There is some great discussion going on in the comment threads about the match ups for Saturday. If you are thinking that something feels different this year (wrt to this UCLA v. Florida matchup), you are not alone. There are number of reasons why we are feeling a little better about this game than we did last year.
One of the reasons we are feeling good about our Ben Ball warriors is Shipp’s presence both on defense and offense. Ken Peters from AP has a write up on UCLA D, which has some info. on how Shipp’s contribution on defense is going to be a big factor:
"Josh has really, really done a good job defensively for us," coach Ben Howland said. "Not only in the NCAA tournament, but throughout the year. He really rises to the challenge and he's going to have another big challenge in this game.
"He'll be guarding both (forward Ronnie) Brewer and Humphrey. He's our best help defender, too. He sees the floor better than anybody on our team as a weak-side defender, which is very important."
Shipp said Howland "preaches that defense wins championships. We hear it every day. He just makes us have pride in playing defense and trying not to let the other man score."
Explaining why he's able to help his teammates out on defense, Shipp said, "I always have the No. 3, the kind of guy that doesn't shoot as much. It gives me the ability to sit and watch a lot and then be there for the guys."
Shipp’s presence in Saturday’s starting line up will not be the only difference from last year’s squad. The OC Register’s Kuwada has an article comparing this year’s team to last year’s. Besides Shipp one of the other key differences from last year’s team is DC’s presence on defense, which may bode well for our Bruins in terms of stopping Green:
Florida point guard Taurean Green had a poor night shooting - he led the Gators with eight 20-point games during the year, but could hit only 1 of 9 shots against the Bruins and missed all seven three-point shots that he attempted. But he had little problem handling the Bruins' hedging and on-ball pressure and repeatedly hurt them with penetration and his ability to get the ball to teammates in the right places.
The Gators' point guard had eight assists and only one turnover.
"He's terrific," Howland said. "He really hurt us last year."
But Green faces a much more disruptive defensive force in sophomore Darren Collison, who has the quickness and temerity that Farmar lacked as a defender.
"Green is their primary ball handler and he's very good and effective with the ball, but Darren has the ability to create a little havoc," Afflalo said. "I'm sure Darren will be up to the challenge."
"They wanted it more," Collison said. "Any time a team wants it more, they're always going to come out on top. We can say we lacked experience, but Florida had a sophomore team as well. They were real young. That's something we've got to change."
There was a fire, energy and intensity in the Gators, and it showed as they handled the Bruins in every phase of the game in their 73-57 romp.
Collison said "lack of energy" irked him most in the loss.
"Watching that game, we weren't going for the loose balls, and Florida had a tremendous amount of loose balls," he said. "They went for offensive rebounds way more than we did. ...
"They came there for a reason. We came there just to be there. That's the difference. This year, it's a whole new ballgame. This year, we can learn from our mistakes and, hopefully, be more successful."