Jan. 24, 2006
UCLA HEAD COACH Ben Howland - In his third season at UCLA and 12th year as a collegiate head coach (in his 25th season of college basketball, as an assistant and head coach). In his career, Howland is 3-1 vs. Oregon and 2-3 vs. Oregon State.
The week of Jan. 2, led the Bruins to their first sweep in the desert at the Arizona schools (since 1997). He recorded his 200tth career victory on Nov. 19, when UCLA defeated Delaware State 56-37 in Pauley Pavilion. In Howland's second year (2004-05) at UCLA, he joined an elite list of college coaches (28) who have led three different teams to the NCAA Tournament (Howland's overall NCAA record is 4-4) - 2005 UCLA, 2003 Pittsburgh ("Sweet 16), 2002 Pittsburgh ("Sweet 16") and 1998 Northern Arizona. In 2005, Howland led the Bruins back to the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2002; he directed the Bruins to a win over nationally-ranked Washington; led UCLA to a third-place tie in the Pac-10 and to a Pac-10 Tournament appearance. In Howland's first year (2003-04) at UCLA, highlights included a 9-3 start (5-0 in the Pac-10), wins over NCAA Tournament teams Michigan State, Washington (twice) and Vermont and an appearance in the Pac-10 Tournament.
In his last two seasons (2002-03) at Pittsburgh - in 2003, he led the Panthers to a 28-5 overall record, No. 4 national ranking, NCAA "Sweet 16" and the Big East Tournament Championship and in 2002, Pittsburgh was 29-6 overall (school record for wins), advanced to the NCAA "Sweet 16" and the Big East Tournament title game and Howland was the consensus National Coach of the Year.
Start the Season - UCLA's 15-4 start (UCLA's eight-game winning streak was snapped by the home loss to California) is the best under Howland (in his third season). Here's how it compares to other impressive Bruin starts-
Under Steve Lavin - In 2001-02, 14-5, lost next game at Oregon; 2000-01, 13-6, won next seven games; 1998-99, 15-4, lost next game at Washington; 1997-98, UCLA started 17-3, then lost game No. 21 at Oregon. Under Jim Harrick - In 1994-95, UCLA's 11th NCAA title team, started 12-1 (losing at Oregon on Jan. 5), then lost 14th game (12-2) to California in Pauley (Jan. 28, 100-93, game was later forfeited by California) - UCLA would not lose another game, winning the NCAA Championship and finishing with a 32 (school record for wins)-1 overall mark (17-1 in the Pac-10).
In 1993-94, under Harrick, UCLA started 14-0 (and ranked No. 1 in the nation) before losing game No. 15 to California in Oakland (85-70, Jan. 30). The Bruins were then 18-2 and lost game No. 21at Arizona.
Best Backcourt - Last week, SI.com named UCLA's backcourt of Jordan Farmar and Arron Afflalo the No. 3 backcourt in the nation-behind Villanova (Randy Foye/Allan Ray) and Michigan State (Maurice Ager/Shannon Brown).
Jordan Farmar - a preseason Wooden Award/Naismith Player of the Year candidate, he leads the Pac-10 in assists (5.94). He's led the Bruins in scoring the last two games (22 vs. West Virginia/15 vs. USC) and in assists, has led the Bruins in 14 of 19 games, including the last seven and nine of the last 10 (vs. Washington, Farmar had a career-best 12 assists, also had 10 vs. Coppin State). He's been playing with a sprained right ankle (first hurt vs. Temple/reinjured vs. Stanford/has missed two games-Delaware State and Albany), but has started every league game. He has scored in double figures 11 times and has four games of 21 or more points, including a career-high 28 vs. Memphis in an NIT Season Tip-Off semifinal. Farmar has led the Bruins in scoring five times, including consecutive wins over Nevada (24) at the Wooden Classic and at Michigan (21).
Arron Afflalo - UCLA's leading scorer (17.6/fifth in the Pac-10), he's an early season Scout.com All-American and was named to the NIT Season Tip-Off All-Tournament team. He's started every game and scored in double figures in 18 of 19 games. He has eight games of 20 or more points. He has scored a career-high 23 points twice, vs. Stanford and New Mexico State. He's led UCLA in scoring in 12 games this season. His career three-point percentage is .374 (83(No. 12)-222(No. 14)/No. 12 in school history).
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute - The Bruins' leading rebounder (8.9/No. 3 in the Pac-10/the nation's leading freshman rebounder), he's been UCLA's leading rebounder in 18 of 19 games, including the last six contests (vs. West Virginia, a game and season-high tying 13; vs. USC, a game-high seven, with 10 points). His streak of 12 consecutive games was snapped in the Bruins' loss to California (longest streak since 1977-78, when David Greenwood led UCLA in rebounding in the final 13 regular season games). Mbah a Moute has five double/doubles (including two consecutive on two occasions) - the first starting freshman to accomplish that feat (consecutive double-doubles) since JaRon Rush (1998-99-final two games that season-at Arizona-16/10 and Detroit Mercy (NCAA)-10/13) - and seven games of double digit rebounds.
Ryan Hollins - came back from his groin injury (missed six games, including UCLA's first five Pac-10 contests), to play well vs. West Virginia and USC (nine points/three rebounds/21 minutes). Vs. the Mountaineers, he scored 11 points, with eight rebounds, in 30 minutes (all season-highs) and his defense on Kevin Pittsnogle helped to hold Pittsnogle to just eight points, including just two at halftime (Pittsnogle entered the game averaging 20.6 points).
Injury Update - senior forward/guard Cedric Bozeman, who has missed UCLA's last eight games with a left shoulder injury (cartilage), was cleared last week to resume shooting and dribbling (noncontact drills) and has been cleared this week to play at the Oregon schools (8-10 minutes a half); vs. West Virginia, freshman guard Darren Collison suffered a sprained left ankle (X-rays were negative, did not practice Monday or Tuesday); senior center Michael Fey, has missed six of the last eight games with a right ankle sprain (he did not play vs. WVU/USC).