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Ben Ball Roundup: Matador Wrapup

Wanted to pile on some additional notes to T’s topline recap from yesterday’s game. Not surprisingly Ben Ball warriors had any problem with the CSUN Matadors. Although both Howland and DC were doing their Lou Holtz routine about how concerned they were about this game:

"These are the type of games you have to mentally prepare for," guard Darren Collison said. "If we'd lost this game, it would have been all over our resume."

The 12th-ranked Bruins avoided any major embarrassments at Pauley Pavilion on Sunday night, playing sloppily at times but ultimately cruising to an 85-67 victory.

"I was worried about this game," Coach Ben Howland said. "I was worried about Cal State Northridge."

Well as T mentioned, we did look sloppy at times as our freshmen are working their way into getting accustomed to the college game. Yet, there were few bright spots from the last night. First, let’s talk about JH. He was dazzling:

Holiday shares a lot of Collison's attributes, including a willingness to share the ball. He made some dazzling passes, including a no-look bullet to Alfred Aboya under the basket for an uncontested layup midway through the second half.

What I was particularly stoked to see JH’s tenacity on the defensive side. He was ferocious causing one TO after TO. Another aspect of his game that was interesting to watch was his strength. Late in the second half he threw a Kevin Lovesque outlet pass to a streaking team-mate (I think it was JS) who barely failed to convert. Also, in the second half he threw up a three pointer using his body strength from not so ideal set up. He still has ways to improve but from what I am seeing out there, IMHO he is the best athlete in this team.

Another freshman who had a huge night was Drew Gordon. CBH singled out DG for praise after last night’s game:

Howland was particularly pleased with Gordon, who made all four of his shots and also had five rebounds, one turnover, one block and one steal.

"I thought Drew Gordon played his best game of the year, and I told him that in front of the team," Howland said. "I was encouraged by his points and rebounding and also his hedging, rotating and even a steal on defense. He just played with a lot of intensity."

Howland said Gordon injured his left wrist on a charge he took against Texas, but an X-ray and MRI were negative.

I have been pretty pleasantly surprised at both DG and JM’s game early this season. I was expecting these kids to be lot more raw on both offensive and defensive side. I think both of them are well ahead of where LMR and AA2 were as freshmen. Now, if they can replicate both LMR and AA2’s work ethic by working on their defense and get in total game shape, we are going to be set for few years.

Speaking of forwards, JK also had a solid night (from Bruin Basketball Report):

Power forward James Keefe had one of his best games of the year, scoring 9 points and grabbing a game-high 7 rebounds in just 22 minutes of play.

Lately Keefe has been looking more comfortable on the offensive end. In this game he hit his first three midrange shots within the flow of the offense. Defensively he has been more disruptive in the paint and has been more aggressive on the boards. The Bruins will need Keefe to continue to improve and be consistent if they expect to go far this season.

In addition to JK, AA2 had another AA2 like night. He once again gave us solid mins. He was all over the court. From what I am seeing it seems like AA2 is at whole another level this year in terms of being in game shape. He is running like a gazelle from one end of the court to another, getting back on defense like a free safety to disrupt long balls.

Also speaking of defense, I thought JA two of the more spectacular defensive plays of the night. He looks natural in the way he plays pg, but what probably excites Howland even more is the attitude he is bringing on defense. I had no idea the kid can climb the ladder like he did in his two emphatic block shots.

Now as mentioned above, we weren’t perfect last night. We were sloppy particularly out of the gate as we committed double digit turnovers. In addition our defense wasn’t very good. The Matadors shot 47.4% from the floor, which I am sure will not make Howland very happy.

FT shooting continues to be atrocious. We made only 10 out of 20 shots. I just don’t get how guards/shooters like JS, JK and JA can keep missing these freebies. Again, if we don’t improve out FT shooting by the conference season, it is going to bite us down the stretch.

In addition our performance inside the paint wasn’t too hot. We outrebounded CSUN 31 to 25, but a stat that will surely drive CBH crazy is that the Matadors had more offensive rebounds (12 to 11).

Anyway, perhaps we can chalk some of the defensive sluggishness above from the Final week fatigue (particularly for the freshmen). They now get a week off to focus on their last week of Fall quarter before getting back in action next Saturday.

Good luck to all of our Ben Ball warriors and the student body this week.