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UCLA To Face Love and Basketball In First Exhibition Game Nov. 2
Courtesy: UCLA Athletics  
Release:  10/28/2008

Oct. 28, 2008

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GAMEDAY CENTRAL
DATE: Nov. 2, 2008
OPPONENT: Love and Basketball
SITE: Pauley Pavilion (12,819)
TIP-OFF: 2:05 p.m.
TICKETS: $12 adults/$10 youth (Reserved), $8 adults/$6 youth (GA)
UCLA Central Ticket Office (310-UCLA-WIN)
AUDIO/VIDEO: uclabruins.com
TALENT: Dave Marcus (play-by-play), Michael Sondheimer (color)
WEB: uclabruins.com

Caldwell Era Begins With Exhibition Game Sunday
On April 17, 2008, UCLA announced the hiring of Nikki Caldwell as head women's basketball coach. Caldwell joined the Bruins after serving as an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee for the past six seasons, including the last two National Championship campaigns in 2007 and 2008. In her 14 seasons as a collegiate player (1991-1994 at Tennessee) and as an assistant coach (Tennessee 1999, Virginia 2000-02, Tennessee 2003-08), Caldwell's teams have posted an amazing 404-76 record and appeared in the NCAA Tournament each season, while winning three national championships.

Caldwell's Bruins will battle Love and Basketball, a team comprised of former collegiate players, on Sunday, Nov. 2, at 2 pm in Pauley Pavilion. Former Bruin guard Natalie Nakase (1999-2003) is expected to play for Love and Basketball. The team is coached by Colleen Matsuhara, a former Bruin assistant coach and athletic administrator.

2008-09 Outlook
The focus of the UCLA team this year is a theme of "earned, never given." The Bruins will feature an up-tempo style of play based on defense and control of the boards.

"The defense will seek to delay and disrupt," says head coach Nikki Caldwell. "We will change our defenses up and extend it at times. We want to control the boards to control the tempo of the game. On offense, we will focus on player movement, ball movement and spacing. Our players will move with a purpose and take care of the ball."

Two Bruin seniors return to the fold and will be keys to helping trigger the defensive pressure and maxing out the energy on the boards, which is stressed by coach Caldwell. Guard Tierra Henderson, a first-team All-Pac-10 Defensive team selection, led the team and ranked third in the conference in steals per game (2.0). Center/forward Chinyere Ibekwe saw action in 28 games last season with three starts and will be asked to commit to being a "defensive stopper in the post and an animal on the boards."

Three juniors are also back. Erica Tukiainen is a versatile wing player who started in 15 of the final 16 contests last year. She can shoot the three and handle multiple positions on the court. Center Moniquee Alexander started 15 games a year ago and will be counted on to become a presence on the low block and to anchor the paint. Guard Allison Taka is one of the team's most capable outside shooters.

Five members of one of UCLA's most productive freshman classes return after posting combined averages of 29.4 points and 15 rebounds while starting a total of 59 games. Three returning players (guard Doreena Campbell, first team; forward Nina Earl and guard Darxia Morris, honorable mention) were selected to the Pac-10 All-Freshman team. Campbell started in 30 games, ranked eighth in the Pac-10 in assists (3.37) and was named to the honorable mention All-Pac-10 team. Earl appeared in all 31 games with 15 starts. She was tied for second on the team with Campbell in scoring at 8.7 points per game. Morris ranked ninth in the conference in steals (1.64) and averaged 7.5 points per game. She appeared in 28 games and started in 12 contests. Forward/center Christina Nzekwe played double-figure minutes in 25 of her 31 games last season while averaging 3.0 points and 3.1 rebounds. Forward Candice Brown saw action in 26 games with two starts and ranked fourth on the team in blocked shots (10).

A couple of highly regarded freshmen, guard Rebekah Gardner (Ayala HS) and guard/forward Atonye Nyingifa (Redondo Union HS), also join the mix. Both players were named their division's CIF Southern Section Player of the Year in 2008.

What's Returning
70% - Field Goals Made (547/786)
70% - Games Started (109/155)
77% - Minutes Played (4763/6225)
70% - Points Scored (1448/2083)
70% - Rebounds (811/1155)
64% - 3-Pt. Field Goals (61/96)
83% - Assists (333/401)
88% - Steals (151/244)
49% - Blocks (50/102)

New Staff In Place
Coach Caldwell has assembled an impressive coaching staff featuring Stacie Terry, Tony Perotti and Tasha Butts.

Terry coached last season at the University of Southern Mississippi. She worked primarily with the perimeter players, and her responsibilities included recruiting coordinator, opponent scouting and film breakdown, assisting with summer camps, as well as coordinating all of the team's community service events. Terry has also been an assistant at the University of Illinois, Dayton and Louisville.

Perotti comes to UCLA from Northern Arizona University, where he spent the last four seasons as an assistant. The past two years he was associate head coach. Perotti served primarily as the team's recruiting coordinator, game scouting coordinator and in the development of perimeter players. Perotti has also been an assistant at the University of San Francisco. He is a graduate of Tennessee.

Butts, a standout player at the University of Tennessee (2001-04) and then in the WNBA, came West from Duquesne University (Pittsburgh, PA), where she was an assistant coach in 2007-08.

In addition, Pam Walker will continue on staff as the Director of Operations after serving on the Bruin coaching staff for the previous 19 seasons.

Pre-Season Prognostications
The Pac-10 women's basketball coaches picked UCLA to finish fifth in the conference in the annual pre-season poll. Stanford, with six first-place votes, was a slight favorite to finish first. The Cardinal (78 points) were followed by Cal (four first-place votes, 76), Arizona State (65), USC (55), UCLA (48), Oregon (40), Washington (27), Oregon State (25), Washington State (20), and Arizona (16).

Challenging Schedule
The Bruins will face a schedule that features seven teams which advanced to post-season play last season. Five appeared in the NCAA Tournament (Maryland, San Diego, Stanford, Arizona State, Cal), and two played in the Women's NIT (Texas Tech, Kansas).

Looking Ahead
UCLA opens up the regular season at home on Sunday Nov. 16 against Cal State Fullerton at 2 p.m. in Pauley Pavilion. UCLA last met the Titans in November of 2006 and captured an 84-74 decision in Fullerton. Fullerton was 11-19 overall last season and finished tied for fifth in the Big West Conference with an 8-8 mark.

UCLA has won its last two openers and has a 23-11 all-time record in first games. The Bruins defeated Cal State Northridge last season, in Northridge, by a score of 81-69 on Nov. 14, 2007.

Incoming Freshmen
UCLA welcomes Atonye Nyingifa of Redondo Union High School in Redondo Beach, CA and Rebekah Gardner of Ayala High School in Chino Hills, CA to Westwood for the 2008-09 season. The signing of Nyingifa and Gardner last fall gave UCLA the No. 12 overall recruiting class by HoopGurlz.com.

Making the Grade
Four returning members of the the Bruin squad made the UCLA Athletic Director's honor roll (3.0 of better with at least 12 graded units) during the 2007-08 academic year. Allison Taka earned a GPA of 3.5 or above during all three quarters. Erica Tukiainen made the Athletic Director's honor roll for both the 2008 Winter and Spring quarters. Doreena Campbell and Christina Nzekwe were honor roll students for the the Fall 2007 quarter.

All-Conference Honors
All-Pac-10
First Team - Lindsey Pluimer*
Hon. Mention - Doreena Campbell

All-Pac-10 Freshman Team
First Team - Doreena Campbell
Hon. Mention - Nina Earl, Darxia Morris, Regina Rogers*

All-Pac-10 Defensive Team
First Team - Tierra Henderson
Hon. Mention - Nina Earl, Darxia Morris

All-Pac-10 All-Academic
First Team - Lindsey Pluimer*
Hon. Mention - Erica Tukiainen
* indicates not returning for 2008-09

Bruin Pac-10 Notes
With their fourth-place finish (tie) in 2007-08, the Bruins earned their seventh top-four conference finish in the last 11 seasons. Only Stanford, with 11 top-four finishes, has achieved a higher level of success in that period. Arizona State also has seven such finishes.

UCLA's total of 10 Pac-10 conference wins marked the fourth time in the last five seasons in which it had posted double-digit victories in conference play.

Pac-10 Ranked Bruins
Doreena Campbell ranked eighth in the conference in assists (3.37), fourth in assist/turnover ratio (1.68), and 17th in minutes (30.83). Tierra Henderson tied for third in the league in steals (2.00). Darxia Morris was ninth in steals (1.64). Nina Earl ranked 20th in scoring (8.7).

In league games only, Campbell ranked ninth in assists (3.47), 10th in assist/turnover ratio (1.40), 10th in steals (1.47) and 11th in minutes (31.71). Henderson was listed third in steals (2.06) and 10th in field goal percentage (.441). Earl rated eighth in steals (1.67).

Bruin Pac-10 Team Rankings
The Bruin team ranked first in the conference in rebounding offense (42.2), offensive rebounds (14.32) and steals (10.23); second in scoring (67.2) and defensive rebounds (27.90). UCLA was third in field goal percentage defense (.382), rebounding margin (+2.4), turnover margin (+0.90) and blocked shots (3.29).

Fresh Notes
UCLA has four returning freshmen who averaged in double figure minutes (Doreena Campbell-30.8; Nina Earl-24.2; Darxia Morris-19.9; Christina Nzekwe-12.6). As many as three freshmen were in the starting lineup for 12 games in the 2007-08 season and UCLA posted a 6-6 record in those contests.

2007-08 Season Notes
UCLA limited the opposition to a shooting percentage of .382, which ranked as the third-lowest mark in Bruin opponent history. During the season, UCLA held nine straight opponents to 65 points or less in regulation (UC Riverside, 60, at Arizona State 62, at Arizona 59, Stanford 56, Cal 65, at Washington 57, at Washington State 56, at USC 64, Oregon 59).

For The Record
UCLA won all 14 games during the 2007-08 season in which it held the lead at the half. The Bruins were 9-1 in games in which they limited the opponent to less than 60 points. UCLA was 13-4 in games in which it outshot the opponent and 14-2 in games in which it led with five minutes left to play.

Listed Bruins
Doreena Campbell's 101 assists in 2008 ranked as the sixth-best total ever by a Bruin freshman...Campbell's three-point shooting percentage of .434 is the second-highest ever by a Bruin freshman and the third-highest in school history (min. 20 made) ... The team total of 102 blocked shots was the second-most in school history ... The opponent scoring average of 66.3 points was the fourth-lowest in school history ... The opponent shooting percentage of .382 was the third-lowest in school history ... The crowd of 8,103 fans which witnessed the USC game in Pauley Pavilion (Feb. 17, 2008) was the fourth-largest in school history.


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