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Some Cougar Perspective on Tomorrow Night

Glen Kasses over at All Cougs, All The Time has posted some interesting takes on tomorrow night's matchup:

Speaking of Collison, I think, looking towards this game, that he'll be the one player to watch. From that first game, it was obvious that he was the guy who made things go, as the Bruins were awful in the first half when he was struggling and then dynamite in the second half when he was playing well.

WSU will be well-served to remember the constant ball screens Lorenzo Mata set for Collison at the top of the key on almost every possession down the stretch, just back and forth, back and forth, running Derrick Low ragged in the process. For that reason, I might look to see if the Cougars try and use Taylor Rochestie or even Mac Hopson on Collison in spurts to keep Low fresh. This might be a game where Low plays 30-34 minutes instead of 38, to make sure that he's at full go on the floor. Because on both ends, Collison will really get after it.

Kyle Weaver wasn't doing as much at point guard or the Cougars in December, either, so it'll be interesting to see how UCLA handles that this time around. We might see Collison defend Weaver, but then the ball probably goes to Low in the half-court while Weaver attempts to post up. Very possibly, it'll force Arron Afflalo to guard the point, which may not be what Howland wants to see. But Afflalo, himself another Pac-10 player of the year candidate, should be able to handle it.

The one other thing I'm looking at, again to whet the appetite, is going to be offensive rebounding. Especially in the second half, UCLA just went berserk on the glass, ending up with 14 offensive boards for the game. The Cougars aren't a great defensive rebounding team to begin with, but they're going to have to find a way to secure the basketball and at least limit the Bruins' second-chance opportunities, or else it could be rough sledding on the snowy Palouse for the home team.
It will be key for an improved Mata, AA2, and a rejuvenated Luc (relatively speaking when I write "rejuvenated" because Luc has been solid all season, he just seems to have that extra step in his last few games) to maintain UCLA's edge around the rim. I don't think AA really cares about who/what position he has to guard. Whatever Coach Howland tells him to do he will get it done. If Howland thinks it will be better for the team for AA to guard Low just like he took on the assignment to hound Ubaka during Cal games, I think AA will respond well to that call.

Also, it will be key to see how Collison comes out. I think DC has learned to be a little more patient on O since that first December meeting. Hopefully we will see a UCLA team under him and AA, that is making some nice, crisp, sharp passes around the perimeter to start the game. If they stay patient on offense they will find the holes by attacking the basket inside, which will lead to some open looks outside. May be then the Bruins experience against the Cougs may not be as harrowing as a root canal as it has been in past few games.