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Ben Ball Notes

A couple of hoops related notes. Missed this bit from Brian Dohn on what Coach Howland is doing to work on our woeful FT shooting:

During the week, each UCLA player shot 50 free throws at the end of practices, but that didn't help to offset the doldrums Saturday.

Bruins coach Ben Howland said he will alter his approach after his squad shot 50 percent from the foul line against Texas A&M.

"We're doing something, but it's not working," Howland said. "We'll shoot in the middle of practice. We will shoot and lineup and run when we miss."

The Bruins are shooting 60.2percent from the line. Saturday, their woes couldn't even be blamed on center Lorenzo Mata, who came in shooting 23.3 percent but went 2 for 3 against the Aggies.

Arron Afflalo was 2 of 5, Darren Collison went 2 for 4 and, although Josh Shipp made 2 of 3, he missed the front end of a one-and-one with 7.6 seconds remaining that could have iced the game.

"Free throws are free throws, and they need to be completed," said Afflalo, who was shooting 82.4 percent from the line. "We need to get out of that and turn it around before it causes a loss. Once we relax and feel comfortable that we can make free throws as a team, we'll be fine."
That was published on the Long Beach Press Telegram site (but not in the DN?). I think Dohn is right in pointing towards AA, JS, and DC when bringing up bad team FT shooting. We know Mata has to improve. And he needs to get his numbers up at least above 50 percent. But AA, DC, and JS have to lead by examples. They need to come through with clutch FT shooting during crunch time because those three will be handling the rock during the deciding moments of the game (most of the time). One of the attributes that made Ed O and Tyus Edney so deadly during that 1994-95 was their clutch FT shooting. Those two had ice water running through their veins.  AA, DC and JS need to develop some of that. I am pretty sure they will come through.

I think all of us here are expecting our boys to contend for the Pac-10 titles (both regular season and conference tourney) and make a run for number 12. We are not the only ones. Tightwad, a prolific Cal blogger has been writing up prolific previews (just like SMQ previewed most of college football teams leading up to this past regular season) of every Pac-10 teams for this upcoming season. And he just finished up his previews by ending with writing about UCLA, who he picked to win the conference and then some:
UCLA has had its moments since the Wizard retired, even winning a national championship, but they weren't really UCLA. You knew their coach would eventually crash and burn, and that their players would check out at key moments. Year after year, the Pac 10 was still Arizona's conference to lose.

That era has ended - Ben Howland is now in charge. We knew that Howland was different when we saw what he did with Ryan Hollins - transforming him from a sullen loser into a shot-blocking dervish who played with fire in his eyes. He is exactly what the Bruins program needed, a tonic for the feel-good Lavin era where the inmates ran the asylum. UCLA frankly didn't deserve him, given how long they ignored Lavin's mismanagement, but what's past is past. The future for Ben's gutty little Bruins looks bright indeed, and if they fix their foul shooting it would not be a surprise to see them cutting down the nets in Atlanta next April.
Make sure to read the whole preview over at Tightwad Hill. The stale, unoriginal "gutty little" snide barb aside, not a bad write up.

He picked Zona to finish 2nd and Washington to finish 3rd. Good reads. Pretty clear he has been paying close attention to what is going on in the world of Pac-10 hoops. Not bad for a college "sports" fan from Bezerkley. ;-)

GO BRUINS.