Bruins finished this exhibition tuneup last night by beating up on Humboldt State. Keefe sat out (strained neck), Mata was out, and apparently Bruins were playing a little relaxed inside D in the second half. So Coach Howland made a move:
Humboldt's Kevin Johnson had just made an unguarded jump shot to pull the Lumberjacks within 12 points of the Bruins. Howland gestured angrily during the timeout and No. 6-ranked UCLA scored eight of the next nine points in the span of a minute, and was well on its way to an 87-61 victory.
It was UCLA's second, and final, exhibition before the regular season begins Wednesday against Brigham Young. Freshman forward James Keefe sat out because of a strained neck, junior center Lorenzo Mata was still sidelined because of a surgically repaired knee, and the Bruins gave up too many easy inside baskets to Humboldt State.
But the scoring of forward Josh Shipp (21 points) and guard Arron Afflalo (18) carried the Bruins. Humboldt State is ranked No. 6 in Division II by Street and Smith's.
"I thought we played better than a week ago," Howland said, referring to UCLA's 73-43 win over Cal Poly Pomona. "We got good contributions off the bench."
Howland cited the play of freshman point guard Russell Westbrook, who had 11 points and two assists in a backup role.
Anyways Coach Howland is not only adept in making in game adjustments and getting his team to "grow" and "develop" through the season, very few coaches can match his intensity in preparing the team. Daily News reports on how Coach Howland has been preparing for Maui Invitational since last season (and during his family vacation):
"We actually filmed all the games, and it was played at such a high level," Howland said on a tournament conference call Thursday. "It's interesting to see a tournament being played at an NCAA Tournament intensity in November. And that's really what you have to bring if you have a chance to win any games over there."
Howland has vacationed in Hawaii with his family the past couple of years. He checked out the Lahain Center while on vacation over the summer.
UCLA plays Chaminade in the first game, then plays the winner of the Kentucky-De- Paul game.
UCLA will spend the Thanksgiving holiday in Hawaii and return the following day.
Howland wants basketball to be the focus of the trip.
"After our BYU game, I'm going to address that," Howland said. "We are staying over for Thanksgiving Day and taking a day off just to enjoy it with our fans and the family that is able to go.
"I'm trying to hold that out as a carrot and say, `Hey, when we get there it's got to be all business through Wednesday, and Thursday will be a day of fun and sunshine and snorkeling and everything else we can get involved with.' "
I can't say enough how lucky we all are to have Coach Howland to lead our program. One of these days hopefully we will get a worthy counterpart to lead our other major program.