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Ben Ball Gameday Roundup & Notes

Well good for the Bears for pulling out a close win against Brockmen less Huskies last night. After few days of incessant whining they finally get their wish. Reading the OC Register’s capsule on UCLA’s matchup against UCB, it sounds like as if our guys should be scared about taking on the Bears:

Cal came within seconds and an official's call of handing the Bruins a second loss this season, this by a team mired in ninth place. The Golden Bears figure to be a tad irked over the way their regular season ended with that 81-80 loss at Pauley Pavilion. Last season, they took out the Bruins in overtime in the Pac-10 Tournament. Center DeVon Hardin did not play against the Bruins on Saturday because of a hip flexor injury, but will be in the lineup to give the Golden Bears another body to throw at UCLA center Kevin Love. Cal is led by Ryan Anderson, a Wooden Award finalist along with Love. UCLA point guard Darren Collison is leading the Golden Bears with 21.5 points and 9.9 rebounds per game. UCLA and Love also had a difficult time defending Jamal Boykin in their last meeting. The Duke transfer tied a career-high with 18 points as Cal hit 56 percent of its shots, its highest mark in a Pac-10 game this season.
After reading that I imagine our Ben Ball warriors are hiding in their dorm/apartment rooms shuddering at the thought of taking on the mighty UCB basketball program from up north.

If one just depended on the papers for their UCLA news this week they’d probably get the impression that as if we are not even in the top-3rd of the Pac-10. The Bay Area papers has been filled with whining and lunatic conspiracy theories this week. And BTW those two links will take you to articles from two former UCLA beat reporters (Tim Kawakami (LAT) and Jon Wilner (Daily News). Wonder if they are just bitter they had to cover UCLA basketball during the days of Steve Lavin.

Meanwhile down South in the local scene reading the stories from the current beat reporters, you wounldn’t get the sense they are covering a team that is number 2 in the nation, is top-5 in both offense and defense (according to Kenpom), and just won its 3rd straight Pac-10 title by 3 games. Brian Dohn from the Daily News has written yet another article on Shipp’s 3 point struggles:
Although Bruins coach Ben Howland continues to downplay Shipp's shooting problems, he brought Shipp in for a morning workout two weeks ago to concentrate on shooting.

At the time, Howland shouldered responsibility for Shipp's poor shooting by saying he was not organizing enough shooting drills.

Despite shooting two airballs on his first three attempts, Shipp appeared on the verge of breaking out of his slump two days later when he made 4 of 8 from 3-point range in a Feb. 28 win at Arizona State, but the good vibes didn't last.

He went 4 of 19 in the next three games.

So what does Shipp do now?

"Continue to shoot and take good shots," Howland said. "Leave his hand up and follow through, just continue to work at it and be positive."
Insightful stuff. Only if Brian worked has hard as Coach Howland and his players are working to improve their games. He’d come up with something original re. UCLA hoops to discuss. Oh well I guess that’s probably too much to ask from a beat reporter.

Similar to the Daily News, the LA Times writers don’t offer anything new and original on the Bruins today. There is a standard boilerplate article from Helene Elliott on UCLA’s comebacks. There isn’t anything noteworthy in it. We have gone over the gist of that subject matter the whole week, which is we can’t afford to fall behind by the large margins like we have done a number of times this season (including in both games this past week).

And Diane Pucin discovers that Luc is a huge key to our success:
There is a hop in his step, an insouciant unconcern in the way he throws himself onto the floor to corral a loose ball. All of a sudden, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute has become UCLA's postseason secret weapon.

As third-ranked UCLA (28-3) fought back from double-digit deficits last week against both Stanford and California to finish off a Pacific 10 Conference regular-season championship, Bruins point guard Darren Collison noticed something.

"Luc's the real reason why we are winning these games," Collison said. "Everybody's talking about Kevin [Love], myself, Russell [Westbrook], Josh [Shipp], but Luc's the real reason. He doesn't get double-doubles those last two games? We don't win.

"If Luc's playing the way he's playing, I don't see a team that's going to beat us in the tournament."
Despite having close access the program on a weekly basis for years, it took Diane this long figure that little bit of basketball wisdom out. Congrats Diane!

Going back today’s game, Bruin Basketball Report has the preview:
Regardless of how the game ended in UCLA's favor on Saturday, the Cal Bears led the Bruins for over 37 minutes of the contest and put up 80 points against a UCLA defense which had allowed conference opponents just under 61 points per game.

California effectively spread the court against UCLA's halfcourt defense, negating the Bruins infamous help defense, and opened up backdoor scoring opportunities. In addition, the Bears effectively used a high pick and roll to create easy shots down low, especially when the Bruins were slow to rotate and cover.

UCLA's Head Coach Ben Howland acknowledged Cal's wrinkles on offense at Tuesday's press conference and said that the Bruins will be ready to counter. Mostly, the Bruins need to pressure Cal's guards aggressively on the perimeter to prevent the Bears from getting into their offense easily, in addition UCLA defenders need to rotate more quickly down low than they did on Saturday.

Cal's DeVon Hardin did not suit up against UCLA on Saturday due to a sore hip but he did play against Washington, scoring 7 points and grabbing 8 rebounds in 20 minutes off the bench.

Hardin's presence on the floor will definitely change the complexion of the game. In some ways, Cal was perhaps more effective spreading the floor against UCLA without Hardin on the court. Their spread offense in part negated UCLA's advantage in the paint. It will be interesting how Cal's Coach Ben Braun plays it on Thursday.

Both UCLA's Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and Russell Westbrook are playing on sore ankles but they are expected to start in Thursday's second-round match-up.
Well there shouldn’t be any surprises for our Ben Ball warriors this afternoon. After all the BS that has been directed towards our program last few days, I’d imagine our guys would have no problem with motivation. More importantly they need to win this game to secure a number 1 spot out west. Let’s hope they can take care of business today because it will help put away some of the BS from last few days and give the team another boost heading into the Big Dance. The game thread will come up in a bit.