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Ben Ball News & Notes

In case you missed it, Kevin Love was named Pac-10 Player of the Week for January 7-13. Kevin received that honor for the second time this season. While, here on BN, we have started the conversation on how we should start talking about Love not just during FOY discussions but also Pac-10 POY discussion, a noted national expert like Ken Pomeroy has upped the stakes even higher. Following last Saturday’s game Pomeroy injected Love into the national POY discussion (emphasis added):

21 points in seven possessions, and fortunately for the Bruins, Wazzu was down by 15 before this barrage started. When the game was still on the line, Kevin Love dominated a bigger Aron Baynes and Darren Collison looked healthy. I don't think anybody seriously thought the Cougs were the fourth-best team in the country, as their AP rank indicated, but there's a reasonable argument that they're the Bruins' closest Pac-10 competition, and the game wasn't really close. There hasn't been much player-of-the year hype yet this season, but Love has done the most against the best competition. He scores, he gets to the line, he rebounds, he passes and he defends. Love's presence has allowed UCLA's offense, at least in terms of its starting five, to be able to play with anyone in the land, and that's saying a lot considering Ben Howland's reputation as being a defense-first coach.
Read the rest of Pomeroy’s post. Pretty interesting stuff if you are a hardcore hoops junkie. I am sure Love will be the first one to tell us that he still has a ways to go, and right now the only thing he is working on is getting better and making his team better on a day-to-day basis.

Another guy who is working on getting better is Josh Shipp. And after Miller’s appearance at Pauley this past weekend there was some talk about Shipp getting some pointers from Miller on launching those long bombs. Well, apparently it can’t happen because of NCAA rules:
Coach Ben Howland excitedly pushed the idea after UCLA had dispatched No. 4 Washington State.

"He's the best ever at how to read a screen and watch the guy guarding him," he said.

Shipp was into it.

"I think I do a pretty good job, but Reggie Miller is the best 3-point shooter there is," he said.

One problem: So much as a phone call between Shipp and Miller would be in violation of one of those arcane NCAA rules with seven digits and five decimal points.

To be exact, "an institution may use or arrange for a temporary consultant to provide in-service training for the coaching staff, but no interaction with student-athletes is permitted unless the individual is counted against the applicable coaching limits."
LOL, LOL, I guess NCAA rules only apply to UCLA basketball in Los Angeles. I guess it is all right with the NCAA if Reggie Bush gets involved and help Southern Cal haul in out of state recruit (without clarifying whether he is serving as an "official consultant" of the program), but they wouldn’t be ok with Miller giving Shipp some tips on the game. Anyway, Miller still went on to provide some his observations on getting those long bombs off quickly coming off screens:
Miller, who until attending the Bruins' victory over Washington State had watched his alma mater only on TV, said that he liked what he saw from Shipp as well as Russell Westbrook as the Bruins put up what was a season-high 81 points on the Cougars. Shipp hit 6 of 9 shots against Washington State, including 2 of 5 from behind the 3-point line. He has made 41 of the Bruins' 96 3-point field goals (42.3 percent) and hit a solid 39.4 percent (41 of 104) of his 3-point shots, but also is not without issues working his way open on the perimeter and at times this season has settled for deep attempts well behind the line.

"A lot of younger players think when you take a step back you try to create separation from the defender. A lot of times, you want to use a defender to really screen themselves or, sometimes, you want to draw the contact in so you can create separation," Miller said.

"Sometimes, it was like (Shipp) was trying to get away from the defender. But sometimes it's good to have the defender closer to you because, A, you know where he's at and, B, if your screen is coming down on the left or right side, if your defender is close to you it's going to be easier for you to create separation. Now, obviously, once you create that separation, you've got to have a quick release once you come off that screen. That would be the next thing. As soon as you come off the screen, it's getting that shot off quickly.

"College is fast, but the pro game is the fastest. Guys recover. As quickly as you're going to create separation, is as quick as they're going to be able to recover at the next level. You have to be able to get your shot off fairly quickly.
As noted in rest of the article by Coach Howland, Shipp’s game is still coming around. He is still working on the finer points of the game, as he had to spend a huge chunk of his college career getting healthy from serious surgeries. To date, Shipp has been having a solid season. And, more and more, he is not forcing his shots any more and taking them within the flow of the game. I imagine he will only get better as the season goes on.

Lastly, a really stupid column from Paul Oberjuerge in the Daily News about our next game. Paul wastes a column calling this game a "rivalry" game and offers up BS like this once again pushing the narrative of "gap closing":
UCLA remains the big brother, aiming for national titles. USC is the junior partner, aspiring first to civic hegemony.

USC might be closing the Success Gap, its new arena and recruiting coups perhaps evening the playing field.

In fact, this decade has been the most evenly contested in the 223-game, 80-year history of the rivalry. UCLA has won nine games; USC has won seven.
Uhm, if Paul was going to exercise any modicum of intellectual honesty, he’d note that, actually, under Coach Howland UCLA has now won 5 of these last 6 games. Howland started with an 0-2 record against those guys because he inherited the worst UCLA team in the history of our basketball program. So 6 of those 7 TrOJan wins came against a nucleus put together by the worst coach in the history of college basketball. I wouldn’t call that "evening the playing field." Those clowns never belonged on the same play field, they don’t now, and they never will.