Ben Ball Gameday Roundup: Testing Time

So our huge triple header week – Ben Ball v. Texas, Soccer Final-4 v. UNC & Southern Cal – gets officially started tonight in Austin. Per Dohn’s game reports our players are putting a lot of stock into this marquee non conference matchup early in this season calling it a big test:

"Last year we were more half-court set, and this year we're more up-and-down, motion because of the quickness that we have," Bruins senior center Alfred Aboya said. "This will be a test for us because they're a great team and they love to pressure, and they're playing at home. This game will really tell us about who UCLA is in 2008-09."

Texas plays with pressure defense, capitalizing on teams that dribble too much by extending their defense in half-court situations. The Longhorns also possess length - five of their top eight players are 6-foot-7 or taller - and athleticism.

Bruins senior point guard Darren Collison said the amount of practice time since playing in the Coaches vs. Cancer classic, during which UCLA lost to unranked Michigan two weeks ago, should be evident.

I appreciate the fact that DC and AA2 are saying all the right things in press. However, we also have to keep things in perspective. I think our young team is going to evolve a lot as we go through rest of this season. I will keep harping back to 2005-06 when we suffered losses against California and Washington at Pauley during first half of the season. I fully expect tough games like that early this season and this seems to be one of the games in which we are going to be clear underdogs.

One of the major adjustments our five freshmen will go through this season is learning to play in a hostile college road game. We can’t expect all freshmen to put on Kevin Love at Oregon performance in his first true collegiate road trip. For kids like JH and ML tonight could be an eye opening experience:

For freshmen such as Jrue Holiday and Malcolm Lee, this will be the first real taste of college basketball on the road. Though Texas fans are still focused on football, Frank Erwin Center should be loud.

"These young guys are going to learn what it's like to play in a hostile situation," junior swingman Michael Roll said. "And we're obviously going to have that during the Pac-10 season."

The upperclassmen have been slipping hints to the newcomers: Ignore the taunts. Listen harder to calls from teammates.

FYI Texas fans are fired up for this home game and are planning to arrive early and be as raucous as they can be.

Hopefully our guys are ready for this mega test. The game is scheduled to start around 6 pm PST on ESPN2. Our game thread will go up about half an hour before the tip-off.


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