Good article in the LA Times today on MR's emergence in last two games and how this development not surprisingly is a net positive for the program. David Whartons' article describes the friendship between MR and JS:
Roll and Shipp are friends.
"I want him to get better," Roll said. "I also want to keep playing."
So what happens next?
Don't expect public bickering or dissension; both players seem far too easygoing for that. As Shipp said, "For me, it's all about the team."
And how Coach Howland loves both of their contributiions to the team:
Speaking of the coach's perspective, Howland has noticed a difference. In practice, Roll grades out as the team's best post feeder, passing to the big men down low, and has improved on defense. Said Howland: "He's playing the best basketball of his career."
Over the last two games, the Bruins have raised their shooting percentage to above 50%, thanks mainly to point guard Darren Collison and Roll, who is making a team-high 59% of his shots from the field.
The numbers are even more dramatic from three-point range: Bruins 36%, Roll 60%.
Shipp, meanwhile, has struggled to find a rhythm, shooting 43% overall and 20% from long range.
"All my shots are right there, a lot of in-and-outs," Shipp said. "I've just got to keep shooting and I'm sure the percentages will increase."
In the meantime, Howland continues to praise the way Shipp has attacked the basket, getting to the free-throw line consistently. He believes the 6-5 senior is a better defender than Roll when UCLA faces size at the small-forward position, such as 6-7 Damion James of Texas.
Shipp also leads the team with 2.9 defensive rebounds per game. Calculated on a per-minute basis, he averages about one rebound per game better than Roll.
With the Bruins tending toward smaller, quicker players, Howland said, "that is obviously a really important stat."
The coach's sentiments are no secret to Roll, who thinks he must improve in several areas, such as creating shots off the dribble. Yet, after the Wyoming game, he wondered about another option.
The Bruins could go with a smaller lineup, keeping Roll and Shipp with Collison and freshman guard Jrue Holiday on the court at the same time.
No doubt Coach Howland will options depending on the opponents this conference season. Once JS and ML are totally healthy we will be able to go either big or small and have a lot of versatility against different style of opponents. So once again MR's emergence should be celebrated as a net positive, not a dreaded over how CBH will allocate the mins among our Ben Ball warriors.
I still don't want JS to force it today and take his time with his injury. I hope he doesn't rush back and aggravate his injury because we are going to need his leadership and aggressiveness down the stretch. And if we can get a good report on ML by Monday, we will be set for the conference run. Fingers crossed.