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Ben Ball Friday Roundup

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BBR has the Florida preview up for tomorrow night's game. Here are their observations on the crucial match-ups around the perimeter:

Last year UCLA Coach Ben Howland assigned 6'6 Cedric Bozeman to handle point-guard Taurean Green, but Florida cleverly spread the court on offense which allowed the quicker Green to dribble drive past Bozeman for a game-high eight assists with many of the baskets resulting in slams by Horford and Noah.

The Bruins will benefit from having speedy Darren Collison, their best on-ball defender, to put on Green on Saturday.  Collison needs to aggressively pressure Green on the perimeter to make it difficult for him to set-up the offense or make post-entry passes.

Against Kansas, Collison's defensive pressure on the Jayhawks' guards forced them to set-up their offense further out than they were normally used to, he'll need to do the same against the Gators in order to slow their attack and negate their size advantage inside.

With Florida's Lee Humphrey sizzling from beyond the arc, Josh Shipp needs to do a good job closing out on Humphrey at the three-point line.  Shipp has been playing well on the defensive end during the tournament and the Bruins will need another solid effort.

Offensively, he gives UCLA the third scoring option they lacked last year.  Shipp is shooting 42.5% from three-point distance and has been excellent in transition.  In addition, his ability to drive to the basket and finish will make him a difficult match-up for Florida, especially for the smaller Humphrey.

Last year Corey Brewer used his size and length to hound Arron Afflalo into a sub-par 3-10 shooting performance.  But with Afflalo scoring more effectively off the dribble, as he showed against Kansas, and Shipp available as another scoring option, Florida will be more challenged on the defensive end.  Can Humphrey guard the more physical Shipp? Or does Florida switch Brewer onto Shipp instead of Afflalo?
Shipp's role is emerging as a potential flash point in tomorrow night's game. OC Register's Kuwada has more on the multi-faceted role Shipp will have to play on defense:
UCLA will have difficult challenges, defensively. But none of the Bruins is likely to have one as diverse as small forward Josh Shipp.

Shipp will start the national semifinal against Florida on Saturday matched up on shooting guard Lee Humphrey and, occasionally, will have to take on Gators small forward Corey Brewer.

Humphrey is 6-foot-2, one of the best shooters in the country. He set a school record for three-pointers last year with 113 - just four shy of the conference mark - and has knocked down 45.5 percent (105 of 231) of his shots from behind the arc this season.

Brewer is 6-9, not much from behind the three-point line but very good around the basket. He is the Gators' leading scorer in the NCAA Tournament, averaging 15.8 points per game.

"(Shipp) really rises to the challenge and he's going to have another big challenge in this game," Coach Ben Howland said of the Bruins' third-year sophomore. "He guarded an outstanding player in the kid from Indiana. ... He did a great job against Kansas. He was very good against Pitt. He's been good all the way through."

Shipp, who was unable to play in the tournament last season after taking a redshirt because of recurring pain in a surgically-repaired right hip, is happy to have the opportunity just to play.
Let's hope Shipp keeps playing at the level he has been playing at in last four games.

Elsewhere, Pucin has written a cool article about where AA grew up: in a farm in Compton. Pretty funny stuff. I actually enjoyed reading it. Also some bummer news for Luc. His Dad is not going to make it to Atlanta because of work, while his Mom is not going to make it because of visa related issues. I am sure they will be there in spirit, and come out to see him in the next Final-4. So it will all work out at the end. Luc and his rest of his team-mates will have to go out and take care of (unfinished) business.

GO BRUINS.