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Davidson Notes

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We will have a basketball game to tomorrow to keep our mind off what is looking like an agonizing coach search (and simultaneous nauseating campaign for Dwayne). We have done our share of reflections over last Sunday's tough loss. I am sure Coach Howland and his Ben Ball warriors have been practicing all week with the goal of addressing all the issues that has surfaced during this part of the season.

Well the good thing is they had some more time to practice and get healthy. For the first time this year Coach Howland has had 11 scholarship players during full practice sessions. It couldn't come at a better time as they get to take on a pretty tough team - Davidson College - at the Wooden Classic tomorrow. Here is the set up from the official site:

This will be UCLA's fifth consecutive appearance in the Wooden Classic (11th overall), with a record of 7-3 in prior contests. Last year the Bruins defeated Texas A&M, 65-62 in the Wooden Classic. The defending back-to-back regular season Pac-10 champions finished the 2006-07 season with an overall record of 30-6. For the second year in a row, the Bruins advanced to the Final Four, falling just short of winning the National Championship.

Davidson, ranked No. 23 in the preseason, will make its first appearance in the Wooden Classic. The Wildcats are returning 11 lettermen and all five starters from last year's club that won its second straight Southern Conference Tournament. Davidson has appeared in two consecutive NCAA Tournaments and nine overall. The team posted its third straight 20-win season last year, breaking a school record with 29 wins.
Living up to their pre-season expectations to date the Wildcats have put up huge fights against UNC (losing 68-72 at Chapell Hill) and Duke (losing 73-79 at Durham). They have gotten off to a disappointing start record wise as they find themselves with a record of 3-4 as they are coming into this game looking for more than a "moral victory." For quick scouting report on the Wildcats there is always
Without a doubt, the biggest strength of this team is its experience, with almost everyone back from last year's 29-5 squad. Stephen Curry provides a top-notch scorer that the Wildcats can turn to in clutch situations, but there are a number of Davidson players who can come through with big plays in a close game.

Are there too many expectations set upon the Wildcats? The team's Midnight Madness was picked up by ESPN, and many across the country see the Wildcats as a Top 25 team. But can Davidson handle being the team everyone is shooting for instead of an upstart that is the underdog?
Well as mentioned above they haven't been able to pull any huge upsets to date yet (although they came close against number 1 UNC) but they will be fired up to play the Bruins.

KS Wong at BBR has the preview for tomorrow's game:
Davidson is averaging 84.3 points a game on 44.4% shooting.  They shoot a lot from beyond the arc, 45% of their shot attempts are three-pointers, but the Wildcats have not shot them for a high percentage this season (33%).

Using primarily a three-guard alignment, they take good care of the ball averaging just 12.2 turnovers a game and are fourth in Division I in assists with 20.3 a game.

On defense, the Wildcats will switch between man and zone defense.  Considering how the Bruins struggled against Texas's zone last week, UCLA should expect to see a lot of zone defense from Davidson, or at least until the Bruins can demonstrate they can attack and score consistently against one.

Davidson is led by preseason All-American sophomore guard Stephen Curry (6'0, 180), son of former NBA player Dell Curry.  He has been hampered all year by a torn ligament in his left wrist which will require offseason surgery.

Curry is averaging 26.0 points, 5th highest in the nation, on 49.2% shooting including 44.5% from beyond the arc.  He takes many shots which initially seem ill-advised only to have most of them sail through the basket. An excellent foul shooter, like his father, Stephen Curry shoots 90.9% from the line.

UCLA's Russell Westbrook will get the initial assignment against Curry.  Westbrook is a much improved defender this season, he held Texas's A.J. Abrams to just six points last Sunday.

On offense, Westbrook will look to improve his shooting numbers on Saturday.  Against Texas the sophomore guard scored just six points on six shot attempts.  The Bruins need Westbrook to attack the zone of the dribble and to be effective from the outside.  Against the Longhorns, he was just 1-3 from three-point distance.
Russell and rest of his team-mates will have to come out with lot more focus and attacking mentality in the first half compared to what they showed us in the first half last Sunday. To read how rest of the match ups stack up make sure to read the whole review.

I am interested to see how DC and Roll play tomorrow night. More time for Roll could mean some clean entry passes to Kevin Love (one of the little things that Roll do really well that never shows up in the box score).