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Ben Ball News & Notes

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Let’s start once again with the big news from yesterday. For the second consecutive year Coach Howland’s program has a first team AP All American:

"I don't know if I was surprised. I felt like I had a pretty good season thus far," Love said. "I have to give a lot of credit to, first of all, my parents for just keeping my head on straight throughout the season, and also my coaches and players for taking me in and being a part of this family."

Love scored in double figures each of UCLA's 38 games, and had at least 10 rebounds 23times. He scored a career-high 29 points in the West Regional semifinal win against Western Kentucky, and is averaging 21.8 points and 11 rebounds per game in the NCAA Tournament.

Yet, it is the turnaround in defense Love takes enormous pride in. He played 24 minutes in an early-season loss to Texas because his defense was not up to Howland's liking, but that changed late in the season.

"I feel like I'm doing a lot better job; rotating, hedging, all the stuff that has made me a pretty good defender," Love said. "I'm not afraid to admit it - I didn't play much defense in high school. I just kind of stood around waiting for rebounds and got four or five blocks a game.

"Other than that, I wasn't out 20 feet away the basket trying to defend a quicker player, but I've gotten a lot better and I have to give it all to me coaches for that one."
Another point worth noting is the surge in KL’s blocking in last few games. We didn’t see that dimension in his defensive abilities until the tournament. He was simply incredible against the Aggies and came through with clutch blocks when the game became tight against the Hilltoppers. Just yet another attribute that has allowed this kid to step up just when the team needs him the most.

Now KL wasn’t the only Bruin to receive All American honors yesterday. Along with KL, DC will also leave Westwood as an AP All American:
Joining Collison on the third team were Stanford sophomore center Brook Lopez and guards Chris Lofton, a Tennessee senior; and freshmen Derrick Rose of Memphis and Eric Gordon of Indiana.

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Collison, who was Jordan Farmar's backup two years ago when UCLA beat Memphis, 50-45, in the West Regional final, said he felt that win was a national reputation-maker for UCLA. "It was one of the games that identified us as a defensive team," Collison said.

A hot topic concerning Saturday's game with Memphis is whom the 6-foot Collison might defend. Rose is 6-3 and Douglas-Roberts is 6-6.

"It's not a big deal to me," Collison said. "The size difference is almost always a factor with any player I'm going against."

UCLA Coach Ben Howland has called Collison perhaps the best on-ball point guard defender in the country this year.
As a Bruin partisan homer I will come out and say if DC didn’t sit out the first 10 something games of this season due to ligament tear, he probably would find his way to the First Team. Keep in mind this kid tore his ligament in the exhibition and then it took some time to get back in rhythm with his own team-mates, not to mention get back to his own speed. So it is more than remarkable for him to recover and elevate his game to a level earning him All American honors, despite having to battle through that kind of adversity.

DC is going to have a huge challenge on Saturday. I do have a feeling that Coach Howland is going to mix up the defensive matchups in the backcourt. I think Howland will have RW on Rose and LRMAM on CDR. I agree with bruin95 that we will probably throw a steady variation of defensive mathcups against the Tigers. However, I don’t think we are going to see lot of one of one mathchups between DC and Rose as some are anticipating in the MSM.

Speaking of our backcourt the OC Register reports how Shipp is finding other ways to score and to help the team:
The results were different. In UCLA's victory over Western Kentucky in the Sweet 16, Josh Shipp hit 5 of 9 shots including 2 of 3 at the 3-point line and scored 14 points. In the Bruins' victory over Xavier in the Elite Eight, the junior forward hit 1 of 7 shots, missed on all four of his 3-point attempts and scored five points.

But in both games, Shipp was more active with the ball in his hands, trying to find the scorer he had been before falling into a perplexing long-range shooting slump.

He tried to be more aggressive, get into the lane, create a few shots or opportunities for teammates. He tried to play more like he had in years past and, hopefully, find something that would produce a more credible scoring option as UCLA prepares for a third consecutive Final Four and a matchup Saturday at the Alamo dome against Memphis in a national semifinal.

"In the past, that's all I was," he said. "I was a driver. I was a scorer. It definitely switched around a little bit when I started hitting those threes, but right now I'm trying to get back to it.

"I was kind of tentative the last few games, just relying mostly on threes. I wanted to get more in the flow, get some touches, drive to the basket."
Shipp needs to keep doing more of the same in offense. But I do believe he will need to turn up his intensity on defense on Saturday. Shipp had a decent game against Xavier but his defense was a little off in first half. He did play much better in the second half, but I think he is going to have to focus for the entire 40 mins against the Tigers. One of the big reasons Bruins were able to beat Memphis last time out was due to the lockdown perimeter defense of AA and CB. Not sure JS will ever be able to play that kind of D but he will have to come out and give everything he has on defense, while maintaining his current approach on offense.

It’s not going to be easy. But then again this is the Final-4. I have no doubt Coach Howland will do everything he can to make sure JS and rest of his team-mates are prepared for the game.

GO BRUINS.