Lost in the hubbub of all the UCLA injuries that have happened since Friday's 111-61 exhibition win over Azusa Pacific was the performance of freshman center Kevin Love.
And because guard Darren Collison (left knee sprain, out four days to two weeks), forward Josh Shipp (thumb sprain, should play season opener Friday) and swingman Michael Roll (ruptured foot ligament, out three to five weeks) will probably sit out tonight's final exhibition game against Chico State at Pauley Pavilion, even more focus will come Love's way.
Love had 15 points and 12 rebounds, and 11 of the points and eight of the rebounds came in the first half. Love said after playing 21 minutes that he had learned one thing already.
"I would say I'm a little out of shape," Love said. "I need to get up the floor more. We need to start running more in practice. I thought I did well, played 21 minutes, had a double-double. Good first game."
Howland agreed with Love and had no complaints about him.
"I think our conditioning's got to improve," Howland said. "I thought Kevin did a good job. Kevin made some nice outlets. He made one great pass. They had scored, Kevin fired it the full length of the court, Mike [Roll] got a layup. All those cheap little baskets, those are back-breakers. It's tough, and as an opposing coach you don't like it."
Shipp, who sprained his thumb during Friday's game and sat out much of Saturday's practice, has obviously picked up his coach's thought processes. After the Azusa Pacific game, Shipp said, "We didn't rebound as well as we wanted. Toward the end of the game we got sloppy on the defensive end. I do think we shot the ball pretty well. And this team's unselfish."
Chico State, an NCAA Division II team, was 7-20 last year and has one starter back, 6-foot junior guard Justin Argenal, who had transferred from UC Riverside. Coach Puck Smith is starting his 21st year at Chico. Smith's stepson, Ross Land, is an assistant coach at UC Irvine and played for Howland at Northern Arizona.