Saturday, January 26, 2008

Collison and Love Power Bruins Over Beavers

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Junior Darren Collison scored a career-high 33 points to lead the Bruins to a 85-62 victory over the Oregon State Beavers at Corvallis.

Showing he has completely returned from an early season knee injury, Collison shot 9 of 12 from the field and made 12 of 12 from the free throw line. He is in the midst of a 26 consecutive free throw streak.

Collison, who sat out the first six games of the season due to his injury, stroked it effectively from outside and drove the lane with reckless abandon.

"He played poised and smart, and I'm really happy for him," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said. "Now we've got to build off this."

Kevin Love muscled his way to 16 points and set yet another Bruin freshman record with 21 rebounds. In his trip back to the state of Oregon, Love finished with a combined 42 points and 39 rebounds over two games.

The freshman center also showcased his outlet passing talents numerous times during the game, hitting his teammates in stride down the court for quick baskets.

The Bruins (18-2, 6-1) went on a 17-2 run in the first seven minutes of the second-half to open up a nineteen point cushion to put the game away early. They held the Beavers to without a field goal in the half until the 11:44 mark. Oregon State shot just 22.2% over the final twenty minutes.

Yet, as much as UCLA dominated the second-half, the last-place Beavers played them tough in the first-half, trailing at halftime by the score of 43-39 and went into the locker room brimming with confidence they could hang with the Pac-10 champs.

Although Oregon State (6-14, 0-8) went into the game shooting a Pac-10 worst 38.3% from the field and 27% on three-pointers, they exploited the Bruin defense, as Oregon and USC had done in their games, by spreading the floor and dribble penetrating for lay-ups.

Beaver's Josh and Seth Tarver and Lathan Wallace took their defenders off the dribble to the basket numerous times for 33 first-half points alone. Wallace also hit two deep threes. Oregon State finished shooting 48.5% in the half and 50% (4 of 8) on three pointers.

Opponents have realized the best way to beat the Bruin defense is by spreading the floor and minimizing help defenders and at times exploiting them with back door cuts/passes. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute's presence and quickness on defense is sorely missed. He was out for a second game due to a concussion.

Moreover, Russell Westbrook allowed his opponent on numerous occasions to easily beat him off the dribble and penetrate in the first half. Westbrook, who had been gaining a reputation as a defensive stopper, doesn't seem as focused as he was earlier in the season. At times during the game he was either playing his opponent at the wrong angles or guarding them too closely, and allowing them to blow by him numerous times.

Although the Bruin defensive intensity increased in the second-half, ultimately leading to a blow-out victory, they'll certainly need both Mbah a Moute back and on court and for Westbrook to reclaim his spot as the team's defensive stopper if they are to be successful this season.

Josh Shipp struggled with his shooting for the second consecutive game. Although he finished with 12 points against the Beaers, he was just 5 of 18 on this Oregon road trip.

UCLA went to the foul line twice as much as Oregon State, finishing 28 of 36 (77.7%) from the charity stripe. The Bruins also outrebounded the Beavers, 41-30.

The Bruins go back home to Pauley Pavilion to prepare for Arizona State on Thursday. The Sun Devils lost a close game on Saturday to Washington State, 56-55.

(photo credit: AP)



At Jan 26, 2008, 5:28:00 PM, Anonymous D B said...

The last few games really has shown Ucla's weakness on defense in certain areas. As the post above says, Ucla is an extremely well team oriented defense, but not individual ones.
Most of its players arent very athletic defensively so it would be of a concern against fast teams which is why teams like Texas, Usc, and Oregon gave us a tough time this season.
Luc is a decent overall player but at the next level hes too slow IMO for a 3 and a tad small for a 4. My bet is to bulk up more and be a small 4.
Shipp is also slow defensively and Aboya is a foul magnate. Mata is not bad defensively but becomes a out of place man on offense. Love is very slow and his man exploits this by popping out to make him move.
The entire bench group are very slow except for Westbrook. This is the reason why teams that tends to play the inside game are now actually easier for Ucla since it gives them time to rotate and double team. Fast teams that rely more on mid to outside game will give the Bruins problem.
This is the reason why it is extremely important that the guards on the Bruins team comes out focus and play well defensively.
Coach Ben has done a tremendous job with the players hes got defensively but we definitely need to switch it up a bit if teams are going to spread the court. Perhaps a 3-2 zone would help now and then.

At Jan 26, 2008, 6:33:00 PM, Anonymous dee said...

ditto to D B, maybe howland should give up on his stubborness about sticking with the man D 24/7, that was exactly what got us killed by Florida the past 2 years... a zone could have stop the bleeding when teams are exploiting our match up weakness... esp for a year when we have poor mano to mano defenders but good help defenders (shipp and mata are both horrible man to man defenders but are excellent when being a helf defender - mata at blocking and drawing charges which usually happens on help defense occasions and shipp with his weakside block and steal) but then again howland is a stubborn man so things won't change... hopefully westbrook can stick with harden the next game, he was pretty sick (in a good way) against Wash St driving at will and esp hard to guard because he's a lefty

At Jan 27, 2008, 1:56:00 AM, Anonymous Raymond said...

Forget the above posts regarding UCLA's alleged poor defensive players. Their defensive concepts are fine. Anyone who has played athletics knows that a team can't be near-perfect every game.
People should remember that Howland hasn't had a full complement of players many times this year. This team is very good and will get better come March, which is what you want.

At Jan 27, 2008, 2:28:00 AM, Anonymous Alan said...

Playing defense against these spread offenses is forcing Ben to change his help defense somewhat, however, the second half of the OSU game last night showed that he is certainly capable of doing just that. The Arizona teams may try the same thing. We will be ready for it and Luc will again be playing. Bring it on.

At Jan 27, 2008, 1:20:00 PM, Anonymous dee said...

i'm just being real... because from statistical stand point and watching many games most people can see our defense has dropped compared to previous years... teams used to be unable to drive at us at will (mostly because affalo was guarding the top dog) but this year almost everyone gets burn... love by marty lunnen, mata by a more atheletic and faster PF, shipp by almost everyone he guards (remember the Texas game?) Westbrook is doing his fair share but he is no way close to Affalo's tenacity... also teams have been pick-and-rolling our ass off and we are not as quick getting back on our rotation... which brings us back to the florida game when we also get pick and rolled our asses off because their bigs are so much faster than ours... so guess what can prevent us to get pick and rolled? Zone defense because u can't pick and roll against the zone and it clogs up penetration... but i'm a believer that zone defense will not appear in ucla under howland's reign unless we get pick and rolled our asses off 3rd year in a row during the tourney... which as a bruin fan i hope does not happen and hope we go all the way and love andd collison can be a lottery pick, luc and westbrook and be 1st round pick, shipp and mata can be 2nd rd picks who enjoy life playing in the nbdl... and of course Aboya becoming the next president of Cameroon

At Jan 27, 2008, 4:28:00 PM, Anonymous Randy said...

Relax, dee. And don't think so much.

At Jan 27, 2008, 5:21:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

No doubt, UCLA's defense does seem to have dropped off from the past two years. The past 3 games are perfect examples of this... But ask yourself WHY? Have teams figured out how to challenge UCLA's defense or is it the player's UCLA has? I think it's a little of both. It's easier to prepare for a team when you know what kind of defense they will run at you... I think mixing in a zone (from time to time) would really keep other's "honest" in their preperation.

At Jan 28, 2008, 12:39:00 AM, Anonymous DB said...

Regarding Raymond's post above...
Yes you will have off nights now and then but defense is usually your consistent side of the game. Also yes I have played 4 years of highschool football and basketball with 3 years of varsity each thank you very much so I do know about not being able to be perfect every game.
However, when both of your losses and another near one came against almost exaclty the similar type of offense and concept, its not about having an off night. It is about something you are doing that is not very effective against that type of game play.
When all three of those teams are solid NCAA tourny teams and rely on similar approach, it becomes a solid game plan against you.
Part of a good team and teamplay is to face and learn to adapt vs different situations. Perhaps it was because the Bruins' injury problems or just a concidence of all three teams having the same playstyle having a great outing.
Either way, you cannot expect other teams to play into the style of offense that suits your defense. Defense just like offense needs to adjust to how your opponent is playing you.
In any case, Bruins are still doing well but need to find ways to close down fast perimeter teams.

At Jan 28, 2008, 5:15:00 AM, Anonymous willis said...

The key difference between this year and last year defensively is that you have basically lost Afflalo and Mata-Real in the starting line-up and have replaced them with Love and Aboya. Afflalo was a lock down perimeter defender. Shipp is defending guys this year that Afflalo would have last year. With one less perimeter lock down defender, more opponents are gonna get to the basket off the bounce. Last year Mata-Real would have been there to block or alter the shot. This year you've got Love and Aboya there. Neither is a shot blocker. Their best strategy generally is to try to draw a charge. Hence UCLA's defense is not as strong for 2 reasons: 1) No more Afflalo defending on the perimeter. 2) No shot blocker at the 5. Part of the answer might be to play Love at the 4 and Mata-Real at the 5 and have them on the court at the same time. More minutes for Mata-Real, less for Aboya. Against a team like Stanford with the Lopez twins, Cal with Anderson and Hardin, and WSU with Baynes and Cowgill, this might work because Love could defend a Lopez or Anderson or Cowgill away from the basket. However, when a team basically plays "small ball", (only one decent sized big guy on the court at a time), like Oregon, Arizona, USC, or OSU, then UCLA has a problem defending the perimeter. But remember, such teams have no one to defend Love down low, hence his success offensively and on the boards recently. So, bottom line is that Howland has to choose between his best defensive package and his best offensive package. Last year they were one and the same. This year they are not.
By now all real students of the game should know that Howland has a defensive system from which he never waivers. This is all about strong man-to-man defense. Never a zone. You will also notice that he uses no extended pressure, (full court, 3/4 court or 1/2 court), except for extending his man-to-man. This is because a key rule of his defensive system is never to give up any easy baskets. Easy baskets come too often as a result of extended zone defenses and traps. Giving up easy baskets demoralizes the defense and energizes the team scoring the easy baskets, giving them great momentum and confidence. Finally, you'll notice how his perimeter players don't help off the bounce. They "stay home", therefore it's the 4 and 5 that need to rotate to help. UCLA's defense is best when they hedge the ball screens set by the opponents' big men with their big men on the perimeter and when they double team the post. If you're playing against UCLA you soon learn not to set ball screens with your big guy on the perimeter and that if you have a strong low post presence to whom you want to get the ball, (Lopez, Hardin, Baynes, Diogu a few years ago), he better be ready and able to pass out of that double team.
Finally, UCLA's perimter D improves dramatically when they go small and insert Westbrook for Aboya, or even Shipp. But, even then, there's no Mata-Real behind them as a shot blocker. Howland could insert Mata-Real for Love to improve his team D, but you know the downside of that.
However, don't fret. No team is perfect. All have their weaknesses. This team has a good a shot to win it all as any other team in the nation. With the time that Keefe and Dragovic are getting due to Mata-Real, Luc Richard and Roll being out, this will only help come March IF the team is healthy then.

At Jan 28, 2008, 5:51:00 AM, Anonymous Doug said...

Willis, nice post. Wonderful analysis on the team's d and personnel. Keep them coming. Along with BBR's info and and analysis and comments like yours makes this site visiting daily.

At Jan 28, 2008, 8:16:00 AM, Anonymous shash 11 said...

What is the status of Luc's concussion...anyone know?

At Jan 28, 2008, 10:45:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a always been a big proponent of playing Mata and Love at the same time. Love could play the low or high post. Mata has developed a pretty good low post game in case you haven't noticed. He can hit those baby hooks with both hands on a consistant basis. PLUS THAT GUY CAN BANG!!!

At Jan 29, 2008, 10:40:00 AM, Anonymous Bare Gunner said...

Willis that was one LONG ASS post... but I must tell you, it was worth EVERY word! I agree with Doug, great job and keep your insightful comments coming in!


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