Junior swingmanJosh Shipp is painfully aware of the history: If it hadn't been for theonce-in-a-generation Florida team that beat UCLA in the past twoFinal¬†Fours, we might be handicapping the Bruins' chances for a three-peatthis season. Instead, the biggest question in Westwood as UCLA plots anothertitle challenge is whether Shipp can overcome an even more painful history--twoserious hip injuries in two seasons--and fill the perimeter void left by ArronAfflalo's departure to the NBA. "Josh is our leading returning scorer, sohe's critical," says Bruins coach Ben Howland. "We can't have a greatyear without him."
By now Shipp mightbe better known as Josh Hip. A torn labrum in his right hip caused him to missalmost all of the 2005-06 season, and Shipp spent this past summer recoveringfrom surgery to repair the same injury on his left side. He says he's nowhealthy, which should allow him to fill the passing lane at full speed whensuperstar freshman center Kevin Love feeds point guard Darren Collison to startthe Bruins' new fast break. Still unclear is whether Shipp will channel Afflaloin the half-court and take the big shots in the final seconds of shot clocksand games. "We all think we can take the big shot," Shipp says."That's just something that's going to happen over time by playing thegames and seeing who falls into that role."
Ultimately thosebig-shot responsibilities may fall to a committee of Shipp, Love and Collison(and perhaps junior forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute). Yet no matter who takescharge on offense, there aren't many concerns in Bruinland these days. Howlandhas created a culture in which players seamlessly step into new roles (rememberthe way Collison took over for Jordan Farmar last season?) and defensecontinues to be paramount. "If our offensive game isn't clicking, we canalways play defense and shut our opponent down," says Shipp. "And if weadd that fast-break aspect to it, it'll be that much harder to beatus."
Not for nothing,then, does an unflagging confidence pervade Pauley Pavilion. "We're goodenough to win every game," says Collison. "The only team that can beatus is ourselves."
November 19, 2007
[This articlecontains a table. Please see hardcopy of magazine or PDF.]
|PG||Darren Collison [RETURNING STARTER]||6'1"||Jr.||12.7 ppg||5.7 apg|
|SG||Josh Shipp [RETURNING STARTER]||6'5"||Jr.||13.3 ppg||3.9 rpg|
|SF||Luc Mbah a Moute [RETURNING STARTER]||6'8"||Jr.||8.2 ppg||7.4 rpg|
|PF||Alfred Aboya||6'8"||Jr.||4.1 ppg||4.2 rpg|
|C||Kevin Love [*HIGH SCHOOL STATS]||6'10"||Fr.||33.9 ppg||17.0 rpg|
|C||Lorenzo Mata-Real [RETURNING STARTER]||6'9"||Sr.||6.6 ppg||5.4 rpg|
Nov. 9 PortlandState (W 69-48)
Nov. 12-13 CBEClassic (vs. Youngstown State; plus Cal State-San Bernardino, Weber State;winner plays in Kansas City on Nov. 19-20)
Nov. 23 Yale
Nov. 28 GeorgeWashington
Dec. 2 Texas
Dec. 8 Davidson(in Anaheim)
Dec. 15 IdahoState
Dec. 18 WesternIllinois
Dec. 22 atMichigan
Dec. 29 UCDavis
The Bruins'bogeyman (other than Billy Donovan) is new Michigan coach John Beilein, whobeat them the past two seasons with West Virginia. Otherwise, Texas will be achallenge at Pauley; Michigan State and Maryland loom as potential roadblocksin the CBE Classic; and mid-major Davidson might provide a surprise test.
Coach Ben Howland(5th year)
Pac-10 record 15-3(1st)
NCAA tournamentFinal Four
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