Got a bunch of hoops related notes to pass on this Sunday but before I get to that let's start with a World Cup Finals note. We will have an open thread today to take in the last game of the month long party down in South Africa. We kind of lost steam for open threads after the Red, White and Blue exited in Sweet-16, but doing an open thread today would be a great way to close out a fun month of soccer many of us have been following this summer. The match is scheduled to start around 2:30 pm EST. We will put an open thread up in the Fanpost section (and bump on the home page). On to Ben Ball.
So yesterday I was channel surfing and stumbled into some NBA summer league action on NBA TV. I was about to skip over it, right when highlights of DC popped up on the TV screen. Obviously, my channel surfing came to a screeching halt right then. What happened afterwards was some extremely interesting commentary from New Orleans Hornets General Manager Jeff Bowers, who was hanging out with the announcers, talking up the importance of summer league actions. They were showing the DC highlights because they were discussing the classic Ben Ball Warrior's explosive debut as a rookie.
What I found interesting was Bower's comment about UCLA and how DC's college experience prepared him for the NBA. I wish I had the exact excerpt or could locate the clip. So I will do my best to paraphrase what Bowers had to say about Coach Ben Howland's program. Right off the bat Bowers described DC as "well prepared" and "disciplined" coming from a great program. Bowers then mentioned that it was UCLA's "half court game" that formed the foundation of DC's full court explosion in the NBA.
So while blowhards like Chad Ford takes cheap shots against CBH for "hiding NBA talent," an actual pro like Jeff Bowers was gushing about Howland's preparation of DC and instilling him in the fundamentals and discipline that formed the rock solid foundation for a fantastic entry in the NBA. I really hope someone else saw that clip and captured it because once again it was pretty riveting testimony on Coach Ben Howland's program ability to prepare kids as disciplined and well grounded professionals at the next level. More after the jump.
UCLA SF Tyler Honeycutt: In case it wasn't clear during the season, the Hotline loves his game. He possesses more all-around skills (ball handling, passing, shot blocking) than anyone in the league. All he needs is more experience, more muscle and a more consistent jumper.
UCLA SG Malcolm Lee: That Lee is third on this list tells you something about the Pac-10 talent pipeline - and what it tells you isn't all that flattering. Lee's an athletic, skilled wing guard, but his jumper is awful (25 percent behind the line).
While those two are clearly our best players and should be the core leaders of the program next season, they still have some ways to emerge as true Ben Ball. They will get there when they can bring defensive intensity consistently game after game and lift each other and team-mates' level of performance as well.
As far as those guys jumping to the NBA, there is another word to keep in mind: "lockout." I am not completely sure if it is going to take place but the talk about it at this point is little more than whispers. In fact the discussion around it is kind of loud. Who knows there can always be an agreement in the last hour but if we are heading that way, guys like Honeycutt and Lee would be better off staying at UCLA for at least one more season. Something we have to keep an eye out for next season.
Lastly, very cool news out of Purdue:
John Wooden, the former Purdue All-American basketball player and legendary UCLA coach, will have a Purdue University street named after him.
Today the Purdue University trustees approved a resolution to rename part of University Drive as John R. Wooden Drive.
University Drive stretches along the northern part of campus, from Cherry Lane to West Stadium Drive and cuts between Ross-Ade Stadium and Mackey Arena.
I kind of wish UCLA and Purdue scheduled each other in every sport each year to commemorate Coach. It would be very cool if UCLA and Purdue played football in "Wooden Bowl," go at it in baseball, and of course play each other in hoops. Okay. That is not realistic but at least in hoops, to me it kind of make sense for UCLA and Purdue to have each other in schedule every year from here on out. It would be a great way to cherish the amazing common link that connects the two programs.