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Ben Ball Gameday Roundup

Love is the main story from last night’s game. Let's go the highlights courtesy of WWL:

As most of you know by now, Love apparently played with a fractured left index finger (which he suffered few days ago in practice) all game, but still led the team with 18 points and 16 boards (UCLA freshman record). Dohn has a good game report leading off with these comments from the freshman phenom:

"We need to slow down a little bit," Love said. "We're only four games in, but I thought we made a few mistakes, a few turnovers. We just need to learn how to break the press a little bit better. They're a pretty good pressing team, plus they're a very athletic team, and very physical. That's something we need to adjust to."

Behind Love's rebounding prowess, the Bruins held a 44-29 advantage on the boards. They had 19 offensive rebounds (Maryland had eight), scored the game's first basket and led the rest of the way.
Coach Howland was happy with the rebounding effort which probably was the key factor in the game:
"I thought that we did a great job on the glass," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "To outboard a team by 15 rebounds is the key stat of the game."

Fellow UCLA big men Lorenzo Mata-Real (nine rebounds) and Alfred Aboya provided support to Love's rebounding effort with strong interior defense.

Maryland center Bambale Osby, who was averaging 8.3 rebounds per game, had one.

Terrapins leading scorer and rebounder James Gist, a 6-foot-9 forward, was held to seven points and three rebounds in 32 minutes. Gist was averaging 21.7 points and 8.5 rebounds.
And once again yet another opposing head coach realized what it is like to take on a Ben Howland coached DEFENSE:
"One, they're good," Terrapins coach Gary Williams said in assessing the rebounding differential. "Two, you have to go after it harder. Rebounding, a lot of times, is effort. It's technique. You don't see too many man-to-man defenses better than that. We shot 45 percent in the second half, which against them, isn't bad."
As I mentioned last night our performance (especially before we decided to attack their press starting in the second half) was sloppy. We got bailed out by Love’s 3 and his (instinctive) lay in right before the half.

What we cannot afford to today against an extremely well coached Spartan team is the number of mental mistakes we made last night. And it was disappointing to see one of the biggest one came from Shipp. And per Pucin in the LAT Shipp "learned" his lesson:
But the tone of the game changed when Shipp took off about 10 feet from the rim and made a flying dunk, then stuck out his chest and bellowed. The basket gave UCLA a 13-4 lead, but Shipp was assessed a technical foul for taunting and the Terrapins scored five straight points to close to within 13-9.

"We already talked about that technical foul in the locker room," Howland said.

"I've learned my lesson," said Shipp, who finished with 18 points.

Aboya gave a more emphatic synopsis of Howland's talk. "Coach was really mad," Aboya said. "That was a momentum switch. We had the momentum and that technical put them right back in the game.
Hmm. Again I wonder if the Doofus gave Bruce Davis the same treatment during the half time of the ASU game. Okay. I won’t wonder because we all know the deal with our out of control, undisciplined football team. Moving on …

Shipp and the Bruins will have a huge challenge tonight. They will need to play under control against Michigan State team that plays their own version of tough hard nosed defense and can bring it on offense. Here is a preview from Bruin Basketball Report:
The Spartans, under Head Coach Tom Izzo, have always played tough defense and executed well in the half-court. This season Izzo is urging the team to open up more and push the ball in transition. As a result, the team has uncharacteristically committed more turnovers than in the past. Against Louisiana-Monroe the Spartans had 20 turnovers and against Missouri they had 17 miscues.

Drew Nietzel (6'0, 180, Sr), a preseason All-American candidate, is averaging 13.5 points and 6.5 assists a game. He is a gritty point-guard and the player his team looks for when a play needs to be made. Nietzel is shooting 46.7% from the field and 66% on three-pointers in the early going.

UCLA's Russell Westbrook has played extremely well on defense since replacing the injured Darren Collison at point-guard. The spotlight match-up in the game will be between Westbrook and Nietzel. Westbrook needs to keep Nietzel out of the lane and wrap him on the perimeter while staying out of foul trouble. Against Maryland, Westbrook was charged with four fouls and the Bruins can ill afford to lose him in this game.

Raymar Morgan (6'7,220, So) was expected to have a break-out year after a successful freshman campaign. A scorer who can go inside and also hit from outside to the three-point line, he is also leading the Spartans in rebounding so far in the early going. Against Missouri, Morgan went 6-6 from both the field and free throw line for 19 points and grabbed 5 rebounds.

The Bruins will counter Morgan with one of their best perimeter defenders, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute - this will be another interesting key match-up to follow in the game. Mbah a Moute had 8 points and 4 rebounds against Maryland in 35 minutes.
I hope we come out with the same poise and focus we showed last night at the start of the second half from the very beginning tonight. Shipp, Westbrook, Luc and everyone else in our team will need to play within themselves, and let the game come to them tonight. Because if they try to become too flashy and force the action a little too much, they will pay the price against a well coached team. This is the kind of game, we will have to go in with a defense first mentality, and get in our lock down mode, and then focus on executing on offense. That has been the recipe of Ben Ball success, and I hope our boys cook that up tonight.

Lastly, it looks like DC is not coming back till the Wooden classic instead of November 28 against GWU. Again, I am completely fine with this. I rather have us take our time with him instead of risking any kind of long term injury. Besides it seems like Westbrook is getting steadier by the game (compare last night to his game against West Virginia). Sure we can be lot smoother. But that will come as RW gets in more mins and it will make us that much more lethal when DC comes back fully healthy. Excited to see what Russell can do against Drew Nietzel tonight.