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Ben Ball News & Notes

Looks like I wasn't the only one thinking about our Sunday blues. Coach Howland altered his practice schedule a little bit for this weekend. From the LA Times:

The last time UCLA played a Thursday-Sunday Pacific 10 Conference road trip, the Bruins were outplayed, outhustled and upset by Washington, 71-61, in Seattle. This time Coach Ben Howland is changing the schedule.

Fourth-ranked UCLA (25-3, 13-2) will play Arizona (17-11, 7-8) at the McKale Center on Sunday after its 70-49 win over Arizona State on Thursday in Tempe.

Howland gave his players the day off Friday, allowing them to visit a Scottsdale mall before taking the bus trip to Tucson. Howland said the Bruins would practice today. "We won't go long," Howland said, "but we will go hard."

Last month after UCLA beat Washington State in Pullman, the Bruins had a charter flight to Seattle immediately after the Thursday night game, had a practice Friday and a less strenuous one on Saturday. Several players said they were flat in the Washington loss.

Howland said he doesn't know if he prefers the normal Thursday-Saturday game schedule to the occasional Thursday-Sunday schedule. "I'm torn," he said.
So the boys are practicing today. And after taking the day off yesterday, they are going to zero in today. Also we have heard some grumbling about our bench production in terms of scoring. Coach Howland is not all that worried about our bench scoring:
The Bruins got two points off their bench in Thursday's victory at Arizona State. They also had just eight against Oregon, four against USC and two against Washington. Howland isn't focusing on the point production from the bench, though. "We're playing who we're playing and I've been pleased with the guys coming off the bench with their efforts," he said. ...
Makes sense to me. I think what he looks out of his bench players is to give us solid mins. in terms of defense and doing what's necessary to help our scorers execute on offense. In that sense LMR, AA2, and JK have given some pretty solid mins in our last few games as the have been steady on D, playing our physical brand of basketball, helping us maintain our edge on the boards, while doing what they have to do to (such as setting screens, making that extra pass) to help their team-mates set up on offense.

As for Arizona it sounds like they may roll out Lute for a little extra motivation:
Olson may show up for senior day ceremonies after Sunday's UCLA game, despite having extended his leave of absence for the entire season in December.

UA senior associate athletic director Rocky LaRose said Friday she has spoken often with Olson but did not say whether he would definitely make an appearance.

"I can't say one way or another," LaRose said. "The status of Coach Olson is that he's still on an approved leave of absence, but we'd certainly welcome him for senior day, because he's played such a major role with the seniors' careers."

O'Neill said he has not spoken to Olson about whether he would show up.

Olson has not appeared at any UA games all season, although he has occasionally shown up at McKale Center.
No doubt if Lute makes an appearance, it will charge up their entire gym and inspire their guys come out breathing fire. The trick for us will be to stay steady, play defense, and be patient and smart on offense. Just have to play our game.