biggest reason -- both literally and figuratively -- is Ater Majok, a 6-foot-10-inch Sudanese who arrived in town a little more than a month ago and has been treated like a rock star ever since. Several Web sites project him as a future NBA star. Nobody disputes he is a blue-chip college prospect for next season....Outside, Baylor University head basketball coach Scott Drew is waiting on the curb. Inside, a crowd is beginning to gather. Among the dignitaries: recruiters from UCLA, Connecticut, Louisiana State and Louisville. Virginia Tech coach Seth Greenberg is here to take a look. Later, Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski will settle into his seat. Roanoke Times 12/20

Fairfax, which won the California state championship back in March, featured a lineup which included 6-foot-10 Renardo Sidney, considered by one scouting service as the top junior in the U.S. plus 6-5 Soloman Hill, and a pair of 6-3 guards in sharpshooter Lance Bailey and Chris Solomon. Sidney had 18 points before fouling out, and Solomon had 16. The Ledger 12/20

Miles Plumlee, Christ School’s 6-foot-10 senior post player who is headed to Stanford, overcame a sluggish first half to score 18 of his game-high 22 points in the final 16 minutes to lead the Asheville school to a 72-64 victory....Plumlee’s younger brother, 6-10 junior Mason Plumlee, scored 11 points and had 11 rebounds. Lakeem Jackson and Dee Giger had 15 and 11 points, respectively. The State 12/20

Dominguez 53, Urspring (Germany) 40: Jordan Hamilton scored 23 points and Aaron Moore added 14 for the Dons (5-1) at the Amare Stoudamire Invitational in Florida. Press Telegram 12/21

There was a buzz in the gym with the anticipation of a late night showdown between the Jeremy Tyler, the No. 1 sophomore and Renardo Sidney, the No. 1 junior in the country. However, most of the crowd at the Amare Stoudemire Invitational Classic headed home at halftime since Tyler and his San Diego High School team had no answer for Sidney and Los Angeles Fairfax High School. Sidney dominated his match-up with Tyler. Halftime score: Fairfax 40, San Diego 18; Sidney 15 points, Tyler 0 points. Final score: Fairfax 62, San Diego 34; Sidney 32 points, Tyler 0 points. Gator Bait 12/21

When asked about his recruiting situation, Renardo Sidney rattled off an unconvincing school list of UCLA, USC, Texas, Florida, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Ohio State. When pressed on who is really recruiting him the hardest, however, USC was the only school mentioned. In fact USC assistant Gib Arnold, showed up an hour or so before the game after spending 13 hours flying to the Orlando area from an event in Hawaii where he was scouting. Gator Bait 12/21

Smooth 6-9 junior Milton Jennings’ 17 points led the way as the Panthers beat Logan 64-55 in a first-round game at the Chick-fil-A Classic basketball tournament at Richland Northeast High. Pinewood Prep (11-2), the two-time defending SCISA Class 3A champion, advances to play host Richland Northeast at 5:15 p.m. today in a winner’s bracket game. Jennings showed his versatility by hitting three 3-pointers and blocking six shots. The State 12/21

Jordan Hamilton was the man of the night and fellow Southern Californian Renardo Sidney was awful good as well. Due largely to their efforts the championship game of the Amare Stoudemire Invitational Classic will be the battle of Los Angeles. Hamilton came up big for Dominguez. In a hard fought game through three quarters, Hamilton sank a three-pointer to start the fourth quarter putting Los Angeles Dominguez up by one point over Kathleen (Fla.) High School. From that point on neither team had more than a one point lead before Hamilton drained another three pointer with three seconds left to give Dominguez a 55-53 win. Gator Bait 12/22

A 2009 five-star prospect, Jordan Hamilton is down to Texas, Connecticut, Syracuse, California and USC. He had these comments about his favorite school Texas. "I took an unofficial visit there and really liked the campus. They have great coaches, and I love the way Coach Barnes runs his offense." Gator Bait 12/22

MODESTO CHRISTIAN 95, RIPON CHRISTIAN 36, at Ripon -- Junior standout Reeves Nelson scored 24 points to lead the Crusaders past the Knights in their Trans-Valley League season opener. Modesto Bee 12/22

Despite first-half foul trouble to its best player, the Dominguez High boys basketball team showed off its depth, not to mention some clutch free-throw shooting, in knocking off Fairfax, 57-52, in the championship game of the Amare Stoudemire Invitational on Saturday night in Davenport, Fla. Junior guard Jordan Hamilton led the Dons (7-1) with 17 points and 10 rebounds, despite picking up his third foul early in the second quarter....The Lions (7-1) were led by 6-foot-10 junior center Renardo Sidney's 20 points. Sidney, a transfer from Artesia High, was selected the tournament MVP. Press Telegram 12/22

(photo credit: The Ledger)