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Ben Ball Gameday Roundup: Opening Night At Pauley

<em>Photo Credit: E. Corpuz</em>
Photo Credit: E. Corpuz

Per the official site our regular season opener against Cal State Fullerton actually starts tomorrow morning (for Bruins who live out in the East Coast) as the tipoff is scheduled for 12:04 am (so that we can get on WWL). Still I am sure there will be many BNers staying up across the nation to check out the first game of the season and find out whether our young guys have made defensive improvement since the first two exhibtions games of the pre season.

Coach Howland's cubs are still having problem with defending the dribble:

"We're still having a problem defending the dribble," he said Thursday after watching film of a recent victory over Humboldt State. "There were a number of times we were getting beat off dribble penetration."

This is a young team that has yet to adopt Howland's trademark pressure defense. He expressed concern about an athletic Cal State Fullerton visiting Pauley Pavilion on Monday night.

"A bunch of really good athletes who can really break you down on the dribble," he said. "So that's something we'll be working on."

The Bruins planned to install double teams -- something new for the freshmen -- at Thursday's practice.

"It'll take a little bit of time to develop," senior James Keefe said. "I think it's going to be a team defense that's going to make us go."

He was also not happy with the defensive performance of seniors such as ND:

"Obviously he hasn't shot it well," Howland said. "And I thought his defense left something to be desired in the second game against Humboldt."

With freshman Tyler Honeycutt injured, Dragovic has been asked to play more minutes at small forward, a change that pits him against smaller, quicker opponents.

It will be interesting to see how CBH allocates the mins between ND and JK in first few games. From what I have seen JK is playing a much more complete game from the 4 spot and giving us a better defensive presence than ND. If ND continues to struggle with his shot and doesn't play up to the standards of  Ben Ball defense, I'd love to see coach go with the combination of DG and JK in the frontcourt. More after the jump.

Among the upperclassmen JK other than MR probably has the best understanding of Howland's team-defense:

The key, senior forward James Keefe said, is the team defense and how players come together early in the season despite limited floor time.

"Malcolm Lee and Jerime (Anderson) should provide really good ball pressure, they're able to stay in front of the ball pretty well," Keefe said. "But it's going to be a team defense that makes us go as far as we go. I don't think one man is going to be a lock-down defender like we've had in the past. It's going to be the whole team."

As for their opponents Gold has the following note on the Titans:

The Titans return four starters from a team that went 15-17, but they lost one big one in Josh Akognon, who averaged 23.9 points a game in his Big West Conference Player of the Year campaign last season.

Lee and Anderson should have to put some of that on-ball defense to good use against sophomore point guard Jacques Streeter, who averaged 10.4 points and 4.4 assists last season.

And if UCLA's performance against Humboldt State in the team's second exhibition game, a 74-57 win, is any indication, the Bruins guards will have their work cut out.

We get to find out how much ML and JR have improved since their first appearance together last week around midnight tonight. As mentioned above the game will be on WWL and we will have an open game thread to take in all the action.