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Ben Ball Gameday Roundup: Watching Our Body Language

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Well amidst all the excitement around college football last 24 hours we can't forget about the basketball game we have this afternoon up at Farm. Bruins take on Stanford Cardinal in a game televised on Prime Ticket scheduled to tip off around 3 pm PST. Despite the big win we had on Wednesday night, not many of us are feeling comfortable about our chances against what will undoubtedly be an inspired Cardinal team and frenzied home crowd. The big question around here is the kind of effort and tenacity we are going to get from the UCLA team. We might be able to get a clue on reading their body language from both the bench and how they are performing on court early on.

I thought it was somewhat encouraging to see how engaged our bench during the Cal game. They were fired up the whole game. I think that's the most animated I have seen them all season. At least for one game there were signs of a team coming together. Now will they have the same chemistry working today at Maples? Not sure. It looks like Bruins are going to have go with a limited Anderson while Malcolm Lee is working through his cramp issues. For Jerime who has been dealing with an injured groin all season, he also had the case of step throat:

So the Bruins go into this afternoon's game at Stanford uncertain about whether they'll have Anderson -- who is taking antibiotics -- as a reserve off the bench.

"Hopefully he'll be feeling up for [playing]," Howland said.

Meanwhile, the coaches have been monitoring Malcolm Lee who missed a lot of key mins during the win against Golden Bears:

At some point this season, the UCLA training staff might have to start taping Malcolm Lee's mouth open and pour Gatorade into it.

The team's leading scorer missed extensive minutes in the second half and overtime against Cal with left leg cramps, and it's becoming a regular occurrence. Howland said it's as simple for Lee as diligently drinking Gatorade and monitoring his body. Howland said his sophomore guard sometime loses up to five pounds in one practice session.

Both of those guys are going to be pivotal this afternoon. We are going to need Lee's defense against Green, while Bruins will need a solid performance off the bench from Anderson to keep them in the game. Despite some mindless turnovers on Thursday night, Anderson's contributions were crucial down the stretch. If he can improve on that performance a bit, we might have a shot. Then again given our track record this season, not going to get my hopes up. More after the jump.

For the Bruins to have a shot this afternoon they will have to have a decent showing from the FT line. With the extra day to practice Howland put a big emphasis on FTs. Per the OC Register Howland had each of our guys shoot 100 FTs at the end of Thursday and Friday practices:

"It hurt us the other night," Howland said, referring to the Bruins' overtime victory at Cal on Wednesday night. The Bruins made good on 15 of 26 free throws in that game.

"We had a chance to go up six (points) in the overtime," Howland recalled. "We missed two and all of a sudden it's back to where they had the lead. There's not much else we can say." [...]

"It's real easy," Howland continued. "No one's guarding you. You're 15 feet away. You're straight on. It's just a matter of having the same routine that you follow."

Senior Michael Roll, who is ranks second to Nikola Dragovic in free-throw percentage, said that free throws aren't as easy as the Howland described. He is shooting 75 percent this season and said he usually hits in the high-80s or low 90s out of his 100 practice shots.

"The game is a little bit different," he said. "You've got several thousand people yelling at you.

"We just keep practicing. Hopefully we can make them as a unit. It's just repetition, really, just getting back to the basics and practicing as much as we can."

Well I hope Roll and his team-mates can also take the initiatives to put in extra practices beyond the ones called for Howland if the continue to struggle from FT line. Roll has missed two clutch FTs on two games this year. I appreciate the game winning shot he made against Cal, but someone like him should be shooting much better from the FT line.

Perhaps Roll and his team-mates can think back to what someone like AA would do if he was struggling from the FT line. I have a feeling he would lot more than just shoot the FTs mandated by Howland. He would put in that extra effort and it's that extra effort (and repetition) that resulted in his team emerging as the Ben Ball warriors.

For Roll and his team-mates to live up to those guys, they have a long way to go. I am not hopeful that they will prove me wrong this afternoon. May be they will surprised us again this afternoon by coming out and playing hard on both ends of the court buoyed great chemistry on the bench.  If they do it would amount to a welcome baby step. Like I said I am not hopeful but will be keeping an eye on our body language this afternoon.