UCLA Coach Ben Howland said Monday that Memphis freshman Derrick Rose reminds him of former California standout and perennial NBA All-Star Jason Kidd.
"The body type, Rose is so strong, so physical, he overpowers you," Howland said. "I saw him grab a two-handed rebound way above the rim. And he's a much better shooter at the same stage of his career as Kidd. I can't think of much higher praise to give a player than to say, 'This point guard reminds me of Jason Kidd.' "
Rose, a 6-foot-3, 190-pound point guard, averages 14.4 points and 4.4 rebounds a game and has 177 assists with only 101 turnovers.
UCLA junior point guard Darren Collison, who, like Rose, was named third-team All-America by the Associated Press on Monday, said there may be no harder job in college basketball than to be a freshman taking over the point guard spot on a nationally ranked and veteran team.
"You have so much responsibility at point guard," Collison said. "You can't be selfish at all, so for him to take that team to the Final Four, that's a good accomplishment. He's a great athlete and he has a hard job."
Howland said he doesn't listen to anyone who thinks Memphis has obvious weaknesses to exploit.
"They have really, really good players who play the game with a lot of passion first of all," he said. "They block a lot of shots inside. [Robert] Dozier and [Joey] Dorsey are good shot-blockers, it's hard to pass those two guys, those two big guys. They score on you in transition and in half court."
Howland noted that the final NCAA strength-of-schedule rankings had UCLA's slate of opponents ranked 14th and Memphis' ranked 27th, a testament to Tigers Coach John Calipari's willingness to play a tough nonconference schedule.
UCLA's schedule strength became more highly rated as the Bruins navigated Pacific 10 Conference opponents. The Tigers' dropped because of the relative weakness of Conference-USA, which sent only Memphis into the 65-team NCAA field.
Howland gave his team Sunday off from basketball and on Monday the Bruins did only weight and cardiovascular work.
-- Diane Pucin