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Ben Ball News & Notes

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Let’s start the week with some straight talk from Gary Parrish at

All the Bruins need is more at-bats, more big swings, more huge cuts. Sooner or later, they'll connect. And when they do they'll cut the nets on the first Monday in April and then all the foolishness will stop, you know, the foolishness about whether Howland is too stubborn to win it all.

That's what I heard late Saturday night and early Sunday.

That Howland is too stubborn and set in his ways to achieve true greatness.

As proof, people pointed out how Howland kept playing Memphis man-to-man and kept making Kevin Love set screens in UCLA's 78-63 loss to the Tigers when what he should've been doing is making Memphis shoot jumpers and making sure the ball was thrown to Love on every possession. For the record, I agree with both theories, particularly the one about making Memphis shoot jumpers because it was clear early on that UCLA could not keep Derrick Rose off the rim. Consequently, the smart thing to do would've been to back off and make him shoot the ball. But UCLA never backed off. So Rose never had to shoot the ball, which is why he finished with 16 field goal attempts, none of which were 3-pointers. […]

[Y]es, it was a stubborn approach by Howland.

But you know who else was pretty damn stubborn in his day?

Bob Knight.

But he won some national titles, if I remember correctly.

So my advice to UCLA fans is to take a deep breath and relax and look at the big picture. Not long ago you had a program that was slipping under Steve Lavin, that had fallen behind Arizona and Stanford. Now, you've clearly got the best program in the Pac-10 and you've been to three straight Final Fours.
Pretty simple. Isn’t it? Don’t tell that to Brian Dohns of the world, who are already out there speculating whether Howland needs to change his "defense-oriented, methodical offense" to bring in the kind of players majoring in "Leisure Management" in the rosters of Memphis and Florida.

Anyway, as for the Bruins obviously the story for next few weeks is going to be centered around the Big-3: KL, DC, and RW. Pucin has a report today in the LAT which includes some interesting comments from scouts re KL’s Final4 performance and observations on DC’s so-so overall performance in the NCAA tournament:
His 12-point, nine-rebound performance against Memphis, in which he was bumped away from the basket by 6-9, 265-pound Joey Dorsey and knocked to the ground on a Chris Douglas-Roberts dunk, gave visual confirmation to one scout in attendance at the Alamodome that Love would benefit from a second college season.

"He needs to get stronger and in better shape," the scout said. "I would say he's not a lottery pick right now."

"A lot goes into that decision," said Love, who was often outmuscled for rebounds by Dorsey, a senior. "I have no idea what I'm going to do. As of right now I'm a UCLA Bruin and I will be in class Monday. I've got to step back, go home, talk to a few people, talk to my family."

Like Love, Collison also may have hurt his draft status. As a 6-foot, 160-pound point guard who had a knee injury this season, there was a wait-and-see attitude about his performance.

And Collison didn't sparkle in the NCAA tournament. He fouled out of two of the last three games after not doing so all season and was handled roughly by two point guards -- Memphis freshman Derrick Rose and lesser-known Tyrone Brazelton of Western Kentucky.
I wouldn’t get too hopeful about them staying after a bad Final-4. A bad Final-4 didn’t keep AA from going to the pros. Pucin has more on the futures of JS, AA2, and very encouraging comment from LRMAM:
Shipp's shot has abandoned him for most of the second half of the season, throwing his exit into doubt.

Mbah a Moute's progress with acquiring a reliable jump shot, which he would need to play small forward in the NBA, was hindered by the time he missed recovering from a concussion and then a sprained left ankle. So he may not declare and be evaluated.

"I want to be back and win a title," Mbah a Moute said Saturday.

Backup forward Alfred Aboya -- who is from Cameroon like Mbah a Moute and will earn his undergraduate degree this summer -- said he wouldn't say for certain he would return for a senior season.

"Right now I'm so disappointed," Aboya said, "that I just need to digest this loss and see what life has to offer."
AA2 sounds like a very smart man. My hunch is after its all said and done AA2 will be back. IIRC he is projected to finish his political science courses by this June. Since he wants to be "the President" of Cameroon someday, it makes a lot of sense for him to stick around for one more year, and do graduate studies next year at UCLA. IIRC that’s the course Donnie Edwards (the great Bruin LB from early 90s) did in his fourth year, and it worked out well for him.

It’s great to hear directly from LRMAM that he will come back though. He has been the glue to our defense all year. If comes back he will be the leader of this team and if he can stay healthy the entire season, he could really help his chances of potentially developing in a NBA draft talent by the end of his senior season. Even without KL (and DC and RW) if LRMAM comes back (along with AA2) that gives us a pretty decent starting line up of JH (1), ML/MR (2), JS(3), LRMAM (4), JK or AA2(5) (another view on the rotation from godblesstyus95 here). That’s a guard heavy lineup and it will not be a surprise to anyone if Coach Howland develops that team with even more of an attacking mentality (while remaining committed to steadfast defense) like he did with his teams at Northern Arizona.

As for RW Dohn has this:
Sophomore Russell Westbrook and his family will research his draft status, sources said Sunday, and he could leave if there is belief he will be a top-20 pick. Westbrook showed his athleticism and ability to score by driving to the basket against Memphis, but an inconsistent jumper could keep him at UCLA another year.
If RW comes back we will definitely have another shot to win the Pac-10 title and make another run in the Dance. But honestly with our without RW, DC or KL we are going to be all right.

I am already jazzed about a new core lineup of Ben Ball warriors learning and growing under the tutelage of Coach Howland and improving through the season.