November 2, 2008

Bruin Hoops Notes

When observing hoops practice on Wednesday you couldn't help but go away very impressed with Jrue Holiday. He has incredible court awareness. Maybe the most impressive thing that Holiday showed during the practice was his penchant to make the right play.

Holiday's ability to know when to shoot or when to pass betrays his years. He plays the game with a very high basketball IQ. He didn't make any outrageous rookie mistakes and not once did he leave his feet and get caught in the air with nowhere to go with the basketball.

All in all, Holiday is silky smooth, athletic and special. He can score from about anywhere on the floor and what makes him even more dangerous based on this practice and when we saw him in high school, he's very unselfish.

Another freshman that appears to be making strides due to what was observed at Wednesday's practice was J'mison Morgan. Morgan, also known as "Bobo", is a rarity in a lot of big men because he has great hands and that will help him with his rebounding. Nothing worse than seeing a big man get position, time the jump just right, only for the ball to clank off his hands to an opposing player or out of bounds.

Morgan showed excellent instincts as a rebounder on both ends of the floor and was complimented by Coach Ben Howland on his rebounding ability. He led the Bruins in rebounding on the day.

Howland also praised Morgan for his passing talents during practice letting the player know he did something right and after practice when he praised his freshman center passing talents to the media.

James Keefe has put on somewhere between 16 to 18 pounds of solid muscle and his added to his strength. The word going around was that he was much more physical and seeing was believing. Keefe is poised for a very good season. It is obvious that Keefe has worked extremely hard over the summer and based on this one viewing his work will pay off for Keefe and the Bruins.

Darren Collison has bulked up some and has lost any of his lightning quickness. He and Holiday are going to make things very tough on the opposition's backcourt.

It was obvious that Josh Shipp also worked really hard in the off-season and instead of bulking up, Shipp was a lean, mean, fighting machine. He didn't take a lot of shots in the scrimmage, but the word is his sweet stroke has returned.

It appears that Alfred Aboya has worked on improving his offense as he hit a sweet little jump hook and was the only one to hit both of his free throw tries that ended practice. Both throws hit nothing but net. Aboya's rebounding and defense will be keys for this team's success.

Seeing Michael Roll run around out there on the floor pain free was welcoming. He missed a couple of shots, but we hear his stroke has returned for the most part. Roll did what he always does and that is play smart and intelligent basketball. Roll passed the ball very well during the scrimmage.

True freshman point guard led a fast break to perfection. He will probably see some minutes as a true freshman. He still needs some seasoning, but there is no doubt the potential is there.

Another true freshman that had his moments during the scrimmage [db]Drew Gordon he will be counted on this season to add depth inside. He showed some offense inside and some rebounding skill. He is a little raw, but like all the freshmen in this class, Gordon has a chance to be very good.

Unfortunately we didn't get a chance to see Malcolm Lee in action because he was hampered with the strained right groin. He was expected to begin practicing again yesterday and should be good to go when UCLA plays an exhibition game against Cal Baptist on Monday, November 3rd.

Lee is expected to make a contribution as a true freshman.

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