Well last week we all almost had a pre-season heart attack during the first exhibition game of 2009-10 Ben Ball season. Frankly it wasn't too big of a surprise to me considering we are basically fielding a brand new team with no prior experience and to add to that we were playing without our starting pg, sg and a freshman forward who we might be counting on this season.
I am not sure if we are going to be able to breathe any easier tomorrow going up against a Humboldt State team which is apparently ranked number 21 in the National Association of Basketball Coaches Div. II poll. As insomniac pointed out in the fanshots it looks like we are going to be without TH for 3 to 4 weeks due to a "stress reaction" to his right tibia. It's a tough start for the freshman but I rather have the coaches and trainers use as much caution as possible given how he has dealt with injury issues over the summer. CBH is counting on TH to be back:
"It's just another piece of adversity to deal with," Howland said. "You're always going to have adversity. We seem to have more than our fair share. He had such a tough time this summer not being able to do anything. He's done everything we've asked him to do. I think he's made good strides and worked real hard.
"I'm counting on him being back, hopefully not too long away."
UCLA forward Brendan Lane was making his way back from an ankle sprain, finally getting back to practice over the weekend, when he hit another roadblock.
The freshman called in this morning to say that he was feeling sick and throwing up.
"That poor kid has had his fair share of adversity," Coach Ben Howland said to reporters today.
Sophomore point guard Jerime Anderson was back in practice last week after a groin pull sidelined him for all of the early preseason camp, and though he did not play in the team's 62-61 exhibition win over Concordia, he is expected to start tomorrow against Humboldt State in the Bruins' last exhibition game.
Senior guard Michael Roll was also back in the mix following a sprained ankle, and he is also expected to start today.
That was from Jon Gold and I am guessing he meant MR is expected to start tomorrow (not today).
As the Bruins are working through health issues, Coach Howland is zeroing in with a "back to basics" theme during his pre-season practices in last couple of weeks:
Through the preseason, the three seniors on the team have noticed an unmistakable "back to basics" theme.
Most important, Howland needs to mold sophomore Jerime Anderson into a reliable point guard, filling the void left by Darren Collison's graduation, but there are other pressing issues.
Guard Malcolm Lee must hone his shooting technique to provide much-needed offense and forward Drew Gordon must control his emotions to become a consistent presence inside. UCLA needs immediate contributions from its freshman class.
"Basketball is a game of habits," Howland said. "In order to get good at something, you need a lot of different opportunities to get repetitions."
During a recent practice -- the one session each year that outsiders are allowed to watch -- the coach put that philosophy into action.
Shooters were lectured on keeping their balance, jumping straight up and down, holding form. Big men were coached on setting the double-screen, shoulder-to-shoulder, timing it just right.
An inveterate worrier, forever sweating the details, Howland overlooked nothing.
"What do you say in the post?" he called to center Anthony Stover. "Ball, ball, ball."
Some of us will get to see how our young guys respond tomorrow night against Humboldt State with at least two veterans back in the line up and another week of Howland practices under their belts. I still expect it to be a roller coaster night. BTW I think it would be cool to see AS getting some action tomorrow night. From my understanding of NCAA rules, he doesn't burn his RS if he gets some mins during an exhibition game.
One thing I would love to see though is Howland make an effort to get his five best players on the court. That means as much as enjoyed Abdul Hamid's game winning three pointer, I would like Howland to mix up his rotation so that he is not getting more than 5-8 mins a game. I am assuming with both MR and JA back in the lineup, we will see MR also handling the ball from the pg spot. I am also hoping for a better defensive effort from ND (I know we had reasonable disagreement within us from last week on the kind of effort he gave us on both ends of the court against Concordia).
Anyway, we will have more on the game and along with an open game thread tomorrow. Watching our guys this year from game to game is going to require a lot of patience (because I can gurantee you there will be moments filled with frustrations). However, I am planning to enjoy the ride as best as I can just like I enjoyed AA/JF's first season in Howlandwood.