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Monday Ben Ball Roundup

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Here we go guys. Madness is officially in the air. Regular season is over. Just 10 more days to go till the Big Dance.

Back to back Pac-10 regular season champions UCLA Bruins will be taking on the winner of Cal-Oregon State game this Thursday at 2:30 pm PST. If you want to get a sense of how Coach Howland may be preparing for this game following Saturday’s (throw away) loss make sure to read the NY Times magazine profile on the Bruin head coach:

Howland says he spends about 15 to 20 hours a week studying video, far more than most head coaches. (To handle the avalanche of film, Howland created a team video coordinator position at U.C.L.A. Its impact? "Huuuuuge," Howland bellows.) Before each game, someone on his staff watches every game the opponent has played that season, so there will be no surprises. After every game, Howland’s entire staff watches the contest again in his office. He leaves no moment unexamined. Once, at Pittsburgh, when his team blew a double-digit lead over Syracuse in the second half, Howland watched the game three times that same night. After a loss to U.S.C. last season, Howland reviewed the video at least nine times — enough to memorize every possession.

Armed with this research, Howland and his staff figure out U.C.L.A.’s defensive strategy for each game. At practice, he explains each play, then walks the players through it. Next, the starters run the play and then defend against it so they understand its nuances from both sides. After that four-part process, they view each play on video, practice the plays again the next day and then walk through them yet one more time before the actual game. "It’s exactly like a class," the point guard Darren Collison says of Howland’s preparation. "You have to pay attention and memorize."
Thanks to bruinfollower for bringing attention to that article in the diaries. As Norwood points out in the LAT, Bruins will probably need to need to get to the finals to lock up the overall number 1 seed:
UCLA is poised to remain No. 1 overall in the official Ratings Percentage Index when the NCAA announces it today, and the Bruins get to play the Pacific Life Pacific 10 Conference tournament this week at Staples Center, about 14 miles from Pauley Pavilion.

UCLA's season-long resume is so strong — the Bruins are 9-1 against teams in the RPI's top 50 — that UCLA probably could earn a No. 1 even if it doesn't add the tournament title to its regular-season Pac-10 championship. But the Bruins would be wise to make Saturday's final.

Pencil in a short flight to Sacramento for a first-round game March 15, with another short flight to San Jose if they advance to the regional.
I am sure the Bruins will only focus on how to improve their own game and focus on their next opponent once they figure who they are going to play following the Cal-OSU game.

Elsewhere Trojan Alum Arash Markazi did a little Q&A with Kevin Love. Although there is nothing new in that interview, just wanted to make sure you guys didn’t miss anything.