Friday, November 20, 2009

Bruins Get It Together, Pull Away For Victory Over CSUB

By Bruin Basketball Report

The young UCLA Bruins grew up just enough to avoid a second consecutive loss.

Drew Gordon led five players in double figures with 19 points and UCLA overcame upstart Cal State Bakersfield and the suspension of starter Nikola Dragovic for a 75-64 victory Friday night.

The Bruins trailed for all but the opening minute of the first half, falling behind by 11 points, before taking control over the final 20 minutes. They were stunned in double overtime by Cal State Fullerton in their opener Monday night, ending a 37-game home winning streak against unranked nonconference opponents.

"We wanted to make sure we didn't have a repeat of last time," Gordon said. "We believed in ourselves we could still do it, still pull it out."

Michael Roll added 12 points and a career-high six assists, and Malcolm Lee, Jerime Anderson and James Keefe, who started in place of Dragovic, scored 10 points each.

Trent Blakley and Stephon Carter had 15 points each and Donovan Bragg 10 for the Roadrunners (1-2), who had never played the Bruins before but showed no nerves in the first half.

"I'm really proud of the kids and the way they competed," Bakersfield coach Keith Brown said. "I still can't minimize the role that fatigue played down the stretch. We made our fair share of mistakes and it was tough to stick with them by the end."

The young Bruins, hard hit by the departure of NBA-bound players, appeared on their way to starting the season 0-2 for the first time since 2002-03 the way they played in the first half.

Using an effective zone it hadn't employed in its first two games, Bakersfield twice led by 11, the second time on Santwon Latunde's rebound and follow of a missed shot that made it 31-20 late in the half.

UCLA again struggled to make free throws - Lee missed two to start the game - but cobbled together a 14-4 run to tie it at 35 heading into the break. Gordon scored six points in the spurt.

"We got off to a rocky start," coach Ben Howland said. "Lee had two free throws and we missed both, Jerime had a wide-open layup that rimmed out. We dug ourselves a hole."

Those problems were in addition to Dragovic's suspension, which was announced in a school statement minutes before tip-off. He was arrested earlier Friday and charged with felony assault by the Los Angeles district attorney's office.

The school said the 21-year-old senior from Belgrade, Serbia, was involved in an incident last month at a concert in Hollywood. Dragovic was booked and released from jail on $30,000 bail late Friday. It marked Dragovic's second arrest in less than a year, although charges weren't filed in a case involving misdemeanor battery last November.

"This is a second incident and that will be taken into account," said coach Ben Howland, adding that he will decide Dragovic's status on the team after finding out more. "Nikola is our only returning starter. We're a very young team and we're short-handed. I reallly feel bad for our team."

The Bruins settled down in the second half, opening on a 25-7 run that gave them a 60-42 lead. Anderson and Roll hit consecutive 3s while Gordon had four in a row, and UCLA never looked back. The Bruins shot 59 percent and took 30 less shots than they did while hitting 31 percent in the loss to Fullerton.

"We're getting more comfortable with each other as each day goes along," Anderson said. "It's going to take a while to find our identity."

(UCLA Athletics)

Dragovic Suspended After Arrest

By the Associated Press

UCLA starting forward Nikola Dragovic was suspended for the Bruins' game against Cal State-Bakersfield after his arrest.

A statement distributed by a team spokesman just before tip-off Friday night said Dragovic was arrested earlier in the day and charged with felony assault by the Los Angeles district attorney's office.

The school says the senior from Belgrade, Serbia, was involved in an incident last month at a concert in Hollywood. Dragovic filed a report with campus police the following week.

After an investigation, the district attorney's office filed the felony charge against Dragovic, who found out about it Friday and turned himself in to university and Los Angeles police.

Coach Ben Howland said in the statement that Dragovic told him about the incident when it happened, but no one knew that charges would be filed.

The school says Dragovic's status for future games will be decided as more information becomes available.

James Keefe started in place of Dragovic on Friday night.

UCLA vs. Cal State University Bakersfield - Game Preview

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA looks for its first win of the 2009-10 season when it plays host tonight to the Roadrunners of Cal State University Bakersfield.

This is the first-ever meeting between CSUB and UCLA in men's basketball. The Roadrunners take to the court with a 1-1 record, picking up their first win of the season last Tuesday in a 58-51 final against Utah Valley University. 

The UCLA Bruins lost the first home and season
opener of the Ben Howland era, dropping a 68-
65 decision in double overtime to Cal State
Fullerton last Monday.

The loss
snapped UCLA’s 37-game home winning streak
over unranked nonconference teams. It also
snapped UCLA’s 12-game home winning streak
over nonconference foes.

Tipoff for Friday's game is 7:30  PM at Pauley Pavilion. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Tyler Lamb and Josh Smith Sign NLI to Play at UCLA

By Bruin Basketball Report

UCLA head coach Ben Howland announced today the signing of Tyler Lamb and Josh Smith to National Letters of Intent to attend UCLA in the fall of 2010. 

The Bruins’ early signing class consists of Lamb, a 6-foot-4-inch, 195-pound guard out of Santa Ana, Calif., and Mater Dei High School and Smith, a 6-foot-10-inch, 280-pound center from Kent, Wash., and Kentwood High School. 

Lamb helped the Monarchs to a 31-2 overall record as a junior in 2008-09 for head coach Gary McKnight. Mater Dei won the Trinity League with a 10-0 mark and finished the year ranked No. 3 in the state and No. 12 in the nation. 

”I’m really excited about Tyler Lamb joining our basketball program and family,” Howland said. “He’s very athletic and is going to be an outstanding player that can play multiple positions. He is a very good defensive player and has been a part of one of the best high school programs in the country. He has received excellent coaching, which will help to prepare him in making the transition to high major college basketball. He has an excellent work ethic, comes from a great family, and I think he’ll have a great career here at UCLA.” 

Lamb averaged 14.0 points, 4.6 rebounds, 3.5 assists, 3.3 steals (led the team) and 1.1 blocks per game (led the team) last year. He was a two-year starter at Colony High School (Ontario, Calif.) where he averaged 27.0 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.3 steals and 4.8 assists per game as a sophomore. He is rated as the No. 10 shooting guard and the No. 38 overall recruit in the country by ESPN. He was rated the No. 1 shooting guard in the state, the No. 8 shooting guard in the country and the No. 41 overall recruit by Lamb was also rated the No. 14 shooting guard and No. 60 overall recruit by and finished third in the voting for the Press-Telegram’s 31st Best in the West. 

Smith averaged 26.8 points and 13.5 rebounds per game (school record) last year at Kentwood High School, leading the Conquerors to a 19-7 record in each of the past two seasons for head coach Michael Angelidis. In 2008-09, Kentwood won the tough SPSL North League Championship. 

“I’m absolutely elated to have Josh Smith attending UCLA,” Howland said. “He is one of the best big men in the country. This was a three-year process recruiting him and we got to know Josh and his family very well. He’s a great player and a great person. He has outstanding hands and catches everything. He is one of the few players that is very effective and comfortable with his back to the basket. He is an outstanding athlete and has good leaping ability and quick feet for his size. He has a very bright future ahead of him and he’ll make an immediate impact at UCLA.” 

Smith also averaged 21.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 3.8 blocks per game as a sophomore while shooting a school-record 74.0 percent from the field. He also averaged 14.4 points per game as a freshman at Kentwood High. He is rated the No. 1 center and No. 10 overall recruit in the country by ESPN. He is also rated the No. 3 center in the country and the No. 19 overall recruit by rated Smith as the No. 4 center and No. 13 overall recruit in the country and he finished second in the voting for the Press-Telegram’s 31st Best in the West. 

Monday, November 16, 2009

UCLA Folds In Double-Overtime Against CS Fullerton

By Bruin Basketball Report

Aaron Thompson scored a career-high 22 points and Cal State Fullerton upset UCLA 68-65 in double overtime Monday night, snapping a nine-game losing streak against the Bruins.

Gerard Anderson added 14 points and Jacques Streeter 11 for the Titans (1-1), who blew a 10-point lead in the second half but rallied to outscore UCLA 8-5 in the second overtime.

Michael Roll and Malcolm Lee scored 17 points each for the Bruins (0-1), who lost a season opener for the first time since coach Steve Lavin’s final season in 2002-03, when San Diego won in overtime.

The Titans were 0-9 against UCLA, all at Pauley Pavilion, which drew 6,145 for a game that began at 9 p.m. PST. It was the start of ESPN televising 24 consecutive hours of college basketball games around the country.

(UCLA Athletics)

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Bruin Recruiting: Prep News Roundup (11/16)

By Bruin Basketball Report 

Prep News Roundup is published every Monday 


Kentwood HS center Josh Smith called UCLA Coach Ben Howland to give him his verbal commitment to play at UCLA next season. The 6'9 270 lb post man had been deciding between UCLA and Washington.  He can not sign officially with the Bruins until the early signing period which begins on Wednesday, November 11. Bruin Basketball Report 11/10

Josh Smith, the top-ranked center in the ESPNU 100 who couldn't make a layup as a fifth grader, told on Tuesday he's headed to UCLA. Smith, the 6-foot-10, 270-pound post of Kentwood High in Covington, Wash., chose the Bruins over Pac-10 rival Washington. "In the end, the chance of winning a national championship and the tradition helped make up my mind," Smith said. "We'll have a young team [in 2010] but we're going to be good." ESPN 11/10


Detroit Country Day School point guard Ray McCallum text messaged me tonight to let it be known that he will not announce his decision on a certain date this week (the November signing period starts Wednesday). “No, everyone keeps asking,” he said. He finished with an “LOL” (laughing out loud). His decision can happen at anytime: tomorrow, next weekend or, perhaps, next spring. Tucson Citizen 11/9

The Sooners are recruiting other nationally-touted prospects including guards Doron Lamb and Ray McCallum, whose father was an assistant at OU from 2004-2006. The Sooners are also pursuing forwards Terrence Jones and Harrison Barnes. Barnes, who is from Ames, Iowa, is widely considered the nation's top recruit. He's expected to announce who he will sign with on an ESPNU Signing Day Special Friday. Norman Transcript 11/10

What's the biggest story of this early signing period? Harrison Barnes' pending decision, I guess. But what we'll likely be talking about when we close the period next Wednesday isn't who signed as much as who didn't sign -- namely Brandon Knight, Terrence Jones and Jelan Kendrick. All together, nine of the top 25 prospects at -- Knight, Jones and Kendrick are ranked No. 1, No. 12 and No. 16 -- are expected to remain uncommitted until the late period that runs from April 14 to May 19. CBS Sports 11/12

"I possibly have one more, depending on what happens with a lot of things," Izzo said. "I guess, in some ways, I'd say I'm not done." MSU continues to recruit Trey Zeigler, a shooting guard from Mount Pleasant who is expected to decide in the spring. Michigan, UCLA and Central Michigan - where Trey's father, Ernie, is the head coach - also are in pursuit. Green and White 11/12

In a press conference from his high school that was televised on ESPNU, Harrison Barnes had laminated signs placed in front of the podium bearing the logos of his finalists: Iowa State, UCLA, North Carolina, Duke, Oklahoma and Kansas. So while you were expecting him to make the big reveal by holding up one of the signs or breaking out a cap from under the desk, Barnes said he was going to announce his choice by hitting up his future coach on Skype. There appeared to be some technical difficulties and the total execution was kind of a flop — it seems every time I see someone try to Skype, it never goes smoothly — but eventually Barnes placed his call and Roy Williams popped up on the screen. Barnes gives UNC the top-rated recruiting class for 2010, as he joins two-guard Reggie Bullock (who plays at Jerry Stackhouse’s old school, Kinston H.S. in North Carolina) and Virginia point guard Kendall Marshall in committing to the Tar Heels on National Signing Day. DIME Magazine 11/13

North Carolina coach Roy Williams says the Tar Heels recruited prep star Harrison Barnesharder than anyone in his career. Barnes, a 6-foot-7 swingman, signed with the Tar Heels on Friday, choosing North Carolina from six schools that included national powers Kansas and UCLA along with rival Duke. Williams says the defending national champions spent about 16 months pursuing Barnes, who announced his decision by contacting Williams through an internet video conference call on a nationally televised broadcast. Sports Illustrated 11/14

Jelan Kendrick came to Memphis in July for a part-time stint with the city's top AAU program, and the result was a championship. Now, the 6-6 guard from Marietta, Ga., is coming back with intentions to win another one.  In a surprising move Saturday, Kendrick called an impromptu press conference to announce that he had signed a national letter of intent with Memphis, becoming the third top-20 player to join Josh Pastner's 2010 recruiting class. "I'm going to Memphis to help us win a national championship and be the No. 1 recruiting class in America," Kendrick said. "Josh really sold me on the dream of making Memphis one of the top powerhouses in the country and how we could accomplish that." Commercial Appeal 11/14