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Ben Ball Practice Off To An Intense Start

While Karl Dorrell's football team was enjoying  their loooooooong time off from practice (which could be a blessing in disguise because we can imagine it might be good for our players to stay away from a doofus like Dorrell), Coach Howland's practices have gotten off to an intense start.  Dohn has the report on weekend practices during when Kevin Love was knocked down- twice:

Love was knocked to the floor twice during each of UCLA's first two practices by center Alfred Aboya, and he also learned it could be difficult guarding power forwards as Luc Richard Mbah a Moute consistently got past him.

That said, Love categorized his first two days of practice as positive during a conference call Saturday. He spent both practices playing center, then gave a diplomatic answer when asked if he preferred to play center or power forward.

"Coach Howland doesn't really want to give me a spot," Love said. "He just wants me to be able to create, make passes at the top, be a transition 3-point shooter, be able to put the ball on the floor. He just wants me to do a bunch of stuff, but he knows my natural position is to bang down low a little bit.

"I'm going to step out. I'm going to hit some 15-foot, 18-foot jump shots, and also some 3-point shots as well."

Because center Lorenzo Mata was limited with a foot injury, Love spent much of his time battling with Aboya on the offensive end.

"Alfred plays so hard, and is such a great competitor, playing against him every day is something that's really going to help Kevin," Howland said. "That's something he never had to do in practice in high school; that's have a real man, an animal, that he's going to have to compete with every day. That's really going to raise his level of game."
I'd pay good money to see these bruising sessions of physical basketball. But of course we can't do that because Coach Howland wants to keep these practices sacred so that he can have total focus and concentration, while he is teaching his players. I have absolutely no problem with that. And it is great to hear Love's comments who understands why it is so much more important to focus on learning during these practices, then to worry about Midnight Madness BS, which is lot more of a product of WWL's MTVization for college athletics:
While Love said it was fun watching televised snippets of other teams cavorting through "Midnight Madness" practices, many of them filled with more singing, dancing and goofing around than actual basketball, UCLA's prized freshman post player said what he went through -- "practices lots longer and higher intensity than what I'm used to" -- was more useful than getting some TV time at midnight. "We're trying to get an edge on everybody else," Love said.
That was from Pucin's report today which also has some encouraging updates re. Shipp and the Prince:
Junior swingman Josh Shipp, who was supposed to join the post-practice conference call, instead chose to get extra treatment on his hips, both of which have been operated on in the last 18 months. But Love said Shipp looked ready for the season.

"Josh looked great," Love said. "He was coming out here jumping well, dunking well." But no dunks on Love. "That's not happening," the freshman said. "I'll foul him before that happens."

Howland was particularly pleased with the play of junior Luc Richard Mbah a Moute. Mbah a Moute, who had been the Pacific 10 Conference freshman of the year two seasons ago, struggled all last season because of sore knees.

"Luc is really shooting the ball well," said Howland, who hopes to use Mbah a Moute mostly at small forward this season. "Luc may have been the best player on our team the first two practices."
The only thing I am worried about right now is to hope and pray these guys make out these practices in one piece! ☺ Then again, I just have to remind myself who is in charge of our program. It instantly puts me at peace knowing Coach Howland knows better than anyone how hard he needs to go at practice or when to take his foot off the gas pedal.

I know some here have not been all that happy with home game OOC schedule this year. But to me it doesn't matter. I can watch these guys play against anyone, anywhere and enjoy watching a prototype Ben Ball beatdown through tough, physical, bruising defense coming at them in blue and gold waves.

26 more days.