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Tuneup With The Titans

So the number 1 basketball team is back in action tonight. This time the Bruins are taking on one of Coach Howland's dear friends. From the LA Times:

UCLA Coach Ben Howland and Cal State Fullerton's basketball coach, Bob Burton, are close friends. Bruins assistant Donny Daniels came to Westwood after being the Titans' head coach.

Nine of Burton's players are from Southern California. Three of them -- Bobby Brown, Scott Cutley and Jarrel Lake -- played at Westchester High and against and with several Bruins on summer league teams.

So there will be few strangers when the Bruins (6-0) play host to the Titans (5-1) tonight at Pauley Pavilion.

Bruins center Lorenzo Mata said Monday, "There's a lot of talkers on that team. This is going to be fun."

Guard Arron Afflalo said, "I've known most of those guys for a while. They are very familiar. They have a lot of aggressive players."

Most appealing for UCLA, now ranked No. 1 in the Associated Press poll and the ESPN/USA Today coach's poll, is that Cal State Fullerton wants a fast tempo. The Titans average 90 points a game and have scored 100 or more twice this season.

"We're going to come in, run down court, play fast," Burton said. "If we're not defending and not scoring it's going to be a long game. But we won't slow it down."

Burton and Howland have been friends since Burton was coach at West Valley College in Saratoga, Calif., and Howland was an assistant at UC Santa Barbara.
Given how the Titans will try to push the tempo. against the Bruins, the marquee matchup tonight is going between the point guards, and BBR as usual is all over it:
All-Big West point-guard Bobby Brown (Sr, 6'1 175) out of Westchester HS returned to the Titans after considering an early entrance into the NBA draft last season.  Brown is a dynamic scorer who is attempting to round out his game this season by applying himself on the defensive end and looking to be more of a play-maker on offense.

Brown missed the Titan's first three games of the season due to injury but has played well since his return scoring over 20 points in his last two games including 4 of 7 from beyond the arc.  He is also averaging 4.0 assists and 1.7 steals.

Darren Collison and Bobby Brown promise to be the marquee match-up of the game as two of the quickest players in Division I clash, although considering the Titans use three guards in the backcourt we'll see Afflalo on Brown at times.
Make sure to read the entire game preview from BBR.

There has been some whining about UCLA's schedule. Last year it was Steve Douchebag Lavin leading the contingent whining about Howland's scheduling. Howland dismissed all that nonsense in Dohn's report today. These games even though may not have the name appeals of high profile matchups, give our player invaluable opportunities to work on their complete game. For i.e. the DN reports notes how Mata has been working on his FT techniques with a little help from Luc:
Luc's assist: UCLA center Lorenzo Mata left Maui having made 3 of 17 free throw attempts. He is 3 of 7 since returning, including making 2of 3 against UC Riverside. Mata attributed his success to a tip from teammate Luc Richard Mbah a Moute.

"Luc told me: `Keep the ball on your finger tips,"' Mata said. "He's the one that helped me with my free throw shooting. I was using my palm. I didn't have any air, no room, underneath it."

Mata shot 56.4 percent from the line last season and said the coaching staff worked to alter his shot in the offseason.

"They've been trying to change my shot. Better form, I guess," Mata said. "This new one, that Luc taught me, I'm going to keep shooting it like that."
I love this kid.

The game is going to be around 7:30 pm tonight. All you students on campus, stuff yourself at dinner and then cram your section at Pauley. After the game you can get your studying done, and then head to Maloney's for a cold one (cough - those who are 21+ of course - cough). I don't want to hear any excuses for not being able to go because all you had to study for finals. We have the number 1 team in the nation people. Soak it up.

Again Titans may not be a marquee opponent but this will be a good game for the Bruins to tune up for the big game coming up this Saturday against a top-10 A&M team. We will put up an open game thread later tonight.