Ben Ball Warriors get back in action this afternoon against Oregon Ducks (12:33 pst) at McArthur Court. The Ducks with a record of 6-7 are having a tough start to the 08-09 season. They are coming into this game after suffering an ugly loss against Southern Cal. However, it would be extremely unwise for our team and rest of us to feel “comfortable” heading into this afternoon’s game given our recent history against Oregon in Eugene. Those guys ALWAYS get FIRED UP to play UCLA. Whenever, this specific game comes up my mind automatically reverts back to 1994-95 season. We started our Pac-10 schedule with a road trip to Oregon that season which consisted of a heartbreaking loss against the Ducks, resulting in Duck fans rushing the court (almost punching out Edney and O’Bannon). Then there was the tough loss two years ago. Even though we have won three of our last four games in Mac Court (winning seven of last eight overall), the last five games in Eugene have all been decided by eight points or less. So we should expect a tough battle today.
Of course the last time we were up there we won thanks to KL's legendary effort: 26 points and 18 rebounds. We didn’t have LRMAM in that game in which RW poured in 15 points and grabbed seven boards. DC also had 22 points and six assists. While we are not going to have KL and RW, Ducks will also miss Malik Hairston, who led them with 18 points, and dependable forward Marty Leunen, who posted a double-double with 16 points and 10 rebounds. So who will the Ducks have besides Tajuan Porter? Here is a quick capsule from the Sports Network:
Oregon is scoring a respectable 73.8 ppg this season, but the club's output would certainly be higher if not for 41.4 percent shooting from the floor. Defensively, the Ducks are permitting 76.9 ppg to the opposition. Tajuan Porter is the leading scorer for Oregon with 14.2 ppg, but his 37.9 percent shooting is clearly disappointing. Michael Dunigan checks in with 11.2 ppg and 6.0 rpg, while Garrett Sim provides 10.6 ppg. The fourth and final double- digit scorer for the Ducks is LeKendric Longmire with 10.2 ppg. In the ugly loss to USC on Friday, Oregon connected on only 37.1 percent of its field goal attempts, including an 8-of-28 showing from three-point range. The Ducks were also outscored 17-8 from the foul line and outrebounded by a 44-33 margin. Porter scored 12 points in the setback, while Sim and Kamyron Brown netted 10 points apiece.
Oregon is off to a rocky 6-7 start and was beaten soundly by USC 83-62 in its Pac-10 opener. Two of the Ducks' three top scorers are freshmen - guard Garrett Sim (10.6 ppg) and center Michael Dunigan (11.2 ppg) - and the roster is loaded with first- and second-year players.
"Oregon has not played that much zone this year, but they went back to it (against USC) for five or six possessions," Howland said. "I wouldn't be surprised if they do some zoning.
"They had been pressing a lot, and they didn't press at all against 'SC. So we may see them go back to try and be a pressing team, like they were in the non-conference."
Howland is weary of the Ducks, who might have been looking ahead to UCLA (happens all the time when UCLA/Southern Cal travel together for basketball road trips) in their last game:
After watching Oregon shoot only 37% from the field in a loss to USC on Friday, UCLA Coach Ben Howland suspects that the Ducks might come up with a better effort when his team plays at McArthur Court this afternoon.
"They missed shots they're not going to miss against us," Howland said.
The 12th-ranked Bruins still remember their visit to Eugene last season when they needed 26 points and 18 rebounds from Kevin Love to prevail in a close game.
Love is gone to the NBA, but Oregon still has 5-foot-6 guard Tajuan Porter.
"He's so little and quick and athletic," Howland said. "When he gets on a roll, he's very dangerous to guard."
Elsewhere on this game day, Brian Dohn has a piece on emergence of a healthy MR:
Not even the lengthening of the 3-point distance to 20feet, 9 inches is hampering Roll's ability.
"I think he's stronger," Howland said. "He's got more balance. It's easier to shoot. The stronger you are, the less little (bad) habits you pick up. So many kids develop bad habits because they're not strong enough to shoot with range, so they drop the ball or shoot from the wrong side of their head and get funny side spin on it.
"He's a much better shooter than he was as a freshman. He had a little side spin rotation on his shot as a freshman."
After shooting 37 percent in his first two seasons, a foot injury limited Roll to sixgames last season. He redshirted and did not play the final three months.
But with the way Roll is shooting the ball now, it created a lot of what-ifs in relation to last year's 78-63loss to Memphis in the national semifinals.
"He was playing (like he is now) when he got hurt last year early in the season," Howland said.
Uhm, sorry Brian. No one here is going to look back and do “what ifs” re. last season. There is no looking back and no regrets when it comes to UCLA basketball under Ben Howland here on BN. We are excited about what we have in our current team and are looking forward to today’s game. We just hope our guys continue to remain healthy and get better as the season goes along.
Speaking of health, ML will have his knee re-examined again:
Freshman guard Malcolm Lee will have his left knee re-examined by a doctor Monday afternoon.
Though Lee made the trip to Oregon, he did not suit up at Oregon State and is not expected to play today. No one seems to know the exact nature of his injury.
"Nothing shows up on the MRI," Howland said. "I don't know what the next step is."
Hopefully the doctors at UCLA have his situation figured out soon.
We will see you in the game thread that will go up around 11:30 am PST. Let's hope our guys are ready and focused for a fired up Ducks team.