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Cardinal Notes

The Bruins are taking on the improving Cardinals tomorrow night at Maples. Per the LAT report today, they are using the extra day off to get ready for one of the best teams in the Pac-10.  Here is BBR's preview on tomorrow night's game:

Stanford Head Coach Trent Johnson employs primarily a double-low post offense to leverage his 7'0 giants in the paint, although Brook Lopez will at times pop out to the high-post where he has an effective midrange jumper.  On the perimeter, they have two good outside shooters in Lawrence Hill and Anthony Goods who benefit from the attention the Lopez twins receive underneath.

Stanford is averaging 69.1 points a game (7th in the Pac-10) on 45.2% shooting  Aside from Hill and Goods, they are not a great three-point shooting team averaging just 33.3% (9th in the Pac-10) from beyond the arc.

On the defensive end, not surprisingly, Stanford's man-to-man defense revolves around the shot-blocking of Brook and Robin Lopez.  Although Stanford does not have good defensive players on the perimeter, they have been able to compensate by being more aggressive and taking more chances on defense, knowing there is help behind them.  Stanford leads the Pac-10 in blocked shots averaging over six a game.

UCLA's quickness advantage on the perimeter will be troublesome for  Stanford's defense to handle, especially for Brook Lopez who will have problems handling Luc Richard Mbah a Moute when he follows him outside.  Although Mbah a Moute has not shot well from the perimeter, his ability to get into the paint and make good passes off the drive will make this a tough match-up.

The Cardinal are a good rebounding team with +4.9 margin over opponents, moreover, they average 13.6 offensive rebounds a game. If UCLA expects to leave Palo Alto with a victory, they will need big games on the boards from their front line.  Against Cal, the trio of Mbah a Moute, Alfred Aboya, and Lorenzo Mata collected an impressive 27 rebounds.
In addition to needing continued production from our front-line, our guys will have to figure out a strategy against the best shot blocking team in the Pac-10. Here is Dohn on what Coach Howland may have in his mind:
At junctures of some games, UCLA coach Ben Howland is heard instructing his players to jump-stop in the lane to keep opposing defenses off-balance, and shot-blockers out of rhythm.

It is a philosophy he has preached long before his arrival in Westwood, and one he will hammer into the third-ranked Bruins before Sunday's game at Stanford.

Stanford's ability to alter shots figures to be a key factor after it blocked a Pacific-10 Conference record 19 shots in beating USC on Thursday, led by 7-foot freshman center Brook Lopez's school- record 12 blocks.

"You can get them in foul trouble, so they're out of the game, or you can be under control and jump-stop," UCLA point guard Darren Collison said. "That's one thing that I noticed they've been doing, they've just been going for every blocked shot."
As I mentioned yesterday, DC is going to be a huge key in tomorrow night's game. He did have an uncharacteristic off night against Arizona. Coach Howland is not all that concerned though (per LAT):
"I think he played pretty well against Arizona in our previous game. I don't think there's anything going on," Howland said. "I mean he had 14 and seven [assists] with two turnovers in our previous game."

More important to Howland is that Collison, who made two of five shots against Cal, continues to penetrate and push the ball upcourt -- something that might be a part of the Bruins' game plan against Stanford on Sunday to try to counter a Cardinal defense that blocked 19 shots against USC on Thursday.

"He needs to keep pushing it harder," Howland said. "I told him that one time when he started to push it at the beginning of the second half, and he turned it over.

"I encouraged him, I said, 'I don't care if you turn it over.' We need him to be aggressive pushing the ball."
In other words, the Bruins will have to come tomorrow night and force the issue. They need to stay on the attack and stay aggressive. If they stay aggressive defensively, as usual, they will generate offense from their defense. Tomorrow night is going to be a tough challenge. However, there should be no pressure on the Bruins considering they have already gotten a split in this tough road-trip. If they come out and play aggressive team-defense and stay composed on offense, they will be all right.