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Sweet sound of music

Marck Whicker (OC Register) singing about Howland's DEFENSE this beautiful Friday morning:

This type of defensive orchestra is what Howland wanted sometime in his fourth or fifth year, maybe. Instead, it's Year 3, and the Bruins are deep enough and quick enough and committed enough to puncture anyone's tires.

And yet the coaches didn't need to watch the tape to find a talking point for today's practice in Seattle, going into Saturday's game at Washington.

"Ryan Wright missed three box-outs," assistant coach Donny Daniels said. "That's in 10 minutes." He shook his head.

"This is UCLA," Howland said simply. "We have high expectations."

Bruins foes are now shooting 42.1 percent from the field and averaging 59.5 points. That point figure is the lowest since 1959. The field-goal percentage is the lowest since '99, and isn't quite on the level of the '95 national champs (40.8). A couple more games against Washington State, which hasn't had a first-round NBA draft choice in 26 years (Don Collins), would help.

Four of UCLA's past seven opponents have failed to shoot 36 percent.

"The principles come down to ball pressure, stance and position," Daniels said. "If you're applying the right ball pressure, your man isn't going to see the open man even if there is one. If you're in the right position, you're going to be able to apply the right ball pressure when the ball comes to your man.

"And we emphasize trailing the jump shooters, not letting them relax. But it still pretty much comes down to boxing out. The guys have bought into it because they've seen results. They're jumping out on screens and they're helping each other. It's not automatic yet but it's getting there."

Howland wasn't really using the scoreboard as his guide Thursday night. After the Cougars fell behind, 11-0, they only got within 10 points of UCLA for a minute and 24 seconds. Instead, Howland was judging each possession on its own, calling quick timeouts when Washington State did get a free look, practically jumping to the free-throw line in crimson-faced glee when Ryan Hollins took a charge.

"The things that set him off are not helping your teammates, not talking, not being physical and intense," Farmar said. "And the things that get him excited are the opposite of that."
Make sure to read the whole column which goes on to talk about Ced Bozeman's invaluable contributions to our current run through the Pac-10. GO BRUINS.