Too bad I missed most of the Game Day this am. I caught the last 5 mins of it right when Hubert Davis was picking Arizona to win tonight's game and the Den crew was giving him the proper treatment. We will put up a special thread tonight around 8 pm right before the game thread in honor of our Den crew's primetime appearance on WWL.
Let's get back to talking about nuts and bolts of tonight's game. From last night's comment thread per CrouchingBruin Arizona fans are not expecting to see O'Neil deploy any zone defense tonight because apparently they haven't played much zone the whole season. BruinRod agrees with that take thinking O'Neil will probably not switch to zone over night after selling the whole team on tough man-to-man physical defense the whole season.
However, KS Wong from BBR reports that the Wildcats play both man-to-man and zone defense, and even thought O'Neil is not a big fan of zone lack of depth has forced to him to go to that route this season. So either way it will be very interesting to see what O'Neil has in store for us. I am sure Coach Howland is getting his players to deal with either scenarios tonight.
As for the game the consensus seems to be Luc will get the defensive assignment against Budinger. The key for Luc will be to stay out foul trouble which he got in against ASU on Thursday night.
More on tonight's game from BBR:
Stopping Bayless from getting into the paint off the dribble is one of the keys to the game.
Fortunately for UCLA their best perimeter defender is 6'3 guard Russell Westbrook who will take on Bayless. Westbrook locked down Arizona State's James Harden on Thursday limiting the freshman to just 9 points.
Arizona lacks big bodies in the low post but Jordan Hill's stellar play this season has helped make up the difference. Hill is averaging 13.1 points on 61.9% field goal shooting. He has really improved his low post presence on both ends of the court. Hill is averaging almost two blocks a game.
Hill (6'9, 211, So) still has a tendency to be foul prone at times and he will have a tough time handling UCLA's big man Kevin Love down low. With reserve Kirk Walter (6'11, 254, Sr) providing very little support off the bench, if Hill gets into any foul trouble the Wildcats don't have the bodies inside to keep up with the Bruins.
At another wing is senior Jawann McCllelan (6'4, 211). After battling injuries most of his collegiate career, he is averaging over 35 minutes a game this season. A powerfully built player, he is still a threat from outside if he gets it going. This will be a good match-up for UCLA's Josh Shipp.
Shipp's coaches and teammates are showing a lot of respect for Arizona's defense. From Brian Dohn:
Opponents are scoring 66.6 points per game, which is the fewest points the Wildcats have yielded since 2001 (66.3), when they played in the national title game. Also, Arizona is limiting opponents to 43.7 percent from the field, which ties for the school's second lowest total since the 2000-01 team held opponents to 39.7 percent from the field.
"I just think they have some older guys here now, and better quickness," Howland said. "It comes down to the personnel, and I think their personnel really lends itself to being a good defensive team. They're smaller, but they're very, very good.
"And (Jordan) Hill, they're sending everything towards him, he's sitting there and sending it back, swatting it back at you. He's a very good shot blocker, pretty much in league with the Lopez (twins from Stanford)."
Again the key for our guys will be to come out focused and show composure under the national spotlight.
If our guys stick with their program, play their brand of Ben Ball defense and stay patient and execute on the offensive side of the ball, we will have a fun night.
Speaking of which we will have three threads tonight. One for WWL's college game day pre-game show and our usual open and post game thread.