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40 Minutes of Ben Ball

Bruins dominated Beavers in every way imaginable yesterday afternoon at Pauley. What was wonderful and exciting about yesterday's performance was how it was a complete and total team-effort. One of the indelible images from last year's tourney run was the reaction of UCLA's bench at the end of the Gonzaga game. On the flip side was yesterday. It was just cool to see Afflalo, Collison, Luc, and rest of their team-mates reveling during the last minutes of the game.

Photo Credit: Reed Saxon/AP

That's good stuff. Yeah the most important story from yesterday's game was the images towards the end of the game, which made it pretty clear how much the players from this program love each other, and how their head coach care for everyone of them. From Dohn:

Less than two minutes remained and coach Ben Howland was still standing in front of UCLA's bench, knees slightly bent, feet shuffling along and his arms waving as he implored his team to get back on defense.

That Howland was pleading to three walk-ons and two little-used reserves to dig in despite the Bruins' 43-point lead added to the spectacle.
Howland's intensity and focus was not lost on his starters (from Dohn's report as well):
"We were up by a lot, and (Howland) was still standing," UCLA guard Darren Collison said. "That shows a lot. That's why we're a good team, because of him. He was trying to tell (walk-on) Matt (Lee), after a play late, he was telling him to jump stop. That shows how he keeps striving for perfection."
For his part Coach Howland was pleased with two things. He was ecstatic about - drumroll please - our defense:
"It started and ended with our defense," UCLA Coach Ben Howland said. "I loved how hard and intense we came out defensively. Our passing was at a high level. The players took satisfaction in making the extra pass."
And as for offense he was excited about the unselfishness of our players:
UCLA coach Ben Howland said, "I love all the unselfishness. That to me, on the offensive side of the floor, is the most pleasing thing, watching the team play, when they're making the extra pass and making a play for their teammates and getting real satisfaction and joy out of it. That's real fun to see, and you could see that in our guys today."
It will be fun rest of the way if the Bruins can from hereon out keep coming out and play with that king of tenacity and unselfishness for entire 40 mins. Losses are never pleasant. They are especially not pleasant for a team like Coach Howland's, that is constantly striving for perfection in every facet of their program. Yet sometimes heart-breaking losses like the ones against Oregon and against Stanford turn out to be true silver lining for competitive and dedicated individuals like Howland and Afflalo. They don't just spout useless clichés of "growing" and "learning" (which we constantly hear from our sandbagging football coaches) after every losses, they truly apply the lessons they learned from their previous mistakes. And we saw few of them being applied yesterday:
  • Efficient fast breaks: It was great to see the team running efficient fast breaks during transition. Bruins scored 29 points off 21 turnovers. Not shabby at all.

  • Efficient offense: As Howland said they were making extra passes on offense to aggressively attack both from inside and out. Bruins shot 57.9 percent from the field (34 for 59). Can't do much better than that. I think when our starters filing out towards the bench with about 15 mins left in the second half, the team was shooting something ridiculous like 73 percent.

  • Maintaining intensity from start to finish: Because the team came out with so much intensity and focus from early on, they were able to put the game out of reach early, which allowed Coach Howland to dole out huge minutes to players like Keefe, Westbrook, Wright, and Dragovic, who could play some role down the line.
Bruin starters got a lot of rest yesterday afternoon. DC played most minutes of any of the starting 5, and he logged only 22 mins. AA clocked in for 20, while Luc played for 22.

So they should be all rested and ready for this week. Bruins have two big games coming up this week. They get JustSC on Wednesday and then hit the country road at Morgantown on Saturday. Get ready of Ben Bolch to barf about how JustSC is closing the gap for next 48-72 hours in the LA Times. You know it's coming.

All our guys will have to do is listen to their coach, play Ben Ball defense, be unselfish on offense, and play for each other, with the entire Bruins Nation backing them up on Wednesday.

Can't wait to hear the Den leading the 12,000 something at Pauley to thunder:


All they have to do is just play 40 Minutes of Ben Ball.