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Ben Ball Roundup After A Routine Win

So the Ben Ball warriors are kind of rolling along in this early part of the season. I think T is on money in saying we are not where we want to be, but we are showing signs of tangible signs progression (compared to the BS talk of "progression" we hear during football press conferences) in this really early part of the season.

Last night’s game was a total mismatch. And we should know better about not taking too much out of it. That said, it was encouraging to see Westbrook’s numbers improve from the first two games. Facing a full court pressure, RW gave Coach Howland a pretty solid 28 mins during which he turned the ball over only once, got 6 assists, and scored 14 points. Again not bad. Hopefully he can build on it going into games featuring much tougher opponents.

Meanwhile, RW’s freshman team-mate Kevin Love had another ho hum, big night. From Bruin Basketball Report:

The freshman repeatedly called for the ball inside and manhandled the out-matched Coyote interior players. Love was 7-10 from the field and 5-7 from the free throw line. He also threw a few of his trademark outlet pass strikes to streaking Bruins down the court for easy transition baskets.

Love was also instrumental in helping the Bruins break the Coyotes zone press by receiving the ball in the backcourt and throwing over the top of the zone to advance the ball.

In his first three games as a Bruin, Love is averaging 20.7 points and 10.3 rebounds.

While he acknowledges the team has yet to face a quality foe, Love is looking forward to playing higher tier opponents.

"When the bright lights come on, I play better," Love said. "I perform better and I'm more focused."
Well the lights are definitely going to come on next Monday, when Love et al, take on Maryland, one of ESPN’s ACC darlings teams from the east coast. That game will be an early test for our Warriors at a national stage.

Sticking with Love, even though he had a good game, one issue stuck out to lot of us last night. I think we need to do a much better job of feeding him the ball down low (this is where we miss Roll because he is probably the best passer in the team in terms of making that entry pass to the paint). Coach Howland commented on the need of getting more touches for the big fella:
Love scored his 19 points on only 10 shots and Coach Ben Howland said after the game that one goal is to get Love the ball more often.

"We really need to get him more touches," Howland said. "He's such a good passer, especially at the high post. He just has to get more touches."
I have a feeling we are going to see some improvements in that department in next few games.

As the Bruins put together another dominating win in terms of scoreboard, OC Register’s Kuwada ponders if there is a difference from this year’s team from last year’s one which got off to slow starts against supposedly lesser opponents during first half:
Last season, the Bruins led Long Beach State by only five points at halftime before blowing them out in the second half to win by 30; led the Titans by six at the break before going on to win by 24. And, afterward, grudgingly acknowledged the quality of their competition did not do much for them.

Not this season.

"We're going to go out there and play. We're going to go out there and try to destroy the other team from the get-go," center Lorenzo Mata-Real said after the second of the Bruins' three victories. "People say we have a bull's-eye on our chest, but we're going to go out there every night like they have a bull's-eye on theirs."

The Coyotes, who upset Weber State in the first round of the CBE Classic to get their shot at the Bruins, did inconvenience UCLA some with their press and zone defense.

But the Bruins (3-0) were never in much trouble in dispatching them, even with limited contributions in the first half by freshman Kevin Love, who scored 16 of his team-high 19 points in the second half.

"We're not messing around," the Bruins' Josh Shipp said.
Again, I think we need to be careful about drawing too many conclusions based on just three games. Last year we might have gotten off to a slow start, but there were other factors involved, such as getting used to the mindset of playing without Jordan, who anchored our backcourt for 2 years. Shipp was coming off a serious injury and an entire year off, and Luc’s knees were issues. This year, I think our offensive performance have been a little sluggish in the first halves of both games I have seen (Youngstown and CSSB). However, what I am digging is the defensive intensity that I am seeing from everyone in the team, which is reminding me of the ferocity we saw through the entire season two years ago. We will see what happens against Maryland.

Looking ahead, BBR ended with this in their game wrap which I think is one of the best news of the night:
Collison worked out Tuesday, doing sprint drills and shooting without pain."That's the best news of the day," Howland said. "I'm cautiously optimistic he may be back in time to practice by Friday."
"Caution" should be the operative word here. I don’t want to DC to rush back. Let him (as well as Roll and Keefe) take his time in getting completely healthy, while we let Westbrook et al continue to improve and develop. Then again if the doctors think he is ready, by all means he should get back in. Such is the luxury of having a well managed program. Injury issues never emerge as a crutch for excuses around UCLA hoops. They only allow others to step up, work on their game under great coaching, leading to even more experienced, cohesive and stronger team.

Lastly, the DN sent Paul Oberjuerge, a "columnist" to cover last night’s game. He came up with a craptacular report that would embarrass the editors of a high school newspaper near you. You can read it if you want, I am not going to bother breaking it down. I will just say it is just tiresome to read these kind of childish pieces filled cheesy lines reinforcing tired narratives (about UCLA just being a hoops school) from the writers of a major metropolitan newspaper. Anyway, onward …

Can’t wait for next Monday. We will try to look up some notes on the Terps by then. Of course if you can’t wait, and are already googling what kind of team Gary Williams has put together this season, please diary it up and share it with rest of BN.