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Ben Ball Roundup

Some interesting Ben Ball notes to write about today. Let's lead off with Shipp's health status. Coach Howland is playing it very safe. Per the LA Times Shipp's condition is improving, but Howland is not going to take any chance:

UCLA's Josh Shipp is eager to play against his younger brother, Jerren Shipp, when the Bruins face Arizona State on Thursday at Pauley Pavilion.

But UCLA announced Tuesday it remained a game-time decision after holding Shipp out of the USC game Saturday because of a slight tear in his right hamstring.

"It feels a lot better," Shipp said before practicing hard for about an hour Tuesday. "I definitely feel I could play. I felt I could play against USC. But I've got to go on the advice of the doctors."

Ultrasound images showed improvement in the injury, but UCLA Coach Ben Howland has said he would like to err on the side of caution to avoid a chronic problem. And though it would seem an opportunity to rest him against Arizona State, 6-11 overall and 0-6 in the Pacific 10, Howland certainly wasn't saying that.

"Arizona State is going to be a team that will definitely beat somebody," Howland said. "We just hope it's not us Thursday night."
That sounds right to me. I am sure Josh is going to have more opportunities to play against his younger brother. There is no reason to risk further injury to his hamstring, with more than half the conference season ahead of us. Moreover, ASU is going to come out fired up. So Bruins are going to need players who are 100 percent (if not almost 100 percent) healthy and focused so that they can give everything they have on defense, which often serve as launch pad for our offense.

Obviously lot of folks are concerned about Mata's free throw shooting. He and the coaches are working on it. Here is Dohn:
Mata worked on his free-throw shooting Tuesday morning, and made 119 out of 150, according to Howland.

"He did a great job there," Howland said. "Just based on him shooting 79.3 percent out of 150attempts, I think, gives you an idea that he can be a good foul shooter."
Now despite Mata and his coaches' work on his FT shooting, teams are still going to play hack-a-mata down the stretch. We saw it in its worst form last Saturday, when the referees missed a somewhat obvious intentional foul call towards the end of the game (when Mata was hacked by Gibson away from the ball). Coach Howland and UCLA officials to their credit have been working on Pac-10 officials on this issue. From the OC Register:
Howland said he talked on Tuesday with Bill McCabe, the Pac-10 coordinator of officials, about the foul by USC forward Taj Gibson that sent Lorenzo Mata to the free-throw line with 36 seconds remaining in the Bruins' one-point victory over the Trojans.

The Bruins thought it was an intentional foul, but Michael Reed, the official on the play, did not call it that way.

Mata, who has hit just 15 of 46 attempts (32.6 percent) from the line, missed both shots and USC came down and took a 64-63 lead when Nick Young was fouled while making a three-pointer.

"I thought the first time they fouled Lorenzo in that game (with 3:20 to play), I thought they did a good job masking it. It was not intentional," Howland said. "It was the freshman kid from Louisiana (Dwight Lewis). He had his hands up just caught up with Lorenzo.

"The second one I think was not as much of a well-masked intentional foul."

Howland said that McCabe already had addressed the call with Reed.

"He actually talked to the official about it and the official did not think that it was intentional because of the way they fouled," Howland said. "I talked to him about it and I'm satisfied that he did not think it was intentional."
That's why we like this guy. He is involved in every single angle concerning his program. He doesn't stand around like emotionless, clueless statute, when his team is getting robbed by officials (gee I wonder who I am referring to here).

Anyways hopefully the Bruins will come out focused tomorrow night. We sure hope it doesn't come to FTs down the stretch for Mata at Pauley. Hopefully the butter is already hard and the jell-O is jiggling at Pauley, when Ben Ball warriors are practicing FTs during last two mins of game tomorrow night. It will only happen if they come out focused and play there game keying on defense.