Saturday, February 09, 2008

UCLA vs. Washington - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA takes its five game winning streak into Seattle to face the Washington Huskies in a Sunday afternoon affair at Bank of America Arena.

The Bruins beat Washington State on Thursday night in the first leg of their road trip, 67-59. Darren Collison scored 18 points and Kevin Love added 16 points and 9 rebounds as the Bruins swept the season series with the Cougars.

UCLA (21-2, 9-1) sits atop the Pac-10 conference one-half game ahead of the Stanford Cardinal.

Washington (12-11, 3-7 Pac-10) are reeling having lost three straight games during its latest home stand. They are in ninth place in the Pac-10 and will likely miss the NCAA tournament for a second consecutive season.

On Thursday the Huskies were trounced by USC, 73-59. Junior forward Jon Brockman led the team with 13 points and 14 rebounds in the loss.

In the last meeting between UCLA and Washington in January, Russell Westbrook made 6 of 7 from the field for a game-high 18 points to UCLA to a 69-55 win at Pauley Pavilion. In the game, the Bruins led by as much as 22 points before cruising to the final victory. Darren Collison suffered a hip bruise and had to leave the game early.

Washington, as evidenced by their record and inconsistent play, has not found its rhythm this season. Head Coach Lorenzo Romar has implemented six different starting lineups this season. Jon Brockman is the only Husky player to start every game.

The Huskies are shooting 45% from the field while allowing opponents 46.2% field goal shooting. With the lack of vertical size in the interior, teams have been able to go inside on the Huskies. As a result, Coach Romar has used a lot zone defense to protect the paint this season while mixing it up at times with a man-to-man.

Led by Jon Brockman's 11.3 rebounds per game, the Huskies are outrebounding opponents by a +6.7 margin.

Brockman (6'7, 255, Jr) accounts for more than 25% of the team's total scoring output with 18.4 per game. The wide-bodied big man is shooting 54% from the field. He scored 16 points and had 8 rebounds against UCLA in the first game and generally outplayed freshman Kevin Love who scored just 11 points on 3 of 6 shooting.

But Kevin Love today is a much different player from the one who played in early January. Since the game against Washington, Love is averaging 21.3 points a contest. This epic match-up between two of the Pac-10's best and most physical low post players is worth the price of admission alone.

The other big man along the Husky front line is Artem Wallace (6'8, 250, Jr) who starts but shuffles in and out with forward Quincy Pondexter (6'6, 210, So).

Wallace is a physical player with limited skill on the offensive end. He is averaging just 2.9 points and 2.1 rebounds in 12.1 minutes a contest.

Pondexter has had a disappointing sophomore campaign. Once looked upon as a cornerstone for the future of the team, he has struggled in all facets of his game this season, averaging 9.0 points on 42.9% shooting. He has looked lost at times on both ends of the floor.

The Huskies have used primarily a three-guard set all season with a rotation of Ryan Appley, Tim Morris, Justin Dentmon, and Venoy Overton.

Appleby (6'3, 170, Sr) in his final collegiate campaign is the team's second-leading scorer with a 10.5 scoring average. He is shooting almost 40% on three-pointers. At Pauley Pavilion earlier this season, Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook combined to hold Appleby scoreless on a frustrating 0 for 2 shooting.

Tim Morris (6'4, 210, Sr) is a physical player who gives this team some much needed toughness on the floor. The Huskies tend to play better whenever he's on the floor due to his heady play. Morris is averaging 8.4 points on 49.1% shooting.

Justin Dentmon (5'11, 185, Jr) has been very inconsistent with his play this season. He started the season strong but his role on the team seems to change with every game. Dentmon has only started 8 games this season. He is averaging 9.0 points and just 2.5 assists in 24.5 minutes.

Freshman Venoy Overton (5'11, 180) has given the Huskies quality minutes in his first year of the program. He's averaging 4.7 points and a team-high 3.3 assists per game. Overton will need to improve his shooting, just 32.6% this season, to be a factor in the future on this team.

Although the Huskies have had respectable recruiting classes the past few seasons, many of the key players have not developed to expectations or have transferred to other schools. The loss of Husky center Spencer Hawes to the NBA draft was big setback for the team this last summer. The transfer to other schools by freshmen Phil Nelson last season and Adrian Oliver this year have hurt the team's depth. Underclassmen such as Dentmon and Pondexter have been disappointments thus far, and if the Huskies are to rise again in the Pac-10, these two sophomores will need to step up their game.

UCLA will need to guard against some complacency coming into this game in Seattle. The Bruins have been cruising along during their latest win streak. Teammates are sharing the ball with each other and having fun while doing it.

Forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is expected to miss his second consecutive game due to a sprained ankle he suffered against Arizona last week.

(photo credit: UW Athletics)


Thursday, February 07, 2008

Collison Leads Bruins To Victory Over Cougars

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

Darren Collison scored all 18 of his points in the second half to lead No.4/5 UCLA to a 67-59 win over No.17 Washington State in a top 25 Pac-10 match-up.

Kevin Love added 16 points and 9 rebounds despite being double-teamed most of the night.  Unlike earlier in the season when he at times became frustrated battling double coverage, Love instead stepped away from the pressure and worked the Cougars over with his midrange game which helped open up the driving lanes for penetration by the UCLA guards. 

Especially in the second-half, Collison and Russell Westbrook repeatedly got into the paint for easy layups as the Cougars big men were preoccupied with keeping a body on Love.  Westbrook finished with 14 points on 7 of 12 field goal shooting.

The Bruins started the game very sluggishly against the Cougars perhaps suffering the lingering effects from a long arduous trip up north the evening before.

The team's charter plane was diverted to another airport on its way to Pullman last night and the team had to take a 45 minute bus ride to their final destination.  The Bruins did not arrive to their hotel until well after midnight.

In addition, Collison was suffering from flu-like symptoms and did not appear very focused at the beginning of the game.  While the Cougars started off with good intensity on their home court, the Bruins were making lazy passes and were lackadaisical with their ball handling which resulted in numerous early turnovers.  For the game Westbrook and Collison combined for an uncharacteristic eight turnovers.

However, the Bruin defense, which has been their constant all season, and the offense battled back to take the game into halftime with a hard fought 26-26 tie after Russell Westbrook slammed home the tying basket with thirty seconds remaining.

In the second half, the two teams traded baskets for the first twelve minutes but then UCLA started finding ways of getting the ball to Kevin Love and the freshman took over. 

Love scored 8 of the team's next 10 points as the Bruins went on a 10-2 run to take a 54-45 lead with just over four minutes remaining.

With a solid lead in hand, the Bruins decided to keep the ball in Darren Collison's hands down the stretch who responded by scoring nine points, seven on free throws, in the final four minutes minutes of the game to keep the Cougars at bay for the victory.

UCLA won the battle on the boards again, out-rebounding the Cougars, 29-20, including 12 on the offensive end. 

The team was playing without junior forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute who is recovering from a sprained ankle.  Sophomore James Keefe stepped in and played a solid game against the Cougars scoring 5 points and grabbing 4 rebounds in just 11 minutes of action.

The Bruin's (21-2, 9-1) victory kept them one game ahead of Stanford atop the Pac-10 conference.  UCLA is off to their best start since the 1995 championship team finished 32-1.

UCLA now travels to Seattle for a Sunday afternoon game against the Washington Huskies.  The rare Sunday game gives the team an additional day to rest up and prepare.  The Huskies were routed on Thursday night by the Trojans, 73-59.

(photo credit: AP)


Wednesday, February 06, 2008

UCLA vs. Washington State - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Kicking off the second-half of the Pac-10 conference season, No.4/5 UCLA travels up to Pullman to take on the No.17 Washington State Cougars in a Thursday night match-up.

Washington State (17-4, 5-4), ranked as high as No.2 this season, has dropped three of its last four games, including two at home last week.  They are tied for third-place in the conference with USC and Arizona.

The Cougars lost 69-64 to California on Thursday and then bowed out to Stanford 67-65 in a tough overtime defeat over the weekend. In both games, the Cougars were cold from three-point distance, shooting a combined 8 of 32 for a frigid 25% from beyond the arc.

Against Stanford the Cougars shot just 34% from the field overall and were outrebounded 42 to 16 by the Cardinal, yet Washington State still had a chance to put the game into a second overtime but guard Taylor Rochestie's end-to-end driving lay-up rolled off the rim as time expired.

Washington State hopes to regain their shooting touch and try to rebound against the Bruins on Thursday night.

In the their first meeting at Pauley Pavilion, UCLA (20-2, 8-1) beat the Cougars, 81-74.  The Bruins started the game quickly overwhelming the Cougars on the perimeter with aggressive ball pressure while building a lead as large as 18 points. 

But then with under two minutes remaining in the game, the Cougars made a remarkable seven consecutive three-point shots to pull within three-points before the Bruins finally pulled away for the final winning margin.  Freshman Kevin Love had a dominating performance scoring 27 points and grabbing 14 rebounds in the win.

Despite their recent shooting woes, the senior-laden Cougar team remains tough to beat especially at home in Pullman - mainly a result of their outstanding defense.

Coach Tony Bennett's team plays a tough brand of man-to-man defense that applies pressure on the ball while aggressively playing the passing lanes.

Washington State enters this week leading the conference and ranked third in the nation in points allowed per game at 55.2 while holding opponents to 41.1% field goal shooting.

The Cougars boast three double-digit scorers on the offensive end.  Derrick Low (6'2, 196, Sr) leads the offense with 13.9 points per game. Kyle Weaver (6'6, 201, Sr) and Aron Baynes (6'10, 270, Jr) are adding 11.9 and 11.4 points per game, respectively.

Low is a tough competitor whom the Cougars look to for the big shots.  He has developed a quick shot release over his career and is tough to guard as he uses screens effectively to ward off defenders.  He's shooting almost 40% from beyond the arc.

Russell Westbrook will get the assignment against Low. Westbrook did a good job of shutting down high-scoring freshmen James Harden and Jerryd Bayless in last week's Bruin wins over both Arizona schools.

Kyle Weaver is a good ballhandler and a solid distributor but the spider-like Weaver is known for his defense.  He will be matched-up against UCLA's best perimeter scorer, Josh Shipp.

UCLA's Kevin Love had his way with the Cougars in the Bruin win earlier this year with 27 points and 14 rebounds.  He dominated Aron Baynes on both ends of the floor holding him to just 8 points.  If Love duplicates his effort again on Thursday against Baynes the Bruins will be tough to beat.

Point guard Taylor Rochestie is chipping in 9.2 points an outing while leading the league in assists with 5.2 dishes a game.  He is hitting 45.8% from three-point distance.  Darren Collison did a good job at Pauley Pavilion pressuring Rochestie and preventing him from getting into any rhythm during the game.

Starting at the power forward spot is rail-thin Robbie Cowgill (6'11, 211, Sr) is a tough competitor who is a good help defender and shot blocker.  Daven Harmeling (6'7, 216, Jr)  is the first Cougar off the bench and is averaging 7.0 pointer per game.

UCLA will be without Luc Richard Mbah a Moute for both games this week in Washington. Mbah a Moute suffered a sprain ankle in the second half of the Arizona game on Saturday.  Without Mbah a Moute, the Bruins are missing one of their best perimeter defenders and also rebounders. 

Sophomore Nikola Dragovic should see extended action on the wing this week, in addition, freshman Chace Stanback will also see time on the floor.

The Cougars are still licking their wounds from their two home losses last week to Cal and Stanford.  Washington State's defense will help keep them in most games even when their offense is struggling.  If the Cougars regain their outside shooting touch on Thursday, this will be the marquee game most expected to see at the start of conference play when both teams were ranked in the top-five.

Game Preview from 1/11/08
Game Summary from 1/12/08

Date: Feb. 7
UCLA vs Washington St.
Time: 7:30 PM PT
Place: Pullman, WA
Radio: AM 570

(photo credit: WSU Athletics)


Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Bruins Go First Class To Pullman

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

The road trip to the Washington State campus has long been a difficult trek for all Pac-10 teams.  The remoteness of the campus in far eastern Washington typically requires multiple stops and layovers.  But this year, the trip will be a little easier for the Bruins who will be flying direct to Pullman from Los Angeles on Wednesday.

"For the first time since I've been here, we're actually chartering a flight right into Pullman." UCLA Coach Ben Howland said at his weekly press conference.  "It has always been so grueling to get there."

The UCLA basketball team will be hopping on a thirty passenger turbo-prop airplane at Hawthorne Airport for the flight up north.

"It has taken us ten to eleven hours to get there in the past - twelve total hours from the time we leave Pauley Pavilion," Howland said.

On the topic of Luc Richard Mbah a Moute's sprained ankle, Coach Howland mentioned at the pressor how much the team will miss the presence of Mbah a Moute on both ends of the court this week against the Washington schools.

"He turned his ankle pretty good on that play. We don’t expect him to play in either game this week," Howland said. Luc is one of our best defensive players, he always guards one of the other team’s best offensive player. Whenever he’s out - it’s a big hit for the team."

"I was so depressed when I learned he (Luc) was out this week," Howland said. "It's hard to express. Its very disappointing."

Both freshman Chace Stanback and sophomore Nikola Dragovic are expected to play increased minutes in the absence of Mbah a Moute during this road trip. Howland said he has been impressed with Dragovic's defensive effort of late.

"He's trying real hard to stay in front of the ball," Howland said. "He can't apply the type of ball pressure like Luc, but he has to be smart on defense."

The UCLA coach gleamed with pride when he told the press about senior Lorenzo Mata-Real's recent academic success.

"The great news about Lorenzo is that he tested out of Spanish. It is one less class he'll need for graduation."

(photo credit: AP)


Monday, February 04, 2008

Bruins Climb to No.4 in Coaches Poll

By Bruin Basketball Report

After convincing home wins against Arizona State and Arizona last week, the Bruins moved up to No.4 in the coaches poll while maintaining their spot at No.5 in the AP poll.

Kansas, formerly No.2, was upset by Kansas State over the weekend and dropped to No.5 in the coaches and No.4 in the AP ranking.

Memphis, Duke, and North Carolina are the top three teams, respectively, in both national polls.

UCLA's average winning margin of 27.5 last week was impressive considering both desert schools are likely candidates for the postseason NCAA tournament.

The Bruins (20-2, 8-1) finished the first-half of conference play one-game ahead of Stanford (18-3, 7-2) in the Pac-10 standings.

Stanford moved into the top 10 in both polls at No.9 after sweeping both Washington and Washington State on the road. The Cougars (17-4, 5-4) dropped to No.17 in both rankings.

With Pac-10 teams blooding each other up in head-to-head play, no other conference team is in the top 25 polls.

In the RPI rankings, UCLA moved up to No.10 from No.12 in RPI and its strength of schedule (SOS) improved to No.29.

UCLA travels up to the Pacific Northwest to face Washington State and Washington on the road this week. They will have to do it without Luc Richard Mbah a Moute who sprained his ankle in the second half of the Arizona contest on Saturday. The junior forward is expected to miss at least seven days.

2007-08 UCLA Rankings Weekly Changes: LINK


2007-08 UCLA Rankings Weekly Changes

BBR Home > UCLA Rankings Weekly Changes

Week 1
Nov. 12
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Nov. 19
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Nov. 26
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Complete Associated Press Poll (AP)
Complete Coaches ESPN/USA Today Poll
Complete Ken Pomeroy RPI Ranking

Mbah a Moute Out At Least 7 Days

By Bruin Basketball Report

According to the UCLA Athletic Department:

After being evaluated this morning by UCLA men's basketball athletic trainer Carrie Rubertino, Mbah a Moute's sprained ankle (second half against Arizona) will sideline him for at least seven days.

He will definitely be out for this week's games at Washington State (Feb. 7) and Washington (Feb. 10).

He will continue to be evaluated and require treatment on a daily basis.


Sunday, February 03, 2008

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (2/4)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Los Osos 72, Alta Loma 65: Derrick Rogers scored a career-high 25 points to lead the Grizzlies (15-10, 3-4). Also for Los Osos, Kendall Williams had 23 points and eight assists. Redlands Daily Facts 1/29

MODESTO CHRISTIAN 82, RIVERBANK 34, at Riverbank — Senior point guard Daniel Lemburg scored a game-high 23 points, including three 3-pointers, as the Crusaders (16-4, 10-0) ran past the Bruins (7-16, 3-7). Junior forward Reeves Nelson scored nine of his 22 points in the first quarter as MC jumped out to a 28-8 lead. Modesto Bee 1/30

Jrue Holiday— No need to convince us that he is the best and most complete perimeter player in this class, but will he get the chance in a potentially loaded UCLA backcourt to to convince the NBA executives? USA Today 1/31

Anaheim Canyon 62, Los Alamitos 50 -- UCLA-bound point guard Jerime Anderson had 26 points, eight rebounds, eight assists and five steals for the Comanches (20-4). Corbin Moore, a 6-10 senior forward, had 18 points, eight rebounds and four blocked shots for No. 15 Los Alamitos (18-7), which lost for the second time in two days. Canyon led, 32-19, at the half. LA Times 2/3

MODESTO CHR. 85, RIPON CHR. 42, at Ripon -- Reeves Nelson (29 points) and Adam Watts (20 points) combined for 49 points as the top-ranked small-school Crusaders (16-4, 10-0) continued their domination of the TVL by topping the Knights (5-18, 1-10). MC led 70-34 after three quarters. Modesto Bee 2/2

The Highlanders' size simply left the Los Osos shooters too little margin for error. Opposite a Los Osos front line with an average height of 6-foot-3, Upland's 6-8 Kevin Bradshaw scored a game-high 18 points on 7-of-14 shooting and grabbed 11 rebounds in Upland's 42-36 win over the Grizzlies....The Highlanders' elastic 3-2 zone forced Los Osos into many contested 3-pointers late in the shot clock. Los Osos 6-3 sophomore Kendall Williams, who verbally committed to UCLA before the season began, scored a team-high 10 points. SB Sun 2/2

Campbell Hall of North Hollywood's Jrue Holiday defended Darius Morris like he was attached to his jersey. Holiday fought through screens, yelled instructions to his teammates and harassed Windward's top scorer from baseline to baseline. And that was with Campbell Hall leading by 30. The Vikings had their hearts set on making a statement, and their 74-41 Olympic League rout of the Wildcats on Saturday said more than enough. Daily News 2/2


Lawrence North junior Stephan Van Treese, who is 6-9, has been finishing in double figures in scoring and rebounding so regularly his teammates have taken to calling him Mr. Double-Double. Van Treese, 6-9 sophomore Dominique Ferguson and 6-9 junior Jeff Robinson are major recruiting targets. Indy Star 1/30

Dominguez 77, Downey 37: Jordan Hamilton scored 19 of his game-high 34 points in the third quarter for the first-place Dons (19-2, 7-0) in SGVL play. Hamilton was 9 for 9 from the field and 4 for 4 on 3-point shots. Press Telegram 1/30

Renaissance Academy showed why Monday afternoon during a 64-47 nonleague home victory against Brentwood.... “It’s been a long season,” said Cooke, who got a game-high 20 points, nine rebounds and five blocks from junior center Anthony Stover and 16 points and eight assists from senior guard Justin Cook. La Canada Valley Sun 1/31

Kitani seeing the progress he wants in Fairfax's defense: Junior center Renardo Sidney and his imposing 6-foot-10 frame is discouraging opponents from driving to the basket. And the growing confidence in their 1-2-2 full-court pressure has the other Lions feeling they can control a game's tempo. LA Times 1/31

Jordan Hamilton had 38 points and 13 rebounds last Saturday as Dominguez (18-2, 6-0) defeated Gahr, 94-80 to stretch its lead to two games in the San Gabriel Valley League. LA Wave 1/31

Perhaps developing into the mold of the modern day hybrid forward, 2009 four-star prospect Milton Jennings is a coveted prospect. Only five schools, however, are left standing in the pursuit of the 6-9, 200-pound prospect from Summerville (S.C.) Pinewood Prep, and two of those schools stand above the rest. Clemson, Florida, Georgetown, UCLA and Virginia comprise Jennings' top five. But time might be running out on Georgetown, UCLA and Virginia since Jennings is poised to make a decision and he has only visited Clemson and Florida out of his top five schools. Sporting News 1/31

Brothers Miles and Mason Plumlee did much of the defensive damage, as they didn’t fall for head fakes and simply waited to swat shots back. “Miles and Mason have really asserted themselves on defense,” Gaines said. Even if they didn’t block them, the brothers made Griffins alter their shots in the lane. Christ School (25-2 overall, 11-0 Carolinas Athletic Association) finished with 10 blocks and had seven in the first half. “They’re long and athletic and they have great basketball IQ,” Sartor said. “You’ll see a lot of these kids playing in college.” Go Upstate 1/31

Colony has its own prodigy, 6-5 sophomore wing Tyler Lamb, who already is being recruited by both USC and UCLA, according to Colony coach Jerry DeFabiis. Lamb is averaging 23 points and 7.5 rebounds per game. San Bernardino Sun 2/1

Renaissance Academy's Anthony Stover blocks more shots -- 7.4 per game -- than most of the area's top teams, including Harvard-Westlake (5.8), Valencia (5.5) Campbell Hall (4.3) and Simi Valley (2.9). Daily News 2/2

Rocklin, racing up and down the court, led 16-4 after five minutes. The Thunder extended their advantage to 33-18 midway through the second quarter and 40-20 at the half. The Thunder ended up winning the game 74-41. Rocklin junior Brendan Lane (12 points) and senior Derek Faulkner (eight) scored as many first-half points as Oakmont. "They shot lights out in the first half," Oakmont coach Rick Campbell said. "With their big kid in the middle (6-foot-10 Lane) and their guys hitting from the perimeter like that it's tough (to defend).Press Tribune 2/2

One of the top high school juniors in the country is planning an unofficial visit to Kansas. Jordan Hamilton, a 6-7 small forward from Los Angeles Dominguez High, says he wants to attend one of KU’s upcoming games at Allen Fieldhouse.
"They will be in my top five when I trim my list," Hamilton tells Shay Wildeboor of He’s considering KU, Texas, UConn, USC, Cal and Syracuse.
The country’s No. 8-ranked prospect in the Class of 2009 averages 31 points and 14 boards a game. KU Sports 2/2

Daniel Orton had his share of bumps and bruises along the way, but he wound up being a force inside. Orton, also a junior, finished with 31 points, 15 rebounds and four blocks in a dominating performance. "We always try to get inside, and this game wasn't any different,” Orton said. "We want to go from the inside out.” NewsOk 2/2

Jordan Hamilton had 25 points and 14 rebounds and the Dominguez boys' basketball team dominated Santa Margarita on the backboards in a 59-55 victory Saturday afternoon in the Nike Extravaganza at Mater Dei High. LA Times 2/2

Los Angeles Fairfax 62, Elizabeth (N.J.) St. Patrick 61 -- Lance Bailey's free throw with nine seconds left broke a 61-61 tie, and the Lions (21-3) survived a three-point attempt at the buzzer to pull out an emotional victory in which they successfully overcame the loss of center Renardo Sidney to five fouls with 6:38 left....Sidney was limited to nine points and four rebounds. LA Times 2/3

(photo credit: Modesto Bee)