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UCLA BASKETBALL FYI

Howland loudly airs views on jump passes

October 30, 2008|Diane Pucin

"Hope you don't jump in the air and get a turnover."

That was UCLA Coach Ben Howland shouting to freshman guard Jerime Anderson. And freshman guard Jrue Holiday. And freshman guard Malcolm Lee, even though Lee was sitting on the sidelines, leaning forward in his chair, wishing he could practice but being held out because of a groin strain.

The freshmen perimeter players are learning the lesson.

Howland doesn't love jump passes.

UCLA had its only open men's basketball practice of the season Wednesday at Pauley Pavilion and more than once Howland yelled about such passes.

Howland said if the season started today, Darren Collison, Holiday, Josh Shipp, James Keefe and Alfred Aboya would be his starters.

He said he was happy with practice intensity and that rebounding was going to be a key. Howland was pleased to praise freshman center J'mison "BoBo" Morgan's steady hands, which Howland said made Morgan a good passer and confident rebounder.

Holiday, last year's national high school player of the year from North Hollywood Campbell Hall, is aware of Howland's distaste for passes made from the air. "He likes the jump stop," Holiday said. "He's made that clear."

Kudos for Keefe

Keefe earned Howland's praise as one of the two strongest rebounders so far in practice, along with Aboya.

The junior said that was his plan all summer.

After starting last season weighing 238 pounds and planning to sit out as a redshirt to recover from shoulder surgery, Keefe was pulled into action in January because of other injuries and started UCLA's first NCAA tournament game in March against Mississippi Valley State. He was down to 224 pounds at the end of the season and said he knew what his summer agenda was.

"Gaining weight," said Keefe, who weighs 235 now. "Getting stronger, being able to take getting fouled in the paint, and I think it's paying off. The first two weeks of practice I've felt my new body that I built up all summer has been working for me."

Sidelines report

On the sidelines Wednesday were junior forward Nikola Dragovic and Lee.

Dragovic was wearing a protective boot on his left foot, protecting an injury that has been reported by Dragovic and Howland as a cyst. Howland said the 6-foot-9 junior forward practiced twice last week but that recurring soreness forced Dragovic to see a second foot doctor.

"He received an injection," Howland said. "His foot is feeling better today. There may be a chance he could go a few minutes" today or Friday.

Lee said his strained groin injury wasn't serious. "I really wanted to practice today," Lee said. "But the trainer wouldn't let me."

Lee said he felt a tug while stretching at Monday's practice. Howland said he hoped Lee was back by Friday as well.

There was also a moment of concern when Aboya twisted his ankle and lay on the floor.

"That was a typical thing during practice," Howland said. "He stepped on someone's foot, tweaked an ankle, got hit in the knee one time."

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diane.pucin@latimes.com

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