Saturday, April 05, 2008

Mismatches Doom Bruins in Final Four Loss

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

For the third consecutive year UCLA ran into a team better in the Final Four. Memphis's Chris Douglas-Roberts scored 28 points and Derrick Rose added 25 to end the Bruin's season with a 78-63 win. The Tigers advance to the championship game against Kansas on Monday.

UCLA came into the contest with a reputation of being the better defensive and more physical team; however, they were never able to impose their will on a solid Memphis squad. In many respects, the Tigers were the more aggressive team and it was the Bruins playing on the back of their heels.

One of the keys going into the game for UCLA was their ability to control the boards, instead Memphis out-worked them and outrebounded the Bruins 42-35. In addition, the Tigers seemingly beat them to every loose ball opportunity. Joey Dorsey scored zero points but he pulled down a game-high 15 rebounds including 6 on the offensive end.

However, the biggest disparity between the two teams was the mismatch in the backcourt. Freshman Derrick Rose dominated UCLA's Darren Collison who was neither strong nor big enough to check the 6'3 Memphis point guard. Rose repeatedly powered himself into the paint against Collison for high percentage shots and passes to open teammates.

Unfortunately for UCLA, Collison's problems on the defensive end carried over into his offense. He finished with only 2 points on 1 of 9 shooting and committed five turnovers, playing perhaps his worst game of the season.

Collison was guarded most of the evening by either 6'7 Douglas-Roberts or 6'6 Antonio Anderson, and their size and length bothered and frustrated him.

Interestingly UCLA perhaps had its best match-up on the floor against Memphis when Collison picked up his fourth foul and had to sit on the bench with eight minutes remaining in the game. With Collison out, UCLA had Westbrook on Rose, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute on Douglas-Roberts and Josh Shipp on Anderson. With this line-up UCLA got two impressive defensive stops, forcing Memphis into tough shots, and cut the lead from eleven to seven points.

But then UCLA Coach Ben Howland decided to insert Collison back into the game at the five minute mark. Perhaps Howland figured he'd win this game with the same players who got them here. Instead the Bruins were thrown again into an array of defensive mismatches. Douglas-Roberts scored four straight points, including a momentum-changing dunk over Kevin Love while being guarded on the perimeter by Josh Shipp.

The Bruins were never able to make another run. Yet, the game wasn't just lost during this span, instead Memphis was the aggressor in the game and with their talent and athleticism the Tigers were able to control the tempo and ultimate outcome.

UCLA did not do a good job stopping Memphis in transition throughout the contest, in addition, the Bruins were unable to exploit its offensive advantage inside the paint with Kevin Love.

Although Love finished with 12 points and 9 rebounds, he only scored two points in the second half, finishing the game with just 11 shot attempts. The Bruins were unable to get the ball to Love despite Memphis' big men Dorsey and Shawn Taggart picking early foul trouble to start the second half.

With the Bruins unable to establish a low post game, they were forced to take shots from outside resulting in long rebounds and transition opportunities for Memphis. Love took three shot-attempts in the second half - two of the shots were from three-point distance!

Since UCLA was down most of the half, Howland elected to play Love the entire second and he was clearly winded down the stretch.

Sophomore guard Russell Westbrook had the best offensive performance for UCLA. He finished 10 of 19 for 22 points to lead the Bruins. Westbrook showed to all why he will play at the next level, aggressively slicing through traffic and getting to the basket at ease for scores.

But much of the credit must be given to the Memphis Tigers who outplayed UCLA in practically every facet of the game. Instead of allowing Collison and Love to beat them, they forced others on the Bruin team to hit shots such as Luc Ricahrd Mbah a Moute who took 13 shot attempts - second most on the team only behind Westbrook.

The Tigers also did a good job taking care of the ball. One of UCLA's signatures under Howland is to generate offensive opportunities via its pressure defense, but the Tigers were ready and committed just nine turnovers in the game.

UCLA finished an incredible season at 35-4. While a third consecutive Final Four is an amazing accomplishment for any basketball program, missing out on a national championship is disappointing, especially considering this was perhaps Coach Ben Howland's best team in Westwood since arriving five years ago.

(photo credit: AP)



At Apr 5, 2008, 3:04:00 PM, Anonymous Alex said...

Come November, I will be there...rooting, cheering and enjoying the UCLA Bruins. The Bruins played these past three years with non-NBA starter talent and if it wasn't for the GREAT coaching of Ben Howland, we would not have had the three tremendous journeys to the Final Four. Do not in any way punish Howland for getting us to 3 consecutive Final Fours...Let time and rest take us through the summer. Enjoy UCLA Softball and Baseball. Come Labor Day evening, a new era to UCLA Football will dawn...

At Apr 5, 2008, 4:25:00 PM, Anonymous jake said...

Yes - bummed about the loss - but just a quick shout out to the team and a hearty thanks for an exciting year. Love, come on back and let's regroup and give it another go next year. Thanks for all the efforts this year. Painful to lose - sure - no reason to hang your head though.
Thanks 2008 Bruins ... Cheers.

At Apr 5, 2008, 4:55:00 PM, Anonymous Coach Howland said...

this loss hella sucked yo

At Apr 5, 2008, 5:11:00 PM, Anonymous Bee said...

Memphis was too fast and too athletic for us today. Their guards were knifing to the basket pretty much uncontested the whole game. As much as I hate to type this, Memphis was the better team today.
While it was inexcusable to not work the ball into Love when their bigs were in foul trouble, I have to give credit to Memphis for speeding up the tempo of the game to their favor.
It's funny, but I really believe if we had had Jrue Holiday on our team this year, we could've matched up REALLY well with this team. Oh well, I know that's just a fantasy...
Derrick Rose was absolutely killing us. I'll go on the record saying that Rose will be drafted higher than CDR if they both declare for the draft, even though CDR is 1st team All-American and Rose is 3rd team.
Now, we have to hope that Love doesn't leave to make it back to another Final Four. If he leaves, our roster issues will flip-flop, and we won't have enough quality scoring bigs (not counting on Drew Gordon yet, as his game needs more polish), and a glut of guards next year.
Oh well, count on Howland to figure out how to make it work.
In the meantime, thank you Bruins for giving us another memorable season. For all the complaints we all have, it's amazing to think we've been to THREE consecutive Final Fours. That is truly an outstanding accomplishment. No other team in America can make that claim.
It's been fun being a UCLA Bruin fan this year!
PS. I agree with Alex (first poster) regarding the talent on our roster. We've definitely overachieved, which is a testament to Howland as a coach.
Side note, would it be too much to ask Coach Howland to recruit a 6'6" or 6'7" shooting guard? We're seeing how well it's been working with CDR and Brandon Rush this year. How about Xavier Henry, coach?

At Apr 5, 2008, 5:30:00 PM, Anonymous JackB said...

Completely agree BBR, why did Howland bring back Collison in the last five minutes...I really thought also that the Bruins were so much better with him on the bench. Westie, Luc, and Shipp were better matchups for their big backcourt. I saw us making a run at them.
But Howland seemed too stubborn with staying with Collison.... and then Collison rewards his couch with that "I give up foul'.
I love CBH but putting Collison on Rose almost the entire game and/or not benching him especially in the second half...cost UCLA the game.

At Apr 5, 2008, 5:50:00 PM, Anonymous dee said...

personally i think we got outcoached... and further proves my point that howland is too stubborn and poor offensive coach
1. the best way to make up for the height difference and speed difference between us and memphis would be using a zone, that would stop the dribble penetration and force them to take jumpshot which they didn't do particularly well
2. if howland is stubborn to stick to man to man, i would put westbrook on rose, mbah a moute with douglaus roberts (it actually worked when collison was sitting with 4 fouls) collison would probably guard that anderson guy and either sit shipp (ineffective and defensive liability, let CDR got on a backdoor cut dunk which ended our comeback hopes) and put keefe on... it is just plain stupid to see us continually got killed by 2 guys when the rest of the team is doing not that well offensively
3. poor offensive set, never able to get love open... setting pick and pop and letting love catch the ball 15 feet away from the basket is useless, not feeding him in the post even with dorsey and taggart 3fouls early in 2nd half was plain stupid... seriously how hard is it to throw a ball to a big post presense... i mean i might get picked 1 out of 4 times, but at least the other 3 times love will score, get fouled or pass the ball to someone
final thoughts... with this game i think westbrook is gone, he will be lottery, collison might leave but his stock dropped madly after getting burn by a faster guard (western kentucky) and burn by a stronger bigger guard (rose)... he's more like a poor man TJ Ford right now... i would say Love is 50-50 he exposed his poor conditionally by not able to run with the faster guys, but he's still good enough to be late lottery pick... i look forward for luc to become a better shooter and lead ucla to a 4th final 4 next year... and hopefully we can add some assistance coach who can design better offensive sets... great year... great team... i actually thought we are closer to championship this year than the past 2... hey! at least we didn't get upset by kansas st right?

At Apr 5, 2008, 7:59:00 PM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

Dee, dead on.
Westbrook - go pro (top 10 based on potential). We don't need you. All of our other Bruins are not top 10 picks and can improve their game.
Bring in the top 4 stud freshmen, Roll back and Dragovic is going to have to transfer.
BBR, how many scholarships can a Div 1 program have....I mean, if they formed a pact and all came back....etc.....
Can u throw a party for an awesome web-site? I have told sooo many people about it....
DO NOT DOUBT HOWLAND....we ran into a more athletic team....he is the next Wooden....As a college coach, your goal is to get to the Final Four every year....3 in a row...soon 2 b 4...
I'm a brentwood local and sick to my stomach....
Don't retire BBR

At Apr 5, 2008, 10:05:00 PM, Anonymous Classofiftytwo said...

Great year...Thanx fellas, thanx Coach....Love has wonderful potential. Another year to mature his body and he will no longer be pushed around in the paint like last night. Look at the pic above...he's still a soft kid. Missing is that hard veiny mature muscle NBA physique. He will get that in time along with his inate skills and that big pay day, now on hold, will come.

At Apr 6, 2008, 2:46:00 AM, Anonymous bruinsnext said...

if we made those 3s in the second half, we would be marching on... Shipp disappointed me... Collison held on the ball for too long... Love didn't get enough touches.
Despite the loss, it's been a great year.

At Apr 6, 2008, 2:49:00 AM, Anonymous asiansportsfanatic said...

This loss really sucks. This was our best chance with KLove in the middle and no Florida standing in our way. Memphis' strategy was perfect. Double Team KLove and have our overrated guards beat them. This obviously did not happen.
Westbrook played great and his athleticism and ability to make plays really showed.
Collison is a bust. He showed it against Memphis. He was horrible offensively and what is up with picking up that 5th foul on a stupid reach in. Simply horrible. If Collison stays, keep him on the bench and make room for Jrue Holliday.

At Apr 6, 2008, 3:03:00 AM, Anonymous bruininthelbc said...

Man, what a sad loss. I think that what makes me perhaps even more sad (as more of a conservative basketball purist) is that in order to compete at the Final 4 and beyond level, UCLA is going to have to recruit super-athletic kids that are basically one and done and capable of playing the free-wheeling, highlight reel style we saw with Memphis. After three straight losses, Coach Howland is going to have to do SOMETHING to adapt to the changing climate in college basketball. Our offensive woes were exposed with Texas A&M and WKU--2 teams that would've beat us had they had Memphis's players and talent. I love the D Coach has brought to the team and all, but it's no longer a secret that UCLA plays great D; what else do we have? I love these guys and they made us proud. Great season and here's to an even more successful 08-09!

At Apr 6, 2008, 4:55:00 AM, Anonymous Smilin' said...

I was wondering when one of 2 things were going to happen - Josh would resume to be the outside threat that would hurt teams who doubled down on K Love or the Michael Roll injury would catch up with us.
LRMAM played extremely well the last couple of games with double doubles, but with Collison in a funk and no ability to "drive and dish" for open 3's, we were doomed.
I agree with everyone that Westbrook is gone, but Shipp's and Collison's stock continues to drop, and while K Love will likely get drafted high, he looked REALLY slow when teams pulled him away from the basket, and his mid-range jumper needs some work. He can dominate in college as a center, but he needs to be a "Barkleyesque" power forward in the NBA.
I'm sure this one hurts the coach, and without a big man (AA2 isn't the answer) next year, while we might go to the Final Four again, it will be hard to hoist #12.

At Apr 6, 2008, 6:25:00 AM, Anonymous DB said...

Bah no more comments, been saying all year long the Bruins have too much problems that needed to get fixed but didnt.
Ben Howland did the best he could with the little talent he had. The kids played hard which is all you can ask for but at the end of the day its about athleticism when the two teams are closely matched.
Good defense takes you far, but can only win it for you if you are close in talent. Problem with UCLA is the higher academic requirement as well as a more boring type of playstyle to get better recruits.
There just arent enough top players with Jrue Holiday mentality to come to UCLA. Most want to show case their talent elsewhere. We need more athletic big mans and some players who can shoot the ball.

At Apr 6, 2008, 8:01:00 AM, Anonymous Rob said...

Howland is a great coach, but he sucked in this one. Nobody's perfect. Let's regroup for another run. It was a great an exciting year, and I think the program will continue to get even stronger.

At Apr 6, 2008, 8:14:00 AM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

Now that the season is over, we need to fire the athletic trainers. Agree?
UCLA stands for academic excellence. We don't recruit thugs. Maybe we were intimidated by their tattoos.
Caoch BH - U r still da man...
See u in Westwood...u deserve a contract've done so much in such a short time....

At Apr 6, 2008, 9:18:00 AM, Anonymous Scott said...

I love ya Ben but come on now! We've had enough of the recruiting of so many skinny little guards, let's sign some athletic frickn bigs 6-10+! How bout we mix in a 7 footer in this decade? I do love Jrue Holiday & Drew Gordon but Anderson & Lee are overrated & are little 160-165lb twigs. Rescind their two scholarships if possible and get some bigs man! No more smurfs Ben!

At Apr 6, 2008, 2:59:00 PM, Anonymous DorianGraysBlues said...

I would bet my paycheck that days maybe weeks before the game started, Howland thought of this scenario. I imagine that it must have been unimaginable for howland to sit collison for 'the betterment of the team'. He might have even weighed in on the long term effects of his point guards psychie if he had done that. In fact i bet that same thing went through john woodens mind when keith wilkes had one of the worst games of his career in the '74 final four. But wooden continued to play wilkes in that lost game and months later said that if he was starting to build a team from scratch the first player he would start with would be keith wilkes. Imagine that, among all the great players john wooden had coached. And i bet you, if you asked john wooden today about playing collison he would be in agreement with what howland did.

At Apr 6, 2008, 6:01:00 PM, Anonymous Larry said...

A great year and yes, I am disappointed we did not win it all - AGAIN. But that being said, let's be realistic here, the Bruins were fortunate to get as far as they did this year. Our defense was clearly not at the same level of intensity was years past (ya ya ya, I know what the stats say, but you can make stats say anything you want - I am talking about just the pure visual aspect, you could tell there was a difference between this years defense and our defense of two years ago - the fire was not as hot). In addition, our offense still is NOWHERE to be found. anything 5 feet out - we might as well be shooting from half court. We had open looks much of the year, but could not knock them down. I think this years team really overachieved considering these TWO MAJOR differences from years past. Here's to looking towards the future. I think Ben will get his elusive title in another 5 to 7 years... be patient Bruins - it will come - but for now, we need to cycle through another round of players before that happens and the "right" team is put together that can make this happen. We have great talent coming in next year, but once again, will lack an inside post player. We can never seem to have ALL the pieces at one time.
p.s. On a last note, Ben - it's "ok" to mix the defense up from time to time... throw in some zone - it will shock the heck out of other teams.

At Apr 7, 2008, 1:36:00 AM, Anonymous Jimbo said...

Well, Collison was pretty much exposed as the mediocre point guard that he is. The game also illustrated why he's definitely not ready for the NBA--he's not big enough, can't pass for crap, can't create his own shot, and can't shoot outside well enough. (Like he won't face anyone of Rose's size in the NBA? Please. At least Anderson will be able to make some great passes next year.) I was begging Howland to keep him out of the game, but I guess you can't substantially change what you do.
Howland needs to look himself in the mirror and ask himself the following: I've got us next to the pinnacle, what do I need to do to take UCLA to that final level. I've honestly rarely seen such a top coach who is so poor at in-game coaching and adjustments.
Jordan Farmar says he's shooting better in the NBA because he got rid of the Howland shooting style/mechanics. Keefe and Roll were phenomenal outside shooters who are struggling in college. I won't even mention Shipp or Luc Richard. You don't go weeks in a shooting slump for no reason. Maybe they need to take Jordan's advice.
Finally, if Love does not return, the Bruins will not go to the Final Four next year. Love, like Collison, is not ready for the NBA. (If you doubt this, which team in the West could Love start for? Either LA (Brand, Gasol)? No. Portland (Aldridge)? No. Phoenix (Stoudemire), Denver (Anthony)? No. Utah (Boozer)? He's too small and non-lengthy/unathletic to play 5 and too slow to play 4.) But why would he come back when the Bruins have no clue about how and when to get him the ball. We really couldn't figure out what to do with Love being doubled even when he didn't have the ball? Really? We've never heard of High-Low with the player who was doubling Love as the "high"?
I like where the Bruins are, but I wonder if they have the courage to look at their system and make needed Calipari finally had to do.

At Apr 7, 2008, 4:19:00 AM, Anonymous Bare Gunner said...

I'll add to the arm chair quarterback talk here, since everyone else has too!
No doubt CBH is a fantastic coach, and I admire that he brings in great athletes who are ALSO upstanding individuals! If he had high-flying thugs out there, I probably wouldn't be such a fan of the Bruins!
With that said, I also agree that we need more size on our teams to match up against the run & gun, one year & done teams around the country. If we stay small and fast, then I think CBH may have to change his tactics and implore the "zone defense". Even in previous years, good guards have been able to penetrate (Aaron Brooks, Augustine, etc) and because our guys are "D"ing up man-to-man, the opposition clears out for drives to the hoops.
Maybe our boys can pull a Florida move and put away egos, money making, and stardom, and they ALL decide to return collectively to get this banner hung! With Holiday coming in along with Collison and Westbrook, we could make up for the deficiencies from our guard play this season.
Remember, most sports critics say UCLA has the "best" recruiting group in the country coming in next year, so just imagine if we could keep our team intact and add the new kids... I'd immdeiately head to Vegas and place my bet to win it all!!!

At Apr 7, 2008, 4:29:00 AM, Anonymous Wayne said...

We were out coached. Collison is a nice little player with a lot of limitations. Leaving is out of the question. He dribbles with no purpose.Shipp is also limited on offense and defense. He would be a nice 6th man. Mbah and Aboya are really clueless when playing against players that where raised playing basketball.Mbah is a great defender and should be able to guard bigger guards. Westie played at a high level and he should how the Memphis guards played very little defense. Love is a beast but wasn't able to do it alone. Being doubled teamed is tough for the greatest players to overcome. It must be frustrating to play with a guard that just dribbles for the sack of dribbling. Coach Howland is a great recruiter but doesn't seem to evaluate match-ups. USC exposed Collison and one of the Washington schools did too. Against Stanford he was outstanding because his defender was 2 steps slower.
They should all stay. Westbrook is probably a pick but i'm not sure it will be a first round pick. His jumper and ball handling could use some work. Love will lose some baby fat and firm up and improve his conditioning. The NBA will be there.
This years team was just as good as the others. We should have played Mata-Real,Keefe and Draga. I think Keefe and Love and Mbah should be the front court with Westbrook and Holiday and Collison as the first sub.

At Apr 7, 2008, 4:45:00 AM, Anonymous Brew In said...

Never pulled out my brewskis during the game! Too damn nervous and depressed! That game really sobered me up.
For all you guys that say we need to go big, you are EXACTLY right! I agree Larry and Bare Gunner, let's put in some zone D next year! Coach H has to be a little more flexible, because with his work ethic, the sky really is the limit.
But Coach H needs to start getting more serious on his scholarship offers and aggressive in recruiting or we may miss out on some key players, and things could end up like this:
Xavier Henry - Memphis
Lance Stephenson - Memphis
Renardo Sidney - USC (SUC)
Daniel Orton - Kansas
DaShonte Riley - Georgetown
Stephan Van Treese -Louisville
Milton Jennings - Florida
And while I agree that I don't want a bunch of criminal types coming to our upstanding program, Coach H does have "the way" with getting players to "buy" into our system and philosophy!
Don't despair everyone, we are the Kings of the West Coast. We just need to stay the course and "expand" on that...a little!

At Apr 7, 2008, 6:32:00 AM, Anonymous Rich UCLA said...

Credit to Memphis - their fast break was scary good. We couldn't seem to play our game for more than a few minutes at a stretch. Silly turnovers in the first half, and in the second half a lot of standing around and shots that were not our norm (instead of moving the ball around with passes and getting it inside to our bread-and butter).
Darren is an All-American and no slouch! He has played and will play much better.
Overall, another exciting and excellent year of UCLA hoops. We'll be back. A big thanks to the players and to the coaches.

At Apr 7, 2008, 9:28:00 AM, Anonymous Bare Gunner said...

Well put Rich! Sometimes fans can be too hard on its team and lose sight of the fact that it really was (AGAIN) a spectacular year for UCLA.
We must remember, that every team but "one" that goes into March Madness ends its season on a one game losing streak!
Here's to the Bruin gods shining their positive rays of light upon our team envigorating them to all come back. And in the words of Kevin's Uncle Mike Love's band would say "Let's get back together and Do It Again"!

At Apr 7, 2008, 9:41:00 AM, Anonymous Rich1996UCLA said...

First real post on how we played since the loss (I just couldn't think about the game for a while.)
I agree w/ many here that CBH needs to be a bit more flexible w/ in-game changes. I said this before the game, and I say it now. We needed to go big against Memphis. Like many's mentioned, DC was just too small (not necessarily too slow) to guard Rose. We needed to have Luc, Keefe/AA3, and Westbrook in at the same time. Everytime Westbrook guarded Rose you'd see Rose try to penetrate, but only stop in his tracks and pass.
Offensively, there were absolutely no changes made in the 2H. We had 3 fouls on both of their bigs EARLY IN THE 2H. How did we not exploit that by forcing the ball inside. Or at least force some penetration knowing their bigs would probably not defend as hard b/c of their foul trouble.
Many say they were just more atheletic than we were. But I think we had the personnel to win, or at least keep it close.
I'm just terribly frustrated b/c we could have did much more in the game. Let alone won.

At Apr 7, 2008, 3:18:00 PM, Anonymous DB said...

Yes Memphis had far better players honestly than us. Sure we could have won, but that was if we played a near perfect game. Days before the game I said for Bruins to win they needed the following:
Pound it inside to Love.
Hit your outside shots.
Limit Rose and CDR.
Slow the game down to a crawl to make Rose and CDR spend a lot of energy on the defensive end.
Also throughout the year I have been screaming for a zone here and there in case we need it if we cant stop the penetration.
As you can see from the game, none of that happend above. Second half Memphis was just super sticky on Love to make others win for the Bruins. Too bad Bruins didnt use screens to get Love open down low like positioning him on the high post and have a guy screen him down to the low. Or have him work side to side and hit him on the move. A set target always makes it easier to front and back him.
Talent can sometimes compensate for other flaws, but nothing can compensate for lack of talent. If you look back at pretty much all the NCAA championships, the winning team has solid talents or that one super dominating player that can just impose his will.
Hard work, great teamwork will take you far, but more often than not an equal or almost equal team with better talent will win 9 out of 10 times. That 1 time is if the less talented team plays a near perfect game and the more talented one didnt do their best.
Anyways its already done and hope this game could provide a learning tool for next year.

At Apr 7, 2008, 9:06:00 PM, Anonymous robert henry said...

ucla basketball and coach howland had another outstanding year .i would like to see coach howland improive upon the the offence system . its lacking and non productive at times We also need to recriut bigger and better players.i also would like to see the coach not use all his time outs like does with non left in the last few minutes of the game. To win over strong and very good teams we have to be as strong and good as them . best of luck next year.


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