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Ben Ball Gameday Roundup

Over at Bruin Basketball Report KSW has a preview of tonight’s huge Ben Ball match-up against Stanford:

Last season, Stanford was successful in spreading their offensive sets against UCLA and taking them off the dribble thereby negating the Bruins' help defense. It was effective in the second-half of the first game in which Stanford rallied to defeat UCLA, however, it was not effective in the rematch in Pauley, mainly due to the fact guard Anthony Goods was injured and did not play in the game.

Goods (6'3,205,Jr) is the team's best perimeter offensive player. He shoots well from outside and can take the ball effectively to the basket off the bounce. He is averaging 12.8 points while shooting 44.3% from the field and 40.8% from beyond the arc.

UCLA's Russell Westbrook will have the big task of stopping Goods. He must stay in front of Goods and prevent him from getting into the paint and creating offense for his team. If Goods is able to penetrate and breakdown the defense, it may be a long game for the Bruins.

While Goods is a solid guard, Stanford's team is built around its massive front line.

Brook Lopez (7'0, 260, So) seriously considered leaving for the NBA after his freshman year but decided to spend another year to refine his game in Palo Alto. However in a bizarre start to this season, he was ruled ineligible due to academic reasons. Since his return to the team three games ago, he has averaged 19.3 points and 7.3 rebounds.

In last season's game at Pauley, Brook Lopez recorded 23 points and 9 rebounds against the Bruins. He is a very active player who is difficult to stop once he gets underneath and has a solid midrange shot.

Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will get the initial assignment against Brook Lopez, although it wouldn't be surprising if the Bruins went bigger for parts of the game by using a tandem combination of Love, Mata-Real, or Aboya. They'll need to keep Brook Lopez off the offensive boards which accounts for more than 45% of his total rebounds.
Read the rest of the preview here.

Predictably, the matchup in the front court is the top line story in today’s paper. Diane Pucin sought out Mike Montgomery, the former Cardinal head coach (who built the Stanford program as a relevant one in the Pac-10 during the 90s by taking advantage of Lavin’s buffoonery down south) and got his thoughts on the matchup between Love and the Lopez brothers:
Montgomery is eagerly anticipating the chance to see Love contend with the Lopez twins.

"It's going to be interesting," Montgomery said. "Kevin's not seen guys this size. They're hard to score inside on, and if you go inside they'll challenge you because the two of them are great shot blockers."

Collison said he learned about Love's toughness when he watched Love and Brook Lopez play against each other last summer.

"What I liked is that from the first jump ball Kevin was real competitive and he didn't back off," UCLA's point guard said. "Physically he got out and went after Brook. Nothing fazed him, and it was some rough play."

Love said that one reason he came to UCLA was to play against this group of conference big men.

"When I looked around the country there was not a better group, and I absolutely want to test myself against these guys," Love said. "These are the kinds of guys who are going to make me better."
Well, we are going to need lot more than Love tonight. Just as Love is going to play a huge role, we will need contributions from LRMAM, Mata-Real, and AA2. And, as some of you have already heard, Keefe is going to be available tonight. That’s right, now that Roll’s return looks uncertain, Coach Howland and Keefe have decided to burn his red shirt this season. From the Daily News:
James Keefe is forgoing his redshirt season and Michael Roll might be headed toward one.

Coach Ben Howland said through a UCLA spokesman Wednesday that Keefe will play as UCLA opens the Pac-10 Conference season today. Keefe is forced back into the rotation after Roll suffered a full tear of the plantar fascia in his left foot in Monday's practice.

Earlier this week, Howland said he wanted Roll back in the lineup and the school issued a release Wednesday stating that he was expected to miss three weeks.

But Roll missed seven games because he suffered a partial tear of the plantar fascia in preseason workouts. And a medical redshirt - since Roll has played in less than 30 percent of UCLA's scheduled games - is possible.

"I definitely think that's something to think about, it depends on how fast the recovery is," Roll said. "The longer it takes, the worse it is for myself and for the team. It all depends on the recovery and how much pain I'm in. There's no set time for a return."

Roll will travel with the No. 5 Bruins (12-1), who begin Pacific-10 Conference play at No. 24 Stanford today. He is on crutches and isn't sure how long he'll need them. His rehabilitation is all about time.
Mike needs to take his time with this. Again, I know some folks have been down on his game this season, but we have to keep in mind the kid has been battling through a pretty serious and painful injury. Hope he heals up and fully recovers and gets back to practice. But, again, there is no reason for him to rush this because I still believe he will make his mark as a solid contributor before he is done at UCLA.

As for Keefe, not sure how much we can expect from him tonight even though he has been practicing for a while. It took him a while to get going last year as a freshman. However, by the tournament, he was playing really well. He gave us some solid minutes off the bench during crunch time against Pitt and Kansas, doing all the little things that often do not get noticed and don’t show up on the score board. If he gets in the game tonight, he just needs to stay steady and do the little things: play defense, set screens, scratch and claw around the boards, and he will be fine. If you are jonesing for more hoops reading, the OC Register has a generic preview of the Pac-10 conference. I hear it is going to be tough this year.

Can’t wait for this game tonight.