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Ben Ball Gameday Roundup & Notes

Nothing like a little Ben Ball action to recover from the food coma. Bruins get back in action tonight by taking on Yale Bulldogs at Pauley tonight. Before getting to Yales let's get to some news and notes from last couple of days.

We will start with Westbrook. Pucin's report focuses on the sophomore sensation (who Dick Vitale amusingly left out of his list of sophomores to keep an eye on this season). His team-mates are more than impressed:

Sophomore Russell Westbrook doesn't run UCLA's motion offense with the same ease as junior Darren Collison and he is still learning how to be the same fierce, on-the-ball defender as Collison, but Collison considered Westbrook's 40-minute, one-turnover performance against Michigan State and said, "That was phenomenal."

Westbrook still stands up too straight when he dribbles and he doesn't have the same natural sense of where to pass the ball so that UCLA's players have the best chance to get a great shot.

But, says Collison, who hopes to return to the lineup early next month having recovered from a sprained left knee, Westbrook is doing what Coach Ben Howland wants. "He's not making any big mistakes," Collison said. "Russell is playing solid."

Josh Shipp says Westbrook takes stock after every game, and although the sophomore gives the impression that mistakes and missed shots don't faze him, Shipp says he takes his mistakes hard.

"Russell is a guy who plays kind of streaky sometimes," Shipp said. "He plays off his confidence and to win a game like Michigan State, Russell will build on that."
While an appreciative Coach Howland took back his light hearted comment he made wrt to his pg's hard fall against MSU:
"I'll tell you what," Howland said, "when I watched that fall of Russell's on film, it was a pretty serious fall. I regret what I said after the game because he's done that many times -- where he makes a bad play and then gets up slow like he's injured, but he's really not. That could have been a season-ending injury the way he fell. It was really something. The good news is, he's fine."
I don't think any apology was necessary since to me it came across as Coach Howland kidding around a bit. But then again Coach Howland is making sure that there is absolutely no miscommunication or misunderstanding in his program.

Speaking of having no doubt, Dohn writes about Kevin Love's performance in his first five collegiate games:
Love had 39 points and 27 rebounds in 63 minutes against the Terrapins and Spartans, and single-handedly put both teams in foul trouble with his ability to get position in the low post.

"Both of those games were high-level games in terms of the size of the bodies, but he's rebounding consistently in every game," UCLA coach Ben Howland said of Love. "That's really a key statistic. The ability to get 16rebounds one night and 11 the other, that's hard to do. To get double figures on the board every night is incredibly tough. He did a great job of battling against a very good team."

As for the difference, Love said, "I would say the physicality, and it's a lot faster."

Love should get a break tonight when No. 2 UCLA hosts Yale, but his transition to college has gone smoothly. He is averaging 20.2points and 11.6 rebounds per game, and his consistency stands out. He's had at least 18 points and nine rebounds in each game.

Also, while Love has shown the ability to put other teams in foul trouble, he stays out of it. He has been called for just six personal fouls this season.
Love gets to continue his magic tonight against the Bulldogs. BBR has a little preview on Yale:
The Bulldogs return four starters from last year's team that finished second in Ivy league play with a 10-4 record. Five of last year's top six scorers are back as well.

Senior guard Eric Flato (6'1, 185) is the Bulldog's leading scorer at 15.3 points a game. A long-range bomber, Flato is shooting 37.5% from beyond the arc. He was unanimously voted a first team All-Ivy League selection last season.

Yale starts a pair of 6'6 205lb twins, Nick and Caleb Holmes. The brothers play on the wing and take more than half their shots from beyond the three-point line. Caleb is averaging 14.7 points a game while Nick has been struggling from the field averaging 6.7 points but is the team's leading rebounder with 6.7 caroms a game.

At center, the Bulldogs have big senior Matt Kyle (6'10, 240) who is averaging 14.7 points a game while shooting 61% from the field. He scored over 20 points in his first two outings but struggled against Robin Lopez and Stanford getting into early foul trouble and only playing 17 minutes.

At the final starting spot is Ross Morin a 6'7 junior forward who is averaging 6.4 and 4.3 rebounds.

The Bulldogs mix up their defenses between a zone and man-to-man defense. Against Stanford they doubled down often on Robin Lopez while shadowing Lawrence Hill on the perimeter. Considering the Bruins size advantage inside and the presence of Kevin Love down low, it wouldn't be surprising if Yale to applied the same defensive strategy against UCLA.
Now you would think a team like UCLA would look at tonight's game against Yale as an easy one sandwiched between CBE tourney games and the matchup against GWU. Think again. Coach Howland was watching tapes on Thanksgiving morning:
"I watched the Yale tape (Thursday) morning and they have three guys that average 15 points," Howland said. "They played UMass very tough and ended up losing by nine, and it was the same thing with Stanford; it was a three-point game with 14 minutes left. They have good players and we are going to have to play well to have success."
And according to BBR the team was practicing the day after it returned from KC. Hate to bring it up, but once again a dramatic contrast from how the Doofus operates, who apparently still hadn't watched the entire Oregon-Arizona game tape as of Monday. Coach Howland continues to shame the tool every day and help make our point on what a complete incompetent toolshed is leading our football program. Anyway ...

We will have our Ben Ball open thread up later on tonight. Welcome back again everyone.