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Ben Ball Gameday Roundup & Notes

I already talked a little bit about ASU yesterday. Bruin Basketball Report has the game preview upBBR:

Freshman Ty Abbott (6'4, 195, Fr) starts at one wing. He struggled a bit midseason, perhaps hitting the proverbial freshman wall, but he's come on strong lately. Against California two weeks ago, Abbott scored a career-high 30 points including 8 of 13 on three-pointers.

If the Sun Devils expect to have any chance against the Bruins on Thursday, Abbott will need to have a similar performance. He is averaging 10.4 points a game on 41% field goal shooting and over 37% on three-pointers.

Abbott will be matched up against UCLA's Josh Shipp who needs to do a good job closing out on the young Sun Devil sharpshooter.

At another wing is native Latvian, Rihards Kuksiks (6'6, 205, Fr). Kuksiks stepped into the the starting line-up in place of Jerren Shipp (6'3, 214, So) a few games ago. He has an excellent feel for the game and gives the Sun Devils another solid three-point threat and a little more size on the floor.

Kuksiks is shooting almost 40% from the three-point line. Over the last four games, he is averaging 11.0 points including ten three-point field goals made.
Shipp and his team-mates did a good job of shutting down Abbtoo and Kuksiks last time we took on those guys. Hopefully they are going to be able to maintain that edge despite taking on an ASU team, which will be mostly like have a little extra oomph tonight, playing in front of a fired up home crowd ready to take down a top ranked team.

Speaking of Shipp, Diane Pucin has a profile (she probably kept it in stock the whole season ready to roll out this week) on Josh and his brothers.

Elsewhere, Dohn has an interested article on Westbrook:
Westbrook, who played point guard when Collison was injured early in the season, still leads the Pac-10 in assists, at 4.81 per game.

He is fifth in steals at 1.63 per game and also took over UCLA's defensive stopper role, vacated when Afflalo left early for the NBA last season.

At 6-foot-3 and 190 pounds, Westbrook has wide shoulders - a smart, unselfish head is attached - and the type of body that excites NBA folks. He will not turn 20 until Nov. 12, making him UCLA's second-youngest player next to freshman Chace Stanback.

Westbrook is averaging 12.4 points per game, up from the 3.4 he averaged as a freshman. He is fearless, not to mention successful, driving to the basket, which is why he is shooting 49.2 percent from the field.

"I played with him in the summer, and I was telling everybody he was the most underrated player in the country," Love said. "He'll wind up being one of the best players in the country."

The question, as it relates to Westbrook's NBA readiness, is the consistency of his jump shot. He is shooting 35.6 percent from 3-point range, including 26.1 percent in 14 conference games. It could make for ugly workouts in front of NBA teams when it comes to shooting drills.

"His true position at the next level is the point," Howland said. "Early in the year, I thought he did a great job there."
If RW comes back next season he will have a terrific opportunity to emerge as one of the best point guard, if not the best point guard in the nation. It will be interesting to see what he and his family decides to do this off season. FWIW to me the most important returnees for next season is not KL or DC. I am crossing my fingers that RW, LRMAM, AA2 and JS will all come back next year. JS has been on the record saying he will come back. I think it’s a good bet that AA2 will be back. The x factors will hinge on RW and LRMAM.

Anyway, I will worry about all that after our season is over. Everyone (well at least our team) should be focusing on one thing only, which is pulling out a victory at ASU tonight. See you in the game thread.