I mentioned in my notes earlier that Bruins will beat the Gators if they do three things. Play their prototype Ben Ball defense, reduce turnovers, and hold their own in rebounding. With those three factors in mind let’s get today’s roundup.
First, Dohn has an awesome article on how Bruins play their prototype Ben Ball defense. Dohn hones in on the all the post game comments we have heard over last two years after a UCLA game, when opponent coaches and players are left with excuses of not making easy layups and open shots. There is a reason why so many teams are befuddled (and bruised up) after they take on our Ben Ball warriors. Here is Dohn:
UCLA's defensive speed begins on the perimeter with lightning-quick Bruins point guard Darren Collison. He is rarely beaten off the dribble, but when an opponent gets by him, the play is hardly over because a physical conclusion usually awaits.
Mata, backup Alfred Aboya and Mbah a Moute, depending who is in the game, challenge every shot close to the rim. And the Bruins are so aggressive when it comes to defensive rebounding, opponents know a missed shot won't be offset by an offensive rebound and easy putback. Thus, there is more pressure on the shooter.
"We can't reduce anybody's shot (total)," Collison said. "We're just trying to reduce their percentage, try to contest shots and try to get a hand in their face. When they drive, our post players do a good job of taking charges."
"One maxim that applies so perfectly for Mata this weekend is that basketball is not only a game of size or strength," Walton says. "It is also about skill, timing, position.
"It's not how big you are, but how big you play. It's not how high you jump, but when you jump. I love the way Mata is playing right now."
Now that we have talked about defense and rebounding, let’s move on to topic of reducing turnovers. Bruins cannot afford to be sloppy and careless (like they were against KU). Kuwada writes about how Bruins cannot afford to repeat their turnover filled offensive performance against Jayhawks:
"I got it," Collison said. "We've got to take care of the ball and it starts with me, and I take full responsibility and credit for that. I have to take care of the ball if we want to succeed against Florida. It's real abnormal for a guard to have that many turnovers, for a team to have that many turnovers and win a game. We were very fortunate to come out on top."
Collison said poor decision-making and casual ball-handling against Kansas were the main factors in the abundance of turnovers. The frenetic pace of the game wasn't a factor, he added.
"We just were a little careless with the ball," he said. "It was one of those days."
Thankfully we have a coach who is going to do everything in his power to make sure the Bruins are fully prepared for Saturday. Speaking of whom an amazing article in the LAT today on Coach Howland. It’s a must read. Here is a peak into the incredibly detailed oriented nature of the best basketball coach in America:
He also has some unusual and little-known quirks.
When he discusses opponents' field-goal percentages or rebounding averages, he's accurate to the decimal point. "He has a mind like a steel trap," said Barry Rohrssen, an assistant to Howland at Pittsburgh for four years and now coach at Manhattan College. "Being on his staff was like going to a basketball academy every day. He doesn't just teach players to play, he teaches coaches to coach."
Howland shrugged. "I do have a good memory for phone numbers and statistics," he said. "It's important to know as much as you can and get as much information as you can and learn from it."
He also likes to place a water bottle in the middle of a roll of tape at the end of the scorer's table before each game. Last year the NCAA — talk about obsessed — banned his bottle because it had a logo. After much grumbling, he poured the water into an NCAA-approved cup.
Point guard Darren Collison said Howland's painstaking methods could mean the difference between winning and losing. "Every possession is going to count. If you miss out on one possession, that possession could come back and haunt you at the end of the game," Collison said.
Two more days.