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Ben Ball News & Notes

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As the Bruins get ready for their final (true) road trip of the season LRMAM is still playing through pain. From Dohn:

UCLA power forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute lifted his pants leg slightly to reveal his left ankle, still swollen below the bone and sore from the sprain he suffered three weeks ago.

He played 33 minutes, scored nine points and added seven rebounds as No. 6 UCLA beat Oregon 75-65 Saturday at Pauley Pavilion, but he is far from healthy.

"It feels bad," Mbah a Moute said. "I can't explode as well as I want to explode. It's the one I push off with, and every time I try to push off, I'm kind of slow."

Mbah a Moute rolled the ankle in the second half of a blowout win Feb. 2 against Arizona, and missed the next two games.

Even now, in his third game back, he said he takes Celebrex to ease the pain before games, gets it re-taped at halftime and ices it plenty afterward.

"I can play. That's the main thing," Mbah a Moute said. "I get a chance to be out there and help my team, and that's really good for me."
Per Pucin’s report Celebrex is a pain medicine that is prescribed fro arthritis sufferers. Again it is absolutely amazing how our kids play through pain and never make any excuses. More from Pucin’s report on what was going through the Prince’s mindset as he was playing through pain and taking on a speedster like Porter:
On one second-half possession, Mbah a Moute stayed in front of Porter for at least 20 seconds. Porter probed for a weakness with his dribble, back and forth. Porter tried to go around Mbah a Moute and tried to back him off with a pump fake. Mbah a Moute had none of it. Finally, Porter tried to drive the sideline and fumbled the ball. Bruins point guard Darren Collison recovered.

"I was just trying to stay focused," Mbah a Moute said. "I didn't try to reach or anything. He's very quick, and I was focusing on getting low, staying in front of the ball. No way he's going to beat me. I knew exactly what he was trying to do. There was no need for me to switch off him, especially at that time of game when the crowd was into it and everything."
It’s not coincidence. Howland coaches up his players in such a mindset that enables them to focus like a laser and they are so well prepared (defensively) they always have a pretty good idea on exactly what their opponents are going to do. Dohn’s report also mentioned how Love has been playing through even though he has been "really sick" for last two weeks. And then there was another kid who shook off an injury to make a statement to his team-mates, home crowd and the opponent:
Russell Westbrook tweaked his left ankle and jogged on it gingerly for about a minute during the second half. He didn't feel 100 percent afterward. He wasn't tentative on it, judging by the monster jam.
``After that (dunk), I figured it was all right,'' he said.
Westbrook iced the ankle after the game and was walking without a limp.
Let’s hope RW got some rest yesterday. As Dohn mention both him and DC are expected to log heavy mins from hereon out, as Howland loves to work his backcourt.

Now coming out of this weekend lot of folks are concerned about Shipp. KS Wong from Bruin Basketball Report offers up some poignant commentary on what Josh needs to keep doing: he needs to keep shooting:
The Bruins are a talented bunch. Freshman Kevin Love is a beast inside and tough to stop, Russell Westbrook has NBA-crazy athleticism to get to the basket, and Darren Collison is the quickest in the land, but without Shipp's outside shooting, the Bruins are vulnerable to teams packing it inside on them.

The good news about Shipp's shooting slump is that it is old news too. It has happened before, a matter of fact it did just last season.

Shipp went through a similar slump last season, going 2 of 17 over a seven game span, but he regrouped and found his shot at the end of the season and tournament time. As a result, Shipp was a major factor in UCLA's Final Four run last season.

No doubt Shipp is mired in a horrific shooting slump, but the only way he'll break out of it is by shooting himself out of it.

He needs to regain his swagger.

With four regular season games remaining, there is still time.
Look I totally understand why lot of folks are worried about our outside shooting. I think the concern is legit. But on the other hand I think we all need to relax a little bit and let this work out on its own and not put any extra pressure on the team.

Honestly right now I am not really all that worried about what is going to happen in the tournament. We have a brutal road game coming up on Thursday night against a very good ASU team, that will give us their best effort as they will be fighting for their NCAA lives. We need to figure out right now how we can pull out a win that night to make sure we are in position to get at least a split in this difficult road trip (I am not even thinking about Sunday’s game at this point). Let’s see what happens this Thursday night. And if things don’t go our way Thursday night, hopefully we will come out and battle away on Sunday, and then get ready to make a run as we will be in position to control our destiny be having our last two games at home and then the tourney at Staples Center.

So let’s all take a deep breath and get ready for Thursday night. Once again what we need to do is come out and play that lockdown defense we have been playing in the closing mins of our last two ball games. If we can come out with that kind of defensive ferocity right out of the gate on Thursday night and sustain it for the entire 40 mins, we are going to be in decent shape. One game at a time.

GO BRUINS.