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Ben Ball News & Notes

We talked about tomorrow’s game about being a trap game against a pretty talented TrOJan team. Coach Howland is making sure the fans and his players know that he is expecting a ‘very hard fought’ game:

"[Tim Floyd]’s just done a great job this year molding that young team. They’re the one team that really had Memphis [beaten]; they missed a foul shot to win the game in the last two seconds of regulation. Lewis, Mayo and Hackett are a very formidable backcourt.

"Mayo is one of the best players in the country. I was watching him earlier, how low he gets on his drives to the basket. He’s very difficult to stay in front of. He can really, really shoot it. Gibson is really coming on now, in the last seven or eight games. He’s a very good player and a real hard match-up because he can step out, he can drive it, he can post you, he can block shots.

"And Jefferson is very, very athletic. So their first five are really, really good players, athletic and long. They’ve got some guys who can really shoot the ball. They’re a very good team, make no mistake about that. I fully expect that USC will be in the NCAA Tournament. I have no doubt about that. They’re good. This will be a very hard-fought game."
Obviously, everyone is anxious to see what our guys are going to do to match up against OJ2. DC gives us a little clue re our defensive strategy:
"We all played against him. Russell was on my team during the time we played him. O.J. is a good player. We understand what he can do. It is going to be a fun matchup. But we aren’t thinking about guarding him individually, we are looking at it more as team play.

"I think the most important thing is to take away easy shots and try to make it hard for him. He’s going to shoot the ball and he’s going to score, but if we can limit his shooting percentage, we should be alright. We are not going to be able to stop his scoring entirely, but if we can make him take tough shots and contest every shot he takes throughout the game, then we should be cool."

Collison is also more aware of the tactical side of the game. Last season, USC tried to foul UCLA’s poorer foul shooters, Lorenzo Mata-Real and Alfred Aboya, at the end of the game, but Collison wasn’t aware at first. "I didn’t realize what they were trying to do. After I saw Alfred running across the court, I figured it out. Tim Floyd is a smart coach and he’s going to try and do whatever it takes to win a game. It should be real fun and interesting to see what they are going to bring at us on Saturday."
Well, this year is going to be different. I’d be surprised if Mata-Real is in the game during those last mins given Love’s improved defense. However, at the same time, Mata-Real has to be prepared. I am going to assume that Floyd is going to work the refs very hard before the game to get them in the mindset of calling fouls on Love. So, no matter what, Mata-Real has to be prepared and in today’s LAT’s report he doesn’t sound all that worried about ‘Hack a Lo.’

Also, from the same article, Howland confirmed that Luc will also match up against OJ2. Luc was apparently dinged up in practice on Monday but he will be ready to go on Saturday.

I will end with another note on this game. Interesting quotes from Shipp comparing the mindset between UCLA and Southern Cal:
"This team (UCLA), we're more like a unity team,'' Shipp said. "Coach (Ben Howland) emphasizes you have to sacrifice to win the championship. It is a total team effort. I think SC, is tough because a lot of those guys might try to (get) their points to do other things, but here our guys realize you have to sacrifice in order to win.''
So is UCLA's way better Do you think that is a better way?
"Definitely, if you want to win, you have to,'' Shipp said. "It's better to have a championship at the end of the day then to have a scoring title. We don't care about that.''
Honestly, I am not sure how I feel about those quotes.

I appreciate the fact that Josh was speaking from the heart and was being honest. But I am not sure if there is any need for giving the other team any extra edge for motivation. Let JustSC be JustSC and let’s take care of business on our own end. I don’t think our players need to talk about the mindset about other teams. Leave that to us Josh. :-)