Bruins close out their home stand tomorrow evening at Pauley. I don't think I need to regurgitate what's at stake for our Bruins. As for the Cardinals, they are going to come in and give everything they can to salvage a split in their So. Cal. road trip. They lost a close one against JustSC at Pauley South last night. They are in somewhat of a slide now that they have dropped 3 out of their last 5. At 17-9 (9-6 in the Pac), they probably need a couple of more wins to punch their tickets to the Big Dance.
The Cardinals are also short handed. Most likely, they will be playing without point guard Anthony Good, who if you remember our last game, torched the Bruins for 20 points. Sophomore Mitch Johnson is filling in for Good. He did all right against Oregon last weekend, scoring 12 points against the Ducks, but seemed to have struggled against the Trojan defense last night, scoring 5 points. Sportsline has some more updates on Stanford's roster after last night's game:
--The Cardinal outrebounded USC 42-27, but three offensive rebounds by USC after missed free throws in the closing minutes helped doom Stanford.
--Stanford blocked a school-record 19 shots against USC the first time the teams met, including 12 by Brook Lopez. Stanford blocked just four shots in the rematch, two fewer than USC.
--USC shot 28.4 percent in the teams' first meeting but hit 48.1 percent in the rematch.
--C Robin Lopez scored five points against USC, the fifth time in the past six games he has scored five or fewer.
This leads me to point out some of the lessons from their last game, that hopefully the Bruins will get to successfully apply tomorrow evening at Pauley.
Unlike last time, the Bruins need to play smart ball when they are in transition. Up in Palo Alto, the Bruins failed to close the deal on multiple fast break opportunities, when they tried to become a little too much of a show time basketball team. If you remember, it was following that game, Howland urged Shipp to "be fundamentally sound instead of going for the highlight play." Shipp blew sure points by going for dunks instead of layups.
Bruins will also have to be smart about not committing silly fouls. Sure, Dave Libby called a very interesting game up at Maples. However, this time AA2, Luc et al. have to do a better job of controlling their aggression when playing that patented Ben Ball defense. They have to keep playing tough, aggressive, inside-the-jersey Ben Ball defense while at the same time being aware of the game situation. They can't afford to lose their composure like they did up in Palo Alto (they lost their cool in West Va too, but that is understandable given they were playing without DC and starting a true frosh for the first time in his career).
Bruins will also need to stay in the same aggressive mode on offense as they found themselves in after Westbrook entered the game last night. They can't afford to be tentative. They can't afford to settle for jump shots against a Stanford D which is pretty good. [ranked 36th nationally per updated Pomeroy Stats]. They can't be intimidated by the size of the Lopez brothers, and need to keep attacking the basket. I would love to see Luc using his athleticism to drive to the basket like he did multiple times against Cal last night at Pauley. I would also love to see our players (besides AA and Roll) move around, making cuts, while we are on offense, instead of just standing around watching the shot clock run down.
So ... just to recap.
It's the last game of the season.
Conference championship is on the line (if the Bruins win they at least clinch a tie for first place).
An undefeated home record for the first time since 1974-75 is on the line.
And as we speculated earlier this week, this could be Arron's last game at Pauley.
I would love to see current UCLA students experiencing the same emotions so many of us experienced during Ed O's last game at Pauley against Oregon in 1995. At least this time students will be able to chant, "ONE MORE YEAR" instead of pleading to parents "HAVE MORE BABIES!"
Let's hope the place is ROCKING tomorrow night.