Saturday, December 06, 2008

UCLA vs. Cal State Northridge - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA looks to rebound when it faces Cal State Northridge (CSUN) on Sunday night at Pauley Pavilion.

The Bruins (4-2) were edged on Thursday by Texas, 68-64, in a Pac-10/Big 12 Classic match-up. Darren Collison scored 22 points but it wasn't enough to overcome an experienced Longhorn team led by A.J. Abrams's 31 points.

UCLA has a number of things to work on during this last stretch of the non-conference schedule.

The team is still looking for an identity on offense. Last week the Bruins started working on inserting a motion offense scheme but it was completely absent in the Texas game. Still too much dribbling, not enough passing, and too much individual effort for a team that does not have many players who can create offensive shots for themselves, sans Darren Collison.

Defensively the Bruins have been inconsistent in their effort. More troubling, the team has not found the lock-down defender its been able to depend on the past few seasons. There is no Arron Afflao, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, or Russell Westbrook to stop the opponent's best offensive option. Freshman Jrue Holiday has the potential but he'll need more seasoning and experience before he reaches that level.

The next few non-conference games will be a good time for all the freshmen to integrate themselves further into the offense . Not unexpectedly, they've all generally been inconsistent in their effort and play thus far. However, the team will need them in the regular rotation if they expect to go far in the NCAA tournament.

It will also be interesting to see if veteran role players like Michael Roll will see more minutes. Roll, who is returning from offseason foot surgery, is playing well this year but is only averaging 15.3 minutes per game despite shooting 52.2% from the field and a career-best 53.3% from three-point land. UCLA could definitely use Roll's outside shooting to open up the paint.

This will be the sixth meeting between UCLA and CSUN. The Matadors have a "one-game" winning streak against the Bruins coming into the game. In 2000 CSUN upset a then No. 15 Steve Lavin-coached UCLA team, 78-74. That Bruin team had a number of NBA-bound players including Earl Watson, Matt Barnes, and Dan Gadzuric.

Overall it will be the sixth meeting between the two schools in basketball with the Bruins holding a 4-1 edge.

CSUN (1-5) was chosen by the media and Big West coaches to win the Big West conference title this season. However the Matadors have struggled in non-conference play thus far including losses to Cal State Bakersfield, Rider, Drexel, and New Mexico. Earlier in November CSUN lost to Stanford in Palo Alto, 103-85.

The Matadors have struggled with turnovers committing an average of 22 per game. Their troubles have been compounded by their lack of offensive firepower. As a team they are shooting just 41.8% from the field and 29% on three-pointers.

On the other side of the court, CSUN is a solid defensive team that is holding opponents to just 39.8% field goal shooting. Last season they led the Big West Conference in defensive field goal shooting.

The team is an experienced squad that returns four of its top six scorers from last season. They also added freshman guard, Dallas Rutherford, a teammate of Jrue Holiday at Campbell Hall last season. Rutherford has seen limited action so far averaging just 5.8 minutes a game.

CSUN is led in scoring by forward Willie Galick (6'8, 225, Jr). The red-shirt junior is averaging 11.3 points and 5.7 rebounds. A solid post player who can get to the basket, he's shooting 60.5% from the floor.

Forward Tremaine Townsend (6'9, 225, Senior) is potentially a good scorer. He recorded a season-high 20 points against Rider and is second in scoring for CSUN at 11.0 a game. He also leads the team in rebounding with 7.0 a contest.

Josh Jenkins (5'10, 185, Sr) is the team's floor general. He is averaging 10.3 points and 5.2 assists per game. He's struggled with taking care of the ball this season committing over six turnovers per contest. He won't get a breather in this game with Darren Collison hounding his every move.

Guard Deon Tresvant (6'0, 170, Sr) is the team's best long range threat although he's hitting on just a 25% clip from beyond the arc. Tresvant is averaging 9.3 points per game.

Also starting on the wing is Rob Haynes (6'4, 185, Sr). Haynes is averaging 8.7 points and 4.0 rebounds.

UCLA will win this game going away, however, this young Bruin team needs to use this game as well as the remaining non-conference games to ready themselves for the upcoming tough Pac-10 season.

BBR Injury Update: Junior guard Mustafa Abdul-Hamid tore a ligament in his right wrist in practice earlier yesterday and will follow-up with a hand and wrist specialist on Dec. 12. He will miss the Bruins’ game against CSUN.

Freshman Drew Gordon suffered a sprained left wrist after taking a charge in the first half at Texas. X-Rays and MRIs were both negative and he should be available for the CSUN game.

Game Information

Date: Dec. 7, 2008

Time: 7:30 PM PT

Place: Pauley Pavilion (12,819)

TV: FSN Prime Ticket
Radio: AM 1150

Thursday, December 04, 2008

Vets Keep It Close But Bruins Still Fall in Texas

By Bruin Basketball Report

Box Score

UCLA kept the game close but couldn't pull it out in Austin as the Texas Longhorns beat the Bruins for the second consecutive year, 68-64, in a Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Classic match-up.

In the team's first road game of the year, the Bruin upperclassmen stepped it up and almost helped the team pull out a win.

On the other hand, perhaps it can be viewed that the Bruin freshmen used this game as a building block for the rest of the season.

Seniors Darren Collison scored a team-high 22 points and Josh Shipp chipped in 15 points to lead the Bruins in scoring. Alfred Aboya also added 7 points plus grabbed a team-high 11 rebounds while junior James Keefe played a solid game recording 8 points on 3 of 4 shooting including 2 of 2 on three pointers.

In contrast the five Bruin freshmen combined for a total of just 3 points 6 rebounds in a total of 48 minutes of play.

UCLA hung tough the entire game as the lead see-sawed throughout the contest. But after six consecutive points by Texas's A.J Abrams, the Longhorns went into halftime with a 38-29 lead.

But the Bruins came storming out in the second half with consecutive jumpers by Keefe, Shipp, and Collison to cut the lead to just five. After another Collison jumper with 13 minutes remaining the Bruins finally took the lead 47-46.

Towards the final minutes of the game the Bruin offense seemed to stagnate with way too much one-on-one play specifically too much dribbling by Darren Collison. In the final critical five minutes of the game, the Bruins were outscored 8-2.

Jrue Holiday struggled the entire game offensively and it appeared a more prudent move would have been to replace him with Michael Roll down the stretch especially when the Bruins needed a critical three to tie the game. Holiday finished shooting 1 of 6 from the field and 0 of 3 on three-pointers.

In his defense, Holiday was given the tough assignment of guarding A.J Abrams who ended up torching him for 31 points. A good tough lesson for Holiday.

With the loss the Bruins now fall to 4-2 on the season. They will host Cal State Northridge on Sunday night at Pauley Pavilion.

(photo credit: AP)

Wednesday, December 03, 2008

UCLA vs. Texas - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

The young Bruins travel to Austin to face the No.8 ranked Texas Longhorns on Thursday. It will be the team's first road game of the year on an opponent's home floor.

This is the second year of the Pac-10/Big 12 Hardwood Series. Last season, the Longhorns beat the Bruins 63-61 at Pauley Pavilion on a slam dunk off a missed shot at the end of the game. Texas' D.J Augustin threw up an off balance airball from the baseline as time was running out but forward Damion James grabbed the ball and slammed it through for the win.

The Longhorns' (5-1) only blemish this young season was a tough loss to a good Notre Dame team, 81-80, in the Maui Classic. Texas beat the Oregon Ducks, 70-57, in the consolation game of the tournament. Last week they beat Rice, 77-56, at home in Austin

UCLA is ranked No.9/12 in the polls this week. The Bruins suffered their only loss of the season when it was upset by Michigan two weeks ago in the 2K Sports Classic in New York. However the Bruins have rebounded with consecutive wins against Southern Illinois and Florida International University.

Despite losing point-guard star D.J Augustin to the NBA last summer, the Longhorns return a deep and solid veteran squad.

The Longhorns are a big and athletic squad. They play an aggressive man-to-man defense and apply tough pressure on the ball on the perimeter. They allow just 34% shooting from the field while out-rebounding opponents by 8.2 caroms per game.

On offense Texas shoots 46.6% from the field and a respectable 36% from beyond the arc. The Longhorns are equipped with numerous weapons on the floor.

With Augustin gone, the point-guard duties have been shared by starters A.J Abrams (Sr, 5'11, 160) and Justin Mason (Jr, 6'2, 195).

Abrams is not a natural point-guard and has had to adjust to his new role. He is the team's leading scorer averaging 15.8 points but just 1.8 assists. An outside bomber, Abrams is shooting 42.2% on three-pointers while at the same time hitting on just 42.0% from the field.

Mason is a muscular and powerful guard who can hit from outside and drive strong to the hoop. He is averaging 9.8 points and 4.7 assists and leads the team in free throw attemps (23). A solid defender, Mason averages 2.1 steals per game.

Darren Collison, who was just returning from an injury in last year's match-up, will be matched up Abrams. Holiday will take care of Mason to start the contest, it will be a good test for the young Bruin freshman. Holiday is coming off a 20 point performance against FIU last week.

Foward Damion James (Jr, 6'7, 222) terrorized UCLA last year scoring a game-high 19 points primarily against a pretty good defender named Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

Of course the Bruins no longer have Mbah a Moute and instead will assign senior Josh Shipp to stop James. This will be a tough match-up for Shipp who is not considered a defensive stopper but he probably matches up best physically against James.

James is a physical and athletic wing who can carry a team when he gets it going. At 6'7 he is big enough to post up smaller players and quick and athletic enough to go score around bigger defenders. He is averaging 14.5 points and grabbing a team-high 8.0 rebounds a game.

At the power forward spot is Connor Atchley (Sr, 6'11, 230). A big man who can hit from the outside, he's shooting over 46% from beyond the arc. Atchley can also score from inside, he's averaging 9.8 points and grabbing 4.7 rebounds per game.

James Keefe will match-up initially against Atchley. Bruins are still waiting for Keefe to have a break-out game this season. The team could definitely use a strong showing by Keefe in this tough road game match-up.

At center the Longhorns start big Dexter Pittman (Jr, 6-10, 290) but he averages just 9.5 minutes a game. Sophomore Gary Johnson (So, 6'6, 230) gets most of his minutes. Off the bench, Johnson is a bruising player who averages 10.8 points and 7.8 rebounds in 23.7 minutes a game.

Pittman is a space eater inside. He is averaging 6.3 points, 3.7 rebounds, and 2.0 blocks a game.

Others coming off the bench with key roles for Texas are guards Ward Varez (Fr, 6'2, 190) and Dogus Balbay (So, 6'0, 175), and forward Clint Chapman (So, 6'10, 235).

This young Bruin team will be an underdog against the veteran Longhorns. It will be especially interesting to watch how the UCLA freshmen react to the challenge of a top Division I team on a hostile court. The freshmen will need to maintain their composure and stay aggressive.

If UCLA expects to pull out a victory, their three seniors, Collison, Shipp, and Aboya will need to come up big on both ends of the floor. The Longhorns are a big and physical team, and the Bruins will need to match their energy and more if they expect a win.

Expect a slugfest in Austin.

Game Information

Date: December 4, 2008

Time: 6:00 PM PT

Place: Frank Erwin Center, TX


Sunday, November 30, 2008

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (12/1)

By Bruin Basketball Report

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday.


Neither rain nor traffic nor the threat of a stormy night was going to prevent UCLA Coach Ben Howland from attending Tuesday night's scrimmage between Sylmar and L.A. Windward that featured two future Bruin players, 6-foot-8 Tyler Honeycutt of Sylmar and 6-10 Anthony Stover of Windward. And what a show they delivered. Stover, looking much improved from his days at La Canada Renaissance, scored 25 points, had nine blocked shots and sent down five dunks. Honeycutt had 20 points, four blocked shots and four dunks. Both pulled down rebounds in double figures. At one point, Stover had a dunk, Honeycutt responded with a dunk and Stover came back with another dunk. Windward won the game, 59-54, despite playing without Michigan-bound Darius Morris. Howland said he attended to support the two players who signed with UCLA earlier this month. But he added, "I'm excited about both of them. Anthony is active and blocking shots. Tyler is skilled and very explosive. They're both long." LA Times 11/25

Mater Dei (Santa Ana, Calif.): Coach Gary McKnight (797-74 and seven state titles in 26 years) is on the verge of recording his 800th victory for the Monarchs and it won’t take long because he returns four starters from a 35-1 team which won its second consecutive Division II state title. All five starters are Division I college talents...The fifth starter, 6-5 junior UCLA commitment Tyler Lamb, averaged 27 points, nine rebounds and five assists at Ontario Colony. Max Preps 11/26


Seneca 75 - J.L. Mann 74: J.L. Mann was led in scoring by Damien Leonard, ranked as the No. 4 shooting guard in the Class of 2011 by, who finished the night with 26 points. Upstate Today 11/26

Westchester will be one of the favorites to win this season's City title. The team has an outstanding guard duo in senior Dominique O'Connor and junior Jordin Mayes. The Comets play host to their own tournament this week, with Woodland Hills Taft, Compton Dominguez and Los Angeles Windward among the teams entered. LA Times 11/30

(photo credit: LA Times)