Saturday, March 22, 2008

Love Carries Bruins To Sweet 16

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Say all you want about UCLA's play the past few weeks. One thing people can all agree upon?

They just know how to win!

Kevin Love scored 19 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to help UCLA rally from a ten point second-half deficit to beat a tough Texas A&M team, 53-49, and advance to the Sweet 16 round of the NCAA tournament

After allowing 56% field goal shooting in the opening half, the UCLA defense clamped down in the second half as the Bruins slowly chipped away at the Aggies big lead.

Love's 10 foot fadeaway jumper with three minutes remaining tied the game at 45-45. Then with 1:37 left, Love got the ball again on the left side and hit a step back 12 foot shot to put the Bruins ahead 47-45.

Darren Collison scored on two tough lay-ups to keep the Bruins ahead. Then with 8 seconds remaining and the Bruins still up by just two, Texas A&M guard Donald Sloan drove down the lane but his shot was blocked by Josh Shipp who got the ball to Russell Westbrook for a thunderous dunk to end the game.

"That was vintage Darren Collison," Howland said. "Driving down the lane, going right, high off the glass, kissing it in. The second one was really a blessing because that thing kind of rolled in had for us. And, believe me, I'm very thankful."

Collison scored 21 points and almost single-handedly kept the Bruins in the contest with his key three-point shots. He finished 5 of 8 from beyond the arc.

"Once the time clock goes zero, zero, we'll stop playing," Collison said. "We've been through that all season. We knew what we had to do; we knew who was going to win, and all the coaches said we just had to do the right things to win the game."

UCLA struggled offensively, especially in the first half, against a very physical Texas A&M defense. Three Bruin starters, Josh Shipp, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, and Russell Westbrook shot a cominbed 4 of 18 for a mere 9 points. Collison and Love accounted for 40 of UCLA's 53 points or 75% of the team's offensive output.

But Howland praised the three starters for their other contributions in the game.

"It was Josh's defensive play at the end of the game," Howland said. "Russell gets a dunk. That's one of his three baskets. Josh made the play down the stretch, and he made a couple of rebounds. Luc did not play well today, and you could tell from a week off, from not playing, especially in a game, it hurts you. But he steps up and makes big rebounds down the stretch."

Moreover, UCLA Coach Ben Howland shortened his bench considerably in this game with reserves Alfred Aboya, James Keefe, and Lorenzo Mata-Real combining for just 20 minutes of action. The bench provided just 4 points and 1 rebound.

While Texas A&M's defense held the Bruins down in the first half, its offense was effective in breaking down the Bruin defense off the dribble drive. Aggies guard Donald Sloan repeatedly got into the paint for easy scores, he finished with 12 points.

In the second half, the Bruins stopped doubling and trapping the Aggies and went straight up against them, and it proved successful as they held the Aggies to just 30.8% shooting in the half.

Kevin Love had a career-high 7 blocks in the game which helped to key the Bruins' defensive turnaround in the second half.

"That was reminiscent of a lot of games we seem to be in lately, where we're having to make dramatic comebacks in the last few minutes," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "But the one thing that I love about our team is that they know in their heart they're always going to win the game. They're going to find a way."

UCLA advances to the Sweet 16 for the third consecutive year under Coach Ben Howland. They will play the winner of the game between No.12 seed Western Kentucky and No.13 seed University of San Diego.

The West Region Sweet 16 games will be played in Phoenix, Arizona.

(photo credit: AP)



At Mar 22, 2008, 5:55:00 PM, Anonymous dee said...

thanks KS WONG!
love was absolutely a beast today, those blocks were unseen of all season... love pretty much carried our team on his back tonight, making defensive play and scoring when needed even though he was denied the ball all day... our offense seemed lost today, with 4guys bunch up together no knowing where to move while collison overdribbles... something we can learn from stanford, when in trouble just feed lopez, when we're in trouble we should just throw it down to love, he can control his body so well and have soft hands that he can catch most balls...
we are blessed with a 12th/13th seed game next week, we should play it with the same attitude as we did with miss valley st and we should be fine

At Mar 22, 2008, 7:09:00 PM, Anonymous DB said...

Ya DEE I swear these games are about to give me a heartattack. All season long the Bruins are average on defense and horribe on offense.
I have been saying all season long that none of the Bruins are really ready for the NBA and need to work on their midrange game. Also that the Bruins are wasting too much time dribbling around trying to set up an offense. They need to pass the ball more and dribble and kick.
Again we were very fortunate to win this game tonight.... Sure I still take the win, but we need to be much more focused and come out prepared. To those who keeps on insisting that its not a big deal and a win is a win, see what happend to Duke and other higher seeds. Their deficiencies finally caught up with them. The Bruins need to take this win and Duke's loss as an example of how your shortcommings will become a reality if you dont fix them quickly.

At Mar 23, 2008, 1:22:00 AM, Anonymous Flyrockies said...

Shipp, Westbrook and Moute shot a combined 4-18 from the field and we still found a way to win. Moute looked absolutely terrible in this game and committed 6 turnovers. Why did he get 32 minutes and Mata only 6? I can't understand why Mata is in the Howland doghouse while he continues to give Moute huge is driving me nuts.
With each passing game, I keep hoping these Bruins stay together for another season. Check out NBA It lists four Bruin starters going to the NBA next year.
Westbrook #8
Love #14
Collison #17
Moute #48
Shipp #51

At Mar 23, 2008, 5:13:00 AM, Anonymous ASK said...

It lists four Bruins starters
Westbrook #8
Love #14
Collison #17
Moute #48
Shipp #51
I think that's 5 Flyrockies.

At Mar 23, 2008, 5:23:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

5 pros, Mata graduates and Aboya graduates early...after we hang a banner, we will have 7 scholarships available...I agree, Shipp, Mbah and Westbrook should come back...the way Shipp and the Prince played last night, they'd be lucky to get drafted as projected (mid 2nd rd)... but Westbrook may be a top 15 pick based on "potential"
Special shout to Mr. WONG, aka Bruin God and to all my Bruin Fans out there....
We just don't lose...
(I saw the Trojans on the golf course)

At Mar 23, 2008, 9:25:00 AM, Anonymous JC said...

I completely agree with DB. They need to fix some constant deficiencies in their game, which tend to be overdribbling and poor offensive execution. It seems like when they trap, they do better defensively but not having a deep bench may be the reason why they don't do it as often. I think collison should be playing the 2 guard position and westbrook should be playing the PG position. when westbrook attacks, he'll open it up for so many others. collison does not attack as much as he could. I still give credit to collison and love though for saving their season. mbah a moute looked awful and shipp didn't want to shoot the ball at all. lets hope it turns around. 4 more games to go!

At Mar 23, 2008, 11:46:00 AM, Anonymous willis said...

Yes, plenty of offensive deficiencies, but......defense wins championships! The Bruins' defense keeps them in all games and always gives them an opportunity to win at the end. Shipp has no shot to be drafted unless he spends a 5th year at UCLA, spends his summer with a "quickness and speed coach" and gains some of both to display next year. Also, losing 10# would need to be a part of that. Improving his trey shooting would be good too. Luc Richard's stock has been going down and down since his frosh year. He would be smart to continue working on that shot of his and also hang another year. Westbrook can only gain from another year @ UCLA. I don't know what to think about Love, but my heart says he is not a "one and done" player. For Collison the timing is right to go to the NBA. However, think about the 2006 U. of Florida situation. They win a national title with all under classmen starting and make a pact to all come back to repeat, and they do. Might this happen to the Bruins?!

At Mar 23, 2008, 1:54:00 PM, Anonymous tvo said...

what is all this talk about next year? we still need to win four more games this year!
Love and Collison are studs.
Westbrook and Luc will bounce back from yesterday's weak offensive performances, and will continue their stellar defensive play.
Shipp on the other hand is psychologically damaged goods. He has been a non-contributor on offense and a liability on defense. Unfortunately there is no reasonable replacement off the bench.
Shipp needs to watch films of the first half of their final 4 game against Florida last year to be reminded of what he is capable of. I do not know how to restore his confidence in the outside shot. I would suggest that when he plays the 2 guard position (with Collison or Westbrook on the bench) that he post up his defender, who in most all cases will be smaller then he. Perhaps if he can sink a few shots in the paint and get to the free throw line a few times some of the threes will drop as well.
Without a contribution from Josh, I fear that we will be outscored somewhere along the line by North Carolina, or Kansas, or Memphis, or Texas, or Xavier, or possibly even Western Kentucky. On the other hand, maybe Love and Collison will each go for 30 points per game from here out.
Go Bruins!

At Mar 23, 2008, 6:26:00 PM, Anonymous dee said...

i'm wondering if any of ya'll know this... but is there a limit to the number of assistant coaches you can have on a team? because i think we need one who can teach us offense... 4 years since howland's era, i think howland is great that he made the team play defense and at most days he can adjust our defense and matchup by halftime to stop the other team of scoring... but i think i realize is he seldom makes adjustment on offense to make the game more fluid like the last game when i think he had mata, keefe, LRMM all in at the same time that is good for defense for matching up against their length but gave us zero offense...
also LRMM and shipp would be dumb to leave after this year, why would u leave a school that gets in the final 4 year after year for a not guranteed 2nd round pick contract? personally i think LRMM should've left after his 1st year because at that draft (when adam morrison was drafted 3rd) he would have been a top 10th pick even though he would be a major bust but he would have made the millions that most probably couldn't in their entire life with his rookie contract

At Mar 24, 2008, 2:32:00 AM, Anonymous Bill said...

Have you people not seen this photo?
That was NOT a block. It was a foul. Just saying. Temper your fawning.

At Mar 24, 2008, 2:59:00 AM, Anonymous JD said...

"Temper your fawning'? TAMU lost a 10 point second half lead, scored only 3 field goals down the stretch and LOST the game as much as UCLA WON the game.
Sorry dude, we're celebrating because we're in the Sweet 16.
Nonetheless, TAMU is a great team and gave UCLA a tough game...but don't come here and try to temper anything...

At Mar 24, 2008, 4:56:00 AM, Anonymous Brew In said...

Enough of the gutburners Bruins! My alcer is flaring up so much I have to cut down on the brewskis!
I am wondering how long Howland stays with Shipp? Like TVO says, we will be outscored by someone if Shipp doesn't start contributing!
All these teams are here because they earned it, and I know one of them would just crave the chance to knock out a number one seed!
Come on Bruins, there is no tomorrow if we lose. DLove and DC need your help...NOW!

At Mar 24, 2008, 5:49:00 AM, Anonymous willis said...

Yo TVO. The Bruins' lack of offense has nothing to do with Howland's system or coaching ability. It's all about not having a shooter who can knock down the 3 every night. (Thank God Collison was hitting his treys on Saturday and that Love has to be respected and defended at the 3-point line.) It would have been nice to have Roll on this year's roster, because that's what he might have brought to this team. There's no way Josh can sit. His minutes would have to go to Keefe/Aboya/Mata-Real and that just won't work. Josh will shine when he needs to.

At Mar 24, 2008, 9:13:00 AM, Anonymous Jef said...

I think Howland may be a good offensive coach but it's not showing. I think he has a real short leash with players that 'mess up', which is why contribute to why Shipp isn't doing so well. if a player shoots up an "ill advised" shot or misses an open shot, they are taken out. i don't like this approach. i think if these athletes were given more freedom, many of their offensive woes would disappear. their defense is that good that it's okay if they let it loose sometimes. look at the cal game (in the pac 10 tourney) for an example of what kind of offense they can have when they play looser. granted, cal didn't have as much D as A & M, but they do have two Nba Prospects so they aren't that bad either. I really like Howland's coaching, don't get me wrong and a lot of the blame can be placed on the players shoulders. ucla doesn't have any other good shooters besides Collison and Shipp (when he's confident). I get tired of hearing how good Roll shoots when he never shot over 40 percent. He was like 28 percent this year on limited attempts. If Shipp, Mbah a Moute and Westbrook show up offensively on Thursday, they should no problem with a good shooting Western Kentucky team.

At Mar 24, 2008, 3:09:00 PM, Anonymous dee said...

like how Jef is tired of hearing people sayign about Roll, i'm tired about people saying Shipp is a deep threat... he is NOT a deep threat... he is a wing, a slasher 8 out of 10 times i would prefer he takes the ball inside than shoot the ball... and shipp is actually one of the players howland doesn't put a leash on... howland allows him to take a couple of bad shots but does not sit him down... while when drago misses a 3, he gets subtituted immediately... personally drago should be our deep threat... that kid can play... he is just not good at playing howland's type of defense that's why he doesn't get the minutes...
and prove me wrong but i think howland isn't a good offensive coach, his Pitt runs out of gas every year because he doesn't score enough... and who would say that our current team has less talent than kansas, UNC, memphis in offensive ability... memphis can't hit any 3s either but they can score, i don't remember kansas and UNC having any deep threats as good as collison either adn why is UNC scoring 110pts? even stanford with mitch johnson as pg can get the ball to brook lopez for 30pts a game why can't we do the same for love with collison passing the ball? just so u know i'm not a howland hater i love that guy, he can coach everything (even how to interview) but just not offense, i do want him to stay and win many more championships but we need our offensive guru

At Mar 25, 2008, 8:10:00 AM, Anonymous Bare Gunner said...

I certainly agree with Dee on the Dragovic issue. Howland needs to give him a chance and quit yanking him after a miss. Look at how Vujacic has responded when Phil Jackson and the Lakers gave him the vote of confidence and increased his minutes. He is now a go-to-guy during CRUNCH time!
There are no tomorrows for the Bruins, so if Shipp can't contribute (or his mind won't let him) I would mix things up and go deeper into the bench.
Mata-Real plays better the longer he is out there, and Keefe has proven he does too! Aboya would probably do the same if he didn't pick up a couple fouls per minute (the assistant coaches are blundering on that one).
Coach Howland is an excellent coach but an excellent coach will also make the proper adjustments when his team narrowly escapes defeat in a one-your-done playoff game.
Please guys, one more banner for the "Wizard" before it's his time to visit that Great Court in the sky!

At Mar 25, 2008, 12:14:00 PM, Anonymous Grrr said...

I agree, Dee. The NBA scouts' knock on DC is that he has limited court vision. There have been times where I've seen K-Love wide open in the paint and DC simply ignores him and passes elsewhere to reset the offense. Your point about Brook Lopez consistently getting the ball is right on.
K-Love has proven he's just as affective in the paint as Brook is and more. Brook took 20 shots in that game compared to Love's 12 against A&M. If Westbrook, Shipp or Luc aren't hitting their shots, I feel Howland should give Love way more opportunities to score.


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