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Ben Ball Game Day Roundup

Sounds like the Stanford game has been in our boys' minds for a long time. Now that they have been able to focus on this game since Thursday night, they have been letting out how the Maples meltdown has been bothering them for last few weeks. Bruins sound like they realize how important it is to not let go of their killer instincts even after they build a big lead:

"That was a game that we definitely should have won. In this league, you can't afford to lose any games and we gave up that loss, we made some silly mistakes down the stretch and we take that upon ourselves. It's not the coaches fault, but upon ourselves," Collison said. "We got outscored, 50-31, and that's unacceptable for us. That's not our number. We usually hold teams a little bit under 30 points for a half."

Afflalo, the Bruins' defensive leader, was just as blunt regarding the defensive effort. The Bruins had allowed an average of only 30.1 points in the second halves of all of their games and only 28.4 points in the second halves of their Pac-10 games before that.

"We weren't playing any defense, and it started right at the end of the half. We had built up a lead and became complacent a little bit, with a 17-point lead on your opponent's home floor," Afflalo said. "Those are the times that you have to clamp down, mature a little bit and really understand that this is the time that you have to really put the hammer down.

"Obviously, our first loss (at Oregon) was tough because we didn't come out to play that night. And the second loss, we didn't have that killer instinct. All in all, it's good that we learned from the losses and the way that we lost, they were contrasting ways. But I don't anticipate that again, especially on our home floor. I think we'll come out to play, and if we're fortunate enough to get up, I think we'll handle it properly this time."
I wrote about some of the lessons hopefully the Bruins learned from that game against Stanford. Coach Howland particularly zeroed in on a specific mistake from that game in today's LAT:
UCLA Coach Ben Howland says he has watched the video tape of the Stanford loss five times. "Four times right after it happened," he said. "I remember that game very well."

Most galling to Howland was what seemed to be an innocuous missed shot by Collison near the end of the first half.

"We had a 15-point lead," Howland said. "Darren shoots the ball coming out of a timeout then he stopped playing because he thought he got fouled. They hit a wide-open three at the buzzer and had all the momentum. That was a mistake Darren had to learn from."
Keep in mind though all these comments about maintaining that killer instinct and not letting after building a lead will be moot if the Bruins do not come out with focus and intensity concentrating on defense. Hopefully they will not play the same defense they did against Cal during the first few mins of Thursday night's game. This means no layups, dunks, and open looks from the perimeter.

As mentioned Stanford is knicked up. They are coming in without Anthony Goods. However, as BBR notes this is a team that has a monster front court and rely on playing solid defense:
Stanford has played solid defense this season.  With 7-foot twins anchoring the paint, perimeter defenders have been able to be more aggressive guarding on the outside knowing they an extra line of defense inside.  They allow 65.8 points a game on just 40.5% field goal shooting (2nd in Pac-10) and lead the conference in 3-PT shooting defense allowing just 30.6%.

With a starting front line measuring 7'0, 7'0, and 6'8, its not surprising Stanford leads the conference in rebounding with a 39.0 average and a +7.1 rebound advantage over opponents.  They average almost 13 offensive rebounds a game, a fact not lost on UCLA Coach Ben Howland.

"Stanford is a very good rebounding team ," Howland said. "When the shot goes up its almost like ping-pong, its almost better for them to put the ball up and let their bigs go after it."
Make sure to read the entire BBR preview which goes on to reiterate how the Stanford game "served as the seminal game" for our Ben Ball warriors. Couple with that fact that it may be a very emotional time at Pauley, we could be in store for a special evening. Let's hope the Bruins stay composed, patient, and show that killer instincts for the entire 40 minutes.

I will get the game thread up in a bit. Enjoy your Saturday.