Since I haven't used the ple version, I like to ask you how much detail does the bouncing ball tutorial give you when it comes to applying textures? I ask this becuase if its anything like the tutorial that comes with unlimited version of Maya, then I can understand your frustrations. Otherwise if it explains in detail about uv werapping then I would suggest reasking what part of uv wrapping do you not understand.
If you know nothing about uv wrapping, then here is a link
that is sort of a good start. If this link doesn't work then the slow way of linking to this address is by going to www.3dtotal.com,
then under the menu bar at the top of the page, hover your mouse over "free stuff", and click on tutorials. Then in the tutorial page, you will be redirected to 3d studio max, but you can change that to the Maya tuts page by clicking on the Maya link under the tutorial sub menu. Once in the Maya tutorial section, this tutorial I am refering to is the first tutorial link on the page called "polygon texturing", by Ramy Hanna.
Though some of his descriptions in the tutorial are not explained very good. For instance when it came to rotating the uv's of mapping a cylinder so that they all layout flat, I had troubles understanding what he ment by clicking on the red "t" and then click on the blue circle. Meaning that I thought he ment this was in the uv texture editor window but it's not.
Though figuring it out, in general what he ment was by going in perspective view and zooming in really close to the object, there is a little red looking "t" thingy at the corner of the manipulator tool. Then you can click on the blue circle which will give you full access of the 3 rotating axis's. It is important that you click on the red "t" because if you just click on the blue circle you will only have access to one axis.