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Hump Day Ben Ball Notes

As expected Shipp's injury is the lead story in all Bruin related news today. Dohn has the details:

Rather than risk losing wing Josh Shipp for an extended period, UCLA coach Ben Howland said he will sit his second-leading scorer for Saturday's contest at USC.

Shipp, a sophomore, suffered a small tear to his right hamstring. Shipp said he thought the injury occurred in the first half of Saturday's loss at Oregon, but he was cleared and played in the second half against the Ducks.

With Shipp out, Howland said sophomore Michael Roll likely would make his sixth career start.

"I'm very worried about this becoming something that can get worse," Howland said. "Hamstrings are a very, very tough injury because you always run the risk of tearing it worse once you have it. It's not a big tear, but I want to be very conservative. This is a long season.

"The expectation is he will not play Saturday, and we'll see for the following weekend's games."
Hope Shipp is given as long as it takes to heal up. I am not a doctor but it seems like hamstring injury is of those nagging injuries in sports that can easily be reaggravated by an over zealous athlete if he or she tries to rush back from it. So hope Shipp just works with the trainers and focus on getting healed up and healthy. This is a long basketball season.

Shipp's injury will obviously lead to line up shuffle, which I alluded to in my last post. Dohn has more on it including the possibility of using a 3-guard line up:
Howland said power forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute could also play wing, as could Arron Afflalo in a three-guard lineup that would feature point guards Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook in the backcourt.

Curiously, Howland did not say freshman wing Nikola Dragovic would get increased (or any) minutes with Shipp out as the Bruins look to replace the lost scoring.
What will be interesting during early going on Sat to see whether Howland decides to go big or small. He could decide to go big a lot by putting AA at 2, Luc at 3, AA2 at 4, and Mata at 5 (w/ Keefe), or he could use the Roll/AA/Westbrook combo at 2/3. Shipp's injury will also force Howland to give more time Westbrook and Keefe out of necessity. This could be a good thing just like last year when Howland was forced to give lot of time to freshmen due to injuries that ravaged the roster the whole season.

More on Shipp story from the LA Times and the OC Register.

Also Frank Burlison has a good column in the Daily News today, which goes over some of the errors that cost the Bruins last Saturday's game. Although I somewhat disagree in the generalization that Bruins didn't defend Oregon well. As I mentioned before I think Bruins defense was fine, especially in the second half. We have to give Oregon credit for being on fire and being a step faster in first half.

The key for Bruins this Saturday is to kick up normal first half intensity one more notch, just like they did against Washington and in Maui. And Burlison's comments on Saturday's game fits that argument well:
Look for it (UCLA-Southern Cal game) to be a bit of a defensive struggle, as they are two of the three teams (along with Washington State) in the Pacific 10 Conference that play exceptional half-court defense.

Whichever team can pick up the most transition points - in all likelihood, the club that turns the ball over fewer times and turns more of the opponents' miscues into buckets or free throws - will win the game.
I mentioned Trojans Assist-TO ratio and their propensity to cough up the ball.  If Ben Ball warriors play their brand of defense all through last year from the get-go, we are going to be fine. They will need to come with fire in their eyes.