Talk about perfect timing. The entire Bruin Nation was celebrating Coach's 99th Birthday today and it was the same day Wooden's program officially kick started the 2009-10 Ben Ball season by having it's annual Media Day at Pauley.
Haven't seen a lot of write ups on what went down today at Pauley except for pictures hitting the AP wire like the one above in which the guys were singing Happy Birthday to the Coach. AP has a write up with some very interesting news on JMM who per the report "shed" 25 pounds this off-season:
"Nobody had to tell me, I could definitely feel that I needed to work on my body to play college basketball," said Morgan, who averaged 2.3 points and 1.0 rebounds last season. "Not only was I out of shape, I wasn't as strong as I needed to be."
Howland estimates that Morgan, who is listed at 6-10, 248 pounds, had about 17 per cent body fat last season and quipped that he was jealous Morgan is now down to seven per cent.
"(I expect him) just to be able to change ends of the floor better," Howland said. "That was an issue for him last year in terms of getting fatigued quickly when the game was going up and down. He can provide a low-post threat because of his length and he has a nice jump hook that we want to take advantage of so we're expecting him to have a good campaign for us."
That's not the only good news trickling out from media day.
Lot of folks have been wondering about the status of TH who was diagnosed with a lower back stress fracture earlier this summer. Per the AP report he has been officially cleared to practice with the team which starts on Friday night:
"Tyler being healthy and able to play is important because we're counting on him," coach Ben Howland said Wednesday at the team's media day.
Meanwhile, JK's left shoulder is getting better. His MRI already came back with negative results. He is already doing some light workout drills and it sounds like Howland is not all that worried about it right now:
"Yesterday we were doing one-on-one shooting and he was able to go through it, follow missed shots, dunk it," Howland said. "I think he's a lot better off than maybe was first feared."
I am sure we will have more on these guys and especially our freshmen as more stories come out of Media Day. The news early on should be a huge relief to everyone who lives and die with Ben Ball around here on BN (that would be all of us).
There will be lot of questions surrounding this team heading into the first part of this 2009-10 season. Many of the returning guys will be taking on key roles after getting so used to following the lead roles of guys such as DC, PAA, JS and the Ben Ball warriors who preceded them. While they are getting used to taking control of the team on the court they will have to provide leadership for yet another core of freshmen who will be anxious to make their impact in Howlandwood. Of course it will all start and end with defense.
So, it is going to be fun to see how all of these guys mesh with each other and learn to play as a team. Just three more weeks to go till we all start seeing all this unfold.