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Holiday has a title on his mind

October 16, 2008|Diane Pucin | Times Staff Writer

Jrue Holiday isn't a mouthy freshman. He isn't into trash talking. He is, however, confident and forthright.

He has "jumpers knee," he says, so he isn't propelling himself up on only one limb.

He is willing and able to play point guard or shooting guard, and he feels the UCLA offense will come to him more easily than defense because his North Hollywood Campbell Hall team ran many of Bruins Coach Ben Howland's plays.

Holiday gave all these concise answers at UCLA's basketball media day Wednesday at Pauley Pavilion.

And here is what Holiday predicts for his new team:

"National championship, national championship," Holiday said. "We've gone to the Final Four three years in a row, the history here. What else do I have to say? National championship."

A year ago, Kevin Love was the breakout star and his prediction was the same for the Bruins. And Love was joining a team filled with veteran talent -- Darren Collison, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Josh Shipp, Russell Westbrook, Lorenzo Mata-Real.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday, October 18, 2008 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 2 National Desk 1 inches; 41 words Type of Material: Correction
Aboya fouls: The UCLA basketball FYI story in Thursday's Sports section said Alfred Aboya last season committed 90 fouls in 594 minutes, and calculated the rate as one foul per 6.1 minutes. The ratio actually is one foul per 6.6 minutes.

There was no national championship though, and if making a third straight Final Four could ever be considered ho-hum, last year's trip to San Antonio and the lackluster semifinal loss to Memphis was that. Then Love, Westbrook and Mbah a Moute all left UCLA early for the NBA.

The Bruins have lost their top four rebounders, Love, Mbah a Moute, Mata-Real and Westbrook, and three of their top five scorers, Love, Westbrook and Mbah a Moute.

There are only 11 scholarship players -- including five freshmen -- and to fill out the practice roster Howland added six walk-ons, including John Wooden's great grandson, Tyler Trapani.

Yet, freshmen and seniors alike said there was no reason to lower expectations.

"Why should we?" senior point guard Collison said. "This is UCLA, this is why I came back, to leave here with a national championship."

Added Shipp, a fifth-year senior: "Every player comes to UCLA with the goal to win the championship every year.

"It's not different this year than any other year. Same mind-set. Prepare the same way, try to get it done."


Shipp appears to have had a full-body summer makeover. He said he weighed 210 pounds after weighing as much as 223 last year, and Howland said Shipp worked out hard this summer with Jordan Farmar.

Shipp said he benefited from concentrating on getting physically fit instead of rehabilitating from hip surgery, as he did in each of the last two years.

Junior Nikola Dragovic also slimmed down, saying he has dropped 25 pounds from last season.

"I want to be quick enough to play defense like Coach Howland wants," Dragovic said.

Instead of spending most of the summer at home in Serbia, Dragovic stayed on campus lifting weights, riding a bike and generally spending his time in the training room.

Fouled up

Alfred Aboya averaged 15.2 minutes a game last season. Howland wants 25 minutes a game out of his senior center this season, which means Aboya needs to cut down on the fouls.

Last season, Aboya committed 90 fouls in 594 minutes. That's one foul per 6.1 minutes.

To help Aboya stay on the court, Howland said he's instituted a new practice policy.

"The first time he makes a bad foul I'll stop and make the whole team run," Howland said.

"Alfred's going to have to learn that he's going to punish the whole team if he fouls."


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