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Test Takers

Bruins get to take another huge (no pun intended there) test tonight. Dohn reports on the challenge facing the Bruins:

UCLA will face the most size it has seen this season when it takes on Stanford today at Maples Pavilion, and success for the third-ranked Bruins could mean having to step outside of their comfort zone.

The Cardinal front line of 7-foot freshman twins Brook and Robin Lopez and 6-8 wing Lawrence Hill, all of whom can block shots, will mean the smaller Bruins will be asking for more offense from 6-9 center Lorenzo Mata and for 6-8 power forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute to use his quickness on the perimeter.

"Moving without the ball (is important for Mbah a Moute), and offensively I think we can do some things," UCLA coach Ben Howland said. "We have to try and utilize that."

But that is not how UCLA's offense is built. Guards Arron Afflalo (16.8 points per game) and Darren Collison (12.8) and wing Josh Shipp (14.1) are the Bruins' top scorers. They get their points via the outside shot, and off penetration.

Mata is averaging only 4.6 shots per game, and Mbah a Moute, despite shooting 48.8 percent from the field, is an inconsistent jump shooter.

"I've never played against (the Lopez twins), so I don't know how quick they are," Mbah a Moute said. "I definitely should be able to use (quickness) against them."
Well, I hope Luc is close to being 100 percent. We can't afford him to take those tentative jumpers like the one he was taking against the Bears on Thursday night. I think, again, we are going to need Luc's tenacity on the defensive end and around the boards. He will have to work hard around the glass with Mata and Aboya to negate Stanford's huge presence.

As the LA Times report notes, the Lopez twins, who are getting all the publicity right now, are not the only athletes Stanford has on its roster
[T]he Lopez brothers aren't the only shot-blocking threats: At 6 feet 8, forward Lawrence Hill is third on the team with 17 blocks and is the Cardinal's leading scorer at 15.6 points a game.

The Cardinal will be the tallest team the third-ranked Bruins have faced since their loss to Florida in last season's NCAA title game -- and this UCLA lineup is smaller without 7-footer Ryan Hollins.

The Bruins are clear about the challenge, particularly for inside players Lorenzo Mata, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute and reserves Alfred Aboya and Ryan Wright.

"We've just got to play smart, try to shot fake," Mata said. "I guess they've got two 7-footers, and I'm our tallest at 6-9, 6-10.

"We've just got to do our best, Luc and me and Ryan and Alfred."

The guards know they play a role, too.
The guards will have to play a huge role tonight. Stanford may have Florida's size, however (as noted by vanaaron) it doesn't have the Gator's backcourt of dazzling shooters and ball handlers. If AA, DC, Shipp, Roll, and Westbrook can put all out pressure on them and force them to take hurried shots, it will give us an opportunity to generate transition offense. And, also, on the offensive side, it will be imperative for our guards to penetrate and drive towards the hoops to draw some fouls on the Stanford big guys.

Tonight's game (5 pm PST) will a big test for the Bruins. As mentioned already, it won't be a huge deal if they don't ace the test tonight. However, it's a test they are more than capable of acing if they focus and play their game. Thankfully, our guys have a teacher who will make sure they are as prepared as then can be going into the game.