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Memphis’ season film is a real thriller

Times Staff Writer

UCLA Coach Ben Howland said Tuesday that he expects to hear lots of “oohs” and “aahs” from his players when he shows them tapes of Memphis, which faces the Bruins on Saturday in a national semifinal at the Alamodome in San Antonio.

“We don’t break the tapes down game by game,” Howland said. “We say, ‘This is what they do in halfcourt sets, etc., and we’ll show some highlights. Our guys will enjoy watching it because our guys will see some of the most amazing dunks, most amazing plays . . .”

Besides having a nine-deep roster of athletic players, Howland said, the Tigers have “an unorthodox way of reacting.”

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“You jump in the air and they lob the ball about 11 feet,” he added. “You’re trying to block the shot and it’s lobbed way over you and a big guy underneath is grabbing it and dunking it. I saw that probably 100 times, 150 times.”

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Darren Collison, UCLA’s 6-foot junior point guard, said he is unfazed by the prospect of guarding Memphis freshman Derrick Rose, who is listed at 6-3.

“At this level, most of them are taller than me,” Collison said. “I just have to get low and keep up the ball pressure.”

Collison apprenticed under Jordan Farmar two years ago. Farmar, now a backup point guard for the Lakers, said Collison’s three years of NCAA and Final Four experience should make a difference.

“I remember the feeling of going into my sophomore year . . . I was just a whole different ballplayer,” Farmar said. “So I can only imagine going in as a junior. He’s already led the team, already been to the Final Four, he just has that much more confidence and it makes it that much easier.”

Farmar also suggested it would be silly for UCLA’s season to be considered a failure without a 12th national championship.

“They give themselves a chance every year to be in the Final Four,” Farmar said. “Then it depends on who’s better on that night. It comes with a lot of luck. If somebody’s having a bad shooting night, a lot of things go into it. As long as they are giving themselves a chance every year, I don’t think it will be a problem.”

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Kevin Love, UCLA’s freshman center, is a finalist for the John R. Wooden Award as college basketball’s top player.

D.J. Augustin of Texas, Michael Beasley of Kansas State, Stephen Curry of Davidson and Tyler Hansbrough of North Carolina are the other finalists. The award will be presented at the Los Angeles Athletic Club on April 11.

Rose and Chris Douglas-Roberts of Memphis, Brandon Rush of Kansas, Luke Harangody of Notre Dame and Chris Lofton of Tennessee make up the rest of the Wooden All-America team.

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Alfred Aboya missed a weight training session Monday with an unusual excuse: a putting-together-furniture injury. “He was three hours in the same position using a screwdriver and had a knot in his back,” Howland said.

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UCLA fans can send the Bruins off to San Antonio today by lining up on either side of Bruin Walk between the John Wooden Center and J.D. Morgan Center between 3 and 3:15 p.m.

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Jonathan Abrams contributed to this report.

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diane.pucin@latimes.com


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