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Inside College Basketball | UCLA REPORT

Mbah a Moute has a backer

December 13, 2006|Diane Pucin | Times Staff Writer

UCLA Coach Ben Howland is happy with how sophomore forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute is playing.

If someone mentions that Mbah a Moute's mid-range jump shot is nonexistent or that his rebounding average is down from last season by nearly one a game, Howland says he doesn't measure a player's improvement by his statistics.

If it is mentioned that Mbah a Moute had only two rebounds against Texas A&M and four against undermanned Cal State Fullerton, Howland says, "Luc was in foul trouble against Fullerton and never got in a rhythm. I attribute some of that A&M performance to A&M being focused more than anything on keeping Luc off the glass."

And don't even try to talk about Mbah a Moute's scoring -- six points in the last two games.

"I never look at scoring," Howland said.

Howland didn't have an update on a pulled groin muscle he said kept Mbah a Moute out of two practices last week.

"I haven't seen the players yet today," Howland said.

The top-ranked Bruins are not allowing players to speak publicly this week while finals are taking place.

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Howland said that backup center Alfred Aboya, who was poked in the eye Saturday during the Texas A&M game, went to the emergency room afterward, but that he expected Aboya to be fine for Saturday's game against Oakland (Mich.) at Pauley Pavilion.

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The Oakland Golden Grizzlies do not seem a likely opponent for the Bruins in their first game in a week. But there is a method to what seems like scheduling madness.

The brother of Oakland Coach Greg Kampe, Kurt Kampe, is a Los Angeles lawyer and a graduate of Pepperdine's law school. Two of Kurt's children attend UCLA. Kurt was a football letterman at Michigan and Greg and Kurt's father, Kurt, played on Michigan's 1947 unbeaten Rose Bowl and national championship team.

"Since we moved up to Division I in 2000 I've wanted my brother to see us," Greg Kampe said.

Kampe said he had other reasons to bring his team across the country -- and it's not about guaranteed money.

"I want our kids to play against them, feel that toughness and yell at them that that's how UCLA does it and they went to the national championship game," Kampe said.

"And, I'm a traditionalist. I've always wanted to take a team to Pauley Pavilion. I hope Coach [John] Wooden is there. I won't go up and talk to him or anything but that would be the ultimate experience, to compete on the same floor where Coach Wooden coached."

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diane.pucin@latimes.com

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