Ben Ball warriors get back in action tonight after being off for a long week. They will be taking a short bus ride on the 405/101 to head over to the Costco Center to take on Floyd’s Trojans. As we have discussed this week the key for our Bruins to win this game tonight will be to make sure they are well prepared for Floyd’s gimmicky defenses, stay patient and out of foul trouble, and fight for every rebound. They will also need to lean on the unquestioned leadership of their senior floor general:
"He's our leader. He comes up with huge plays in the clutch, he plays great defense," guard Michael Roll said. "It's unimaginable how it would be without him."
Collison might have earned himself more money in the long run. There was no shortage of future NBA point guards leaving college last summer, with Derrick Rose, O.J. Mayo, Russell Westbrook, D.J. Augustin and Jerryd Bayless all taken in the lottery portion.
If Collison continues to play as well as he has so far — he leads UCLA in scoring, assists and steals — he could creep into the middle of the first round. One site, nbadraft.net, ranks Collison as the No. 5 point guard and predicts he'll go as high as 19th.
Everything about Collison's game suggests a player who has mastered this level. In the Bruins' first Pac-10 trip, Collison had 13 assists and two turnovers. He has converted 40 consecutive free throws, setting a school record. He is making 50 percent of his 3-point shots.
On an otherwise young team with shaky interior scoring, Collison has been more than the catalyst. He has been the driver.
He says he returned for one reason: a national championship. The question is whether the rest of his team is good enough to get him close. Collison sees signs that the five freshmen are catching up to the competition.
Speaking of our freshmen, Brian Dohn has a good story on JH this morning in the Daily News. While we all want JH to become more aggressive on the offensive side using his ability to drive to the rack, Coach Howland is happy with JH’s development:
"He's having a very good year thus far," Howland said. "He has to continue working hard in practice and developing his game. That's the most important thing so he continues to grow as a player."
Holiday, who is a combo guard, is adjusting to not playing the point, which might be his better position. And he is known for his unselfish play, which might be working against him.
"Sometimes it's a wide-open shot and I pass that up," Holiday said.
"I think the consistency is going to come. I think I'm becoming more comfortable with my teammates, and getting a better feel for them. It's going to come to me eventually. I'm not really trippin' about it."
JH is also the focus of a David Wharton story in the LAT as well which discusses how everyone around JH wants him to be more aggressive while he shoes now sign of relenting on projecting the calm, cool, composed persona he has show on the court this season.
We are going to need a huge game from JH tonight as well as other freshmen as well. JA and DG should be ready to go. Per the LA Times, ML will probably see some action tonight, while JM will mostly likely be out of action:
UCLA guard Malcolm Lee has taken another step toward returning from a knee injury, but the news wasn't as good for another freshman, J'mison Morgan.
Lee was listed as probable for tonight's game after increasing the intensity of his workouts each day last week, Howland said. He has been sidelined since injuring his left knee after a strong performance against Wyoming in late December.
Morgan, a 6-foot-10 center whose play has been limited, did not practice last week and was listed as doubtful.
Hopefully JM gets healthy soon.
As for rest of the Ben Ball warriors in addition to the factors mentioned in the opening paras, I also believe a huge key for tonight will be maintaining our cool. I think its a good bet we are going to see some cheap tricks from the Trojans given what we have seen from them in the past via Taj Gibsinon, Daniel Hackett, Leonard Washington. While everyone needs to be wary about incoming cheap shots, we will have to be extremely disciplined, composed and patient so that we don't lose our cool on the road (that is exactly what these guys want us to do). DC's floor leadership will be a huge key tonight. If the entire team can take their cue from their unquestioned senior leader and come with the same clutch mentality he exhibited during the closing mins again Oregon, we should be in good shape tonight.
The game is set to tip off at 7:30 pm PST. We will have the game thread up about an hour before the tip-off.