(UPDATED) Ben Ball Game Day Roundup: Focusing On Details

As mentioned yesterday, Ben Ball warriors start their defense of the Pac-10 championship with a date with the Oregon State Beavers tonight at the Gil Coloseum. The tipoff is scheduled for 7:33 pm PST (and I believe the game will be shown on FSN West).

Oregon State of course is trying desperately to orchestrate a program turn around their new head coach Craig Robinson. They have experienced some early success as they are coming into this game on a 4 game winning streak, their longest winning streak in 4 seasons. One of the key reasons for their win streak has be the return of guard Calvin Hayes. From Sportsline.com:

Calvin Haynes, who missed the Beavers' first six games due to academic issues, averaged 17.0 points in his first three games back but continues to come off the bench.

PLAYER ROTATION
Usual starters -- F Daniel Deane, F Omari Johnson, C Roeland Schaftenaar, G Rickey Claitt, G Seth Tarver. Key subs -- G Josh Tarver; G Lathen Wallace; G Calvin Haynes.

More notes from the Sports Network:

Calvin Haynes has only played four games for Oregon State this season, but has proven to be a big-time performer in those contests. Haynes is generating 18.8 ppg on 64.1 percent shooting from the floor, including 10-of-18 from three- point range. Omari Johnson provides 11.3 ppg as the only other double-digit scorer in the lineup for the Beavers, who are generating 64.3 ppg on 49.1 percent field goal efficiency. Defensively, they have managed to limit foes to 61.2 ppg on 41.9 percent shooting from the floor. Haynes exploded for 24 points off the bench to lead the Beavers to victory versus Seattle on Monday. Daniel Deane pitched in 10 points for Oregon State, which earned a 20-6 edge in points from the foul line despite a lackluster 60.6 percent shooting effort from the charity stripe.

Both Tarver and Claitt have decent A/T numbers from the backcourt, which jive with Coach Howland’s comments about the Beavers being a patient and deliberate team. They will try to lull the Bruins to sleep by slowing down the tempo [See Kenpom.com].

David Wharton from the LA Times has a great article on the Ben Ball warriors which describes Coach Howland’s attention to details. Wharton lists the daily reminders Coach Howland serves up to the Ben Ball warriors, which essentially are keys to our success tonight and rest of the season:

* Hedging screens: If you're on defense and your man sets a ball screen, it is your responsibility to jump out on the dribbler until your teammate fights through the screen. Then you scramble back to the man you're guarding.

"That means you keep pressure on the ball," center Alfred Aboya said. "The opponent can't really make a pass because there's that constant pressure."

* Stay in front of your man: No gimmicky zones or junk defenses for Howland. His team plays man to man, working to pressure the ball, stop penetration off the dribble and contest every shot.

"Just to compete," guard Jrue Holiday said. "Just to play hard."

* The jump-stop: This is such an emphasis for guards that freshman Jerime Anderson ranked it third, fourth and fifth on the daily list.

Howland wants his dribblers to come to a stop with their feet planted. He believes that too many players come down the court, leave the ground, and then look to pass, which can lead to turnovers.

* Rebound: This might seem to be a no-brainer, but with Kevin Love and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute gone to the NBA, the coach believes that hitting the boards is crucial to his team's chances this season.

This message extends beyond the big men. Josh Shipp, a 6-foot-5 senior who plays on the wing, ranks among the Bruins' top defensive rebounders, and Holiday is averaging 4.2 rebounds.

* Transition defense: The guards have to get back and the big men hustle after them, looking to deny easy baskets.

"If you're not doing it right, then he will make sure you're doing it right," Gordon said. "He doesn't just kind of blow it off and move on to the next thing. He doesn't care if it takes up all practice, as long as you get it right."

There are other points of emphasis. Guards must take care of the ball, big men double-team the post and everyone blocks out.

There are other points of emphasis. Guards must take care of the ball, big men double-team the post and everyone blocks out.

Given that college players can be adept at tuning out their coaches, Howland gets his message across for one simple reason. As Collison explained: "We've been to the Final Four three consecutive times."

Can’t get any more simple than that.

I think we will also have to keep our eyes on freshmen – JH, DG, JA and JM – tonight. ML will probably not be seeing any action tonight or against Oregon (unless he makes a dramatic recovery) even though he is traveling with the team this weekend. Hopefully the others will perform a little better than their last true road trip when they went down to Austin to take on Texas. As Jill Painter in the Daily News notes, the freshmen have done a better job of getting comfortable since the start of the season:

"They've done well," Howland said. "The freshman class has done some good things. I'm disappointed Malcolm Lee is injured right now. He was really coming on the last two games. When Josh (Shipp) was out he was getting more minutes and really taking advantage of them. He was showing great strides.

"I think Jrue Holiday has shown a lot of progress. I think Drew Gordon has played well. I think Jerime's first half in the last game, he gave us a good spark off the bench. He's been working hard. Bobo (Morgan) is playing limited minutes, but he's been working hard. He's still striving to get in the kind of shape he needs to be in to play."

The freshman class is a work in progress and how it goes might determine how far UCLA goes this season.

"Everyone has had their struggles and triumphs," Anderson said. "There's definitely a learning curve for all of us. We thought we could come in and make an immediate impact, but it doesn't always go as planned. We're getting more comfortable."

Hopefully they are focused and locked in tonight.

As mentioned above tipoff is scheduled for 7:33 pm PST. The game thread will go up about an hour before the start of the game. See you then.

GO BRUINS.

UPDATE (N): For more on tonight's game from the Oregon State pov make sure to check out Jake's preview over at Building The Dam. GO BRUINS.

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