No. 1 Ben Ball warriors are in action tonight at Pauley in what amounts to an exhibition game against Long Beach State. Here is the preview from BBR:Long Beach St. comes into Westwood still looking to hit their stride as a team. Last season the 49ers finished 18-12 and were runner-up to Pacific in the Big West tournament.
The 49ers are a small team which relies on their quickness in the backcourt, they don't start a player taller than 6'6.
Long Beach St. plays both ends of the court at a frenetic pace to take advantage of their strength in the backcourt. On defense they apply full-court pressure in an attempt to disrupt an opponent's offensive flow and create easy scoring opportunities They are averaging 9.8 steals a game and are +6.5 in turnover margin. In addition, they take a lot of quick shots especially from beyond the arc, this season they are averaging over 24 3-PT shot attempts a game.
Despite five seniors in the starting line-up, Long Beach St. has been inconsistent and struggled especially on the offensive end. Last season the 49ers led the NCAA in scoring offense averaging 83 points per game but only 72 points so far this season.
The main problem has been their field goal-shooting. As a team the 49ers are shooting only 38.%% from the field and 26.8% from beyond the arc - especially bad for a team which relies on the 3-PT shot as a primary weapon. With their lack of size its not surprising they are being out-rebounded 42-49.
The 49ers utilize a three-guard offense, Aaron Nixon, Kejuan Johnson from Artesia HS, and Kevin Houston. The beat writers are of course a little excited about Bruins being number 1. Linked the LA Times coverage on the home page. Daily News also has an article on Ben Ball being number 1 as well as the OC Register. AA being the team leader is keeping the ranking hype in perspective. From the Times: Afflalo said it is up to him also "to make sure the guys keep seeing the bigger picture. Being ranked No. 1, that's not our goal. Our goal is to be No. 1, and we do that by winning the national championship. Still, this is good." Luc is downplaying it too: "Nothing. It means nothing to me," said Mbah a Moute, a sophomore power forward.
"It's just paper. It's rankings. It doesn't matter. It means people are going to come harder at you, so, to me, it means nothing. You look at the rankings, it's going to change the whole season." Yeap. That's exactly what I want to hear from our players. While this is fun for some fans and great for recruiting we can't have players getting caught up in the hyper. Our players are doing a great job of keeping this in perspective.
Also we still few areas to improve one of which involves our horrible FT shooting. Coach Howland is working on the situation. From the DN article: Free-throw woes: The Bruins are shooting an abysmal 60.8 percent from the free-throw line, which includes a dreadful 56 percent (42 of 75) in three games in Maui.
"I think we have to work a lot on our foul shooting," Howland said. "It's hard to play threegames in three successive days in a row. That was a grueling trip. I'm glad it turned out well for us."
The ugliest of the ugly came from junior center Lorenzo Mata, who air-balled a pair of free throws in the tournament and was 1 for 8 from the line in the title game against Georgia Tech. Mata, who missed a month of practice because of a knee injury, is 3 for 17 this season from the line.
"I think a lot of his free-throw shooting, honestly, is a lack of conditioning," Howland said. "He's not in tip-top cardiovascular shape right now, and it's understandable when you haven't practiced much. So a lot of that was just fatigue, more than anything." Should be interesting to see how we shoot our FTs (along with defending the 3 pointers) in our next three games. We of course have faith in Coach Howland and his Ben Ball warriors when they talk about working on and improving their games.
Thank God for Ben Howland.