Saturday, January 05, 2008

UCLA Defense Stifles Cal, Bruins Sweep Bay Area

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score | Photo Gallery

UCLA completed its sweep of the Bay area this weekend with an impressive 70-58 win over the California. Bears.

Freshman Kevin Love scored a game-high 19 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as the Bruins improved to 14-1 overall and 2-0 in the Pac-10 conference.

Playing against defensive specialist and elite shot-blocker DeVon Hardin, Love dominated inside. He used all of his 6'9 and 270lb frame to back down Hardin and then used an array of low post moves to easily score over the Cal big man. Love went 8-10 from the field, his only misses in the game were two three-point attempts.

Although four Bruins scored in double figures, it was their stifling defense that determined the outcome of the game. UCLA held California to just 25 points on 29.6% shooting in the first half and 36.2% for the game. This was the same Bears team that lit up a good defensive Trojan team on Thursday night for 92 points.

All Pac-10 player Ryan Anderson was held without a field goal in the first half and finished the game shooting just 4-13 for 12 points - more than nine below his season average. Luc Richard Mbah Moute and Alfred Aboya combined to harass Anderson to make it difficult for him to find space to get off a shot.

Sophomore James Keefe showed why Coach Ben Howland wanted him back on the floor. Although he only played a short stint, Keefe did a solid defensive job on Anderson and grabbed 3 rebounds in just four minutes. As the season progresses and he gains more repetitions in practice, Keefe's minutes will no doubt increase in games.

UCLA started the game with a good offensive effort, going inside to Love and attacking the basket, while jumping out to a quick 16-6 lead. Combined with the Bruin's suffocating defense, the Bears were in danger of getting blown out early at Haas Pavilion, but then the Bruins inexplicably began settling for outside jumpers and allowed Cal to stay in the game.

Darren Collison short jumper with just two seconds remaining in the half gave the Bruins a 36-25 lead going into the locker room.

At the start of the second half, one sensed the Bears had at least one run remaining in them. With Kevin Love on the bench after picking up his third foul, DeVon Hardin led a 8-0 run to cut the Bruin lead to 38-36, punctuating it with a slam dunk over Lorenzo Mata-Real.

However the Bruins answered the challenge with four quick points. Love, who was reinserted into the game, yanked down a rebound and shot an outlet pass to Russell Westbrook who knocked down a short jumper, and then Josh Shipp found a streaking Westbrook down court for a rim rattling slam.

After Shipp sunk two free throws after a flagrant foul by Patrick Christopher, Shipp then hit a long jumper to push the lead up to 56-45 with a little over five minutes remaining. The Bears never threatened again.

Sophomore Russell Westbrook scored 11 points and was huge on the boards, grabbing 7 rebounds in the contest. However, Westbrook will be remembered for two phenomenal offensive plays in this game.

In the first play, Westbrook stole the ball midcourt and then went strong to the rim, starting his jump ten feet from the rim and elevating to dunk over Cal's Jamal Boykin in a play that will be replayed all season long. On the second play, no less impressive, Westbrook took a lob pass high above the rim, and as he was being shoved hard off to the side of the backboard, he effortlessly redirected the ball into the basket.

Once again Westbrook started the game off the bench, but he was on the floor at the end of both halves and logged a total of 31 minutes.

Darren Collison rebounded from a subpar game against Stanford, scoring 14 points and dishing out 5 assists against the Bears. He was aggressive in attacking on offense hitting a number of key midrange jumpers, and defensively held Cal's Jerome Randle to just 3-10 shooting.

UCLA also won the game in the trenches. While the Bruins only shot 3-17 (17.6%) on three-pointers, they outscored the Bears 34-22 in the paint. In addition, they outrebounded the Bears 43-30 in the game.

The Bruins now travel home to face the Washington schools next week at Pauley Pavilion.

(photo credit: AP)


Friday, January 04, 2008

UCLA vs. California - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

In the second and final game of their Bay area swing, No.5 UCLA visits Haas Pavilion to take on the California Golden Bears.

Returning UCLA players will be seeking some redemption from this contest. After sweeping California in both games during the 2006-07 regular season, top-seed UCLA was unceremoniously knocked out of the Pac-10 tournament early by the Bears when senior guard Ayinda Ubaka scored 29 points in the Cal 79-69 overtime victory.

California returns all its key players to the 2007-08 squad except for Ubaka.

On Thursday the Bears upset No.22 ranked USC, 92-82. Patrick Christopher scored 24 points on 10-17 shooting while center DeVon Hardin dominated the middle with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

The Bears are a solid well-rounded team with all the pieces to make a run at the Pac-10 championship. They are second in the Pac-10 in scoring with 82.4 points a game and shoot just under 50% from the field. Although not taking as many three-pointers as they did last season, the Bears are still proficient, shooting 38% from beyond the arc.

With DeVon Hardin back in the middle after missing most of the past two seasons, the Bears are outrebounding opponents by a 5.9 margin.

Cal Coach Ben Braun primarily plays a man-to-man defense and mixes it at times with a zone. Against UCLA, it wouldn't be surprising to find the Bears playing more zone than usual considering the Bruins early season problems scoring against a zone.

Last season Cal did a good job of slowing up the UCLA transition game by regularly sending back three defenders to clog up the running lanes. With big DeVon Hardin and Pac-10 standout Ryan Anderson hitting the offensive boards hard, we'll likely see the same strategy employed.

First team All-Pac 10 forward Ryan Anderson (6'10,240,So) leads the conference and ranks 16th in the nation in scoring with 21.6 points a game. He scored a career-high 36 points against Nevada earlier in the season.

Anderson can score by posting up inside utilizing his size and solid footwork and can also score from outside. Anderson is shooting 54.2% from the field while shooting a deadly 43.9% on three-pointers. He's also recording 9.3 rebounds a game.

UCLA's Alfred Aboya will get the initial look at Anderson although fellow countryman Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will likely get the most minutes guarding him. Both Bruin players need to use their speed and physicality against Anderson who is perhaps one of the toughest defensive assignments in the conference.

In the Stanford game, Coach Ben Howland replaced Russell Westbrook with Aboya in the starting line-up. With Michael Roll injured, Howland felt he needed another perimeter player coming off the bench and felt starting Aboya solidified the team's substitution pattern. Although ultimately it was Westbrook on the floor at the end of the game and playing a total of 35 minutes.

At the other Cal starting forward spot is Patrick Christopher (6'5, 215, So) who will see minutes at guard as well. He's a solid shooter out to the three-point point and also an effective slasher to the basket, Christopher is averaging 17.6 points while shooting 48.8% from the field and 35.2% on three-pointers.

Mbah a Moute and Josh Shipp will see the most minutes guarding the Bear's sophomore, although depending on the rotation pattern we may see Russell Westbrook on Christopher. Christopher has a solid jumper and the Bruin defenders will need to do a good job closing out on him.

DeVon Hardin (6'11,250,Sr) is the Bear's man at center. He considered declaring for the NBA after last season but after missing most of the past two years to injuries, he decided to improve his stock value by playing one more season in Berkeley.

Hardin is an uber-athletic center and outstanding shotblocker. While he still needs to develop offensive post moves, he is a strong finisher at the basket if he gets the ball deep inside. Hardin is averaging 10.3 points on 55.3% shooting and averaging 9.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots per game.

Freshman Kevin Love will get to test his skills against another gifted Bay area big man. Although he's improved this season, Hardin still tends to be foul-prone and especially bites easily on pump-fakes, something Love does very well against bigger opponents.

At point-guard, the Bears have lightening quick 5'10 sophomore Jerome Randle. He was recently named Pac-10 player of the week after averaging 23 points in two games.

Randle is averaging 13.7 points and 4.0 assist, however, he also turns the ball over 3.9 times a game. Earlier in the season versus Missouri, he turned the ball over 10 times in 36 minutes. Coach Braun feels part of the problem is that Randle tries to make a big play each time he has the ball.

UCLA's Darren Collison had problems staying in front of Stanford's Mitch Johnson on Thursday and will need to step up his defensive effort against the speedy Randle. If Randle starts hitting from outside, he shoots 50% from three-point distance, it will open up the inside for Cal's Hardin and Anderson.

Nikola Knezevic (6'2,185,So) has been starting at a guard spot, but we'll likely see both Jamal Boykin and Eric Vierneisel logging more minutes on the floor.

Boykin (6'8,235,So) transferred from Duke last season and is still learning the Cal system. It wouldn't be surprising to see him eventually move into the starting line-up later in the season. He's averaging 7.0 points and 4.3 rebounds in 14.0 minutes per game but he is capable of bigger numbers. Against Long Beach State two weeks ago, Boykin had 18 points and 10 rebounds.

Vierneisel (6'7,210,Sr) is averaging 4.9 points and 2.6 rebounds a game. He hit 3 big three-point shots to finish with 15 points in the win against USC on Thursday.

Another post man coming off the bench is Harper Kamp (6'8,245) who is averaging 5.8 points and 2.7 rebounds. He's providing the Bears solid minutes, 13.4, in his first season at the collegiate level. The Bruin coaching staff briefly recruited him last year.

It will be another tough game in the Bay area for the Bruins. While UCLA will have their hands full with the Bear's formidable frontline of DeVon Hardin and Ryan Anderson, they'll also need to smother Cal's three-point shooting threats in Christopher and Randle, as well as Anderson who steps out often.

If UCLA comes out with its brand of pressure defense from the start of the game, especially on the perimeter, they should come away with a victory and a tough sweep of the Bay area.

Date: Jan. 5
UCLA vs California
Time: 3:00 PM PT
Place: Berkeley
Radio: AM 570

(photo credit: Cal Athletics)


Thursday, January 03, 2008

Shipp Shoots Down The Cardinal, UCLA Wins Pac-10 Opener

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Josh Shipp hit five three-pointers on his way to a game-high 21 points to lead UCLA (13-1, 1-0) to a Pac-10 conference opening victory over Stanford, 76-67.

Shipp shot 7-13 from the field and also recorded 3 assists and 2 steals.

It was a tight contest for most of the game that saw fifteen lead changes. UCLA forward James Keefe played in his first game of the season after removing his redshirt. He played only 4 minutes, and as expected was a bit rusty on the floor, committing 2 turnovers although he did snarl 2 rebounds in the limited action.

In a bit of a surprise, UCLA Coach Howland chose to go big to combat Stanford's formidable front line by starting 6'8 forward Alfred Aboya in place of guard Russell Westbrook.

The line-up change strategy didn't appear to work with Stanford jumping out to a 13-7 lead just four minutes into the game. Cardinal guard Anthony Goods, who was guarded by Josh Shipp, scored two quick baskets during the span before Coach Howland inserted Westbrook into the game to guard Goods.

Westbrook, for the most part, shut down Goods making him a non-factor for most of the game. Although Goods scored a team-high 17 points, most of his baskets were scored off other Bruins or came late in the game after the outcome was decided.

On the offensive end, Westbrook sparkled, scoring 15 points on 6-7 shooting and dishing out a game-high 6 assists. When Stanford went to a zone defense, it was Westbrook who sliced through the zone for scores or creating opportunities for teammates. Even more telling of the value of the sophomore guard in this contest, although he didn't start, Westbrook still logged 35 minutes in the game.

With the lead going back and forth, Westbrook's two point jumper prior to halftime gave UCLA a 35-34 lead going into the locker room.

Midway through the second half and the score still changing hands, the Bruins went on a 8-0 run, with Shipp hitting two long range shots to finally give them their first double-digit lead, 61-51, with five minutes remaining.

Freshman Kevin Love matched up against Stanford's twin 7-footers Brook and Robin Lopez for the first time in a collegiate game.

Love won this first round by a decision.

The 6'9 freshman center scored 15 points, including 7-8 from the free throw line, and finished with a team-high 7 rebounds. Interestingly, Love seemed more comfortable playing against the Lopez brothers, who have been dominating this season, than he has versus other opponents this season. Perhaps its due to the fact he grew up playing against both of them and knew what to expect in their games.

Both Lopez brothers never seemed to get on track. Brook Lopez scored 13 points but did not record a field goal until the second-half as the Bruins did a good job doubling him whenever he received the ball in the low post. By the end of the game, Stanford's chances of catching UCLA faded as both Lopez brothers fouled out.

While Love was the benefactor of some of the Lopez fouls, many of the fouls the Lopez brothers were charged with in the game were attributable to their own sloppy play or bad decision-making.

Junior point guard Darren Collison played without a knee brace for the first time this season. He scored 9 points and had 4 assists. Collison still appears to lack the explosiveness that he's been known for in past seasons and it appears he still needs more time before he gains full confidence with pushing off his knee. On the defensive end, Collison was burned on a number of occasion by Stanford's point-guard Mitch Johnson who is not known for his quickness or scoring. Johnson finished with 10 points.

UCLA finished the game shooting 50% from the field and an astounding 56.3% from beyond the arc while holding Stanford to just 42.9% field goal shooting. The Bruins finished with 10 turnovers with only 3 coming in the deciding second-half.

Despite being outrebounded 35-31 by Stanford, the Bruins did a good job holding their own on the boards against Stanford's tough front line. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute played a solid second half finishing with 9 points and 5 rebounds.

The Bruins will stay in the Bay area to play against the California Bears on Saturday in Berkeley. California beat USC at Haas Pavilion on Thursday night, 92-82.

(photo credit: AP)


Wednesday, January 02, 2008

UCLA vs. Stanford - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

No. 5 ranked UCLA opens Pac-10 conference action on the road against No.20/24 ranked Stanford at Maples Pavilion on Thursday night.

The Bruins (12-1) finished their non-conference portion of the schedule with an easy victory over UC Davis last Saturday, 76-48. Kevin Love scored 13 points and grabbed 9 rebounds against the overmatched Aggies.

Love is leading the team in scoring and rebounds averaging a double-double, 16.4 points and 10.2 rebounds a game. The freshman center is shooting 57.8% from the field. Love has made a living at the free throw line making 75 of 97 (77.3%). To put it into perspective, his 75 "made" free throws are more than any other Pac-10 player has even "attempted" from the line this season.

Senior center Lorenzo Mata-Real is scheduled to return to uniform against Stanford, he sat out the UC Davis game due to a strained groin muscle.

With the foot injury to Michael Roll, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will likely play additional minutes on the wing out of necessity. Mbah a Moute had been playing his best basketball of the season since moving to the power forward spot six games ago in which he's averaged 12.5 points and 7.2 rebounds.

Although at least for this road trip, the Bruins could use the additional size and bulk along the front line since they will face a severe test on Thursday against Stanford's formidable front line of twin 7-footers, Robin and Brook Lopez, and 6'8 Lawrence Hill.

The Stanford Cardinal (11-1) are expected to challenge for the Pac-10 title this season. They return all five starters and key bench players from last year's 18-13 club which split the two conference games with the Bruins, with each team winning on their own home floor.

Stanford has not really been tested yet as they have not faced a ranked team so far this season. Their toughest game was an away game against Texas Tech team with the Cardinal pulling out a 62-61 victory. Their lone blemish of the season was an embarrassing upset loss to unheralded Siena, 79-67, however, Stanford was without sophomore standout Brook Lopez for the game.

Regardless, Stanford has completely outclassed its early season opponents. They are averaging 75.0 points a contest while shooting 48.8% from the field and 39.1% from beyond the arc. On the defensive end, the Cardinal is holding opponents to just 56.1 points a game and 38.8% from the field.

With their big front line Stanford is outrebounding opponents by an astounding 11.2 a game, as well as dominating on the offensive boards by grabbing 12.5 off the offensive glass. The Bruins will need to control, or at least match Stanford's effort on the boards.

Last season, Stanford was successful in spreading their offensive sets against UCLA and taking them off the dribble thereby negating the Bruins' help defense. It was effective in the second-half of the first game in which Stanford rallied to defeat UCLA, however, it was not effective in the rematch in Pauley, mainly due to the fact guard Anthony Goods was injured and did not play in the game.

Goods (6'3,205,Jr) is the team's best perimeter offensive player. He shoots well from outside and can take the ball effectively to the basket off the bounce. He is averaging 12.8 points while shooting 44.3% from the field and 40.8% from beyond the arc.

UCLA's Russell Westbrook will have the big task of stopping Goods. He must stay in front of Goods and prevent him from getting into the paint and creating offense for his team. If Goods is able to penetrate and breakdown the defense, it may be a long game for the Bruins.

While Goods is a solid guard, Stanford's team is built around its massive front line.

Brook Lopez (7'0, 260, So) seriously considered leaving for the NBA after his freshman year but decided to spend another year to refine his game in Palo Alto. However in a bizarre start to this season, he was ruled ineligible due to academic reasons. Since his return to the team three games ago, he has averaged 19.3 points and 7.3 rebounds.

In last season's game at Pauley, Brook Lopez recorded 23 points and 9 rebounds against the Bruins. He is a very active player who is difficult to stop once he gets underneath and has a solid midrange shot.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will get the initial assignment against Brook Lopez, although it wouldn't be surprising if the Bruins went bigger for parts of the game by using a tandem combination of Love, Mata-Real, or Aboya. They'll need to keep Brook Lopez off the offensive boards which accounts for more than 45% of his total rebounds.

Brook's brother, Robin Lopez (7'0, 255, So) is primarily a low post player who is a solid rebounder, and like Brook, a good shot blocker. He is averaging 10.4 points, 6.1 rebounds, and 2.6 blocks a game.

In an anticipated match-up, Kevin Love will get his first taste of the Lopez brothers in a collegiate game. Like the Lopez brothers, Love has been a dominating force in just his freshman season. He has struggled so far this year scoring against bigger, athletic players, it will be interesting how Love fares in this contest against two 7-footers, much less one. Both Lopez brothers are prone to foul trouble and Love perhaps can use his guile and solid low-post skills to cause problems for them underneath.

At small forward Stanford starts Lawrence Hill (6'8,215,Jr). An all-Pac-10 player, Hill has struggled out of the gate this season. Normally a good perimeter shooter, he is averaging just 9.8 points on 44.1% shooting and just 28.1% from beyond the arc.

Josh Shipp will be matched up against the taller Hill to begin the game. For whatever reason, Hill typically plays well against the Bruins, he averaged 19 points a game in the two games against UCLA last season.

At point guard, Stanford starts Mitch Johnson (6'1,190,Jr). He's averaging 6.7 points and 4.8 assists a game. He is a good ballhandler but not very quick. UCLA's Darren Colllison will be playing without his knee brace for the first time since returning to the line-up. He'll need to pick-up Johnson early and pressure him to help keep Stanford from getting into its sets or getting the ball inside to the Lopez twins.

Off the bench, Stanford has experienced players in Taj Fingers (6'8,200,Sr), Fred Washington (6'5,215,Sr), Landry Fields (6'7,200,So) who have all started some games for the team over the past two seasons. Both Fingers and Washington give the team energy and defensive presence off the bench and Fields can light it up from outside if he get's it going.

While there are no easy games in the Pac-10, playing Stanford in Maples Pavilion probably ranks as one of the toughest games UCLA will play this season. Stanford has an experienced team and perhaps sports one of the top front lines in the nation.

The Bruins will need to play one of their best game of the season tonight in a hostile environment. They'll need to control the boards and come out and maintain a high level of defensive intensity and pressure the ball for a full 40 minutes if they expect to come away with a victory.

BBR Notes: The team is awaiting news on the results of the MRI on Michael Roll's injured left foot. Coach Ben Howland was scheduled to speak to James Keefe and his family regarding his redshirt status for this season. There is a possibility Keefe may give up his redshirt and play for the team during the weekend series. He has been practicing with the team in full contact drills since December 4.

Game Information
UCLA vs Stanford
Date: Jan. 3
Time: 7:30 PM PT
Place: Palo Alto
Radio: AM 570

(photo credit: Stanford Athletics)


Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Howland Still Uncertain on Rotation With Injury To Roll

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Junior Michael Roll is scheduled to have an MRI conducted on his injured foot on Wednesday, and Coach Ben Howland stated he will announce his plans on the playing rotation at that time - no earlier.

Roll suffered a partial tear in the plantar fascia of his left foot at practice on Monday.

"He was blocking out in a block out drill," Howland said. " He just went to push off on his toe, it was just a quick push and he felt a twinge. Last time he heard it pop but this time it didn't pop but he felt similar pain."

It is thought this tear may be in a different area than the previous rupture but the MRI will confirm the area and extent of the injury. The prior rupture was also a partial tear and not a complete tear of the plantar fascia.

"He didnt have any pain after Saturday's game. He played 26 mintues in that game," Howland said. "The new injury is disappointing."

Initially, the team trainer thought Roll might be out at least three week, however, a final determination will be made based upon the MRI results.

With the injury to Roll its almost certain another player on the roster, or perhaps redshirt James Keefe, will have to step forward to fill Roll's minutes in the rotation.

However, Howland was noncommittal on how Roll's injury would affect James Keefe's redshirt status, although he did have a meeting set up later in the day to speak to Keefe about the situation.

The other candidates for more playing time are freshman Chace Stanback and sophomore Nikola Dragovic. In addition, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will likely see more action at the three spot.

"I think Chace has improved," Howland said, "and I thought he played well in the UC Davis game. Nikola Dragovic is practicing hard but I told him the one thing we expect him to do well is shoot the ball and he's not done that."

Howland stated part of Dragovic's problems had to do with conditioning. Dragovic had participated on Serbia's national team in the summer but then had double-hernia surgery prior to returning to UCLA in the fall. Howland said Dragovic gained weight after the surgery and only now is rounding into optimum condition.

Playing with less than an eight man rotation, especially in tough Pac-10 conference action, is not an option for the team under Howland.

"As hard as we play defensively I don't think you can have success playing seven guys that many minutes," Howland said. "I think you need 8 or 9 guys."

In other player injury news, Lorenzo Mata-Real completed a full contact practice on Monday without any complications since straining a groin muscle. In addition, Darren Collison practiced well without his knee brace for the first time since returning from a knee injury. Collison will play against Stanford on Thursday without a knee brace or sleeve.

(photo credit: J Rosenfeld)


Monday, December 31, 2007

Mata-Real Returns To Practice, Collison Brace-less

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Update:  Junior Michael Roll re-injured the plantar fascia in his left foot today in practice. An MRI has been scheduled for Wednesday.

With two upcoming road games to open the Pac-10 this week, the Bruins will be close to full strength.

Senior center Lorenzo Mata-Real returned for full-contact practice this afternoon.  He had strained a groin muscle at practice last week on December 26 and was forced to miss the UC Davis contest.

With games against formidable front lines at Stanford (Brook and Robin Lopez) and California (DeVon Hardin and Ryan Anderson), the return of  6'9 Mata-Real's is welcome news for the team.

Despite coming off the bench this season behind freshman Kevin Love, Mata-Real has been playing the best basketball of his collegiate career this year.  He's averaging 4.5 points and 5.6 rebounds a game in 19.1 minutes, however, its his defensive presence, experience, and toughness inside where he contributes the most to the team.   Mata-Real is averaging 1.3 blocks per contest.

Point guard Darren Collison practiced today for the first time without the protective knee brace on his left knee.  He sprained his MCL during the first exhibition game on November 2.  Although not quite back to 100%, Collison has commented the knee brace has been inhibiting his motion.

Collison is averaging 12.7 points and 3.9 assists in just seven games this season.

Walk-on guard Mustafa Abdul-Hamid also was cleared to practice today although he was scheduled to only go for half the practice.  He suffered a stress reaction in his right foot on December 6 and has missed every practice and the last five games since the injury.

BBR Notes:  UCLA remained ranked No.5 in both AP and Coaches polls released today.  North Carolina, Memphis, Kansas, and Washington State occupy the top four spots in both polls.

(photo by Bruin Basketball Report)


Sunday, December 30, 2007

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (12/31)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Archbishop Mitty (7-0) defeated first-round opponent White Rock Christian of British Columbia by 30 points....Drew Gordon, a 6-foot-9 forward ranked 16th nationally at his position by, scored 16 points and had eight rebounds. Oregonian 12/28

Archbishop Mitty coach Brian Eagleson claims his team's ability to precisely toss the ball around court at the Les Schwab Invitational led the Monarchs to a 79-45 victory over Grant on Friday night...Drew Gordon, a 6-foot-9 forward headed to UCLA, led the way with 29 points, 19 rebounds and three assists. He had a handful of dunks that brought the crowd to its feet. Guard Collin Chiverton scored 14 points, added four rebounds and used his leaping ability to block two shots. "This was not an easy win. But I think we played tough and played together," Gordon said. "I agree with Coach, passing was the key. We just got everyone involved." Oregonian 12/28

# 1 Mitty 79, Grant-Portland 45: In Hillsboro, Ore., Mitty got 28 points and 19 rebounds from Drew Gordon and shot 64 percent from the field to beat Grant of Portland 79-45 in the semifinals of the Les Schwab Invitational tournament. Gordon hit 13 of 18 field-goal attempts and finished three consecutive possessions with dunks in the second half for the Monarchs, who improved to 8-0. SF Chronicle 12/29

In front of a near-capacity crowd inside the Torrey Pines High gym, the No. 8 Vikings couldn't overcome 23 turnovers, were beat on the boards 43 to 28 and didn't have an answer for Hamilton, a junior guard. The Vikings' All-American guard Jrue Holiday spent most of the game guarding Hamilton but that wasn't enough. Hamilton finished with 26 points, including four 3-pointers, and 11 rebounds to help put the Dons (9-1) into today's National Division championship against undefeated 19th-ranked Simi Valley. LA Daily News 12/28

Campbell Hall 68, Compton 62: Dallas Rutherford, Jrue Holiday and James Johnson combined for 53 points as the Vikings beat the Tarbabes for third place in the National Division. Demar DeRozan scored 23 points for Compton (9-5). Press Telegram 12/29

Jerime Anderson scored 20 points and Braden Priest added 15 for the Comanches (10-4) in the third-place game. Canyon also beat Antelope Valley and Diamond Ranch of Pomona in the tournament. The Comanches lost to JSerra by one point in the semifinals. OC Register 12/30


Wednesday afternoon at West Ashley High School that kid was Milton Jennings, a 6-9 junior forward from Summerville's Pinewood Prep. A full head taller than any of his teammates or opponents, he's the kind of kid that stirs conversation during a holiday tournament like the Roundball Classic. For you old- timers, Jennings is that rare combination of size and grace that reminds you of Alex English, South Carolina's great scoring forward from the 1970s who later starred for the Denver Nuggets. Post and Courier 12/27

Reeves Nelson, a junior forward, was unstoppable inside with 25 points as Modesto Christian rolled past Van Nuys 98-63 and into the quarterfinals of the Modesto Christian Holiday Hoops Classic Wednesday night. Modesto Bee 12/27

I have to believe the chances are good. UCLA is right in their backyard. The Wears play for a Pump N Run travel squad with strong UCLA ties. Pump N Run players Jrue Holiday, Jerime Anderson and Kendall Williams are all either signed or committed to UCLA. On top of this, Howland targeted the Wears early in the process. The Bruins would love nothing more than to bolster its front line with the addition of Travis and David - along with Pump N Run teammate Reeves Nelson. Rivals 12/27

Dominguez is No. 23 in USA Today's national rankings. Franklin couldn't handle Dominguez's Jordan Hamilton, a 6-foot-7 junior who finished with 31 points. Hamilton is ranked eighth in the Class of 2009 by, a recruiting Web site. Seattle Times 12/28

Most of Henton's points came off passes from teammates Reeves Nelson and D.J. Seeley, the two standouts drawing the defense and kicking it to Henton. He made mid-range jumpers all night. Seeley scored 21 points, while Nelson had 11, including a late fourth-quarter dunk that put an exclamation point of the Crusaders' win. Modesto Bee 12/28

The Modesto Christian High boys basketball team will play in the finals of its own tournament. Crusaders junior forward Reeves Nelson scored 29 of his game-high 33 points in the second half to lead Modesto Christian to a 90-84 victory over Sacred Heart Cathedral of San Francisco in a semifinal of the Modesto Christian Holiday Hoops Classic on Friday night. Modesto Bee 12/29

Greg Smith, a 6-foot-9 giant, had 16 points and 12 rebounds. His one-handed dunk midway through the third quarter summed up the one-sided affair. With Cooper desperately hanging onto one arm -- like he was trying to give a foul -- Smith jumped to snare a backdoor lob pass. And then, in one swift motion, he stuffed the ball through the cylinder to give Edison (8-3) a commanding 65-36 advantage. Merced Sun Star 12/29

And when they finally did catch up, the Eagles went on a run to seal the 60-52 victory in front of a capacity crowd at Modesto Christian High. "We had so many chances, so many breaks," Modesto Christian coach Gary Porter said. "But we never could convert. They're a good team, but we didn't play our best tonight." D.J. Seeley scored 20 points and Reeves Nelson added 13 for MC. Modesto Bee 12/30

It was an all-around team effort that helped Mater Dei beat JSerra, 88-74, in the tournament final Saturday night at Chapman University. Five Monarchs scored in double figures: sophomore Gary Franklin scored 19, on 8-for-10 shooting; junior Travis Wear scored 17, as did senior Blake Arnet; Travis’ twin David Wear scored 14; and junior Andy Brown scored 10. OC Register 12/30

(photo credit: OC Register)