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Growing and Learning Ben Ball style

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First, to echo Achilles' post, which we will keep at top through the whole night, our thoughts and prayers go to any one here on BN and everyone back home who may be affected by these terrible fires. Please stay safe and for rest of you who are out of harms way, you can do your part to send positive thoughts by sharing those in the comment thread. With let's get to some Ben Ball notes.

Once again we have Ben Ball practice news and notes to lighten the dark football mood of BN. AA2 is getting ready to beat up all of our opponents by getting physical in his own special way:

Alfred Aboya went barreling through the lane in Monday's UCLA basketball practice and steamrolled teammate Luc Mbah a Moute.

Aboya fell right on him and a loud thud resonated throughout Pauley Pavilion. Mbah a Moute got off the floor immediately and was credited with a charge. Luckily for UCLA, he wasn't injured.

"What an unbelievable collision," Ben Howland said. "I was more happy to see (Mbah a Moute) take the charge. I wasn't worried about him getting hurt. I was wondering what Alfred was doing."

Aboya said he didn't even see Mbah a Moute.

"It hurt, but I have no choice," Mbah a Moute said.
What can we say coach? After all the kid grew up eating vipers! Painter from DN, who reported that bit has more on Ben Ball practices, including pinpointing one of the main reasons for the practices being so physical this October:
Such is the nature of UCLA practices these days, especially with freshman phenom Kevin Love in town. They're as physical as ever.

"I think so," Mbah a Moute said. "You put Kevin in there. You put Lorenzo (Mata-Real) in there. All these guys. It's as physical as it's been since the first day I've been here. Hopefully, it's going to help us. The Pac-10 is very physical."
I cannot wait to see what these guys do to our opponents during the regular season. Well being physical is not the only aspects of Ben Ball practice. Richard Perelman from What's Bruin has posted some tasty details, including comments from Howland on the "stuff" (you know the word you hear from our Sleeping Beauty when he talks about football practices) he is working on this time of the year:
"Every aspect," he said. "Fortunately, we have a lot of veterans on this team. But you still have to go over everything again. We basically are laying down our foundation defensively these first ten practices and also in our motion [offense]. Now we'll start putting in sets and plays on Wednesday and start putting in a lot of our different sets that we'll run in the half court, some of our plays against zone.

"You saw us do our press offense, five-on-zero today, we're going to see some presses early in the year, we've got to attack presses aggressively, just so many things to put in: late-game situations, how you attack a box-and-one, a triangle-and-two, junk defenses, all sorts of stuff.

"Our big thing is health."

Howland noted that Saturday morning's practice went on without Kevin Love and Lorenzo Mata-Real due to injuries and then "Luc [Richard Mbah A Moute] woke up and his back had a knot in it and he couldn't go," so the Bruins were down to seven scholarship players. He praised Josh Shipp and Darren Collison for their consistency . . . and good health.
I think those kinds of nicks and bruises are expected given the nature of these Ben Ball practices. However, it is great to hear Shipp is doing well given the surgery he had during the off-season.

Going back to Howland's comments, it is just amazing to hear all the details from him concerning the all the in game situations he is getting ready his players for. Again, the difference with the garbage we hear out of football press conferences is nothing short of dramatic.

Anyway, Perelman had another post up on our two freshmen. I know we all have been reading about Love, so let's start with his notes on Chace, who right off the bat starts with a subtle reference to fundamentals before talking about early impression on his introduction to UCLA academics:
"Players are smart here," he said. "I used to get backdoor lobs every game, at least two or three times a game. Not here." When it was pointed out that this happens to the Lakers quite a bit, Stanback deadpanned, "Well, that's not college."

He noted the stark differences between his senior year at Fairfax and playing during the summer and in current practices against college players. "Everybody is at 20 pounds heavier than they were in high school," he said. "I think if I get stronger, I'll be able to play a lot better." He's already gained 15 pounds thanks to an aggressive weightlifting program. "We really didn't follow through that much during the season," he said about lifting in high school, but he knows he will be continuing with it at UCLA. Far from worrying about gaining weight, he explained that the lifting program will help to keep his weight up during the season, when the exertions of practices, games and classes tend to make players lose weight.

Stanback said he's been surprised - as are many freshmen - at how time-consuming the schoolwork is in college, even though the amount of class time each week is less than in high school: "So many essays, the reading. In high school, you probably read 100 pages a year, and here you read, what, 20,000 a year?"
I am sure before long Chace like rest of his peer will adjust and learn to be efficient, optimizing his time management skills, enabling him to develop both on and off the court. Meanwhile, Chace's classmate Kevin not surprisingly is thinking about pursuing a major in communications:
What about the academic environment? "It's a lot different because everyone is so competitive. And that's the biggest thing, because I'm a competitive person, so I think I've even turned it up a notch coming to college. I don't want people think I'm just a dumb jock, so I'm being as competitive as I can in my classes. I'm trying to get a four-point [average] this quarter.

"I'm trying to be a Comm major, so I'm taking Comm 1, then the WAC [World Arts & Culture] class we're going to right now and then I have Art & Architecture . . . and that's a fun class that I chose."
Perhaps someone can send clips of Kevin's comments and quotes to our current football coach. The kid has shown more ability on how to handle the beat reporters since we have had the pleasure to follow him (via the interwebs) than our Sleeping Beauty, who still sounds totally clueless after 4+ years. Oh and he had these takes on his performance from last few days at practice:
On the basketball floor, Love said his offense is ahead of his defense so far, "because on defense I have to learn a lot more. I can adjust the speed, the physicality and things like that, but other than that, it's the little things." He's also fitting in well with his veteran teammates, noting "All of these guys are very team and family oriented and I think we're going to go far with that."
And I will end with this note on Love. This is how the kid is spending his lunch breaks:
Kevin Love watches film with Coach Howland or one of the assistants every day. He usually spends his lunch break breaking down film.
``I'm learning a lot of things from him,'' Love said. ``Just keeping basketball on my mind all the time.'
In case you are wondering how all this is working per Howland Love made 16 of 25 shots on Sunday and hauled down 14 rebounds. That's "growing and learning" Ben Ball style.

GO BRUINS.