No. 6 UCLA Opens Season with BYU on Thursday

Nov. 14, 2006


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DATE: Nov. 15, 2006
SITE: Pauley Pavilion (12,800)
TIP-OFF: 7:33 p.m.
TV: FSN Prime Ticket
TALENT: Bill Macdonald (play-by-play), Don MacLean (color)
TALENT: Chris Roberts (play-by-play)
SERIES: BYU leads 11-10

The UCLA Bruins are entering their 88th season and are 68-19 (.782) in season openers and 54-7 (.885) in home openers since 1945. UCLA is also 3-0 in home and season openers under head coach Ben Howland. UCLA has opened its season with BYU six times, sporting a 3-3 record. The last time UCLA opened its season with BYU, the Bruins were ranked seventh and won a nail-biter 85-82 in Provo, Utah on Nov. 26, 1982. Second-ranked UCLA opened its 1981-82 season at home with BYU on Nov. 27, 1981 and suffered a 79-75 setback.

BYU leads the overall series with UCLA 11-10. BYU is the only team to have a winning record against UCLA with 20-plus meetings. The two teams haven't met since the Cougars posted a 97-87 victory on Dec. 3, 1988 in Provo, Utah. The Bruins are 6-4 all-time against BYU in Los Angeles, winning the last meeting 87-80 in Pauley Pavilion on Dec. 5, 1987.

UCLA was preseason rated No. 5 (tied with Pittsburgh) in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 6 in the Associated Press poll, marking the second straight season that the Bruins were ranked in the preseason polls. This week, UCLA ranks sixth in both polls.

The UCLA Athletic Department announced on Nov. 7, 2006 that freshman forward Nikola Dragovic (Belgrade, Serbia) was ruled ineligible to compete in the first 10 regular season games of the 2006-07 season. The ruling of ineligibility is because Dragovic competed on a team that the NCAA defines as a professional team due to the fact that some of the members of the club team, Mega Ishrana, received compensation.While Dragovic never received compensation for the 10 games in which he played, an indeterminate number of members of the team did receive money.Dragovic will be reinstated in time for the Bruins' 11th game of the season, a home contest with the University of Michigan on Dec. 23, 2006.'Nikola (Dragovic) and his father (Vitomir Dragovic) tried to do everything the right way to keep his amateur status,' UCLA head coach Ben Howland said. 'They were unaware that anyone on the team had accepted money. This is very unfortunate, but we will comply with the NCAA's ruling.'

Ben Howland knows how to rebuild a collegiate basketball program. He did it at Pittsburgh and again at Northern Arizona. And Howland's doing it at UCLA. Now entering his fourth year as the Bruins' head coach, Howland led UCLA back to the NCAA Final Four and Championship Game (for the first time since the Bruins' 1995 national title run) and to the 2006 Pac-10 Regular Season (first since 1997) and Tournament Championship (first since 1987) last season. He garnered two National Coach of the Year honors - the Jim Phelan Award ( and from Howland is the 2006 Pac-10 Coach of the Year and earned numerous other Conference Coach of the Year honors from CBS, and, as well as USBWA Dist. IX and Basketball Times All-West Coast Coach of the Year. In 2006, he directed UCLA to the NCAA Championship game and to an NCAA Regional Championship, 32 victories (tying the school record 32 wins set in 1995) and a 12-game winning streak (longest since 1997) entering the NCAA title contest. Finishing his 12th year as a collegiate head coach (he's been a Conference Coach of the Year selection in three different leagues - 2006, Pac-10 Coach of the Year at UCLA/2002, Big East Coach of the Year at Pittsburgh/1997, Big Sky Coach of the Year at Northern Arizona) and in his 25th season of collegiate basketball (as an assistant and head coach), he's 61-35 (.635, 96 games) at UCLA, including 50-18 (.735, 68 games) in his last two seasons as the Bruins' head coach. He has led a team to the 'Sweet 16' for the third time in five years - Pittsburgh in 2002 and 2003 and UCLA in 2006. Howland recorded his 50th Bruin win vs. Oregon State (Feb. 23), his 200th career win on Nov. 19 vs. Delaware State and the USC game on Feb. 19 was his 350th game as a collegiate head coach. Howland's career mark is 229-134 (.631, 363 games).

Joining Howland in his fourth season is Donny Daniels, who for three seasons (2000-03) was the head coach at CS Fullerton; also in his fourth season is Kerry Keating, who for two seasons (2001-03) was at Tennessee under Buzz Peterson and in his first season, Scott Garson, who for two seasons (2004-06) was the Bruins' video coordinator; along with Director of Operations Chris Carlson, who for two seasons (2002-03) served in the same capacity for Howland at Pittsburgh. Rounding out the staff are Head Strength and Conditioning Coach E. J. 'Doc' Kreis (fourth season), trainer Carrie Rubertino (first season), Video Coordinator Scott Garson (second season), Administrative Assistant Doug Erickson, entering his 15th season on the Bruin basketball staff, Administrative Assistant Leslie Dalziel (second season), Head Equipment Manager Sean Markus (fifth season), Interim Director of Academic Services Mike Casillas (ninth season) and Academic Coordinator Kenny Donaldson (third season).

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