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No, not Jefferson, but Josh, whose Grace(ful), Slick Bruins have Built This City, and whose return from injury built this 78-55 victory over Weezy-anna Tech into a “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now” moment
You can’t have a hot Roll with every supper. Every now and then, when your Roll is cold (2-7), it is nice to know that you have other courses to fill in the void.
After the last couple of games, after Michael Roll filled in more-than-admirably for the injured Josh Shipp, some fans were annointing Roll the new savior, and at least, the new Starter. Those fans better hold their horses on that one. Josh Shipp returned on Sunday against the Louisiana Tech Bulldogs, and Shipp hit the ground running. He led the team with 16 points, including 10 in the 1st Half (after which the game was OVER). He also made two high-flying dunks that tested his recuperating thumb, and the digit passed the test.
After one early missed three-pointer, Shipp did not look for outside shots. That early missed j may have been a blessing in disguise. Instead of trying to be what he’s not — A Michael Roll-style Zonebuster — Josh went back to doing what made him such a media darling when he first arrived at UCLA: Slashing, and running the floor. Josh made a name for himself originally for just having a knack for always being in the right place at the right time, cleaning up after plays broke down. He was the King of Garbage, but it wasn’t luck, it was a knack for knowing where the ball was going. After his first year, he hit a string of outside jumpers, and since then he’s mis-designed his game around the three-point arc.
When his shot went back to normal — and even worse for a while — he forgot how he became a star in the first place. If Sunday is any indication, he may now have it back. With Roll, Nikola Dragovic, and the Freshman not shying away from three-point shots, Shipp is going to go back to penetrating, slashing, breaking down defenses, and finding the right place to be to get the job done.
So, “The Kid stays in the Picture,” i.e.: Shipp stays in the Starting Line-up. A couple of good shooting nights doesn’t erase several years of all-around effort and pretty good results. And for those of you who think Roll should get HOLIDAY’S minutes… You’re not watching in Hi-Def, are you? Are you the same people who didn’t believe me when I said that Lorenzo Mata-Real should NEVER start over Kevin Love? What part of “Gatorade National Player of the Year” don’t you understand? With every game, Jrue Holiday unveils/unleashes more of his wicked arsenal of moves. As he gets the feel for the College game, he is starting to rise above the rest, just as fellow Gatorade Award Winner Kevin Love did the year before.
Against the Bulldogs, Holiday notched a Double-Double, scoring a dozen Points, and pulling down 10 Boards. He also had 5 Assists, including 2 highlight reel feeds, one on an alley oop to fellow Freshman Drew Gordon. You can just start to see how Holiday COULD drive all the way to the hoop on EVERY possession if he wanted to — ala Magic or Kobe — but he is staying completely under Ben Howland’s control. Holiday was forced to launch a couple of airballs from Downtown, as the Offensive scheme broke down, which is why it would be better to have him playing a little closer to the basket, encouraging more of his penetration, rebounding, and post-up skills. Especially on a Howland team, that keeps scores low, and concentrates on Defense and Boards — Three-point shooting is NOT the focus in practice, or the choice when plays are being designed and called.
The soft competition of LA Tech (and the solid inside play of Alfred Aboya) allowed Pauley fans, which included John Wooden for the first time this year, a chance to get a good look at all the new faces (except for Malcolm Lee, who has a knee injury). Holiday started, and excelled throughout, but three other Freshman came in and served notice. Jerime Anderson cashed in on Lee’s absence, by scoring a career-high 11 Points, including 5 in a row. Drew Gordon came in and crashed the boards, and then Bobo Morgan came in and did the same. And everything was made possible by the facilitator, Darren Collison, who had a Season-high TEN Assists, on a day when he could muster up only 2 Points for himself.
This was the final tune-up for UCLA, who goes to Oregon State and Oregon this coming week to Tip Off the Pac-10 schedule. The Bruins don’t look like a Final Four team yet, but if the Freshmen keep improving, UCLA could be looking at 4 straight Final Fours come April.
NEWSFLASH: The Dance Team was on vacation on Sunday, but I was able to get an answer to your question — Brianna is okay, and IS still with the Team. She just missed some time for a private matter. Now, here’s a chance to show you some of the new guys on the Basketball Team, and to shift the Spirit Squad Spotlight from the Dance Team to the incomparable Cheer Squad.