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Ben Ball Game Day Roundup

Let’s get back to Ben Ball folks. Yesterday Pac-10 held it "Media Day" for Ben Ball. 33 of 34 reporters picked UCLA as their pick to win the best basketball conference in the nation this coming season. Diane has the story.

Honestly I don’t really care much about what those guys think. I am more curious to find out tomorrow when I read the papers, who Howland will pick as his 5t starter for the first exhibition game tonight. Once again here is Diane’s report on our mystery 5th starter:

After that it's mix and match. Add sophomore Russell Westbrook if you want some athletic, lively defensive play. Or maybe junior guard Mike Roll, who makes smart passes and has worked on a quicker release to his shot. Or maybe the team's only senior, Lorenzo Mata-Real, to provide muscle and savvy. Or junior Alfred Aboya to just knock some people around.

"We have so many options," Shipp said during Pacific 10 Conference media day. "I know at the end of all this Coach Howland will pick one and stick with it, but whatever way he goes we're going to have a lot of options."

The Bruins open Friday at 7:30 p.m. at Pauley Pavilion with an exhibition game against Azusa Pacific, and so far Howland will confirm only Shipp, Collison, Mbah a Moute and Love as starters.

"There's really four other options," Howland said, agreeing with Shipp. "Roll could start, but if I bring him off the bench we get a lift offensively because he'll come in firing. . . . Defensively, either Alfred or Russell makes us the best defensive team to start the game with. It could be Lorenzo."

Whatever five Howland decides on after a second exhibition game Monday against Chico State, he will likely stick with. Changing lineups to match the competition isn't part of his philosophy.

"Once I get a lineup I like to stick to that lineup," he said. "Alfred, Lorenzo, Russell, Michael, regardless of who does start all those guys will play a significant role."
In other words lots of options for Howland. And I personally am not partial to anyone at this point. I am just bummed out I am not going to get to watch tonight’s game (and also next weekend’s game since I will be traveling) on television and have to wait a little longer to see Love and Stanback in UCLA unis.

Anyway, if you want to read more on yesterday’s Media Day, check out What’s Bruin over at LAT. Rich has been all over it. Similar notes in the Dailly News write up too.

On to our game tonight. Wong from Bruin Basketball Report (BBR) has a little scouting report on Azusa Specific. Apparently the Cougars are a pretty good basketball team in the NAIA. They have put together a record of 437-98 (.816) since 1993, which makes them the winningest program in the NAIA. More from BBR:
Azusa Pacific returns six reserve players from a 29-7 squad that averaged 87.6 points a game on 50.1% field-goal shooting. Joining the team this season are two key Division I transfers; David Burgess (Gonzaga) and Davon Roberts (Sacramento State).Some people in Southern California may remember Burgess from his playing days at Woodbridge High School in Irvine. The 6'10 260lb center has been plagued by injury for most of his collegiate career. He signed to play at BYU in 2005 but missed his entire freshman season due to surgery on both ankles.

After playing limited minutes as a red-shirt freshman, Burgess transferred to Gonzaga, where after sitting out a year he injured his knee and missed half the season last year. Playing limited minutes while averaging 1.0 points and 1.3 rebounds in six games, he decided to transfer to Azusa Pacific this year, since it was an NAIA school and did not require him to sit out another season.

The Cougars top returning scorer from last season's team is sophomore Mike Danielian (6'2, 180), a solid marksman from outside. He averaged 9.2 points in 17.2 minutes of play as a freshman.

There is an obvious difference in the level of play between top NAIA and NCAA Division I schools, however, Azusa Pacific is a well-coached team and will give the Bruins a chance to fine-tune their game tonight.
Also, another item of interest from BBR. Wong has a preview of our team, a great read you are not going find in the traditional media covering our basketball team.

I am hoping those of you who are going the game tonight share your first hand notes and impressions in the comments or the diaries section tonight.

Oh yes, there will be a Ben Ball open game thread for Friday night.