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Ben Ball News & Notes

After taking last couple of days off (relegating the job of covering the best basketball program America to Trojan beat reporters) Diane Pucin checked into Morgan Center yesterday. She filed this report focusing on Shipp’s recent slump from the three point territory. JS has gone 0 for 15 from behind the arc in our last three games while the whole team hasn’t done any better connecting on only 7 of our last 44 3 point attempts:

Shipp attributed his shooting slump in part to teams focusing their defenses more on him.

"A lot of teams are running at me a lot harder," he said. "I need to play in the flow of the game, not force any shots."

UCLA Coach Ben Howland agreed that Shipp is being guarded better. "People are really running at Josh," he said. "[But] Josh did a lot of other good things to help us win and ultimately it's about winning."

Shipp, who is shooting about 37% from three-point range this season even after missing his last 15, said he is optimistic when he watches film.

"I'm taking good shots," he said. "I'm missing them long or short, not left or right, so if I keep shooting the ball, eventually they will fall in."
As I have said before I don’t get concerned about JS’s slump when he is doing all the other little things. Shipp didn’t make any 3 point shots on Sunday night. But he didn’t really force any of those shots. He was active all night contributing with steals, offensive rebounds and finding his team-mates on the offensive end. I think Shipp’s shots will fall eventually. He just needs to keep at it and keep doing all the other little things he have been doing to help us win our games.

Another kid who did a lot of good things on Sunday night was Luc. Coach Howland gave a little update on Luc’s ankle:
On the condition of forward Luc Richard Mbah A Moute: "The trainer saw him this morning as well as yesterday after the game and he felt good today, so we’re encouraged by that. I wasn’t sure, because he had a little swelling, still, from the recovery. He needs to practice this week so his can get his timing, especially on the offensive end, and his conditioning. For 13 days, he never got out and ran. I looked at the numbers after the game: he played 33 minutes, that was more minutes than I anticipated him playing. He did a fantastic job with a double-double and played great defense. He did a lot of good things for us."
That was from Perelman’s post on What’s Bruin, which also included following comments from Coach Howland on our defensive effort this season compared to previous years:
Howland was repeatedly asked if this season’s team is as good defensively as last year’s. While not directly comparing the teams, he took pains to note that "Russell Westbrook is right there with Aaron [Afflalo] in terms of my appreciation for how well he guards the other team’s best perimeter player, which is really quite a compliment. Russell is really blossoming into that same level of defensive stopper. He has been all year and it was highlighted in our last game with the job he did on [O.J.] Mayo. The way he trails, the way he stays in front of the ball, you have to be intense every second."

Looking at the USC from Howland’s perspective of field goal percentage plus turnovers, the Trojans’ 46.5% shooting for the game (20-43) turns into 30.8% (20-65) after adding in their 22 turnovers. For the season, UCLA’s field-goal percentage defense of 42.3% turns into "32.8%" once turnovers are added in.

Than again, UCLA’s own field-goal percentage of 48.1% melts to "39.0%" once the Bruins’ own turnovers are included.
Well you can bet that Coach Howland and our players will continue to fine tune their defensive effort. And I think the numbers will improve if Luc’s continues to get healthy in the coming days. Oregon State presents a great opportunity for our extended rotation (that means Stanback and Dragovic) to get in some game experience and work on team defense. And it sounds like DC and his team-mates are realizing they can’t lollygag like they did against Washington or even against these Beavers last time out. From Dohn in his today’s UCLA report:
"Coach (Ben Howland) always says any team can win, regardless of what their record (is). Any team can give it to you on any given night."

When the Bruins visited Oregon State last month, the Beavers trailed by four points at the half before falling by 23.

"(Howland) probably will mention that, now that I think about it," Collison said. "We were only up by four. That's what makes this conference so good. Even the worst team can hang with you, I guess."
Well it looks like the worst team in the Pac-10 might be a little shorthanded on Thursday night (also from Dohn):
Oregon State could be without a couple of key players against the Bruins after second-leading scorer and rebounder Marcel Jones and Sean Carter were involved in a taunting incident the day before the loss to Washington.

"As far as Sean Carter, there will be some disciplinary actions taken on his behavior," Oregon State interim coach Kevin Mouton said.

"That was not acceptable, once I figured out everything that happened Friday at practice."

According to the Seattle Times, after a confrontation at the conclusion of Washington's practice Friday in Corvallis, Ore., a Beaver that Washington players and coaches identified as Jones "left a voice message for Huskies guard Joel Smith, asking UW players to come to the parking lot" of Washington's hotel "and fight."
Oy Vez. I guess they have to do something to gin up some excitement between the two cellar dwelling programs from the Northwest.

All kidding assign our guys cannot come out in this game like they did against Washington. If they come out this game focused and with purpose they will be able to get the entire team involved and get some much needed mins for our younger guys (yeah by "young" we don’t mean 21 year old freshman) and also rest for Luc’s ankle and our backcourt guys heading into Saturday and beyond.