Lets pile on some more Ben Ball notes to add to the fanpost bruinponcho put up earlier today. Poncho posted some injury updates (all good news) and info on the first ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll of the season. Bruins are ranked number 29 which I don't think is too far off. If I were to rank us in a pre-season poll, I think even without the injuries I would have had us somewhere in the top-30 because of the obvious lack of experience in our roster. So our ranking sounds just about right.
Meanwhile, the Pac-10 held its annual pre-season media day today at the LAX Hilton. Nothing earth shattering came out of that gathering of conference coaches. Coach Howland went to the shindig and took MR along with him to represent the four letters. To no one's surprise media covering the conference picked California to finish first in the conference. Cal got 25 of 37 first-place votes. Washington, the defending conference champion was picked to finish second, receiving 7 first-place votes. UCLA came in 3rd as the Ben Ball warriors received the remaining five first-place votes in the preseason poll. For more on the media day check the notes on the official site.
The most exciting thing about the Pac-10 media day means our first game is less than a week away. Our guys take on Concordia University (guess it is somewhere in Irvine) in an exhibition game game on Wednesday, Nov. 4. Game time in UCLA's Pauley Pavilion is set for 7:30 p.m. Those of you who are lucky enough to go down to Howlandwood, will get to check out RN and rest of the freshmen for the first time in UCLA uniform. I have some more notes on those guys after the jump.
It looks like RN is already making his presence felt during practices:
Forward Reeves Nelson continues to lead the team in rebounding but must improve his defense, especially on the perimeter. Tyler Honeycutt and Mike Moser also have performed well enough to warrant consideration for playing time.
Lane and Anthony Stover have played tough defense but need to develop in other areas.
"There's going to be a lot of competing within the team for playing time," Howland said. "That's where teams get better."
Very interesting that RN is leading the team in rebounds over DG. More from Coach Howland on the youth in our team this season:
"We've had seven players leave early in my six years. There's no way of really being able to project what's going to happen. We have 13 scholarships, and I have yet to have 13 scholarships. I'm looking forward to that day. Jerime is going to be an outstanding point guard for us, and he has yet to practice. Malcolm Lee will back him up. It's tough. We've had four point guards in the last four years drafted in the first round. That's a real key to why we've had a fair amount of success. You've got to have a good leader and someone who can make good decisions. I'll be praying every night for our good health. Malcolm Lee is going to play a fair amount of time, 8-to-10 minutes a game as the backup point guard."
As poncho noted ML is back at practices after his concussion which is great news. For those who are getting too worried about bumps and bruises, Howland had this to say about dealing with injury setbacks:
"Definitely it's not fun. In '06, our first real good year, we had a number of injuries. That's when Ced Bozeman went down. Josh Shipp filled in for four games. Lorenzo Mata was in and out with a broken leg. We had so many injuries that year. But we somehow found a way."
We remember that year very well coach. That also happened to be the first year of BN's existence as this whole community slowly started to take shape following the development and progression of that incredible team. I am not expecting the same kind of magic from this year's bunch. However, I am very excited to see how the chemistry between all our freshmen and sophomores develop as they work to emerge with seniors such as MR, JK and ND. It's going to be another fun season in Howlandwood.