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Ben Ball News & Notes

You know I am not a stat geek. I keep track of them as much as possible but I don’t wade into that world at micro level every day. Now that caveat is out of the way the 2008 scouting report for UCLA on sure looks interesting:

Yeah that’s right. So much for the perception that Coach Howland’s program cannot play offense. According to Kenpom UCLA now has the number 2 efficient offense in the country.

For your reference per the same site UCLA was 23rd nationally in terms of efficient offense in 2007, and 28th in 2006. Of if you want to go back in Howland’s first two years we were 79th in 05, and 142nd in 04.

In other words for the first time in Coach Howland’s tenure now that he has talent sprinkled in all over his line up, he has an elite offense to go with his trademark defense.

Just something to keep in mind next time you hear someone taking shots at Coach Howland’s ability to put together an efficient offensive attack.

Anyway, I never like looking ahead. And my mind right now is how we are going to deal with a Washington State team that will be desperate to stop a two game losing streak at home. And the assignment for Coach Howland and his warriors got lot more difficult now that they are going to take on Bennett’s crew with Luc. From Pucin in LAT:

Fifth-ranked UCLA will be without starting forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute when it begins the second half of the Pacific 10 Conference season Thursday night with a game at No. 17 Washington State.

Mbah a Moute,who rolled his left ankle in the second half of Saturday's win over Arizona, will be sidelined at least seven days, the school said after an evaluation of the 6-foot-8 junior Monday.

That means Mbah a Moute also will miss UCLA's game at Washington on Sunday. The Bruins' next game after that is Feb. 17 at USC.

Mbah a Moute is averaging 9.2 points and is the team's second-leading rebounder at 5.1 a game. Coach Ben Howland also considers Mbah a Moute and Russell Westbrook his top defensive players.

The most likely starting lineup adjustment would have Alfred Aboya starting at power forward with Josh Shipp at small forward, Westbrook and Darren Collison at guard and Kevin Love at center.
It will be imperative for AA2 to play a smart and heady game on Thursday night. Now more than ever we will need him to play somewhat under control (read no cheap fouls) while maintaining his aggression around the boards and on defense. Hopefully Dragovic can step up like he did in our last road trip while Keefe and Stanback will need play with poise and composure when they get their mins.

It goes without saying Luc’s return to line up energized our defense last week against Arizona schools because he allowed our guards to be more aggressive around the perimeter. Hopefully DC, RW, and Shipp are ready to handle the challenge they are goin to face from a well coached and disciplined Cougar backcourt, who will try to test our poise and patience on the road.