Friday, November 21, 2008

UCLA Rebounds To Beat Southern Illinois

By Associated Press

Box Score

ALFRED ABOYA UPDATE - A second x-ray on Alfred Aboya's left wrist was negative and a CT scan on the wrist was also negative. The scans and x-rays were performed at the NYU Hospital for Joint Diseases. UCLA will do a precautionary MRI after the team's return to Los Angeles.

Alfred Aboya had his best game for UCLA, and may have paid dearly for it.
The Bruins' senior forward had 22 points and eight rebounds, helping fourth-ranked UCLA rebound from a disheartening loss to beat Southern Illinois 77-60 on Friday night in the consolation game of the 2K Sports Classic.

Aboya helped lead a 20-2 run in the second half that put the game out of reach, but landed hard taking a charge in the closing minutes. Coach Ben Howland said Aboya may have broken his left hand and was headed to the hospital for X-rays.

"He played terrific tonight," Howland said, adding he hoped to know how long Aboya could be out before leaving for the West Coast. "I'm pushing to find out."

Darren Collison added 17 points and Josh Shipp 11 for the Bruins (3-1), who struggled in a semifinal loss to Michigan, turning the ball over 17 times and showing very little patience against the Wolverines' zone defense.

The Bruins had their own problems with Southern Illinois, a team known for its gritty defense, before their big run late in the game.

"I thought Southern Illinois was going to be a very good team, and they are a very good team," Howland said. "They're very much like us, very young with a blend of older guys."

Freshman guard Kevin Dillard scored 14 points and Tony Boyle had 10 for the Salukis, who tested No. 10 Duke in an 83-58 loss in the semifinals of the tournament benefiting Coaches vs. Cancer.

Southern Illinois (2-2) managed to tie this one at 48 with about 10 minutes left before wilting in the closing minutes for the second straight night.

"I don't know what it is," coach Chris Lowery said. "We melted down from there. We missed assignments defensively. We have to continue to play the young guys and get better. We can't let this dictate our season."

Nikola Dragovic started the Bruins' decisive run with a 3-pointer from the wing, and Collison hit two more in quick succession, the second time turning around after the wide-open shot from the corner and sticking his tongue out in a half smile to a small but loyal crowd of UCLA faithful.

Aboya converted a three-point play after a basket at the other end, Shipp hit a 3-pointer and Aboya made a pair of free throws to push the lead to 64-50 with 6:31 left.

Then all three of the Bruins' seniors got into the act on one dazzling play.

After forcing a turnover, Shipp swung a behind-the-back pass to Collison starting the break. The go-to guard then spun and delivered another behind-the-back pass to Aboya, whose slam made it 66-50 and put the game out of reach.

"I thought we were a little more patient in the second half," Collison said. "The two biggest things were our intensity and the fact that we were patient in the second half."

Shipp, who flirted with the NBA draft after last season, still struggled to get into a flow on the offensive end. After scoring five points on 2-of-9 shooting in that 55-52 loss to Michigan, Shipp was 1-for-4 from the field in the first half and scored most of his points when the outcome was decided.

The Bruins got off to a quick start, smoothly running their offense for the first time since arriving in New York and building a 24-13 lead midway through the first half.

Things seemed to be well in hand when Carlton Fay, the Salukis' leading scorer, went to the bench with a pair of fouls with 5 1/2 minutes left and UCLA ahead 31-23. But Wesley Clemmons hit an open 3 from the wing and Boyle followed with an inside bucket to draw Southern Illinois close.

Dillard's 3-pointer with a little over a minute left cut the lead to 35-33 at the break.

But the Bruins were simply too much in the second half, forcing 13 turnovers over the final 20 minutes and shooting 48 percent from the field for the game - and finally resembling those UCLA teams that have camped out the past few years in the Final Four.

"This team is talented enough to get there," Collison said. "It's going to take a learning process to get there."

(photo credit: AP)


Thursday, November 20, 2008

UCLA vs. Southern Illinois - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

After a successful 2007-08 campaign with a trip to the NIT, Head Coach Chris Lowery looks to build on that success with two starters returning from last year’s squad.

MVC Defensive Player of the Year and All-Missouri Valley Conference Second Team honoree Bryan Mullins will lead the Salukis in his senior campaign.

How They Got To Madison Square Garden

11/11 – Beat California (Pa.), 66-52
11/12 – Beat Massachusetts, 80-73
11/20 - Lost to Duke, 83-58

UCLA vs. Southern Illinois
2K Sports Classic, Consolation Game
Date November 21, 2008
Time: 2:00 PM PT
Radio: AM 1150

Wolverines Take A Bite Out Of Bruins

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

UCLA (2-1) struggled scoring against Michigan's 1-3-1 zone losing to the Wolverines 55-52 in a 2K Sports Classic semifinal game at Madison Square Garden.

The Bruins lack of offensive firepower, most notably an inside game, was exposed by Michigan's zone.

Darren Collison and Jrue Holiday each scored 13 points and Nikola Dragovic scored on a couple of late three-pointers to reach double figures, otherwise no other Bruin scored more than 5 points.

Senior Josh Shipp played one of his worst games as a Bruin. He not only shot just 2 of 8 for 5 points, but he also committed three consecutive turnovers down the stretch to single-handedly stifle any Bruin rally. Shipp finished with an unsightly 6 turnovers.

The rest of his teammates did no better committing 17 turnovers in the game.

And it wasn't that the Wolverines played a superb zone, actually it was rather average, instead the Bruins were clearly uncomfortable and appeared unprepared to attack it.

The Bruins led for most of the first half by double-digits before going into halftime with a 29-23 lead. But Michigan started hitting their three-point shots in the second half led by guards Stu Douglass and Manny Harris.

6'8 Michigan forward DeShawn Sims also powered his way to 18 points and dominating play in the second half to lead all scorers as the Bruins could find no one to match him inside.

UCLA finished shooting just 42.0% from the field and 5 of 16 on three-pointers. The Bruins also continued their horrid free-throw shooting going 5 of 11 for 45.5%. On the season, the team is shooting just 60% from the stripe.

Its still early in the season and the Bruins have time to develop their game and young players, especially the freshmen.

Still, this is not last year's Bruins, and fans will need to get used to it.

With the loss, the Bruins will meet Southern Illinois tomorrow night in the consolation game of the tournament.

(photo credit: AP)

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Mike Moser Decides UCLA Is The Place

By Bruin Basketball Report

Mike Moser from Grant HS in Portland, Oregon, has committed to play at UCLA in 2009. He is ranked in the top 20 among all small forwards and top 100 overall in his recruiting class.

The high school senior had committed to Arizona, but decided to re-open his recruitment following head coach Lute Olson's retirement. Moser had also considered USC, Oregon State, Oregon and the Wildcats.

The 6'7, 185 lb wing averaged 15.0 points, 11.0 rebounds and 3.5 blocks as a junior at Grant HS. Moser will likely play both the shooting guard and small forward spot. He joins an exceptional 2009 class at UCLA, including Tyler Honeycutt, Reeves Nelson, Brendan Lane and Anthony Stover.

Moser is extremely athletic and gives the Bruins something they've lacked for awhile - a tall, athletic wing. With his size and speed he can guard multiple positions 1 through 3 and has the mentality of a potential lockdown defender. He has a very good outside shot to the three-point line and moves very well without the ball.

UCLA was Moser's final destination because he respected the program's history of success and appreciated the way players have developed within the program on their way to playing in the NBA.

UCLA vs. Michigan - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

No. 4 ranked UCLA (2-0) travels to Madison Square Garden to face the Michigan Wolverines (2-0) in a semifinals match-up of the 2K Sports Classic.

After easily dispatching of Prairie View A&M in the first round the Bruins barely survived its contest against Miami (OH) to advance from the tournament’s West region. UCLA point-guard Darren Collison was voted MVP of the region after averaging 17.5 points over the two games.

The Wolverines recorded easy victories in its region to advance to the semifinals. After beating up Michigan Tech, 77-55, on Monday they went on to defeat Northeastern, 76-56. Junior forward DeShawn Sims registered close to a double-double, 14.5 points and 9.5 rebounds in the games, while sophomore-phenom guard Manny Harris averaged 28.0 and 8.5 rebounds to earn regional MVP honors.

UCLA beat Michigan last year but not after being down by eight points in the second-half. Darren Collison helped the Bruins outscore the Wolveriens by 23 points in the final 14 minutes to lead his team to a 15 point victory.

Its not surprising Michigan, a non-NCAA tournament team last season, gave UCLA fits last year. Michigan Head Coach John Beilein seems to always give UCLA Coach Ben Howland problems. Besides battling Howland’s Pittsburgh teams in the Big East, Beilein’s West Virginia teams also beat Howland twice after he moved to UCLA

Beilein has installed the same 1-3-1 zone defense at Michigan that he used at West Virginia. Its a zone that has been problematic for Howland to solve. Its not the type of defense that a UCLA team sees often and the lack of experience against it has shown up with usually Bruin players either getting trapped on the sidelines or attempting long soft lobs over the zone that allows the defense to easily recover and defend.

At times Howland has tried stationing a guard at the high-post to attack the 1-3-1 but it hasn’t been very fruitful. The most effective Bruin offense against this zone has been by attacking the zone at the seams by dribble penetration, exactly what Darren Collison did successfully last season against Michigan. The Wolverines didn’t have the quickness in the backcourt to stop Collison. But this year may be different as the Wolverines have added quality and speed to its line-up as well as the return of its two best players from last season.

Michigan’s top player is Manny Harris (6’5, 185, So). Harris is a special player who can score off the dribble and spot up from outside. He is averaging 28.0 points on 66.7% field goal shooting and is hitting on 57.1% from beyond the arc. He also knows how to get into the paint, having gone to the free-throw line 23 times in his first two games this season.

Freshman Jrue Holiday will get the initial assignment against Harris. Last season UCLA’s Russell Westbrook frustrated Harris into a very poor shooting game, however, Holiday has not yet shown over the first two games that he can be the lock-down defender the team desperately needs on the perimeter. Holiday certainly has the size, quickness, and desire to be a great defender but just hasn’t put it all together in games yet.

Coming off the bench in the first two games is returning letterman DeShawn Sims (6'8, 235, Jr). A tough man to stop, he's strong player inside with a good midrange shot, he is averaging 14.5 points on 52% shooting. He’s also the team’s best rebounder averaging 9.5 per game.

On offense, Beilein’s teams like to spread the court and utilize a combination of crisp backdoor cuts and kick-out precision three-point shooting, a combination that usually gives Howland’s help-defense type teams problems.

Last year the Wolverines struggled to learn the offense, and its too early to tell whether they have the right talent to make this offensive system effective in Michigan this season.

In the first two games, Michigan has attempted 38 three-point shots per contest making them at a 34.2% clip, however, if you remove Harris’s shooting then the rest of the team has shot just a mere 29% from beyond the arc.

Nonetheless, the Michigan starting line-up is littered with players who can and will make the three-point shot a weapon.

Zack Gibson (6'10, 220, Jr) has decent post moves but he is also a long range bomber. He is averaging 7.5 points. UCLA junior James Keefe will be matched up initially with Gibson.

David Merritt (5'10, 170, Sr) is a big-time three-point shooter and a player that Darren Collison or Jerime Anderson will need to keep a close eye on.

Anthony Wright (6'6, 235, So) will look for the long range shot but will also crash the boards and find the loose balls. Wright averages 4.0 points and 5.0 rebounds. Alfred Aboya will likely begin the evening on Wright or at least until DeShawn Sims checks in.

Stu Douglass (6'3, 175, Fr) started the €first two games and rotates at the off -guard spot and helps with the ball-handling, He is averaging 3.0 points and 3.5 assists. Josh Shipp will get the initial check on Douglass.

In order for UCLA to win they will have to solve the Wolverine’s zone defense. They still have Collison to breakdown the zone via dribble penetration but leave no doubt Beilein will be ready this time around.

On the other end of the court UCLA will need to stay patient and focused on defense and bump cutters - especially the backdoor cuts, in addition, they'll have to close out quickly on the Michigan long range shooters.

The winner of this semifinal contest will square off with the victor of the No.8 Duke and Southern Illinois semifinal game for the tournament championship.

Game Information
UCLA vs. Michigan
2K Sports Classic
Place: Madison Square Garden
Time: 6:30PM PT
Radio: AM 1150


Sunday, November 16, 2008

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (11/17)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Four 2009 high school seniors signed national letters of intent to play next fall at UCLA, Head Coach Ben Howland announced today. The heralded recruiting class, ranked in the top 10 nationally, consists of Reeves Nelson, Brendan Lane, Tyler Honeycutt, and Anthony Stover. All four student athletes are from California high schools. UCLA is likely not done with their recruiting of the 2009 class. The Bruins may sign at least one more to the class. Mike Moser, who recently withdrew his verbal commitment to Arizona, has UCLA high on his list but he may not sign until the spring signing period. Bruin Basketball Report 11/12


UConn recruit Durand Scott, a senior guard out of Rice High School in New York, has said he is nearing a decision on what school he’ll attend. If he’s close, he’s not letting on to UConn freshman Kemba Walker, one of his good friends and a former teammate at Rice. “We’re trying to get him to come,” said Walker, who joked he’s been told he’s doing a poor job recruiting. “I always talk to Durand. But I think it’s down to us and Miami. We’ll have to see. We’ll have to wait it out.” Norwich Bulletin 11/10

On Monday, a source told The Daily Progress that Virginia has a legitimate shot of reeling in one of the jewels of the 2009 class — Renardo Sidney, a 6-foot-10, 250-pounder out of Los Angeles’ Fairfax Senior High. Sidney, considered by many to be a “one-and-done” type player — meaning he will likely turn pro after just one college season — is rated as a 5-star recruit by and as the 10th best prospect in the nation. “He’s the best player in the country,” said Franklin Harris, a NYC-based recruiting guru. “The only reason he’s not [rated] No. 1 is because he can be lazy at times and can sometimes be disinterested. High school basketball is just not competitive for him. “I’ve seen him play maybe 10 times. He can score inside, put it on the floor. He’s a prototypical NBA 4-man.” Charlottesville Daily Progress 11/10

The prize of the local high school basketball scene probably won't be delivered on the first day of the NCAA's early-signing period for sports other than football. Renardo Sidney, Fairfax High's star 6-foot-10 center, is not expected to sign today, his father, Renardo Sr., said in a text message Tuesday night....USC was the early favorite to land Sidney, but Renardo Sr. said last month that the Trojans' attention seemed to be wavering. USC landed a commitment from Derrick Williams, a power forward from La Mirada High whose presence could help cushion the blow if the Trojans lose Sidney.Sidney Sr. said the leading pursuers of his son are St. Louis, Kansas State, Kansas, Oregon State, Mississippi State, Washington and Connecticut. Playing professionally in Europe might also be an option. Sidney and his father had said they were not interested in following the path chosen by Brandon Jennings, a standout who played at Compton Dominguez High and Virginia's Oak Hill Academy before bypassing college to play in Italy. However, sources close to the family -- who were not authorized to comment on the situation publicly -- said pro ball lately has emerged as a viable option. LA Times 11/13

Ever heard of a national signing period where nobody signed? If not, get ready, because it's here, folks. And it's wild. Or tame. Or just plain weird.
"It's not normal, especially compared to last year when there seemed to be a bunch of guys flying off the board on signing day," said recruiting analyst Evan Daniels. "There will still be a few guys pop, but it appears the top dogs will wait it out."....Four of the top five products from the Class of 2009 -- namely Derrick Favors, John Wall, Xavier Henry and Renardo Sidney -- seem set to let the period pass without a development, because after pondering their possible college decisions for at least two years they clearly need just a little more time. No sense in rushing things, not in this era. And though I can't honestly say I blame any of them, I do find it all to be a little ridiculous given how pretty much every major decision made in a normal human's life -- which job to take, what person to marry, whether to go with DirecTV or Dish Network, etc. -- is made in less time and with less back-and-forth. CBS Sports 11/13

With the Marbury and Telfair eras long gone, 6-6 senior all-purpose man Lance Stephenson has already built his own. City Champs in all three years of Sir Lancelot’s tenure–and three of the four years prior to his arrival–Lincoln resembles a PSAL version of the 90’s Bulls. This year will be no different for Lincoln and their man-child. Lance is the best high school ball player in New York, as well as one of the Top 10 in the nation, and proves it almost every time he’s on the floor. SLAM 11/13

Michael Snaer thanked coaches from Kansas, Marquette, UCLA, Missouri and Florida State for recruiting him, then ended months of suspense by announcing for FSU one hour into Friday’s two-hour ESPNU College Basketball Signing Day Special. “I think all those schools are really great choices. That makes this decision even harder, but I think the one I’m going to end up playing with is Florida State,” said Snaer, a 6-foot-4 senior shooting guard from Rancho Verde High in Moreno Valley, Calif. “I really like coach (Leonard) Hamilton. I like the atmosphere there and being around all the players and coaches,” added Snaer,’s No. 11-rated player. Lawrence Journal World 11/14

Michael Snaer has the prototypical offensive skill set for a two-guard. His forte is scoring, and he can do it off the dribble or with his smooth jumper -- he can make defenders pay for giving him room; he can hit open or contested shots deep behind the arc. Snaer's shot preparation is tight with very little wasted motion. He comes off screening action ready to shoot, and his great size (6-5) allows him to shoot over defenders. His range extends beyond the 3-point arc, where he seems comfortable shooting in catch-and-shoot situations. He also can take one or two hard dribbles into his jumper. Snaer displays a quick first step on his way to the basket and uses dribble penetration to score or make the assist. As a scoring guard, he is unselfish. This makes him dangerous because he can draw defenders and pass to his teammates for open buckets. ESPN 11/14

The question: What do you think when kids go on TV to sign (letters of intent) and make kind of a big deal? Self's answer: "Recruiting, in large part due to (the media), has gotten totally out of control from a media standpoint and all the recruiting services and scouting services and all that stuff. I'm fine with it. I have no problems with it." I do. I don't think an 18-year-old kid choosing a college should be a nationally televised event. And I don't think the list of schools a 15-year-old kid is considering attending should be news. But I, like Self, am a realist. That's the way it is....I feel bad for basketball recruit Xavier Henry for what probably is going to happen to him when he finally chooses Kansas or Memphis. I realize the message board people are the vocal minority, but there are a lot of them who will think of Henry as a bad person for not choosing their school. They anonymously will write terrible things about him. People who have never met him will attack his character. They will do this because some people say he is the best high school basketball player in America. Instant target. Topeka Capital Journal 11/14

(photo credit: SLAM)


[Video] UCLA's Freshmen vs. Prairie View A&M

Courtesy of Erkki Corpuz