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Ben Ball News & Notes

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Monday was Awards Day in the world of Ben Ball. Let’s start with Coach Howland’s comments on the second straight MVP to come out of his program:

"(Love's) hype was off the hype meter, but it's been incredible how he's handled it," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "To be on the cover of Sports Illustrated, ESPN the Magazine, and all the preseason expectations of being the No. 1 player in the country out of high school, to come in and not only deliver on the floor and play his best down the stretch, but to handle all that pressure off the floor ..."

It is the seventh time a UCLA player has won the award, and second straight year. Arron Afflalo was the player of the year last season.
Now Kevin had some interesting comments in the LA Times in response to his award:
Seven Bruins have been player of the year since the inception of the award in 1975-76. "I didn't think they'd give it to a freshman," Love said. "In a way I knew I was up for contention, but a lot of people don't like UCLA."

And Love was quick to point out that he was also selected honorable mention on the all-defensive team. "That's my favorite thing," Love said. "After all the grief Coach Howland gave me about my defense."
I imagine Kevin has been reacting to the ongoing blitz of over reaction and over the top conspiracy BS (based on the last two games) that have been coming from various jealous corners of the Pac-10. As for his comments re. defense, even though Pucin might have been trying hard to paint the picture of a player calling out his coach, KL was only kidding.

That said KL should know he needs to continue to work on his defense heading into the Big Dance. He has gotten lot better as the season has gone along but I feel his defensive performance took a step back in last two games. He was much better in the closing mins like rest of his team-mates. But it would be good to come out with the same intensity right out of the gate than having to wait till we are down by double digits in the second half.

Speaking of defense here is Coach Howland on the Pac-10 defensive player of the year:
"Just understanding. Like a year ago, he would just get beat just off the dribble where guys would go by him even though he had the quickness to stay in front of the ball,'' Howland said. "He just has a better understanding on how to stay in front of the ball and really locking in on a guy.''
Westbrook was named the Pac-10's defensive player of the year today.
Hopefully next year Coach Howland will be making same kind of comments about Stanback. No I am not expecting CS to become a defensive monster like RW, but I think the kid is going to get stronger and more confident this off season coming with a renewed determination. Heck its not too late this year yet. If he can get some good mins in the Pac-10 tourney if we are able to take care of business in the first game, it might give him the confidence he needs to make contributions in the Big Dance.

As for RW’s backcourt team-mate, Coach Howland didn’t hide his displeasure for the Pac-10 excluding its best pg from its first team:
"My only disappointment in this was that I thought Darren Collison definitely deserved to be on the first team [all-conference]. That was a little frustrating for me. When you look at his numbers, he’s No. 1 in free-throw percentage, No. 1 in steals, No. 2 in assists; he’s shooting 53% from 3 [-point range], which I think is second; he’s averaging 15.4 points a game, which is ninth; he’s on the all-defensive team, so the coaches do recognize what a great defender he is. And when you win the league by three games and you’re the starting point guard, I really believe he deserved to be first team. But the bottom line is, it’s very difficult in this year’s Pac-10 because there’s so many good players. But the way I vote [is], first and foremost, always for players that are on the winningest teams. It surprises me that Darren Collison wasn’t on it.

"I’m more disappointed about it that Darren is, I’m sure. The bottom line is individual goals or records or recognitions are nice, but at the end of the day, how you’re really recognized or will be remembered is what this team does as we go into post-season play."
As I said last night this snub could work out as the perfect motivation for DC heading into tourney play.

Lastly, despite all the hate and blitz of negative publicity directed towards UCLA last few days Bruins held tight in the national rankings, while maintaining its number 1 seed in Lunardi’s WWL brackets.

We just need to come out and take care of business on Thursday and we will be all set for the no. 1 slot in Anaheim next week.

GO BRUINS.