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Ben Ball Game Roundup: All About The Effort

We have been talking a lot about how Bruins will need to play better and rebound better heading into tonight’s matchup against an Arizona team with a core of offensively talented players. At the same time though we can’t forget about being patient and executing on offense against an Arizona team that will look to exert three-quarter-court press:

The ninth-ranked Bruins said they expect to see a fair amount of pressure defense, probably in the form of a three-quarter-court press, when Arizona visits Pauley Pavilion tonight.

That's where small and quick come in handy.

"We're not worried," senior swingman Josh Shipp said. "I mean, we have good ball handlers."

The primary responsibility falls on point guard Darren Collison,but he gets help from Shipp, Michael Roll, Jrue Holiday and even bigger players such as Nikola Dragovic.

"If one person is being pressured, we can throw it to really anybody else on the court," Roll said. "It's not a problem for any other person to take it up or handle the pressure themselves."

Once again it will fall upon DC to keep our offense steady. We have noted this week how the senior pg has been leading up to all the pre-season hype putting up surreal numbers in term of A/T. While we are going to need big mins from DC again, it will also be up to the aforementioned players (in the article excerpted above) and freshmen such as JA and ML (hopefully we will see him tonight) to stay patient on offense. If the Bruins can force Wise, Budinger and Hill spend a lot of energy defending against a methodical offense, hopefully they can wear them out a bit just like they did to the Trojans last Sunday night at the Costco Center.

Also, getting the start tonight again will be junior PF – ND – who is the subject of the great profile piece in the Daily News today. The most important part of the article was ND’s comment on his appreciation for learning to play defense and the extra effort he put in to get in Ben Ball shape:

"I was really frustrated about not playing the first two years, but the thing that kept me going was I saw that I was improving," the 6-foot-9, 217-pound Dragovic said. "This is the first year that I really feel comfortable playing defense, that I know, inside of myself, that I can stay in front of a guy."

The biggest differences are in Dragovic's fitness, and his attitude.

He worked throughout the summer with UCLA strength and conditioning assistant Wes Long and dropped 23pounds. He became more committed in the weight room, rode the exercise bike more and did loads of swimming, which included an intramural stint as a water polo player.

"It's huge in Serbia," Dragovic said. "That's all we do. I guess we fight wars and we play sports."

Looks like ND has that Howlendesque sense of humor. lol Seriously though, someone should clip ND’s comments above and pin them on JM’s locker. ND pretty lays out the blue print for getting mins in Coach Howland’s rotation.

More from that profile piece on ND:

Although Dragovic is shooting only 25.9percent from 3-point range, he is 9of24 (37.5 percent) in his past five games. Yet, the offense isn't what will keep Dragovic on Howland's court.

"He understands that if he doesn't defend, he's not going to play," Howland said. "We can't have one guy let the other four down when they're out there defensively, and he's doing a good job. And defense is so much about effort, if you're just trying hard.

Now if JK can step up and match ND’s effort in a consistent basis and ND sustains the level of intensity he has shown in last few games, we might be just fine at the 4 spot this season.

For more on tonight’s game here are notes from the LA Times, the Arizona Star, and our official site. The game is scheduled for a really late start (at least for us East Coasters) at 8:06 PT on FSN/FSNPT. The game thread will go up about an hour before the tip off. We will be there even if it means chugging a gallon of coffee early tomorrow am. All about the effort. Right?