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Ben Ball Gameday Roundup & Notes

Let’s start the game day with an update on the Prince:

Photo Credit: Wally Skalij / LAT

He sure looks in good spirits in that picture. BTW our Pocho posted links to some pretty cool pics and video from the open practice yesterday here.

Per Dohn LRMAM is about 75 percent and Coach Howland will start him tonight:

"It feels good," Mbah a Moute said.

"I'm ready to go. It's better. I was able to go through practice (Wednesday). Even though I didn't go up and down (the court) in practice, I was able to do some stuff. I was running around a little bit, and it felt good."

Mbah a Moute put his left ankle, which he sprained Friday against USC, at 75 percent. But he said there was no thought to resting it against the Delta Devils to get ready for an expected second round matchup against either BYU or Texas A&M.

"It's the tournament. This game could be our last game. If we don't win this game, we don't play anymore," Mbah a Moute said. "Why would I rest it? I want to come out and play. We want to come out on the right path, and me coming out and playing is going to give our team a good lift."

In 29 games this season, Mbah a Moute is averaging 8.8points and 5.4 rebounds. He sat out Saturday's Pacific-10 Tournament final against Stanford.

"I think he's going to be OK," Howland said. "He's not at a complete 100 percent. He's close. He's going to play."
Hmm. Great news about the Prince. But I would still like him to get as much rest as possible. Given the way JK stepped up last weekend, I think it makes a lot of sense to give him some heavy mins. I guess it all depends on the flow of tonight’s game.

Also Michael Roll was in practice uniform yesterday and Brian Dohn kept up his quest for looking for discrepancies in Coach Howland and Roll’s perspective on whether he will red shirt this season. We all know that MR that there is no scenario in which MR will play this season. But Howland is playing it safe and not committing to anything until the season is over. It makes sense to everyone unless you are a professional cynic like Dohn, who is always seems to be fishing for any inkling of controversy to undermine the program.

Speaking of setting up a tired, boring, boiler-plate, and cynical story line, Brian Dohn and Steve Dilbeck have written up throwback articles from the immediate post Wooden era today on how our season will be a disappointment if we don’t win number 12. Of course this is completely a garbage narrative that we have undercut before. Sure it will be a disappointment if we don’t win number 12. It’s always a disappointment if we don’t hang a banner at UCLA. But so freaking what? No matter what happens from hereon out, it will not take away the great season our Ben Ball warriors have put together this year. From the OC Register:
[A]s they prepared to open the NCAA Tournament on Thursday against No. 16 seed Mississippi Valley State at Honda Center, the Bruins are not pleased with the thought they would be branded a failure if they lose at the Final Four or fall short of the Final Four.

"We won 30 games three years in a row. I mean, that isn't a failure," guard Russell Westbrook said.

Kevin Love, the freshman center, was asked about the expectations.

"For me this season has been a success thus far," he said. "I love my teammates, love the team chemistry. The coaches are great. I think that we have the talent and the coaches that we can make a big run in this tournament."

Next up would be the winner of the No. 8-No. 9 game between Brigham Young and Texas A&M.

"It's tough to say it will be a total disappointment," Josh Shipp said of not reaching the ultimate prize. "We've had a great run so far. Like I said, we do have another goal we want to accomplish, and it would be a great season if we do accomplish that goal."
And let’s hope they can keep the run going as long as possible and it all starts tonight with their matchup against the Delta Devils. Bruin Basketball Report has the preview:
MVS is a patient team in the offensive halfcourt and will fastbreak when an opportunity arises. The Delta Devils are shooting just 40.6% from the field and 34.6% on three-pointers while averaging 62.7 points per game. In conference play, their interior size game them an advantage in the paint, however don't expect Delta Devils to do the same against UCLA, MVS will be out-sized and out-talented in the interior against the Bruins.

On the defensive end, MVS plays primarily a man-to-man defense. They allowed 65.8 points on 44.2% shooting. Opponents have outrebounded the Delta Devils by a +1.7 margin.

MVS has a veteran line-up of upperclassmen including three seniors and two juniors.

The team's leading scorer is Carl Lucas (6'5, 210, Sr) who is averaging 12.7 points per game on 44.3% shooting. He is the team's best three-point threat averaging 41.5% from beyond the arc. Lucas was named most valuable player in the SWAC tournament.

Center Larry Cox (6'10, 225, Sr) gives MVS a serious low-post threat. The senior is averaging 12.4 points on 51% shooting. Cox leads the team in rebounding with 8.0 per game.
Read rest of the preview here.

Obviously all of us here are going to be in a different gear all day today building into a total frenzy right to the tip-off. Our alums are getting into the spirit. The Big Fella has a great essay in the LA Times, sharing his memories from the NCAA tournament. And MJD appeared on WWL yesterday proselytizing the greatness of blue and gold on behalf of this Nation:

Perhaps Dohns of the world should take a cue from MJD and realize how we are simply not going to look ahead beyond tonight’s game against Mississippi Valley State.

Speaking of the game Ajax has the poll up on picking our mojo for tonight’s game thread. I will also put up a post on game watching parties across the country with links.

Enjoy your day.