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Ben Ball News & Notes

Our Ben Ball warriors jump in the polls is predictably the lead story in the LAT’s UCLA report. In addition Pucin also attempts to cover the story of man biting dog. In other words she spent few sentences to report on Packer’s tomfoolery on national TV:

After Sunday's 68-66 win over Arizona in Tucson, a game televised by CBS, broadcaster Billy Packer asked UCLA Coach Ben Howland about junior forward Josh Shipp's reluctance to shoot, a point Packer had hammered during the broadcast. Packer had also been hard on Shipp during another CBS telecast earlier this season, when UCLA played Michigan, criticizing him for an end-of-game dunk that Packer suggested was unnecessary.

Howland answered Packer the same way he began his post-game media conference after the Arizona win, praising Shipp for his game-long effort at getting the ball inside to center Kevin Love, who scored 24 points and had 15 rebounds.

Howland also said Shipp was being too unselfish when he passed the ball to guard Russell Westbrook in the last 20 seconds. Shipp is an 83.6% foul shooter, though he missed three free throws early in the game; Westbrook shoots 70.8% from the line. Westbrook missed one of his two free throws, leaving UCLA with a 68-65 advantage but allowing Arizona the opportunity to tie or win the game.

"I always want Josh shooting foul shots at the end of game, Josh or Darren [Collison]," Howland said. "I was like, 'Josh, I always want you to shoot the foul shots.' I want Josh getting fouled, always, to close out a game."
By now everyone here probably has seen how Coach Howland exposed Packer as just another MIMBO commentator wasting precious bandwidth of our national airwaves. However, staying on point re JS, I think it is important to reiterate couple of points Tydides was making through out the comment threads yesterday:

First, it is amusing to hear all the cackle about Shipp needing to shoot more after hearing the early season drone about how Shipp was shooting too much (and yes I was one of those people who at times thought Shipp sometimes forced it a little too much early in the season). If anything Shipp right now is playing within control, taking shots within the flow of the game. Does he needs to work on his defense? Sure he does. However, people who never have any kind of perspective or lose sight of the big picture by whining how he is not like the Shipp we all saw in his freshman year will never take into account how the kid is coming off two hip surgeries.

Second, it is comical on the part of clowns like Packer to criticize Shipp passing up his shots, when he was doing the right thing in the second half by always looking to go to Kevin Love down low. Earlier in the season we heard all the BS about how JS/KL were having chemistry issues. Yet there we were on Saturday, with lead for Pac-10 on the line, Shipp and his team-mates were constantly looking for Love downlow.

So WTF? When Shipp shoots a lot we hear the whine he shoots too much but when he is doing the right thing, playing within the flow of the game, looking for KL down low, he is not shooting enough? I mean these observations that your hear from clowns like Packer and then being parroted by arm chair coaches are beyond asinine.

Anyways, thanks to JS and his team-mates doing the right thing – looking for KL all second half – the big fella was able to carry the team. He also happened to be one of the players of the week in WWL’s "Weekly Watch":
Kevin Love, UCLA: The Bruins swept Arizona State and Arizona on the road last week. And, of course, the freshman center had a large part in pulling off the two wins that keep UCLA on pace for a Pac-10 title and a possible No. 1 seed. Love scored 18 points and grabbed 12 boards for his 17th double-double in the 70-49 win over the Sun Devils. He followed that up with his 18th double-double, a 24-point, 15-board game in the 68-66 win over Arizona in Tucson on Sunday. Watching Love play has been quite a treat throughout the season. He plays with passion, is a phenomenal passer and is one of those players who always makes his teammates better.
Well KL, JS will have their biggest game of the season on Thursday night. Here is the early capsule on that game (from the same WWL link):
In the first game the visiting Bruins were red-hot from behind the arc, shooting 9 for 16. Josh Shipp dialed in from long distance going 5 for 8 from 3, scoring 21 points. Kevin Love scored 15 points on seven shots but helped foul out the Lopez twins and went 7 for 8 from the free-throw line. Athletic combo guard Russell Westbrook attacked the rim and chipped in 15 points. Anthony Goods tried to keep the Cardinal within striking distance with 17 points. UCLA will have intense pressure on Goods and running mate Mitch Johnson to make it as difficult as possible to get the ball inside to the twin towers. But if Brook and Robin Lopez can get touches on a regular basis and stay out of foul trouble while defending Love, Stanford could knock off the two-time defending Pac-10 champs, putting the Cardinal in position for the regular-season title.
I know everyone is going to talk about the matchup between KL and the Lopez brothers, but I really believe the key to Thursday night will be the kind of defense DC and RW will exert against Goods and Johnson. If DC and RW can lock those two guys up around the perimeter and bring their patented on ball pressure, they will set rest of their team-mates up well. Shocking I know. Everything in the world of Ben Ball starts and ends with DEFENSE (and we love it).