Ben Ball warriors close out their second to last homestand for the 2007-08 season this afternoon in a nationally televised game (more on the coverage below). Without further delay let's go to the key clips. Bruin Basketball Report has the preview:
Forward Malik Hairston (6'6, 220, Sr) is scoring a team-best 16.4 points on 52.2% shooting. Hairston arrived in Eugene four years ago heralded as one of the top prep players in the nation, however, his career hasn't turned out the way he, or others, had expected.
Not quick enough on the perimeter nor big enough to dominate inside, Hairston was never able to find his niche in Oregon.
Josh Shipp will be matched-up with Hairston in the game. Shipp is struggling with his outside shooting, missing his last 19 three-point shots. He'll look to end his drought on Saturday.
Senior forward/center Maarty Leunen (6'9, 220, Sr) is leading the team again in rebounds at 9.3 per game while averaging 15.0 points on 55.8% shooting. He is a danger out to the three-point line, shooting 48.4% on three-pointers.
An undersized center, Leunen has had to anchor the middle for most of his career in Oregon by himself without much help from other big bodies
Speaking of not letting the Ducks get in any kind of rhythm, RW will have to do a better job on defense than he did against those guys during the first half at Eugene. If you remember back to that game RW's aggressive defensive effort helped us seal the win late in the game, but during the first half he along with rest of his team-mates were having a hard time containing the speedy Duck guards around the perimeter. Hopefully Luc's presence will help him, DC and others this time around. Pucin has finally figured out its Luc, who is the glue for our defense:
Indeed, Coach Ben Howland touts Westbrook and Mbah a Moute as his best defenders. Westbrook has embraced the role of defensive stopper, showing the fortitude of former All-American Arron Afflalo but with longer arms and quicker feet.
"Russell Westbrook came just in the nick of time," Collison said. "From the start this year he's been guarding the best offensive player, and that fills in for Arron's shoes. Luc can guard anybody.
"Kevin Love has done a good job knowing when to block shots and when not to block shots and he's a good defensive rebounder. I've got to do what I do, which is pressuring the point guard. Coach says our defensive intensity starts with me and I understand that."
It is instructive to focus on Mbah a Moute at the defensive end, Howland said.
In Thursday's 84-49 victory over Oregon State, at least four times Mbah a Moute stepped in front of a driving opponent who had scooted around Collison only to find the crouching Cameroonian in his path.
"Luc's very multifaceted," Howland said, "the kind of player who can guard anyone in the college game from the center to the guards."
Going back to RW though ... don't worry about him. Coach Howland thinks (and its hard to disagree) that RW is developing into the AA mold of "defensive stopper":
As always, UCLA's defense is keyed by extreme effort and preparation, and for the second straight season the Bruins are forcing a high number of turnovers and stealing the basketball more than any in the Pac-10.
Despite the loss of Afflalo, an all-American known for scoring points and playing exceptional defense, UCLA's significant defensive statistics this season nearly mirror those of a year ago, when the Bruins reached their second straight Final Four.
Last season the Bruins allowed 59.5 points per game and teams shot 42.5 percent from the field. UCLA forced 15.5 turnovers a game, and averaged 7.5 steals.
This season, UCLA is yielding 57.6 points per game while teams are shooting 42 percent. The Bruins are forcing a conference-leading 15.2 turnovers and averaging 7.3 steals.
"This is a good defensive team," Howland said. "Some of the things we do in our schemes, maybe we wind up having a little higher field-goal percentage defense, but we create some havoc with the turnovers we force."
As for watching the game just checked my TV listings this am. Looks like I am getting the game (12:30 pm PST) in our local ABC affiliate here in DC. Thanks to bruinhoo for posting the ABC coverage map. My heart goes out to all the BNers in TX, CO and all the other fly over states who are getting stuck with UT and OU game. I guess there is always the game thread and tele's magic videos. :)