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Ben Ball News & Notes

Ben Ball warriors have a huge home stand ahead of them this week. Arizona schools are coming into town and both of them are going to present formidable challenges on our home court. Before we look ahead to the resurgent Sun Devils on Thursday night I wanted to close the loop on our last weekend’s Oregon trip.

First let’s start with an observation from Seitz re. Shipp’s game against Oregon which I think also holds true for his performances against the Beavers:

I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Josh Shipp. The numbers are uninspiring: 2-8 from the field, three rebounds, seven points (along with six assists). But honestly, I'm a little surprised he took eight shots. Sometimes you're not on your game, or your opponent is focused on taking you out of the game. And in those situations, the best thing you can do is keep yourself from forcing things. That's not easy to do when you're often the team's offensive focal point. But Shipp let the game come to him. He didn't try to make himself the story. When a leader like Shipp isn't a factor, and UCLA wins a close game, you know they didn't do it in spite of him. You know he let his teammates do what they needed to do to win.
I think that’s a really good point that I haven’t seen made elsewhere. Shipp was also struggling with his shot on Saturday night. But in retrospect he limited himself to 10 shots and on the offensive end was doing his best to get his team-mates involved, and also getting to the line. The main concern about Shipp is his defense right now. He needs to get a little more focused not allowing opposing guards to blow by him.

And Shipp is not the only player having this problem. From Bruin Basketball Report’s Oregon State wrapup:
Russell Westbrook allowed his opponent on numerous occasions to easily beat him off the dribble and penetrate in the first half. Westbrook, who had been gaining a reputation as a defensive stopper, doesn't seem as focused as he was earlier in the season. At times during the game he was either playing his opponent at the wrong angles or guarding them too closely, and allowing them to blow by him numerous times.

Although the Bruin defensive intensity increased in the second-half, ultimately leading to a blow-out victory, they'll certainly need both Mbah a Moute back and on court and for Westbrook to reclaim his spot as the team's defensive stopper if they are to be successful this season.
Yeap. As I said yesterday. I think when a healthy Luc returns to our lineup, his presence will give a huge boost to Shipp and Westbrook. I am more than hopeful that this issue will be corrected in next few games.

One guy who is totally clicking right now is Kevin Love. CSTV’s Josh Herwitt jumps on the Love for POY train:
So forget about Pac-10 Freshman of the Year -- let's start talking about National Player of the Year.

Sounds a little crazy, huh?

Not to UCLA coach Ben Howland, not to the rest of Love's teammates and not to even his opponents.

"He is very skilled," affirmed Oregon center Marty Leunen, who went toe-to-toe with Love before finishing with 16 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals. "He understands the game very well."

"He is just a load down there," Ducks shooting guard Bryce Taylor added. "He crashes the boards like crazy."

Sure, Tyler Hansbrough, Michael Beasley and Eric Gordon have put up some huge numbers over the past week, but lurking out west is Love, and in case you thought he couldn't play any better than his 27-point, 14-rebound performance against then-No. 4 Washington State, well, he did in one of the hardest places to play in the country and arguably the hardest place to play in the Pac-10.
While to keep his chances alive Love was added to Wooden All American Midseason Watch-List.

Well the last guy to win that award was King Ed in 1995. And King Ed wouldn’t have sniffed that award if not for the total team effort from Edney, CO, Toby, JR, George, Dollar et al. Love is going to need every single one of his team-mates to improve along with him if they want to bring that award back home for the first time since 1995.