2008-09 Hoops season gets started for real tomorrow night when Howland and his warriors take on Prairie View A&M to kick off the 2K Sports Classic Tournament:
Fourth-ranked UCLA begins the basketball season Wednesday against a Prairie View A&M team that comes into Pauley Pavilion as something of a mystery.
The Panthers have yet to play a game, so UCLA must work off videotape from last season and perhaps from recent scrimmages, Coach Ben Howland said. UCLA officials added that the Bruins' first opponent has yet to produce a media guide or even an official roster.
"This time of year is very difficult," Howland said. "You have little to go on in terms of information."
The Bruins' opening games are part of the 2K Sports Classic tournament, with the second round taking place Thursday. With so little turnaround time, the Bruins spent the last few days preparing for potential opponents Weber State and Miami of Ohio. They planned to study Prairie View today. Forward James Keefe wasn't sure where the school is located. (It is in Texas.) "Doesn't matter where they're from, it matters how they play," he said. "We'll figure that out."
Given all the infusion of freshmen talent in this team, it will be imperative for DC and rest of the upperclassmen to come out of the gate with a focused effort. Dohn has a nice profile on Bruin’s pre-season All American, who went all out to get ready this off season:
[W]hen Collison came back, he also decided it wasn't going to be a half-hearted effort. He usually spent offseasons working out near his Rancho Cucamonga home, but he was at UCLA most of this offseason.
He became committed to an offseason weightlifting program with assistant athletic performance coach Wes Walker. Collison added 10 pounds to his 6-foot frame.
With more mass in his shoulders and better strength, the 175-pound Collison should be able to withstand more bumps and pushes when driving to the basket.
"You can definitely tell he's stronger," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "It helps him finishing, going to the basket. It helps him in terms of stamina, being able to play at a high intensity level."
I am sure DC will be ready to go tomorrow. Too bad many of us will not get to see the first game because it is on ESPNU.
Lastly, Bruin Basketball Report has a season preview of 08-09 edition of Ben Ball warriors. And if you haven’t seen it yet, CBH has a fan page up on Facebook (HT to UCngLA).