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Ben Ball Roundup: Patience

So I am not surprised at all to see the close score when I woke up this morning. I didn’t get to watch the game but going into it I was dreading about an upset. This was one of those games which might have presented a perfect storm for a capable Mid Major team to pull off an upset against a team like UCLA working to develop so many freshmen early in the season.

It is not going to get any easier for our guys as they take on Beilein’s Michigan team next week. It is not going to be easy especially considering the difficult time Howland’s backcourt has had handling Beilein’s 1-3-1 zone. Well, we will talk about that game lot more next week. The good news here is that we won’t have to wait till November 29 for our next game and seems like the players had their own incentives to pull out a clutch win last night:

"We would have had some serious practice that would have been no fun," junior wing Michael Roll said. "We would have been running for days."

Collison, the West bracket's MVP, and Shipp carried the Bruins offensively with 16 points apiece. Aboya had six points, including two crucial free throws with 2:13 to play, and also grabbed six rebounds.

Collison hit floaters and pull-up jumpers during a 10-point second half to keep UCLA ahead by a few points, and his two free throws with 21 seconds remaining gave the Bruins a 62-59 lead. Shipp, who also had 10points after the break, iced the trip to New York with two free throws with 5.8 seconds left.

The Redhawks (1-1) were led by senior Michael Bramos' 22 points, but he is not who shot the ball when UCLA led 62-59 in the closing minutes. Instead, Miami senior Kenny Hayes, who was 7 for 7 from 3-point range in Wednesday's win against Weber State, missed a tough shot over Bruins power forward James Keefe with eight seconds remaining.

"It would not have been a good week for us if we lost," Shipp said. "It would have been two weeks of hard practice."

LOL I wouldn’t want to be in JS and his team-mates shoes if the game had gotten away against what sounds like a solid and scrappy team last night.

It sounds like it was the seniors who carried us down the stretch, which is good news. But as the folks at Bruin Basketball Report point out concerns remain about our frontcourt after the second game in this regular season:

Offensively, UCLA struggled again with its inside game.

James Keefe played another subpar game, finishing with 3 points on 1 of 3 shooting and missing another easy layup. The junior is playing with a lack of confidence and its showing on both ends of the court. Keefe had just 3 rebounds in 24 minutes. He'll need to step forward soon as the Bruins lack veteran depth up front.

Senior center Alfred Aboya did another yeoman's job in the paint, sitting picks and disrupting offenses with his activity, but his 6 points and 6 rebounds paired with Keefe's minute contributions will not be enough production for UCLA when it faces teams with even more talent than they've faced.

Its not time to panic in Westwood yet, but a clear warning bell has been sounded.

With an unproductive inside game and five freshmen playing major roles, UCLA will be vulnerable in the early going.

Hmm. I wonder what is going on with JK. I am looking forward to watching next game to see what is going on. Here is something I will throw out to discuss. For those who have watched JK so far this season does it appear that he has slowed down a step and lost a bit of agility due to bulking up a lot this offseason? Perhaps that’s not on point and I shouldn’t be making that guess without having watched a single game yet this season. But that thought did go through my mind.

I certainly agree with BBR folks that really there is no reason to panic. I fully expect us to have a bumpy pre season and even a tougher Pac-10 season than we have had last two years, due to our freshmen inexperience and front court issues. In some ways, I will not be surprised if this season turns out to be the same journey we experience during the 2005-06 season, which if you can remember was pretty tough in the early going featuring losses in the MSG and against Pac-10 teams at Pauley.

On brighter notes, it sounds like our warriors were clutch during crunch time:

In the end, "It came down to valuing our possessions," said Collison after hitting two free throws with 21 seconds left to make it 62-59. "We weren't going to lose that game ... This was a great test for us.

But the backbreaker for the Redhawks, of the Mid-American Conference, may have come a couple of minutes earlier, and from a most unlikely source. James Keefe, a 6-foot-8 forward known mostly for his rebounding, dropped in a three-point rainbow from the corner as the clock wound down for a 58-54 lead with 3:15 left.

"Better to be lucky than good," UCLA coach Ben Howland said.

So the Bruins were lucky?

"On that shot," he said.

They made their FTs and AA2 stayed out of foul trouble for the second straight game:

"The key for UCLA is they made their free throws. They made six down the stretch (after making only 7 of 14 early)," Miami coach Charlie Coles said. "I was really hoping that (Alfred) Aboya would miss his free throws."

But the 6-9 senior center didn't, as he finished his first back-to-back games playing 30 or more minutes. Foul troubles had previously prevented that. But he had none.

Plus the team reduced the number of TOs from the first game:

If nothing else, the Bruins showed improvement from their rough opener when they had 24 turnovers, six each by Collison and freshman guard Jerime Anderson.

Howland warned his players they could not afford to be so sloppy against Miami, but the players did not seem too worried about cleaning things up.

"Don't make a mistake about it, that is a very good team," Collison said. "As soon as you turn it over, they were going to capitalize on it."

UCLA took better care of the ball against Miami -- only seven turnovers -- but would need more than meticulousness.

If we are looking for “meticulousness,” that is going to require patience. For i.e., when it comes to freshmen, kids like JM openly admits (refreshingly so instead of getting defensive about it) that he has some work to do when it comes to getting in shape:

Bruins freshman center J'mison "Bobo" Morgan echoed Bruins coach Ben Howland's sentiments that he needs to get in better shape.

"I knew I was out of shape," Morgan said. "I really didn't have to work as hard at the high school level, but I'm just trying to get better and better every day. But, yeah, I wish I did more conditioning before the season."

There is no reason for Bobo to beat himself for it. The conditioning will develop over time. It is pretty much impossible for a high school senior (no matter how talented he is) to come into Westwood in Ben Ball warrior game shape. JM and his freshmen team-mates will get there. It will take time and more importantly patience on the part of the entire Bruin Nation.