Saturday, January 12, 2008

Bruins Get Defensive Against Cougars, Win 81-74

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score | Photo Gallery

Freshman Kevin Love scored a career-high 27 points and the Bruins hit their free-throws down the line to withstand a furious Cougars late rally to win 81-74 in a battle between two Pac-10 heavyweights.

Down 68-56 with just 1:37 minutes remaining in the game, Washington State hit seven consecutive three-point shots to pull within three points of the Bruins with 13 seconds remaining. But then Kevin Love hit his two free throws to put the game out of reach.

During the Cougars three-point fireworks display, the Bruins kept them at bay by making 9 of 10 free throws down he stretch.

Yet the final flurry of shots by the Cougars - really an act of desperation as a result of falling behind early, should not overshadow a game completely dominated by the Bruins.

Love had his best offensive game as a Bruin by scoring in the paint with a variety of post moves, including an improving jump hook shot, and he also stepped out to hit two three-point shots. He finished the game shooting 9-12 from the field and 7-10 from the line.,

He out-dueled Cougar's center Aron Baynes who had been touted as one of the most improved players in the conference. Love held Baynes to just 1-3 shooting and 8 points. The Bruin freshman center also hauled in a game-high 14 rebounds to lead his team to an astounding 33-18 rebound advantage over Washington State.

UCLA came out from the start with an intensity worthy of a game between No.4 and No.5 ranked opponents. The Bruins applied overwhelming defensive pressure on the ball that had the Cougars reeling and standing on their heels.

The Bruins raced out to an 11-1 lead after the first six minutes and didn't allow a Cougar field goal until the nine minute mark when Taylor Rochestie finally scored on a lay-up to make the score 16-6.

Offensively, UCLA did a good job executing their motion offense and finding Love inside or a cutter for any easy shot - the Bruins took only nine three-pointers in the entire game. They shot a sizzling 63.6% in the first-half and finished the game with 57.7% shooting.

Washington State faced getting blown out in the first half when UCLA went on a 10-2 run to push the score to 26-8 with five minutes remaining. But the veteran Cougars stayed resilient and battled back like a No.4 ranked team, outscoring the Bruins 16-9 to trail 35-22 at halftime. Taylor Rochestie capped off the first half scoring with a deep three-pointer to draw the Cougars closer.

In the second half UCLA extended the lead back to 18 points, but then Washington State's leading scorer Derrick Low, who had been held scoreless in the first half, began to heat up.

Low, a senior guard from Hawaii, scored 24 points in the half ,with most of the shots tightly contested - even Bruin defensive stalwart Russell Westbrook was helpless against the hot-shooting Low. As a result, the Cougars stayed within striking distance of UCLA which allowed them to scratch back with their final minute three-point theatrics.

Darren Collison battled back from a hip pointer injury to score 18 points on 5-8 shooting including 8-9 from the line. He had a key basket midway through the second half after the Cougars cut the lead to eight, Collison drove down the lane and made an acrobatic lay-up as he was fouled.

Josh Shipp added 14 points while teammate Russell Westbrook dropped in 12, including an acrobatic slam dunk to excite the Pauley crowd of 12,590.

With the win, UCLA (16-1, 4-0) sits atop the Pac-10 conference in first-place, one-half game ahead of the upstart Arizona State Sun Devils (13-2, 3-0).

The Bruins will now have a week of practice to prepare for a game against crosstown rivals USC next Saturday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion.

(photo credit: AP)


Friday, January 11, 2008

UCLA vs. Washington State - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

In a titanic match-up between two elite Pac-10 teams, No.5 UCLA plays host to No.4 Washington State on Saturday afternoon at Pauley Pavilion.

Russell Westbrook scored 18 points and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute added 17 points to lead UCLA to a 69-55 win over Washington on Thursday, however, a couple of Bruins got nicked up in the game.

Point-guard Darren Collison, who played despite limited practice time as a result of food poisoning earlier in the week, suffered a hip pointer early in the second-half. He did not return to the game and complained about the pain afterwards. In addition, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute bruised his knee during the contest.

Both players are listed as probable starters for tomorrow's game.

If either Collison or Mbah a Moute are unavailable tomorrow, UCLA Coach Ben Howland will need to dig deeper into his bench, and perhaps wing's Chace Stanback and Nikola Dragovic may see some significant playing against the Cougars.

Washington State (14-0, 2-0) is off to its best start since 1916-17. The Cougars beat USC, 73-58, at the Galen Center on Thursday night. Center Aron Baynes powered for 18 points and 9 rebounds and Taylor Rochestie added 12 points and 7 assists.

"Poise" is the word most often associated with the 2007-08 Cougars, and perhaps it has to do with a starting line-up composed of all upperclassmen.

"They play with poise." USC coach Tim Floyd said after their loss to the Cougars. "I don't remember them taking a bad shot."

Washington State starts three seniors, one redshirt junior, and one true junior. All these players are ingrained in the system Coach Tony Bennett, and his father Dick Bennett, brought to Pullman.

The Cougars are unselfish and extremely patient on offense, they are willing to use the entire clock, if necessary, to find a high percentage shot. The players are well coached and don't make many unforced mistakes. The team is averaging just 10.6 turnovers a game and against the Trojans they only committed 7.

But its on the defensive end where the Cougars have built their reputation.

Similar to the Bruins, they play a disciplined pressure man-to-man defense and emphasize staying in front of an opponent while forcing them into tough low percentage shots. Washington State has allowed teams to score just 50.4 points per game on a stingy 38.1% field goal shooting.

With both teams playing the same brand of disciplined, patient basketball, each possession of the ball takes on even more value. A defensive, low-scoring battle in the 50-60's is expected tomorrow.

The Cougars are a more balanced scoring team this year with the addition of a couple of players to the starting line-up, specifically Baynes and Rochestie.

Center Aron Baynes (6'10, 270, Jr), injured most of last season, is the most improved player on the team. He's providing the low post physical presence the team has been lacking. The native Australian has been impressive and efficient, he is averaging 12.1 points on 61.9% shooting and grabbing 6.6 rebounds a game.

A behemoth under the basket, Baynes will be matched up against UCLA's own 270lb center Kevin Love.

After getting the best of the center match-ups last week in the Bay area, Love had a quiet game against the Huskies on Thursday, getting six shot attempts and just two trips to the foul line. Love needs to do a better job making himself available for a pass by moving and rotating to the high post or corner from the low post. With the tough defense the Cougars adminster, the Bruins need Love to be active to help release some of the pressure on the ball.

Junior point-guard Taylor Rochestie (6'1, 186) is leading the Cougars in assists with 4.9 a game. Although Rochestie's biggest assist of the year came over the summer when he chose to give up his well-earned scholarship so the team could sign highly touted recruit, Marcus Capers.

Rochestie is the team's top three-point field goal shooter at a stunning 48.6%. He gives the Cougars another smart and solid ball handler on the floor as well as a deep threat.

The Cougars strong perimeter game makes the potential loss of Darren Collison even more meaningful. A healthy Collison gives the team a player who pressures the ball mercilessly. Without Collison, or even a gimpy Collison, it is a big set back for the team.

Teamed with Rochestie in the backcourt are veteran All Pac-10 team starters Derrick Low and Kyle Weaver.

Low (6'2, 196, Sr) is playing more shooting guard this season. An aggressive player who is willing to take the final shot, Low is the team's leading scorer at 12.7 points a game. While not shooting for a high percentage, its a bit deceiving since some of his shots come as the shot clock winds down and the Cougars need someone to take a shot.

A tough player off the bounce, Low can get into the paint and has good range out to three-point distance. He's shooting 40.2% from beyond the arc.

UCLA's Josh Shipp will get the initial look at Low, but only a few minutes will click off the clock before Russell Westbrook is inserted into the game to confront Low.

Spider-like Kyle Weaver (6'6, 201, Sr) is the team's best perimeter defender and perhaps best playmaker. With his length and agility, he disrupts offenses with simply his presence on the floor. Last season, he smothered UCLA's Arron Afflalo and he will attempt to do the same to Josh Shipp on Thursday.

Weaver is scoring 11.4 points on 47.2 shooting while averaging 4.6 rebounds and 4.2 assists a game.

At the final starting spot is forward Robbie Cowgill (6'10, 211, Sr). A very lean thin player, Cowgill no longer has to guard the opponent's biggest player an entire game due to the emergence of Baynes.

A solid player who does a lot of the little things to make a team successful, Cowgill is averaging 8.4 point on 64.8% shooting and 4.9 rebounds a game. With his length he gives the Cougars an effective weakside shotblocker.

Off the bench, the Cougars have former starter Daven Harmeling (6'7, 216, Jr) a three-point specialist. He fractured the thumb on his non-shooting hand in practice a few weeks ago and is playing with it bandaged. Against USC, he broke out of a shooting slump, sinking 5 of 7 from beyond the arc to key the Cougars win. Washington State also uses in reserve, Caleb Forrest (6'8, 228, Jr) and Nikola Koprivica (6'6, 211, So).

With Mbah a Moute and Collison, the Bruins are slight favorites at home against the Cougars, but without them, the game will hinge on how the team reacts to playing without them.

Russell Westbrook has proven in less critical games that he can handle the point-guard duties full-time. Forward Alfred Aboya will need to cut down on his fouls significantly to help make-up for the potential loss of Mbah a Moute' minutes while James Keefe will need to continue to improve his play on the court.

BBR Notes: Saturday will mark just the sixth time in Pac-10 history that a conference game will feature two top five teams when the No. 5 Bruins face off with the No. 4 Cougars. The last occurrence was in 2004 when fourth-ranked Stanford defeated No. 3 Arizona 82-72.

Date: Jan. 12
UCLA vs Washington State
Time: 11:30 AM PT
Place: Pauley Pavilion
Radio: AM 570

(photo credit: Cougars Athletics)


Bruin Injury Update

By Bruin Basketball Report

(courtesy of UCLA Athletics)

UCLA juniors Darren Collison (left hip contusion) and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (right knee contusion) returned to practice today (albeit a light one) and are listed as probable starters for tomorrow's showdown involving No. 4 Washington State (14-0, 2-0) at No. 5 UCLA (15-1, 3-0).


UCLA Coach Ben Howland Press Conference Notes

UCLA Men’s Basketball
Teleconference Quotes
Head Coach Ben Howland

(courtesy of UCLA Athletics)

on the game between two top 5 teams

“You have two very good teams and we have a lot of respect for Washington State. When you look at what they have been able to accomplish in the last year and a half, it has really been incredible. They are a team with Final Four potential. It’s definitely a big game.”

on what makes Washington State successful

“They have so many good players and they are really disciplined and very patient. They run their offense well and they play great defense. They are a complete team. They don’t turn the ball over, they don’t beat themselves, they take good shots and they are unselfish. That’s why they are 14-0.”

on where Darren Collison is with everything that has happened to him this season

“I thought he played very well on our road trip to the Bay area last weekend, especially in the second half against California. I thought he played extremely well. He doesn’t have his knee brace on so I don’t think his knee is a factor at all. He came back on Sunday and got food poisoning and was out this week for two and a half days. Yesterday, he just got bruised on his hip.”

on Darren Collison’s latest injury

“If you just looked at it on film, it looked very benign. You could look at it and think nothing happened. It must have hit him just in the right spot.”

on how Washington State has improved offensively from a year ago

“I think [Aron] Baynes is an added factor now. He’s very good and he’s playing a lot more minutes. He’s shooting 61 percent from the floor and gives them a really good inside presence. They have great scoring balance and they have an inside-outside game now. [Derrick] Low is still their leading scorer and does so many things, [Kyle] Weaver is a great scorer and facilitator, so they have a lot of pieces that make them tough to defend. They are very patient and they don’t care who scores. They truly are a team and there is no one worried about themselves, which is really impressive. They really are great screeners, they set very good physical screens. They also do a great job of reading them [screens].”

on the play of the WSU guards Low, Weaver and Rochestie

“All three of those guys can run the offense, especially [Taylor] Rochestie and [Kyle] Weaver. Rochestie has 69 assists and just 29 turnovers, so that’s a great ratio. Weaver is second on the team with 59 [assists] and 31 [turnovers]. Rochestie is definitely a concern, he’s a great player.”

on when James Keefe will get the minutes he needs to start producing

“He played 17 minutes last night [against Washington] that were critical for our chance to win. He did a good job and I was pleased with James’ output last night.”

on all the injuries this season

“There’s things that you can control and there’s things you can’t. The things you don’t control, you have to deal with them and that’s what we’re doing. It’s all part of the fun.”

on playing a tough game like this without a lot of time between games

“We’ve got our hands full, there’s no question about it. It’s going to be a very difficult game. The turnaround time, making it so short, makes it more difficult from the standpoint of preparation time, but we’re here for TV.”


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Westbrook Leads Bruins To Win Over Huskies

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score | Photo Gallery

Sophomore Russell Westbrook made 6 of 7 from the field for a game-high 18 points to lead No.5 ranked UCLA to a 69-55 win over Washington at Pauley Pavilion before 11,421.

Not only did Westbrook do his share of the scoring, he also needed to step in to play point-guard for most of the second-half after Darren Collison had to leave the game shortly after halftime due to a hip pointer (hip contusion). Collison, who missed most of practice this week due to food poisoning, played just 18 minutes.

When asked if thought he'd be able to play on Saturday against Washington State, Collison said, "It hurts when I walk. It hurts a lot. I'm going to try to go, but I don't know."

The Bruins (15-1, 3-0) shot 52.2% from the field while holding the Huskies to 41.8% field goal shooting and just 2-10 (20%) on three-pointers.

Washington (9-6, 0-2) entered the game with the best three-point shooting percentage in the Pac-10 at 41%, but the Bruin defenders locked down on the perimeter. The Huskies' backcourt rotation combined for just 4 of 18 from the field. Senior sharpshooter Ryan Appleby, who came in shooting over 50% from beyond the arc, was thoroughly frustrated by the UCLA defense - especially Russell Westbrook, and finished the game 0-2 in 18 minutes.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute added 17 points and 3 rebounds to the winning effort, in addition, due to the injury to Collison he had to defend the Huskies' point-guards on the perimeter at times. Earlier in the season, Coach Howland said he thought Mbah a Moute had the ability to guard at every spot, 1-5, on the court.

Mbah a Moute suffered another contusion to his knee and had ice on them after the game, but he is expected to play on Saturday.

Washington was led by big Jon Brockman who finished with 16 points and 8 rebounds. He clashed with UCLA's Kevin Love in the paint for most of the evening. Love finished with 11 points on 3-6 shooting, 7 rebounds, and 4 assists. Although Brockman scored more points than Love, the Huskies' forward had more touches (7 of 14) as a result of his team's inability to score from the perimeter.

Forward Alfred Aboya was more of a foul-magnet than usual on Thursday, fouling out of the game in just 9 minutes. Aboya's foul trouble resulted in more playing for James Keefe who had played just four minutes in the past two games since coming off his redshirt.

The sophomore forward from Santa Margeurita earned 17 minutes of action, and played solid defense for the most part. Although Keefe was caught out of position twice which resulted in two backdoor layups by Washington's Quincy Pondexter, however, Keefe played good post defense, in one instance blocking Pondexter's short baseline turnaround shot.

Josh Shipp scored 9 points but seemed out of rhythm most of the evening shooting just 1 of 4 from beyond the arc. Coach Howland said in post game comments he thought Shipp was not following through enough on his shots.

The Bruins continued their recent stellar shooting from the free throw line, shooting 90.5% (19-21) from the charity stripe in the game. The team is now shooting over 75% from the line this season.

Led by Kevin Love's team-high 7 rebounds, UCLA outrebounded Washington 32-26.

UCLA now faces the No.4 ranked Washington State Cougars (14-0, 2-0) in a rare early afternoon game Saturday at Pauley Pavilion. The Cougars took care of USC at the Galen Center on Thursday night, 73-55, to remain undefeated.

(photo credit: AP)


Prep Star Reeves Nelson Verbally Commits to UCLA

By Bruin Basketball Report

Reeves Nelson highlight video 1
Reeves Nelson highlight video 2

2009 recruit Reeves Nelson of Modesto Christian High School verbally committed to UCLA last evening, as reported by Rise Magazine and confirmed today by multiple recruiting services.

The junior 6'7, 220 lb forward is ranked as one of the top 30 players nationally in his recruiting class.

Nelson had multiple offers from elite programs including, North Carolina, Duke, and Kentucky, but he decided on Westwood due to the coaching staff, team's history of success, and proximity to home.

“They (UCLA) were really the first ones to recruit me and I really like coach Howland and all their other coaches,” Nelson told RISE Magazine. “I know a bunch of the kids going there, like Jrue Holiday, Jerime Anderson and Drew Gordon. And obviously, they win a lot of games.”

Nelson will likely play both the power and small forward positions at UCLA. He averaged 17 points and 12 boards per game last year while leading Modesto Christian to a 30-4 record and to the Division V NorCal finals.

He is the perfect Ben Howland-type player. Nelson is a physical, bruising-type player who finishes extremely well around the basket and is beginning to hit consistently from the outside. He is a tough and relentless rebounder who always seems to find himself around the ball.

Modesto Christian will be traveling to a tournament in Kentucky this weekend. The Wildcats were hoping to have another opportunity to make an impression on Nelson. Former Kentucky star and NBA player, Chuck Hayes, also played prep ball at Modesto Christian.

Nelson is UCLA's first verbal commitment from the 2009 class. This recruitment helps to soften the loss of Mater Dei twins David and Travis Wear who both committed to North Carolina last week.

The Bruins are expected to have up to six or seven scholarships available for this recruitment class.

(photo credit: USA Basketball)


Wednesday, January 09, 2008

UCLA vs. Washington - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

After sweeping though the Bay area last week, the No. 5 ranked Bruins (14-1, 2-0) return home to Pauley Pavilion to face the Washington Huskies in a Thursday night event.

Kevin Love shot a total of 12 for 17 from the field and grabbed 21 rebounds in the two games last week.  In addition, his defense has shown marked improvement since the start of the season.

"His defense has improved due to the repetitions in practice," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said of his standout freshman. "He's beginning to take pride in his defense."

The Huskies (9-5, 0-1) are coming off a tough home loss to rival Washington State, 56-52.  Forward Jon Brockman scored 14 points and snared 17 rebounds in the losing effort.

Washington is averaging 76.3 on 47.7% shooting and hitting 40.8% from beyond the arc.  They are struggling from the free throw line, making just 59.5%.  The Huskies typically prefer to score in transition, but in the past Howland's Bruins have been effective in halting the Huskies' running game with solid transition defense.

Coach Lorenzo Romar has tried to emphasize defense with his team this season.  After giving up 91 points in a loss to Syracuse earlier in the season, the Huskies have buckled down, holding opponents to just 56.8 points a game since that game. Washington will likely play a lot of zone defense and make the Bruins prove they can score consistently against it while mixing in some man-to-man for balance.

From last season's club, Washington lost center Spencer Hawes to the NBA draft, and sophomores Adrian Oliver and Phil Nelson who both transferred from the program.  However, the Huskies return a bevy of talented lettermen and welcome some new players who are playing a big role on the team this season. 

Coach Romar has shuffled the line-up all season in search of the right fit, the Huskies have started six different line-ups thus far.  The current five starters are Jon Brocklman, Ryan Appleby, Tim Morris, Artem Wallace, and Joel Smith.

Pac-10 conference star Jon Brockman (6'7, 255, Jr), is as wide as he is tall.  The forward is averaging a double-double in points and rebounds this season.  He is leading the team in scoring at 18.4 game and shooting 54.1% from the field while averaging a conference-leading 11.4 rebounds a game.

The physical forward is a big load in the low post who can knock around opponents on his way to the basket, in addition, he possesses a consistent midrange jumper.  He will initially be guarded by UCLA'a Alfred Aboya although we'll likely see Brockman go head-to-head against Kevin Love in a true battle of the titans underneath.

The Bruins will need to put a body on Brockman to keep the junior off the offensive boards and check him down low with a double in the post often.

Ryan Appleby (6'3, 170, Sr) returned to the team in December after fracturing his thumb during practice.  The senior guard has deadly accuracy and a quick release from three-point distance.  In six games this season, he's averaging 12.0 points and shooting over 51% from beyond the arc. 

Appleby swithches between the point and shooting guard, Justin Dentmon (5'11, 185, Jr) and Venoy Overton (5'11, 180, Fr) come off the bench to back-up at the point. 

Denton is trying comeback from a subpar sophomore season where he was a step too slow against elite point-guards and inconsistent with his jumper.  He lost weight over the offseason in order to improve his quickness.  He's averaging 11.2 points but is still struggling with his shooting, averaging just 42.6% on field goal attempts and 31.1% from three-point distance.  Last season, UCLA's Darren Collison had his way with him by utilizing his quickness and defensive pressure to disrupt Dentmon.

Overton has been a pleasant surprise for the Huskies.  After committing to USC earlier last year, the Washington native decided to stay and play closer to home.  An aggressive and hustling point-guard, he's  averaging 5.2 points and a team-high 3.5 assists a game in 20.6 minutes.

At the shooting guard spot, Stanford-transfer Tim Morris (6'4, 210, Sr) has scored in double figures in every game since he was inserted into the starting line-up last month.    He's a power player who can also hit from the outside, 47.4% on three-pointers and slash to the basket.  He led the Huskies with 16 points in their last game.  Morris may still be playing with a mask to protect a nose he broke two weeks ago in practice.

Russell Westbrook will play against Morris most of the night.  It will be an interesting match-up between two very physical perimeter players.

The Huskies start Joel Smith (6'4, 210, Jr) at one wing spot although sophomore Quincy Pondexter plays the majority of the minutes off the bench at the position.  Smith gives the Huskies a solid defender and a good three-point shooter (53.3%). 

On the other hand, Pondexter has not improved from his freshman year, and some feel he's regressed.  A once-heralded high school player known for his explosiveness, Pondexter has looked lost at times on the court this season and appears to lack confidence in his game.  He's averaging 10.0 points while shooting 45.6% from the field - both figures lower than his freshman season. 

At center Washington will start Artem Wallace (6'8, 250, Jr), a bruising type player who gives the Huskies size along the front line with Brockman.  Wallace is averaging 2.4 points and 2.0 rebounds a game.  He was inserted into the line-up last month to shore up the defensive effort in the paint.

This is not the most talented Washington team in recent years, and this team may find it difficult making its way to the NCAA tournament again this season.  While Brockman provides the Huskies with a dominant presence inside, the perimeter players are solid but not spectacular. 

Coach Romar's emphasis on defensive effort is wise not only considering the physicality of Pac-10 conference teams but also due to lack of talent level on the team.

If the Bruins continue their solid play and improvement from last week, and come out and maintain the intensity in their play, they should win this home game going away.

BBR Notes: Darren Collison, who had food poisoning on Sunday, was able to go through a full practice on Wednesday and will play against the Washington Huskies. Collison, still showing signs of dehydration, received fluids intravenously after practice per the UCLA Athletic department.

(photo credit: Washington Athletics)


Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Collison Battles Food Poisoning, Howland Pleased With Keefe's Play

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Darren Collison suffered food poisoning over the weekend and was admitted to the emergency room on Sunday. He received intravenous fluids to treat dehydration.

The junior point-guard missed practice on Monday and was not expected to practice Tuesday, however, UCLA Coach Ben Howland said Collison should be available to play against the Washington Huskies on Thursday.

Howland was pleased with Collison's play against California especially on the defensive end.

"He played very well on Saturday," Howland said. "I thought it was his best game of the year. All those little pull up jumpers he hit, those are great shots. He played great defense. One thing to never lose sight of is his defensive intensity on the ball. His ball pressure is as difficult for anybody in the country to deal with."

Although sophomore James Keefe played a total of just eight minutes in the Bay area games, Howland was very pleased with his contributions.

"He is so much further ahead than he was last year," Howland said. "His minutes were critical in the last game. He's going to play a critical role in the remaining games we play. I don't think he's as strong as he was before he hurt his shoulder, but I think he's pretty close."

Michael Roll is wearing a walking boot as he recovers from his foot injury. He is scheduled to be out at least another 3 to 4 weeks. Howland made it clear he had no plans to redshirt Michael Roll and anticipated his return to the lineup later this season.

On losing recruits to the basketball program, Howland said it was all part of the recruiting process.

"In recruiting you lose a lot of guys you go after. You can't lament to much on what could have been," Howland said. "Actually, I lament more about what it would be like to have a guy like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar here again or a Bill Walton. I think about things like that - where is the next Bill Walton."

(photo by Bruin Basketball Report)


Monday, January 07, 2008

Interview with Jrue Holiday and Video Game Highlights

By Bruin Basketball Report

TAKKLE, a social network for high schools sports, provides this post game interview with UCLA-bound Jrue Holiday of Campbell Hall High School.  Holiday talks about going to UCLA and reveals which NBA player he'd like to play one-on-one against in basketball. The second video is a highlight of a Jrue Holiday/Campbell Hall game.

Interview with Jrue Holiday

Video Posted from Jrue's Gallery on

Hightlight Video of Jrue Holiday

Video Posted from Jrue's Gallery on

(provided courtesy of TAKKLE)


Bruins Maintain No.5 Spot, Begin Climb Up RPI

By Bruin Basketball Report

After sweeping through the Bay area last week with convincing victories over Stanford and California, UCLA maintained its spot at No.5 in both the AP and Coaches polls. 

The top four teams, North Carolina, Memphis, Kansas, and Washington State, each won their games last week to remain undefeated and maintain their 1-4 spots in both polls.

UCLA (14-1, 2-0) and Washington State (13-0, 2-0) clash next Saturday at Pauley Pavilion in a titanic match-up between the top best teams in the Pac-10 conference.

Stanford, ranked No.23, is the only other Pac-10 school to occupy a spot in both polls.  Surprisingly, the Coaches poll has Arizona at No.24 despite the Wildcats dropping a home game on Saturday to Oregon.

Herb Sendek's Arizona Sun Devils made a push in the polls earning votes from both writers and coaches.  The Sun Devils swept both Oregon schools at home last week and are currently tied atop the Pac-10 standings with the Bruins.

Although still early in the season, UCLA's RPI improved dramatically with their two road wins last week.  The Bruin's RPI ranking improved from 55 to 15, in addition its SOS (Strength of Schedule) improved from 209 to 46.


Sunday, January 06, 2008

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (1/7)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


The top-ranked Mitty boys team won the Les Schwab Invitational in Oregon on Saturday, but did so without playing Cox-New Orleans. It would have been a compelling matchup considering Mitty features Drew Gordon and Cox has 6-foot-11 Greg Monroe, the No. 1 senior according to numerous recruiting sources. But the tournament favorite lost in the second round after numerous players, including Monroe, flew home for a funeral. SF Chronicle 1/1

Frank Burlison: The 10 players that impressed me the most when I watched them last month were (alphabetically) Jerime Anderson (Anaheim Canyon), Keion Bell (Pasadena), Demar DeRozan (Compton), Jordan Hamilton (Dominguez), Jrue Holiday (Campbell Hall), Lorne Jackson (Simi Valley), James Rahon (Torrey Pines), Renardo Sidney (Fairfax), Klay Thompson (Santa Margarita) and Casper Ware (Gahr). UCLA-bound Malcolm Lee (J.W. North) and future North Carolina Tar Heel Larry Drew (Taft) certainly rate among the "10-best" players in Southern California. Press Telegram 1/1

However, the victory was tempered by foot injuries to starters Drew Gordon and Chris Weber. The UCLA-bound Gordon limped through 21 minutes of action despite being slowed by a foot injury that has plagued him since Dec. 27, the second game of Mitty’s victorious four-game foray at the Les Schwab Invitational near Portland, Ore. The injury to his right foot may be a stress fracture, though an examination did not find any specific crack in the bone, Drew’s father Ed Gordon said. There also is the possibility of ligament or tendon damage. Mercury News 1/2

Drew Gordon stood in the hallway late Saturday night after his Archbishop Mitty Monarchs had just won the Les Schwab Invitational. He had already removed his shoes, his left foot was wrapped with ice and he walked with a noticeable limp. At that moment, teammate Jay Wey walked out of the Liberty High School gymnasium and handed Gordon the first-place trophy. "I don't want to hold it," said Gordon, who was named tournament MVP after helping guide the San Jose, Calif.-based squad to an 86-65 victory over Oregon City in the title match. "I have to hold the other thing (MVP trophy). I can't even walk. How am I supposed to hold this thing? I've still got to get dressed." After a few minutes, Wey returned, taking the hardware off Gordon's hands with a laugh. Oregonian 1/4

Jerime Anderson didn’t have one of his best shooting games for Canyon’s boys basketball team Friday night.But the UCLA-bound senior guard still found ways to lead the seventh-ranked Comanches past Villa Park in the schools’ anticipated Century League opener. Anderson led an aggressive man-defense with five steals and added a block and six assists to lead the Comanches to a 69-52 triumph in front of a sold-out gym at Canyon. OC Register 1/4

Serra caught a break. The Monarchs were without Drew Gordon, the 6-foot-9 UCLA recruit, who sprained an ankle in practice. But even without Gordon, Mitty was still able to play four players who are 6-6 or taller on the court at the same time.
The Padres brought their usual intensity and hung around for a while, gaining their last tie at 36-36 with 4:10 left in the third quarter. But then Mitty went on a run and won going away, 71-50. SF Chronicle 1/5

Campbell Hall dominates Minnesota's top-ranked team in Gatorade Shootout. Jrue Holiday led three Campbell Hall of North Hollywood players in double figures with 30 points and the Vikings limited Minnetonka to 32 percent shooting from the field in a 90-61 victory Saturday over Minnesota's top-ranked team in the Timberwolves/Gatorade Shootout at Target Center. The UCLA-bound Holiday scored 27 points in the second half, including a thunderous dunk that capped a 15-2 run, and added 13 rebounds and six assists for Campbell Hall (12-4), which won for the second year in a row in Minnesota. LA Daily News 1/6


Pinewood Prep 70, Fort Dorchester 64: Milton Jennings led all scorers with 25 points, and his 3-point shooting was the difference in the game. He made 6 of 11 from 3-point land. Pinewood had 27 points on 3-point shots, while Fort Dorchester had nine points on three 3-point shots. Post and Courier 1/2

Ari Stewart 6-foot-6 (2009) WF Marietta Wheeler (Ga.) - (No.21 Junior) All-Tournament performer opened tourney with 24 points versus Hartsville and was solid in final against Duncanville. He has tools to score and board from wing from arc to the rim. He's one of 2009's best wing talents. CSTV 1/3

On Wednesday, Renaissance Academy overcame a sluggish third quarter and a Schurr team that refused to quit en route to a 69-54 victory....Hector Harold and Anthony Stover each had nine points. Stover had nine rebounds and 13 blocks and Harold grabbed five boards. Whittier Daily News 1/3

The decision came shortly after the Thunder posted its second- biggest victory in school history – a 63-59 win over Washington state power Seattle Prep in Friday's semifinals. With just nine players suited, Rocklin throttled Newport Beach 71-46 behind 6-foot-10 junior center Brendan Lane, the tournament MVP, and all-tournament selections Jackson Cummings, a sophomore point guard, and Pat Stover, a senior forward. Sacramento Bee 1/4

The University of North Carolina received commitments from two of the top high school junior basketball players in the country on Friday. Twins David Wear and Travis Wear, both 6-foot-9, 190-pound juniors at Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, told recruiting analyst Frank Burlison of their decision Friday afternoon. Burlison, who works for and the Long Beach (Calif.) Press Telegram, said the twins' father called to say his sons had decided they were sure they wanted to attend North Carolina. David Wear Sr. promptly notified UNC coach Roy Williams. Burlison said the boys' father told him, "The decision is a little abrupt and I thought they would wait until the end of this season [to make a college decision]. News and Observer 1/5

North Carolina assembled one of the top 2009 basketball recruiting classes in two days last week. On Thursday, UNC received a commitment from 6-foot-10 junior John Henson of Round Rock, Texas, which is 19 miles from Austin. On Friday, Travis and David Wear, 6-9 junior twins at famed Santa Ana (Calif.) Mater Dei, also announced for UNC. Boom, boom-boom. The Nos. 24 (Henson), 26 (David Wear) and 27 (Travis Wear) players on the top 100 list were in the Tar Heels camp. UNC coach Roy Williams pulled a similar coup in 2005 when No. 36 Deon Thompson (Oct. 5), No. 55 Alex Stepheson (Oct. 11) and No. 3 Brandan Wright (Oct. 16) committed in less than a two-week span. News and Observer 1/5

As this team tries to build on its successful start, Roy Williams has continued to prove yet again he is the preeminent recruiter in the country. The Tar Heels received oral commitments from three of the top players in the class of 2009 this week. John Henson, a 6-foot-10 forward from Round Rock, Texas, chose the Tar Heels instead of UCLA and Texas, among others. As it turned out, his commitment started a whirlwind of activity. Davis and Travis Wear, a pair of 6-9 twins from Santa Ana, Calif., then decided to get their college choice out of the way as well, and picked UNC instead of UCLA. Chapel Hill News 1/6

MODESTO CHR. 96, ESCALON 53, at Salida -- Forward Reeves Nelson (26 points) and Cal-bound guard D.J. Seeley (19) combined for 45 points to lead the top-ranked small-school Crusaders (7-3, 2-0) past the Cougars (2-11, 0-2). Modesto Bee 1/6

Before Friday's basketball game against Tulsa Union, Daniel Orton joked with teammates that he was going to bring down the rim. With 48.5 seconds left in the game, Orton, the Irish's junior center, was fouled on a dunk attempt. The ball bounced out of the rim, but the rim — and a shower of safety glass — came pouring down on Orton as the capacity crowd went wild. Oklahoman 1/5

Just a night after cutting up his hand on a missed dunk in the final minute against Tulsa Union, Bishop McGuinness' Daniel Orton was playing in the Irish's 65-61 win over Tulsa Bishop Kelley on Saturday night. Orton cut his hand on broken glass Friday night after the dunk attempt shattered the backboard. He was fouled on the missed dunk but never had the chance to attempt his free throws because of the broken backboard. The junior didn't show any ill-effects from the cuts Saturday, scoring 19 points and pulling down 15 rebounds. Oklahoman 1/6

(photo credit: Palo Alto Daily and SacBee)