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Ben Ball Game Day Roundup: Ready To "GO"

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We will start with some good news on game day. PAA is going to  be ready tonight:

UCLA center Alfred Aboya recovered enough from the flu to practice and is expected to start today against Washington at Pauley Pavilion.

Aboya missed two days of practice this week after becoming ill Sunday.

Although this is not a surprise to anyone here on BN it is certainly a relief. Knowing how tough PAA I don't think anyone was really envisioning a scenario in which Ben Ball warriors were going to be with our viper (and squirrells) eater in the front court.

We are going to need PAA's toughness, determination and tenacity tonight to take on what players are describing as one of the most "physical" teams in the Pac-10:

"They do whatever they have to do to win a ballgame," UCLA senior point guard Darren Collison said. "Whatever it takes. Anything you can think of they will try to do to win a ballgame, which is fine because a lot of people think basketball isn't a physical sport."

In case anyone need a reminder of the recent history between these two teams Dohn's report continued:

"They play really physical," UCLA senior wing Josh Shipp said. "They try to win games. I'm not going to call them dirty. I just feel like they like play hard and things happen in a game that normally don't happen."

Like Bruins center Alfred Aboya having a ball thrown off his face on an inbounds play?

It happened last season at Washington, when Aboya was guarding Tim Morris in the last minute of a tight game. To avoid a five-second violation, Morris fired the ball off Aboya's face.

Or Aboya needing three stitches to close a wound on his forehead created by Brockman's elbow?

That transpired during UCLA's defeat last month at Washington, and afterward Bruins coach Ben Howland called it "a vicious play."

Aboya was also run into by Washington's Venoy Overton away from the ball in last month's loss, and a few days later Aboya said he believed Overton "was really trying to hurt me."

Still PAA doesn't believe the Huskies are dirty:

"I don't think they're a dirty team," Aboya said. "I think they're a physical team. I was watching Pittsburgh play (Monday) and I saw a player carry (Connecticut's Hasheem) Thabeet on his back and laid him on the floor. That's not being dirty. That's just being physical, and I think that's what Washington is known for."

Plus our guys know that if they want to pull out a win tonight, they will have to match the Huskies' aggression tonight:

Bruins players and coaches are intent on matching Washington's aggression, something many of them felt was the key to last month's loss. The Huskies got to the free-throw line 43 times to UCLA's 15.

The Huskies like to crash through defenses with their three short, powerful guards, Isaiah Thomas, Dentmon and Overton. In their halfcourt offense, they like to feed Brockman, who muscles in for easy baskets."They just out-toughed us up there," senior Josh Shipp said. "They pressured us. They crashed the boards really hard. For us, it's just about being at home and taking a sense of urgency in this game knowing how important it is."

Coach Howland also noted his admiration for the way Romar's team has been playing this season:

During the Huskies' 86-75 win over the Bruins last month, they held a 36-33 rebound advantage and attempted 43 free throws, 28 more than UCLA.

"I think they're playing even better," Howland said. "They're really good at No. 1, attacking the glass. They're a great rebounding team. No.2, they do a great job of attacking the rim as much as possible."

Sounds like its the Huskies who have been reading BN this season.

I think our guys will have to do better than matching Huskies' aggression. The way Coach Howland and his players are describing the Huskies rebound, crash the boards and attack the glass, reminds us the Ben Ball warriors of last few seasons. We saw glimpses of that Ben Ball squad during our last home stand before we losing our momentum and all the good vibes generated from that 4 game winning streak in desert.

Washington is a solid team with some very talented athletes who are playing extremely well. But our guys have no reason to be intimidated or in awe of their physical toughness. Our guys will have to come out and execute on offense and more importantly play defense we know they could be capable of playing. Hopefully they are taking their coach's teachings to heart and come in with the mindset of focusing and locking down on D,  rebound their heart our by attacking the glass, and of course relentlessly attack the rim.

Hopefully the Den is ready. Hopefully the alumni section will be standing up for every key defensive sequence (starting in the first half).  

Tonight is the night for the entire Bruin Nation, not just our Ben Ball warriors to channel Russell Westbrook's "LET'S GO" moment in Pauley.

GO BRUINS.