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Return to Glory?

So a little hoops detour just two weeks before the kickoff. Some nice articles and notes to take note of. Nice article from Rivals.com's Andrew Skwara on UCLA's return as one of the national powers in the world of college hoops:

 The Bruins are a national power again. Don't buy into any talk of last year's run being a fluke, or a team just getting hot at the right time.

It was the combination of landing some elite recruits - Ben Howland signed five-star guards Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo before he coached his first game in Westwood. Howland also landed arguably the top sleeper in the following class - Pac-10 Freshman of the Year Luc Richard Mbah a Moute (ranked a three-star prospect). Just like any Final Four team a little luck was involved, too (remember the final minute of the Gonzaga game).

Howland is putting the necessary pieces in place to keep the Bruins in the national title hunt. Actually, you could just say the necessary piece. That's how much impact Kevin Love, the premier big man in the class of 2007, will have when he arrives in Southern California. Love ended a huge recruiting battle by committing to the Bruins over North Carolina last month.
Thanks to JD over at Bruin Hoop Scoop for pointing to that article. Andrew does mention we are going to get serious competition from Arizona and Washington for the Pac-10 championship this season.

One of the X-factors in UCLA repeating as the Pac-10 champions is the health of swingman Josh Shipp. And there is a nice update on him from Jeffrey Dransfeldt of the Ventura County Star:
Josh Shipp waited patiently in the hallway next to the gym. Teammates relaxed nearby.

The statistics arrived and Shipp pored over his totals: 25 points, six rebounds, five assists and five steals. Moments earlier, the sophomore UCLA forward let fans see the progress he's made since a painful surgically repaired right hip ended his season in January.

Shipp joined several UCLA players this summer at the Say No Classic, an NCAA-approved summer league at West Los Angeles College. He is playing on a team called Hank's CTS with UCLA teammate Alfred Aboya. Shipp and Oregon State's Marcel Jones have formed a potent scoring combo that's placed Hank's CTS in contention for a league championship.

Single-elimination playoffs started last weekend and Hank's CTS advanced to today's semifinals with the championship game Saturday at 6 p.m. Shipp showed within three possessions last Sunday how close he is to regaining his freshman form when he averaged 9.3 points and 5.2 rebounds. He fed a teammate for an alley-oop dunk, led a fastbreak that culminated with a high flying one-hand dunk and faked a defender while calmly hitting a fade-away 3-pointer.

"It's been good for him and he's working really hard with our training staff with his rehab and he's getting closer and closer to 100 percent," UCLA coach Ben Howland said.

Shipp's hip injury occurred in the summer league last year. He underwent surgery last September and returned to the court on Dec. 29, 2005. In four games, he averaged 11.3 points and 4.8 rebounds before the hip became too painful to continue. He sat and watched UCLA's run through the NCAA Tournament and loss in the championship game to Florida.

"I hear a lot -- ¿If I was there, I would have helped a lot,' " Shipp said. "But that is in the past. We are going to have a new year. We are focused on that and we're trying to get back to win a national championship."
Shipp still has a little ways to get back in complete hoops shape but I am sure getting in these games during summer time will only help.

Two more hoops related news to take note of:

President Bush finally signed a sensible legislation making the naming of valley post office after the Coach official. Good stuff. I still think though to honor the Coach we need to something lot more significant than naming a Post Office after him. How about offering a course for UCLA undergraduate on the legacy of Coach Wooden and his teachings/thoughts on how to live our lives? And if we are going to name something after him, why not name the 405 stretch by Westwood as John and Nell Wooden Freeway? Just a thought.

And, ESPN's Andy Katz makes a shocking discovery that the Bruins may be one of the dark horses to make another Final-4 run next season.

As excited I am easy about next hoops season, I am still a little quesy about our depth at PG. But then again when it comes to hoops unlike the football program we have a head coach we can trust.

GO BRUINS.