Ben Ball Roundup: Preparations

Right now the traditional media in LA can't seem to get enough of Eric Maynor. David Wharton from the LAT profiles Maynor, who opposing coaches refer to as a "magician":

Last-second heroics aside, the senior point guard has matured into a player who can do more than just hit the clutch shot. He is one of only three players in the nation to average more than 22 points and six assists this season.

George Mason Coach Jim Larranaga, whose team has been burned by Maynor more than once, calls him a "magician."

"He does so many things," Larranaga said. "He waves his magic wand and all of a sudden he's got 32 points or 10 assists or he's got a big steal."

Laranga is not the only opposing coach who has been spellbound by Maynor. Dohn posted this response from Drexel head coach - James Flint - on how to defend Maynor:

That's the question UCLA faces in preparation for the game against Virginia Commonwealth. I asked Drexel coach James Flint, whose team lost to VCU 75-46, how he tried to defend Eric Maynor, who had just eight points on 3 of 9 shooting against the VCU.
``We doubled him a little bit, but we strung him out a little bit,'' Flint said. ``We tried to go that way. It didn't always work. They hit eight 3s against us. It was a close game in the first half (35-28). One reason is if you leave a guy open, (Maynor) is going to find them. A lot depends on the other athletes. Those other guys have to do their job.''

That situation sounds like the similar one Bruins dealt with in Tempe when Harden found a way to get all of his team-mates involved who were coming through in their roles as supporting cast for the Pac-10 superstar. So defensively Bruins will not only have to worry about their backcourt on Thursday night, they will need to play the kind of total team defense we saw from them against Washington State last week. That means our guys we will have to be quicker in their rotation (and I hope Howland doesn't hesitate to bench ND in favor of JK if he keeps playing atrocious defense) and stay with their man (as JH did so effectively with Klay Thompson last week). 

Going back to the Rams, LAT has more on Maynor's supporting cast:

This winter, the Rams surrounded their star with a far more capable supporting cast and made a point of not relying solely on him.

Forward Larry Sanders, with his vast wingspan, has become more than just a shot blocker. Freshman Bradford Burgess has played well and sophomore Brandon Rozzell was a sparkplug in the recent CAA tournament.

Maynor has been glad to assume the role of veteran quarterback, more than happy to divide the points, insistent upon sharing the acclaim.

Again I would love to hear more from others who have seen these guys play on a regular basis this season. The Burgess kid sounds like a dangerous weapon from the backcourt. Among the players who gets the prime mins in their roster he is the best 3 pt shooter (.422). He is 4th in the team in scoring and also a decent rebounder. That's the kind of kid who can potential emerge as a star when the opponent are so focused and locked in on stars like Maynor and a key player such as Summers.

Well you can feel assured that Howland and his staff will have no issues with scouting these Rams. Marcia Smith from the OC Register (who has finally started to write some decent pieces in recent weeks) has a great article on the scouting efforts of Howland's staff:

For the entire season, Erickson [UCLA administrative assistant Doug Erickson - BN Ed.] has combed the DirecTV schedule and used the athletic department's eight to 10 satellite receivers to TiVo every game. He has transferred each game to DVD, labeled it, filed it and entered it in a database so that on a day like Selection Sunday, the Bruin coaches could begin scouting their next two opponents before the sun sets.

So on Sunday afternoon, within seconds, Erickson knew how many games he had of VCU, Villanova and American University. He gathers all those schools' game DVDs and uploads them into a video server accessible by the Bruin coach Ben Howland and his assistants.

"There's not really much you can do before you know who you're going to play, but as soon as we know, we have a plan in place to start the scouting and game-planning process right away," says assistant coach Scott Garson. "Other schools have to rely on services such Hoop 1 Video to get their game film and have it mailed to them. We're lucky to have this all in-house because it saves us time and money."

It also gives UCLA coaches as much as 2½-day scouting head start on an opponent in the field of 65 who would have to order game film Sunday night, have it shipped out Monday and take over-night delivery of it as soon as Tuesday.

"We've done this (the NCAA Tournament) long enough to have the tournament scouting process down to a science," says Garson, in his fifth season on Howland's staff. "All the coaches know their roles on Sunday night and by Monday, we're ready to start showing the players what they need to be prepared for."

More on Howland's preparations from Smith:

Howland and three assistants scatter to watch games in their offices for several hours, taking notes, playing, rewinding repeatedly and replaying frame by frame to recognize their opponent's tendencies. Howland focuses only on the first opponent, dissecting the 15 VCU games down to bits that would require tweezers to handle and microscopes to see.

This video study isn't just about learning the opponent's best player. It's about figuring out what the team does when going against man-to-man defense or a zone, or when faced with a trap, or when trailing in a game. It's noticing how an opponent scores, whether in set offenses or in transition, from beyond the arc or by penetrating into the low post and if so, how many dribbles the driver take before launching a shot.

Read rest of her report here.

Our guys have to focus on one opponent for now, which is now the trendy pick in this tournament for ESPN Classic's next "Princeton" moment. No doubt all the press we have seen in last few days will get the guys even more fired up and knowing our staff (who never miss details) they will not hesitate to use any of the negativity (directed at the program from the traditional media) as an extra motivation.

As uncertain I am about how the Bruins will fare this week in Philly in a tough road environment, I think we can take comfort in the fact that our guys will be prepped by the best in business. Ultimately after its all said and done, in Howland we trust.

Oh ... and Happy St. Patty's Day.

GO BRUINS.

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