Get inside March Madness with SI.com's Luke Winn in the Tourney Blog, a daily journal of college basketball commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
4/02/2008 02:40:00 AM
The Book on UCLA's Kevin Love
John W. McDonough/SI
SI.com spoke with an assistant coach from a former UCLA opponent to get an anonymous scouting report on Kevin Love, as well as a breakdown of a go-to play the Bruins run for their star freshman forward. Here's what the coach had to say:
"[Love]'s a monster -- a very good offensive player both inside and out who loves to shot fake. Even when he catches it on the perimeter and a guy is closing out on him, he'll shot-fake, try to get the guy up in the air, and drive by him to get in the paint.
"If he's setting a ball screen on the perimeter, 99 percent of the time he'll pick and pop to look to shoot a three. But we were willing to let him shoot contested threes. He averages less than one made three per game, and we would have preferred that over him doing work in the lane and getting fouled.
"Once Love is on the block -- on either side -- he's good at turning and fading away to his right shoulder, like he did against Texas A&M. He has a really good drop-step going to his left shoulder, because he knows how to position himself and use his body to score. We charted him [on film], but he doesn't really have a pattern of doing the same thing from a certain side. He also has a jab-hook going to the middle over his left shoulder, and then a move where he gets you going right, then gets low and swings around so his elbow is on your left hip. That way he just seals you off and gets to the rim. He's smart about it -- it's one of those things he's perfected over time -- because he doesn't extend his arm out far enough for the ref to think about calling it a hook. We'd start screaming from the bench that it was a hook, but he's only using a bent arm.
"He's patient about positioning himself, too: If you front him and keep your four-man behind him on the other block, he'll move across and try to get you posted behind him. Try to limit the number of times Love actually gets the ball in his hand, or if he does catch it, double-team him to force the ball back outside. And you have to block him out on the offensive glass, or you'll get killed. He's averaging 3-5 offensive rebounds per game.
"A guy like Joey Dorsey [of Memphis] might cause [Love] problems just because of his length and size and physical ability. If Dorsey can understand not to go for the shot fake -- and that's something Joey has had trouble with -- he can stay out of foul trouble. But Love is one heck of a player. Unless you decide to trap him every time he catches the ball, it's hard to keep him from shooting a high percentage in the post.
The following is an actual play the Bruins run for Love in their man-to-man offense, as diagrammed by our anonymous assistant coach:
"In this box set, as [Darren] Collison throws to [Russell] Westbrook at the top of the key, Love is screening down for the other guard [Shipp] on the other block. As soon as Westbrook catches it, Love will duck in to the post and get deep position for Westbrook to give him the ball. If you can't stop this -- and a lot of times you can't -- they'll just keep running it."
Regarding Love's hook that doesn't get called, I watched him in the Oregon state championship game in high school and I swear he hooked guys EVERY single play. Other than being a man among boys, the fact that he illegally hooked every time made him nearly unstopable. Singler and South Medford won however.