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Ben Ball Game Day Roundup

Bruins play in a dangerous trap game this afternoon at Pauley. Our friends over at Building the Dam are showing their sense of humor about it giving their Beavers at least 1 percent chance to win this game. However, Howland is concerned about this game (as he is concerned about every game). Specifically Howland is concerned about our guys intensity level for this afternoon.  And he has some reasons to worry given what has happened against some lesser opponents earlier this season:

Too often, particularly early in the season, UCLA played chunks of games without much passion against lesser opponents. They trailed Brigham Young at halftime, toyed with Long Beach State, Cal State Fullerton, UC Riverside and Sam Houston State. They were lackadaisical in attacking the zone defense they saw from an Arizona State team that is winless in Pac-10 play, scuffling around for more than a half before taking control of the game.

The Bruins were focused and played with intensity against the Ducks - and Coach Ben Howland said that they need to do the same today against the Beavers.

"We want to come out and be very focused and play with that same level of intensity each and every night. That's the key for us," he said. "We've got to learn to do that."

The UCLA coach did his best to talk up the Beavers, led by former Mater Dei forward Marcel Jones and his 15.9 points per game. But the reality is Oregon State has lost its past three games at Washington State, at Washington and on Thursday at USC by an average of 16.3 points per game. The players know that, making this game more about the Bruins and whether they have reached a point where they do not slack off against out-gunned opponents.

Howland suggested that the Bruins should not be feeling too comfortable following their victory over the Ducks.

"Well, we want to keep getting better," Howland said. "Remember, we just lost last Sunday. It's not like, hey, we've arrived because we beat a good team (Thursday)."
What Coach Howland is looking for from our team is to show a level of maturity that will enable them to achieve consistency during the stretch run of closing out this tough conference:
UCLA guard Arron Afflalo said he saw a look in teammate Luc Richard Mbah a Moute's eyes during the pregame warmup Thursday that told Afflalo that Mbah a Moute was going to have a big game, which he did. Howland said he saw that look in the eyes of a lot of his players, a look generated not only by the importance of Thursday night's game, but by the regret over the previous game when the Bruins blew a 17-point lead in losing to Stanford.

How can Howland keep that look flashing in his players' eyes?

"I tell them that a mature team has got to show up with that same intensity every time they step on the floor," he said. "That's when you become a consistent team."
So keep an eye on how our guys come out this afternoon. Let's hope they all have that look Luc and his team-mates had right before the tip off on Thursday night.

And if all goes well may be Dragovic well get some action later in second half today. Dohn has an article on our Serbian assassin (already diaried by rfirpo) who has had a rough first year in Westwood. However, it sounds like Dragovic's team-mates (including his room-mate Russell Westbrook) are helping him, and ND is showing a lot of maturity, as he is working hard while maintaining perspective as he is working away to carve out a spot for himself in one of the best basketball programs in the country. In other words he sounds like a perfect fit for Ben Ball. I am confident when it is all said and done things will work out for ND at UCLA.

Back to the game. The tip off is set for 2:30 pm PST. We will have the game thread up later today.