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Front Court Test

So, yeah, a huge basketball game this afternoon at Pauley. The local papers are hitting on the obvious story lines (which we have been talking about since yesterday), which is the matchup in the front court. From the DN:

If UCLA is to end its frustration against Lorenzo Romar's team, it must find a way to slow down a powerful frontcourt.

The Huskies (10-2, 0-1) have highly touted 7-foot freshman Spencer Hawes and power forward Jon Brockman, both of whom Ben Howland attempted to recruit.

Hawes is averaging a team-best 16.2 points per game, 5.8 rebounds and 2.4 blocks.

"I don't know how you slow (Hawes) down," Howland said. "The last three games, he's 36of 40 from the field against LSU, USC and Weber State. He's just a terrific player. If you help on him too much that sets up a good pass, and he can find the open guy. He shoots the ball well, too, and they're a good shooting team. You've got to try to do a good job of limiting the easy post feeds. He's 7-feet tall and can really cause problems down low."
Pucin also touched on the same issue writing about Mata's crucial role this afternoon:
[I]t might very well be up to Mata today when top-ranked UCLA (12-0, 1-0) meets No. 14 Washington (10-2, 0-1) in a Pac-10 game at Pauley Pavilion.

The Huskies have beaten UCLA three consecutive times, including a sweep last year when the Bruins won the Pac-10.

However, as UCLA Coach Ben Howland said Saturday, "Last year when we played this game we didn't have Ced [Bozeman] or Josh and Lorenzo had just broken his leg."

Mata is healthy now and probably will be assigned to Washington center Spencer Hawes, a 7-foot, 250-pound freshman who already owns a Pac-10 player-of-the-week award and is averaging 16.2 points and 5.8 rebounds a game. He is also a good passer and was considered the No. 2 high school center in the country a year ago.

"What I have to do," Mata said, "is keep him from scoring. If I hold him down and I don't score anything, then I did my job."
This is why Coach Howland loves Mata. The kid just thinks about defense first. I really believe that's the exact same mentality AA, Josh, Luc, and DC need to have. Just think defense first and focus on that. Our offense always thrives off our defense and if they let the game to them naturally (yes a cliché, but can't be used enough when it comes to talking about Ben Ball) the Bruins will be fine today.

The game is on national cable TV (FSN). So for those how are headed to Westwood, please make sure to wear your true blue. As for rest of us, as usual, we will have our open game thread (the last one of 2006) later this afternoon.