I will get back to the (what is turning out to be a dramatic) football coach search in a bit. I want to start the morning up with some Ben Ball. We have our first true road game coming up tomorrow afternoon against Michigan. Although Michigan is struggling this season under their first year head coach John Beilein (the former West Va HC who BTW is 2-0 against Howland in last two years), you can bet they are going to be fired up to face off against a top-10 UCLA team right before the Holidays.
So Russell and co. will have to bring their A game on the road:
Photo Credit: Jack Rosenfeld
Bruin Basketball Report (BBR) has a preview up for the game, which also denotes how RW as usual will probably draw the key defensive assignment:
The transition has been tough for most of the Wolverine players this season considering the fact many of them were not originally recruited for the type of schemes Beilein coaches.
On defense Michigan will employ primarily a 1-3-1 zone. This same zone has given the Bruins problems the past two seasons when they've faced Beilein's West Virginia teams.
However this season, UCLA has Kevin Love who they can position in the high post to decisively attack the 1-3-1 zone with his keen passing skills and solid midrange shot.
This season the Wolverines are averaging 68.5 points a game while shooting 43.4% from the field and 35.8% from beyond the arc. Defensively they are allowing opponents 71.8 points on 44.4% field goal shooting.
Michigan starts a young lineup which includes two freshmen and two sophomores.
Guard Manny Harris (6'5, 170, Fr) is a big part of Michigan's future. UCLA briefly recruited Harris last year before he decided to stay close to home and commit to Michigan. He is the team's leading scorer at 16.1 points although he is shooting just 38.4% from the field and is tied for team-high in rebounds with 4.9 a game. Harris is a quick, athletic player who can develop into an excellent defensive player in the future, he already averages 1.7 steals a game.
Harris will be matched up against Russell Westbrook. Coach Ben Howland has raved all season about Westbrook's defense. His improved technique and strength has made Westbrook the team's best perimeter defender. He has already locked down high-scorers A.J Abrams and Stephen Curry in earlier games. Although he may give up a couple of inches to Harris, Westbrook's experience and strength gives him a decided advantage in this key match-up.
BBR has also posted the "superlative statistics" for our Ben Ball warriors to this point of the young season. These are numbers that do not show up regular box scores. Numbers such as charges taken, FT shooting in crunch time, points in the paint, dives for loose balls, second chance points, that give Coach Howland a certain measure about the toughness, tenacity, and effort of his warriors. Here is a sampler:
1. Alfred Aboya - 8
2. Lorenzo Mata-Real - 4
3. Kevin Love - 2
4. 3 tied - 1
UCLA 17, Opponents 7
Dives For Loose Balls
1. Russell Westbrook - 6
2. Kevin Love - 5
3. Lorenzo Mata-Real - 4
3. Luc Richard Mbah a Moute - 4
5. Alfred Aboya -3
UCLA 29, Opponents 16