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Howland's Gutty Bruins

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Diane Pucin had a great column in the LA Times yesterday on how Coach Howland is coaxing the Bruins to wins:

UCLA beat Arizona for the first time since 1997 here, 85-79. And Howland deserved the raucous welcome he received after the game.

That is because Howland has become the great coaxer.

He starts Lorenzo Mata and stays with the sophomore at center until Mata has committed a couple of silly fouls and missed a couple of defensive assignments.

So in comes freshman Alfred Aboya. Howland has been coaxing Aboya through two knee surgeries and his slow recuperation. A minute here, two minutes there. A turnover but also a big rebound. Two missed foul shots but a confident jumper, and Howland is rewarded for his patience.

Freshman point guard Darren Collison weaves around the perimeter, negotiating defenders as if they were part of a cone drill and nailing a perfect pass to another freshman, Ryan Wright.

But then Collison will dribble fruitlessly until the shot clock is almost gone. Or he makes a difficult pass to Mata who is moving across the key. Mata is not the right person to catch that pass, not when the score is 66-63 in UCLA's favor with 6:23 left.

But Howland coaxes. He gives the rookie praise and puts the ball back in his hands.

Howland is still figuring out how to coax the right amount of minutes from his star point guard Jordan Farmar.
Howland is definitely trying to keep Jordan's spirit up. And the Bruin pg is indicating that he is going to fight through the pain and keep playing.  I still think it may not be a bad idea to sit him down in next two games and let him get some rest, since DC is doing such a great job. One thing for sure - even a hobbled Jordan is better than lot of pgs around the nation. Here is Howland again in todays DN's UCLA report:
UCLA coach Ben Howland pointed to Farmar's three-point play, a nice flip pass to Ryan Wright for a dunk and his free throws against Arizona as proof that the Bruins are still better with him on the floor, even if he's hobbling at times.

"With the ankle, (he) can't practice and (he) doesn't have the reps," Howland said. "He's not even doing as much shooting. We're still more likely to win with him in there at 75-80 percent then we are if he's not playing at all, and he knows that.
Lets see what happens today. Another thing, Pucin had this interesting note on the injured Bruins:
While Howland is still saddled with two Steve Lavin recruits -- Ryan Hollins and Michael Fey -- he will need to coax Mata, Aboya, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Wright into taking those small steps of improvement. Hollins wore street clothes Thursday, and Fey didn't make the trip. The two 7-foot seniors have been barely useful this season. They have minor injuries and good natures that don't translate into basketball ferocity.
lol May be DP has been reading the BNs' numerous Fellins posts. ;) Anyways, another big game today. Let's hope there is no Bruins let down and Jordan is ok. Howland will have to coax these kids to gut out another win. This is our open game thread. GO BRUINS.