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Ben Ball News & Notes

dprodigy19 already diaried up the story on Keefe yesterday. Here is Pucin’s report today:

Coach Ben Howland said that after a discussion with Keefe and his father, James, it was decided that the former high school All-American from Santa Margarita High would concentrate on the rehabilitation of his shoulder and gaining strength.

Keefe had dazzled coaches and teammates with his increased physicality and emerging confidence during summer workouts, but Howland said the decision is firm unless another front-court player were to suffer a season-ending injury between now and Jan. 12. Later than that and Howland said it wouldn't be fair to Keefe to ask him to come back.

"At the end of last season James was lifting really hard and was up to about 228 pounds," Howland said. "Now he's around 220 and it's a question of whose minutes would he take this year coming in late."

Keefe said he and his father talked about this possibility as early as August when Keefe had the surgery.

"The decision to come back or not always was to see how my progress was," Keefe said. "I feel pretty good in practice, but we're obviously real deep this year in that position. Those guys are nine games in. It's about limited minutes this year versus playing significant minutes in the next coming years."

His fight for minutes would have been with Josh Shipp, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Alfred Aboya, Kevin Love and Lorenzo Mata-Real.
This is a smart decision on everyone’s part. This will give Coach Howland some room to work around our roster as chances are more than likely that Love is gone after this season and that Shipp and Luc will be testing the NBA waters (like AA did after his sophomore season). This will give Coach Howland another big besides AA2 and Gordon next year to complement the fire power we will have in our back court.

Speaking of the back court Painter has more notes from the Daily News:
UCLA hasn't had success operating its offense against zones, so Howland is mixing it up a bit. Russell Westbrook will run the point against zones and Darren Collison will play on the wing.

Walk-on guard Mustafa Abdul-Hamid has a stress reaction in his right foot, so he's wearing a boot and is out for at least a couple of weeks. That means that Darren Collison and Russell Westbrook - who both start - will practice against one another in practice.

"Russell's been doing a great job of penetrating and attacking," Collison said.

"(Howland) just feels if he can penetrate and kick out to a shooter, it's going to be real hard to match up against us.

"Either way, me or Russell can attack. But, I think it would be a benefit for Coach Howland to have that strategy. We did it one possession in the Davidson game, and it helped out."
Hope Mustafa heals up soon. And I can’t wait to see how the little change-up in the backcourt works in the next game.