Ben Ball Game Day Roundup

While Arizona players and coaches have taking pot shots at the UCLA program the whole season, Coach Howland is not taking the bait. Pucin in the LA Times has Howland's comments on Lute Olson's program:

There have been quotes from the Arizona basketball program this season that seemed particularly phrased to insult UCLA.

Earlier in the season sophomore forward Marcus Williams said, "We're the standard. I don't think UCLA is the standard."

And last week, during a discussion with local media, Arizona Coach Lute Olson was quoted as saying, "I hope [USC] doesn't change. I hope UCLA stays a half-court team. It gives us a better shot at recruiting kids. Kids like the wide-open style. I'd encourage [UCLA and USC] to stay half-court oriented." [...]

Ben Howland said he took no offense at Olson's comments.

"Lute Olson is a Hall of Fame coach, one of the greatest coaches in the history of the game," the UCLA coach said. "I don't know how the comment was said, but Lute is a great coach, a great person, he does it with class. I have nothing but great respect for him."
It is amazing to me how this guy continues to handle himself with such poise and class, despite all the jealous potshots he takes as the head coach of Pac-10's regal basketball program from jealous coaches around the conference. Anyways to be fair to Olson, Pucin goes on to mention how Olson thinks Bruins are still on track to be the number 1 seed out West. Thanks Lute.

Well if the Bruins want to stay on course to be the number 1 seed they need a win today. And for that to happen they obviously need either a better performance or reduced minutes from Josh Shipp. OC Register writes about Shipp's troubles. He has some interesting comments from Howland who is sticking by his swingman:
But he is confident that Shipp can be one of them, even though he has failed to exceed his season average of 12.8 points in his past nine games. The last time he scored 13 or more was Jan. 6 in a loss at Oregon, after which he was averaging 14.7 per game.

"You know, he really had two of his best practices of the year on Monday and Tuesday and really shot it great in both practices, so I'm confident that he's going to shoot it well," Howland said. "I think he's fine. The bottom line is Josh is about winning first, first and foremost. He'll have a good feeling about playing here because last year he had a big game here - 14 (points) and 8 (rebounds) in that game, one of his four games he played in.

"But, again, Josh is tantamount to our success. Having him out there has been a key to our success all year long."

Shipp, who hit 6 of 13 three-point attempts last season before going down because of pain in his surgically repaired right hip, said he doesn't feel too far off. But the missed three-pointers against Arizona State came on clean looks at the basket.

Against Arizona - tied with Oregon for fifth place in the Pac-10 - he should get a few more open shots. The Wildcats are ninth in the Pac-10 in scoring defense, sixth in field-goal percentage defense and seventh in three-point field-goal percentage.

"I feel comfortable. I mean, they're all right there," Shipp said. "There are a lot of in and outs, I've just got to get in the gym and work on that."
Well I hope Shipp is feeling comfortable today. Honestly this is one area I have not understood Coach Howland all season. I don't understand why he hasn't gone to bench earlier (until the second half of ASU when he finally pulled Shipp early) when Shipp was struggling in the game. Given Coach Howland's track record obviously he deserves a lot of deference. For Shipp's sake, I hope he rewards his coach for having such faith in him with an inspiring performance today.

We will have the game thread up in a bit.

GO BRUINS.
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