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Ben Ball Game Day Roundup

Bruins are getting ready for yet another tough Pac-10 game tonight. Tonight's tip-off is at 6:00 pm PST, a little different from the usual 7:30 pm start for Thursday night's game. So keep that in mind when you are making plans to watch the game and hang out in our game thread.

Tightwad Hill has written up a good game preview for tonight's game (from Bears perspective of course) which is worth a read. Here is his rationale for why the Bears will throw up good amount of zone, even though Bruins attacked the zone pretty well against Arizona:

Cal will likely run a fair bit of zone against the Bruins. It makes sense based on both personnel and past results. UCLA struggled against ASU's 3-2 matchup zone, though they performed better against Arizona's zone last Saturday running a four-guard lineup at times.

The Bruins have lots of shooters - they shoot 53.3% from the field and 38.9% from three. Collison is above 50% from three, and Afflalo is dangerous (if a bit streaky - remember the NC game last year). Michael Roll is very dangerous off the bench. Still, it's worth risking a hot shooting night to prevent penetration by Collison and Afflalo, who figures to have a significant advantage in his matchup with Omar Wilkes.

Collison was absolutely unconscious in non-conference play, shooting 59.3% from the field. He's cooled off a bit in the Pac-10, at just a bit below 45% from the field. Josh Shipp will be a difficult matchup for freshman Patrick Christopher.
On the defensive side Howland concerned about the match-up in the middle:
Cal presents its own challenges, chiefly because UCLA doesn't have an obvious counter to the Golden Bears' leading scorer, 6-foot-10 freshman Ryan Anderson, who is averaging 17.5 points and 8.9 rebounds.

Like Arizona's Ivan Radenovic, Anderson is comfortable stepping outside to take a three-point shot, making 39.8% from beyond the arc.

"He is similar to Radenovic in terms of how he plays, and therefore he's a hard match-up for us," said Howland, who will counter with Lorenzo Mata, a more traditional post player, trying to guard Anderson.

"We're asking our 'five' man to guard a 'four.' He'd be their starting 'four' if DeVon Hardin hadn't hurt himself," Howland said.

"He's an outstanding player. He's really having a great freshman year."
Anderson is going to be a huge challenge. But hopefully Mata will step up with lot of help from AA2 and James Keefe. That brings me to Dohn's report today, which talks about how Bruin freshmen - Keefe and Westbrook - haven't gotten as much experience as the freshmen from last two years under Howland. Lot of it is mostly due to the depth and balance in Howland's roster. However, it would be very cool to get these two kids more minutes during the next few games so they are both battle tested going into the tourney season.

As I have mentioned before I really like how Westbrook is on a constant attack mode both on offense and defense. And if Shipp struggles early in the first half tonight (on defense), I hope Howland frees Wesbrook off the bench. Same goes for Keefe. I think the kid has been making good contributions whenever he is in the game. He is making contributions by doing the little things and his offensive talent will eventually show when he gets more confidence by getting more minutes. In any even I trust Coach Howland's judgment in how to divvy up the precious minutes.

Should be a great game tonight.