Friday, February 15, 2008

Mbah a Moute Probable For USC Game

By Bruin Basketball Report

from the UCLA Athletic Department:

UCLA junior forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute completed his first full practice with contact today since spraining his left ankle in the second half of the Arizona contest (Feb. 2).

"He looked good, his ankle was fine but he was a little winded," UCLA Head Coach Ben Howland said.

He is probable for the Bruins' game at USC on Sunday, Feb. 17.


Thursday, February 14, 2008

UCLA vs. USC - Game Preview

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

The UCLA Bruins return to action when they travel across town to face rival USC at the Galen Center on Sunday.

The No.6 ranked Bruins (21-3, 9-2) sit atop the Pac-10 conference a half-game ahead of Stanford. The Cardinal lost in overtime to Arizona State in Tempe on Thursday, 72-68.

Last Sunday UCLA suffered a disheartening loss to Washington in Seattle, 71-61. The Bruins were out-rebounded and out-hustled by the ninth-place Huskies. Junior guard Darren Collison was held to only 3 points on 1 of 8 shooting.

The Bruins come into the game against the Trojans looking to avenge an earlier season loss at Pauley Pavilion. USC's Davon Jefferson scored a game-high 25 points in the upset win.

USC's defense baffled the Bruins all game long, utilizing a triangle and two zone defense to shut down Kevin Love down low, and the Bruins never made the necessary adjustments shooting an anemic 33.3% from the field.

The Trojans (15-8, 6-5) have won six of its last eight games and are currently tied for third place in the Pac-10.

After having problems getting into Pullman last Saturday, the Trojans were embarrassed by the Cougars, 74-50. It matched the biggest loss margin in the Tim Floyd era at USC.

USC received bad news earlier this week when it was revealed guard Daniel Hackett was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his lower back. Although the injury will not require surgery, Hackett may not return to the team this season.

Hackett was averaging 9.4 points, 3.9 rebounds and was leading the Trojans with 79 assists. His loss is a big blow to the team, Hackett played a major role in the upset win against UCLA, scoring key baskets down the stretch to help stave off a Bruin rally.

Entering this week's action, USC ranked 18th in the country and second in the Pac-10 in defensive field goal percentage at 38.8%. Meanwhile, UCLA is allowing opponents to shoot 45.1% against them.

Not a strong rebounding unit, the Trojans are being outrebounded on the glass by a margin of -6.4 per game. In January they were beaten on the boards by the Bruins, 39-30, but still managed to pull out the win.

On offense the Trojans are shooting 48.4% and averaging 68.8 points per game. They are led in scoring by guard O.J Mayo.

Mayo (6'5, 200, Fr) is averaging 20.2 points per game on 44.3% field goal shooting. He scored 16 points in the last meeting in Westwood. Mayo took just 12 field goal attempts, his unselfishness on the offensive end and allowing the game come to him was a key in his team's victory.

Russell Westbrook did a good job on Mayo defensively but it may have affected his offensive game. Westbrook shot just 2 of 11 from the field for 4 points. Part of the Trojan game plan was to take Love and guard Darren Collison out of the game offensively and make the other Bruins beat them - unfortunately Westbrook's offensive effort was not up to the task.

Forward Davon Jefferson (6'8, 215, Fr) is a long, athletic forward who gave the Bruin defense problems. He scored 25 points mostly on back cuts behind the Bruin's help defense.

Jefferson is averaging 13.1 points on 58.6% shooting and 6.2 rebounds. UCLA could have done a better job guarding Jefferson but Luc Richard Mbah a Moute missed most of the second half due to a concussion he suffered earlier in the game.

At this point, Mbah a Moute is listed as probable for Sunday's game. He sprained his ankle in the Arizona game a week ago. Mbah a Moute is doing stationary exercises and was out of his walking boot earlier this week. He missed both games in Washington due to the ankle injury. Without Mbah a Moute, the Bruins will have to counter with Alfred Aboya and James Keefe.

Center Taj Gibson (6'9, 225, So) had 9 points and 8 rebounds against UCLA's Kevin Love in the first meeting. He is averaging 10.0 points on 58% field goal shooting and a team-high 7.8 rebounds.

Kevin Love, who was doubled and tripled team by the Trojan zone, needs to come out much more active in this game. Rather than try to bang away inside, Love needs to step away outside the paint to set screens for teammates or to get free for midrange shots from the free throw line or short corner. Against the Huskies last Sunday, Love only managed 8 shot attempts in the game.

At another guard spot for the Trojans is Dwight Lewis (6'5, 215, So) who is averaging 10.7 points a game. A steadying force due to his consistent play, the Trojans seem to play better whenever he's on the court. He'll work hard on the defensive end to check UCLA's Josh Shipp who led the Bruins in scoring in the last match-up with 21 points.

Replacing Daniel Hackett at starting point-guard will be Angelo Johnson (5'11, 180, Fr). He is averaging 4.4 points and 2.0 assists a game.

USC did a good job spreading the floor against the Bruin defense in the January game, negating the help defense Coach Ben Howland relies on to help put pressure on the ball.

The loss of Daniel Hackett is a big blow for the Trojans, since he was part of the guard rotation that effectively took the Bruins off the dribble for easy scores at the basket.

Coach Howland thought his team came out too high, too amped up, in the first game. No doubt, he will have his team's emotions checked before coming onto the floor for this big rematch.

Date: Sunday, February 17
Time: 7:00 PM PT
Place: Galen Center
Radio: AM 570

(photo credit USC Athletics)


Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bruins in the NBA Report

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

With the NBA taking an all-star break in the season, it gives us a chance to check on the ten Bruin alumni currently playing in the league.

Arron Afflalo, Detroit Pistons: In just half a season NBA crowds are learning what UCLA basketball fans have known for quite some time - there is no denying the heart of a warrior. Afflalo has played a major part in the Detroit Piston's surge to a 39-13 record and first place in the Central Division. Coming off the bench, Afflalo brings a unique brand of defensive intensity onto the floor. Whether it is guarding 6'6 Kobe Bryant on the perimeter or 6'10 forward Rashard Lewis down low, Afflalo makes it hard for players to get the ball and even more difficult for them to get off a clean shot.

He is averaging 3.5 points in 11.5 minutes a game and is usually given the assignment of guarding the opponent's best wing player (Sound familiar?). Afflalo is shooting 42% from the field but only 21% on three-pointers. If he is going to continue to be a factor in the league, he'll need to improve on his outside shooting. In the meantime, a once aging Piston team now possesses a promising young backcourt nucleus of Afflalo and fellow first-rounder Rodney Stuckey for years to come.

Trevor Ariza, Los Angeles Lakers: In what appeared to be a promising new beginning in Los Angeles, took a bad turn back to some old problems. Ariza, who was finding his niche with the upstart Lakers, fractured his right foot at practice in late January. He has had been plagued by foot injuries and other lingering health problems throughout his young NBA career.

Ariza is averaging 6.5 points and 3.5 rebounds in 24 minutes since being acquired from Orlando in November for Brian Cook and Maurice Evans. He is expected to return to the Lakers prior to the playoffs in March.

Matt Barnes, Golden State Warriors: Barnes has established himself as a tough all-around performer in the league. He is averaging 8.1 points, 5.0 rebounds, and 2.7 assists in 45 games this season. Barnes' minutes have gone down somewhat since the signing of free-agent Chris Webber, but he remains an invaluable member on the Warriors ball club. His high-energy style of play is a perfect fit in Coach Don Nelson's system.

Baron Davis, Golden State Warriors: Although he was not named to the All-star team this season, many believed Davis was deserving of a slot. He is averaging 21.6 points, 8.0 assists and 4.8 rebounds in almost 40 minutes of action per game. He has been the team's leader both on and off the court in helping the Warriors to an impressive 32-20 record this season.

Jordan Farmar, Los Angeles Lakers: The Lakers view Farmar as their point-guard of the future after trading 2007 first-round draft pick Javaris Crittenton to Memphis in the Pau Gasol deal. Its an ideal situation for Farmar in Los Angeles who is playing major minutes while being mentored by veteran Derek Fisher.

Although he has struggled in the past few games, Farmar is still averaging 9.2 points and 2.7 assists in 20.8 minutes. He was picked to play in the freshman vs. sophomore game during All-star weekend.

Dan Gadzuric, Milwaukee Bucks: Perhaps one of the more athletic big men in the league, Gadzuric brings a lot of energy off the bench for the Bucks. He is averaging 3.1 points and 2.5 rebounds in 9.9 minutes.

Ryan Hollins, Charlotte Bobcats: The opportunties have been there for the young center, but Hollins has been unable to capitalize on them. The season started with much promise for Hollins since the Bobcats were short along the front line due to injuries. But Hollins has been inconsistent at best, and is now playing behind journeyman Nazr Mohammed. Hollins is averaging 2.4 points and 2.2 rebounds over 39 games.

Jason Kapono, Toronto Raptors: Signed to a big contract over the summer by the Raptors, Kapono has been relegated to a contributor off the bench with ex-NBDL player Jamrio Moon taking his spot in the starting line-up. Kapono's biggest weakness has been his defense and ability to guard high-scoring wings. He is averaging 8.2 points while shooting 50% from the field and 51% on three-pointers. He will be at the All-star game to defend his three-point shooting crown.

Darrick Martin, Toronto Raptors: With T.J. Ford injured much of this season, the 36 year-old Martin has played more minutes than expected. Although he is still closer to being a coach than a regular contributor on the court, Martin is managing to average 1.8 points and 1.3 assists in 8.9 minutes of action per game.

Earl Watson, Seattle Sonics: Watson has been on the verge of being traded all season, however, he just continues to produce. The 6'1 guard from Kansas City is averaging 8.6 points and 6.5 assists this season. Last week he earned a triple-double by recording 23 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists in a win over Sacramento.

(photo credit:


Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Howland Wants Defense To Improve, Updates on Injuries

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

At his weekly press conference on Tuesday, UCLA Coach Ben Howland said the Bruin's defense needed to improve from where it is presently. Although the team is allowing just 64.0 points a contest in Pac-10 play, opponents are shooting over 45% against them.

"We’re not getting enough stops," Howland said "When you allow your opponent to shoot 45% that’s not low enough. We’re actually doing a good job on the offensive end, if you look at our field-goal percentage."

One immediate fix for the defense would be the return of forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, one of the team's best defensive players and rebounders. He is still listed as probable for Sunday's rematch against USC. Mbah a Moute missed the last two games due to a sprained ankle he suffered against Arizona on February 2.

"He did some shooting yesterday, but not any cutting," Howland said. "It was just stationary - one spot. Obviously, he’s got to do some more conditioning, but we’ll see after what he does today. He’ll do some stuff individually today."

His ankle injury followed a concussion he suffered two weeks ago that literally knocked him out of the Trojan game at Pauley Pavilion and the following road trip to Oregon.

UCLA could use a healthy Mbah a Moute on Sunday to help defend against USC's Davon Jefferson who scored 25 points to help upset the Bruins in their first meeting.

Injured junior Michael Roll has not played since Dec. 29 against UC Davis and is still not ready to rejoin the team, and its uncertain if he will return at all this season. Roll ruptured the plantar fascia in his foot and has been sidelined since the injury.

Coach Howland said he has no plans to red-shirt Roll at this point but will have no choice if Roll misses the remainder of the season.

The 6'5 guard from Laguna Niguel was averaging 2.8 points and 2.3 assists in 15.5 minutes a game before his injury.

Coach Howland said he has not spoken to a Pac-10 officials about the incident where Husky guard Tim Morris threw the ball into Alfred Aboya's face while attempting to inbound the ball towards the end of the game to avoid a five second violation.

(photo credit: AP)


Monday, February 11, 2008

Bruins Drop To No.6 In Latest Polls

By Bruin Basketball Report

After a split in the state of Washington, voters in both the Coaches and AP polls agreed UCLA should be ranked No.6 this week.

The Bruins were ranked No.4/5 last week but were dropped by voters after following an impressive win against Washington State with a disappointing loss to Washington in Seattle.

With Stanford sweeping both Oregon schools, the Cardinal improved to No.7 in both polls - their highest placement this season. The only other Pac-10 school in the rankings is Washington State at No. 20 in the Coaches and No.21 in the AP poll.

The top five team in both national polls are Memphis, Duke, Kansas, Tennessee, and North Carolina, respectively.

One interesting but puzzling note; the Arizona Wildcats received a scattered number of votes in both polls, however, Arizona State, which swept their series with the Wildcats last week, did not receive a single vote.

In the wonderful world of RPI ranking computations, despite splitting their games last week, UCLA's RPI and strength of schedule actually improved this week. The team's RPI ranking improved to No.7 from No.10 and its SOS increased from No.29 to No.22.

The RPI rankings are heavily influenced by road victories, and UCLA's win in Pullman over No.23 RPI-ranked Washington State pushed up the Bruin's RPI ranking this week.

Complete Associated Press Poll (AP)
Complete Coaches ESPN/USA Today Poll
Complete Ken Pomeroy RPI Ranking
2007-08 UCLA Rankings Weekly Changes


Mbah a Moute Listed As Probable For USC Game

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is no longer wearing a walking boot, but is wearing an air cast on his left ankle.

He is listed as probable for Sunday's game against USC at the Galen Center.

The Bruins did not practice today.


Sunday, February 10, 2008

Bruin Basketball Recruiting: Tyler Lamb

BBR Home > Bruin Basketball Recruiting: Tyler Lamb

Tyler Lamb SG | 6'5 | 190

Status: Signed National Letter of Intent with UCLA 11/18/09
Class: 2010
: Ontario, CA
School: Mater Dei
Rank (aggregate): SG #14
Schools of Interest
: UCLA, USC, Arizona, Washington, Memphis, Louisville

Tyler Lamb Gives UCLA Verbal Commitment (9/2)

Tyler Lamb Mix on (9/2)

Bruin Basketball Recruiting: Ater Majok

BBR Home > Bruin Basketball Recruiting: Ater Majok

Ater Majok
PF | 6'10 | 220

Status: Prospect
Class: 2008
Hometown: Carlingford, Australia
School: American International School
Position Rank (aggregate): PF #35
Schools of Interest: UCLA, Kansas, Baylor, Connecticut, Kentucky





Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (2/11)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Jrue Holiday scored 38 points Tuesday in a 73-43 victory over visiting Montclair Prep of Panorama City, eclipsing former Simi Valley standout Don MacLean (2,243 points, 1986-88) as the area's third all-time scorer with 2,281points, according to Cal-Hi Sports. With one Olympic League game remaining, plus the Southern Section playoffs and probably the CIF State playoffs ahead, Holiday trails only Mitchell Butler (2,682 points, Oakwood of North Hollywood, 1986-89) and Greg Goorjian (2,506 points, Crescenta Valley of La Crescenta, 1976-78). Holiday added 17 rebounds, nine steals, four assists and a blocked shot, helping the Vikings to their 112th victory in 124 games since his arrival four years ago. LA Daily News 2/5

MODESTO CHR. 97, ESCALON 62, at Modesto Christian -- Adam Watts (21 points) stepped up with a big game for the Crusaders (18-4, 12-0)....Reeves Nelson finished with 20 points for the Crusaders. Modesto Bee 2/6

Reeves Nelson -- a 6-7 junior forward who has already verbally committed to UCLA -- had 20 points in the first half, while 6-3 Dabrail Henton scored 10 of his 19 points in the opening period. Nelson, benched early in the season for his inconsistent effort, showed he's overcome that malady. With MC up 73-36, he chased his missed 3-point shot four rows deep into the stands and flung it back to the hoop -- and his freshman brother Raymond turned it into a basket. "He's been doing it since our tournament, going all over the court to score, block shots and rebound," Porter said. "The whole team's playing this way."  Modesto Bee 2/9

Modesto Christian 108, #17 Skyline-Oakland 75: Modesto Christian was led by D.J. Seeley, a 6-3 senior guard headed for Cal. He had game highs of 30 points and 12 rebounds, and 6-7 junior Reeves Nelson - who committed to UCLA last month - added 26 points, 11 rebounds, five blocks and four assists despite playing only 17 minutes after receiving two technical fouls. SF Chronicle 2/10


Led by super sophomore Tyler Lamb, Division II-AA No. 7 Colony (16-9, 8-0) secured the Mt. Baldy League title with the help of a second consecutive win over second-place No. 15 Chaffey (16-5, 6-2) on Jan. 30. Inland Daily Bulletin 2/5

Ater Majok, a 6-foot-10, 220-pound high school senior center who attends the American International School in Carlingford, Australia, will make official recruiting trips to KU and Connecticut sometime in March, according to Majok, 20, a native of Sudan who has played for Heat Basketball Academy in Virginia, has also heard from West Virginia, Baylor, Kentucky, South Carolina, Georgetown, St. John’s and others. LJ World 2/5

If the Panther boys wondered how much McGuinness missed junior Daniel Orton in the teams' first meeting this season, they got their answer Tuesday night. Orton totaled 33 points, 13 rebounds and eight blocked shots to give the Class 4A No. 1-ranked team a 63-51 victory over Class 6A's No. 2-ranked squad. Oklahoma City 2/6

Stephen Van Treese to attend Baylor game: KU will have a recruit in attendance for Saturday’s 7 p.m. home game against Baylor. Stephan Van Treese, a 6-foot-9, 225-pound junior forward from Lawrence North High in Indianapolis, tells he will be making an unofficial visit to KU. He is considering KU, Florida, Indiana, Louisville, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Purdue and UCLA. “I’m kind of excited because I’ve never seen anything in Kansas. All I’ve heard is that it is flat ground. But I’ve heard the area and campus is real nice,” he told “The stadium is amazing, from what I’ve heard. I’ve seen a lot of games on television, and the crowd seems amazing.” LJ World 2/6

Mason Plumlee, a 6-foot-11 junior being recruited by a host of Division I schools including Duke, scored 20 points, grabbed 12 rebounds and made four blocks for the Greenies (26-2). Ashiville Citizen 2/7

Westchester (25-3, 10-1) avenged its recent loss to Fairfax. It succeeded in taking center Renardo Sidney, the nation's top junior prospect at his position, out of his game enough to turn Westchester loose on its own. And Westchester found it could win with its fleas-against-the-big- dog approach, turning the matchup against Sidney into a stalemate when it mattered most. Westchester turned loose its skill and agility and found itself. Daily Breeze 2/7

It took two overtimes, but Westchester finally ended its five-game losing streak to Western League rival Fairfax with a 71-70 victory. The game was played at Loyola Marymount University....Fairfax junior center Renardo Sidney had 25 points and 11 rebounds for the Lions (21-4, 10-1). LA Times 2/7

Dominguez 90, Warren 39: Jordan Hamilton scored a game-high 30 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, and Thurman Woods added 10 points and eight rebounds for the Dons (23-2, 10-0), who finished the San Gabriel Valley League undefeated. Press Telegram 2/7

Westchester turned in a performance Wednesday night in a 71-70 double-overtime victory over Fairfax that was one for its video archives, if not those of Fairfax junior center Renardo Sidney, whose personal cameraman follows him conspicuously. Sidney has entered the realm of handlers and hustlers. He's not a high school player, but a prospect on loan, performing here as a perfunctory measure, while he is groomed to be somebody's meal ticket. Appearance counts more than effort, and all you had to do was watch him saunter up and down an NBA-sized court Wednesday night to realize that quick guards at the next level will drive circles around this ice-cream truck if he doesn't learn how to run. Daily Breeze 2/9

The Wildcats wrapped up their regular season with a 63-45 nonleague home victory Friday over Mission Prep of San Luis Obispo....Renaissance Academy used a quick 7-0 spurt midway through the third quarter to take a 35-26 advantage and seize control of the contest. Junior post Anthony Stover was superb, recording a triple-double with 16 points, 14rebounds and 11 blocks. LA Daily News 2/9

(photo credit: Ashville Citizen)


Bruins Get Outworked In Seattle

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

The Huskies didn't care whether they were riding a four game losing streak into Sunday afternoon's contest with the Bruins, nor did they take notice of UCLA's five game winning streak and No.4/5 ranking.  All the Huskies knew was they were at home and it was time to take the Bruins down again.

For the fourth consecutive time in Seattle, Washington downed UCLA, 71-61, before 10,000 at Bank of America Arena.

With all the success Coach Ben Howland has had at UCLA the past four seasons, he has never won in Seattle with his Bruins.

Washington came out from the start with more intensity and energy on both ends of the court and simply outworked UCLA in the game. 

On the defensive end, the Huskies took a page out of the Bruin play book by applying heavy pressure on the ball and forcing UCLA to set up their offense further away from the basket than they're used to, in addition, they doubled Kevin Love whenever he got close to the ball.

As a result,  Love finished with just 13 points on 3 of 8 shooting as he was never given any room to operate down low.  Love appeared satisfied with banging away inside with the bulky Artem Wallace and Jon Brockman rather than move to an open spot midrange or the short corner as he had in previous games for better offensive opportunities.

Point-guard Darren had one of his worst games as a Bruin.  Collison finished a meager 1 of 8 for 3 points and committed 8 turnovers - half of the team's 16 turnovers in the game.   

But perhaps the worst part of his performance was on the defensive end where he could not stop Husky guard Justin Dentmon from scoring.  Dentmon, who has been struggling all season, played up to his potential scoring 20 points on 7 of 12 shooting as he effortlessly went around Collison throughout the game, especially down the stretch.  It wasn't until Coach Howland switched Russell Westbrook onto Dentmon with a little over a minute remaining that he was stopped, but it was too late and the damage was done.

Washington (13-11, 4-7) shot 44.1% in the game but they were quicker to the loose ball, got the offensive rebounds, and seemingly wanted the game more than the Bruins. 

The Huskies outrebounded the Bruins 44-36 and got a stunning 18 offensive boards.  Jon Brockman dominated inside grabbing 17 rebounds, 9 on the offensive end, and scored 12 points.  When Dentmon wasn't scoring in the lane, it was Brockman hitting the key turnaround baseline jumper over Kevin Love.  No doubt UCLA missed junior forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute's defense and rebounding.  In the previous game at Pauley Pavilion, the Bruins with Mbah a Moute, easily ouboarded the Huskies 32-26.

As mentioned in BBR's preview, Washington's sophomores, Dentmon and Quincy Pondexter, have been a disappointment and have not lived up to expectations, but in this game they showed their potential.  Aside from Dentmon's stellar play, Pondexter had 11 points and did a good job of disrupting the Bruin defense with his athleticism.

Josh Shipp led the Bruins in scoring with 19 points but even many of his shot attempts were usually with a Husky's hand in his face.  Westbrook added 18 points but he was just 5 of 16 from the field. 

The Bruins finished shooting just 34.4% from the field and were 1 of 16 on three-pointers as the Huskies did a good job taking UCLA out of their rhythm with strong defensive pressure.

With the loss, UCLA falls into a first place tie in the Pac-10 conference with Stanford.  The team travels home and will have a week to prepare for USC at the Galen Center next Sunday  Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has made good progress with his ankle injury and is probable for the game against the Trojans.

(photo credit: AP)