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A Clinic At Pauley

Well I think we have officially come out of the rough patch we hit at Pauley last Saturday (knocking on wood). Ben Ball warriors were clicking on all cylinders last night both on offense and defense as they put together their most complete performance of the season yet.

The most encouraging part of last night’s performance was how we shredded ASU’s 3-2 zone. Remember we didn’t have an easy time with Sendek’s defensive scheme last year. And till yesterday we were still working our way through against zone defenses. Well hopefully what we saw last night will be norm for rest of the season. Because according to Coach Howland that was our best performance in terms of attacking the zone in his five years at UCLA. From Dohn in the Daily News:

UCLA coach Ben Howland went with a smaller lineup, starting Westbrook in the backcourt, moving Shipp to small forward and Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to power forward so he could bring Alfred Aboya off the bench.

Westbrook was central in attacking Arizona State's zone, and he finished with 10 points and seven assists, and did not turn over the ball.

"I wanted to attack the zone early in this game with efficiency, and that's our best five players in attacking the zone," Howland said. "We did a good job being patient. We did a good job penetrating, jump-stopping, making passes to other players. ... That's the best we've attacked the zone in five years since I've been at UCLA by far."
Well it helped that DC is back to his old self and RW came out of his funk. According to Howland they were exceptional last night:
"Russell Westbrook and Darren were exceptional tonight. They combined for 16 assists against only one turnover. Darren was perfect from the line and from the field and also added a season-high nine assists.

"Russell penetrated very well and made a lot of good plays on jump stops, pump-fakes and passes.
I think one thing that was obvious from the get go was how sharp and crisp our ball movement was. Players were getting rid of the ball quick, just whipping passes inside and outside. They were attacking the middle with abandon and finding team-mates for open threes or dumping it off down low. It was beautiful to watch and it was also very efficient:
Howland pointed to the fact that against a defense where the first open shot is often a long distance shot, the Bruins took only 12 three-pointers and made eight of them.

"That's a lot of efficiency," Howland said. "To only take 12 threes against a zone is a good sign."

Certain that they could break down Arizona State by going inside (Luc Richard Mbah a Moute started UCLA's initial run with a layup) and then outside (Josh Shipp made consecutive open three pointers in the middle of it), the Bruins were able to be aggressive and creative.
Well let’s hope we can continue that effort against the zone. DC emphasized the need for consistency in Dohn’s report (linked above):
"If we can continue to be consistent against the zone, and consistency is the key, it's going to be real hard to beat us," Collison said. "I never liked playing against the zone, but the way we did (Thursday), zones are so much easier to play against. There's so many open looks. Nobody is really guarding you. It's about you making shots and being patient."

Junior wing Josh Shipp busted out of his shooting slump and scored 21 points, freshman center Love added 20 points and 10 rebounds and Collison scored 14 points and had nine assists against one turnover.
Besides our efficient performance on offense our defense was back to being its old self. And no doubt it had a lot to do with Luc’s return to the line up. We once again played our prototype inside-the-jersey on ball defense and then there were those lethal double teams in the post which we hadn’t seen since the Washington State game. The guys did an amazing job holding Harden (9) and Pendegraph (6) to single digits in the scoring column.

There were two key plays to note from last night. First after falling behind big by 17 points in the first half the Devils made a mini run to close the gap to 10 and were looking to cut it to single digits. Well then this happened. Take a look (thanks to grok451):

And then there was this moment which even though is becoming regularity this season is still just … uhm … just SICK:

He is just amazing. Once again I was just taking in every moment of Love. So cool to see this kid develop in his 21 college games. The way he uses the glass to knock down his shots, the way he fights, scraps for boards and his points down low even though when he is being guarded by three guys in the pain. Just breathtaking. Donnie Mac also made a pretty money observation about Love last night saying he is now much quicker in his decision making down low. When he catches the ball now he doesn’t hesitate. He either puts it up or kicks it out to his team-mates. Just so much more efficient than the Love we saw against Texas and other game earlier in the season.

The question going into this weekend is Mata-Real’s wrist. Hopefully he is all right. He also had a very efficient game off the bench last night.

Well we are going to need the same efficient performance from our Ben Ball warriors in what is shaping up to be a huge game against the Standard on Saturday night. A resurgent Zona team who will come out to avenge the losses from last two years. And we can’t get distracted with all the attention this game is going to get because of WWL’s crew appearance and national TV exposure. We will continue need to build on the clinic we put on last night to keep the separation from rest of the Pac-10. We will need to stay steady and patient.