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Ben Ball News & Notes

Let’s get back to the Memphis Tigers. Just one more day to go till we finally get on with this game. As the previews keep pouring in from all corners of the country, here is the one I was waiting for most: Bruin Basketball Report’s analysis of UCLA v. Memphis. While lot of folks are talking up the Tigers’ offense, BBR prudently reminds us not to forget about their stingy defense and ability to rebound with authority:

On the season, Memphis allows opponents just 61.6 points on a stingy 38.8% field goal shooting. The Tigers utilize primarily an aggressive man-to-man defense that pressures the ball and plays the passing lanes. The team averages 8.4 steals and forces teams into almost 16 turnovers a contest.

In the battle on the backboards, the Tigers dominate opponents with a +6.7 rebounding margin per game.
In terms of matchups BBR affirms a lot of what we have been discussing here all week on BN, including the possibility of Howland using LRMAM to guard CDR:
A guaranteed top-five NBA pick later this summer, freshman Derrick Rose (6'3, 205, Fr) is a big key to the Tigers' high-scoring offense. A quick, yet muscular point-guard, Rose is averaging 14.6 points on 48.1% shooting. Although he can hit from three (34.7%), Rose's game is off dribble-penetration. His speed and strength allows him to overpower smaller defenders, including Texas' D.J Augustine last Saturday. Rose also averages 4.7 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game.

UCLA's Darren Collison will likely get the starting assignment against the bigger Rose. Collison needs to do a good job pressuring the ball while at the same time preventing Rose from getting by him and into the paint. UCLA's big men will likely rotate to help out Collison off Rose's drives to the basket but they need to be aware of Rose's ability to hit the open man underneath.

AP First-Team All-American Chris Douglas-Roberts (6'7, 200, Jr) leads the team in scoring with 17.7 points a game. The junior wing shoots 54.5% from the field and 41.6% from beyond the arc.

Excellent off the dribble, big and strong enough to create his own shot, makes Douglas-Roberts one of the nation's top players this season. Russell Westbrook will get the initial assignment against Douglas-Roberts. He needs to do a good job denying him the ball. If Douglas-Robert's size proves to be too much for the 6'3 Westbrook, then we may see Luc Richard Mbah a Moute have a turn in guarding him.
The guard matchup is also one of the key points of the WWL’s Memphis scouting report. Andy Glockner notes in the closes calls and one loss Tigers suffered this season, the opposing guards had great games:
Yes, Kevin Love is the best offensive post man Memphis will have seen this season, but the Tigers' closest calls all seem to have been triggered by big performances from opposing guards. JaJuan Smith and J.P. Prince were instrumental in the Vols' win. Memphis escaped UAB with a one-point win despite 27 points from Robert Vaden. The Tigers were taken into the final minute by UTEP thanks to 27 points from Stefon Jackson. The USC win was ugly, but O.J. Mayo still scored 16 points. In the close win over Mississippi State, the Tigers ate a 21-point, 11-rebound and 5-assist performance from Jamont Gordon.
And the Tigers had problem from the three point line:
The other consistent issue (besides the free-throw shooting that helped cost the Tennessee game) was that Memphis shot an unusually high number of 3s in these games, and often at a very poor rate. The Tigers ended up 8-for-27 against the Vols, 1-for-17 against UTEP and 5-for-22 against USC. Chris Douglas-Roberts makes 41.6 percent of his 3s, but the team's three primary shooters -- Doneal Mack, Willie Kemp and Antonio Anderson are all 37 percent or worse. Getting to the rim is the better plan.
So it would work well for our Bruins if we can make Saturday and perimeter oriented game and have good nights from DC, RW along with KL:
Interestingly, despite opponents ranging from Georgetown and Michigan State to Arizona and Tennessee, the Tigers' past seven games against top 50 foes had between 66 and 69 possessions. Given UCLA's relatively few offensive options and projecting Memphis' seasonlong capabilities on this game, you figure 65 points might very well be enough to win. Can the Tigers get there? They have had three clunkers this season against resolute defenses, and Ben Howland's crew held the Tigers to 45 points in the Elite Eight two seasons ago. If Derrick Rose can win his individual battles with the UCLA guards, Memphis stands a much better chance of using its depth and length inside to eventually wear down the Bruins and hurt them like other opposing frontcourts have at times.

This season, UCLA saw opponents take fewer 3s as a percentage of their total shots than all but 36 teams in the nation, and the Bruins defend the 3 very well (32.9 percent allowed). The Tigers don't fare as well when they get jump-shot happy, so a perimeter-based game suggests a lower-scoring game, which suits the Bruins. Defensively, Memphis should make sure that Josh Shipp doesn't find anything easy early. If he remains in his shooting slumber, UCLA will need to get extremely good games from Love, Collison and Westbrook to score enough points to win.
I think Andy is pretty much on point there. There is nothing there I can disagree with.

Another important point to remember, FWIW UCLA will have an edge when it comes to experience in Final-4. From Dohn:
Junior power forward Luc Richard Mbah a Moute will start at a third straight Final Four, making him the first player since Michigan State's Andre Hutson and Charlie Bell did from 1999-2001. The last UCLA players to do it were Bill Walton, Greg Lee and Keith Wilkes in 1972-74.

Collison was a starter last season after being a key player off the bench as a freshman, and Bruins senior reserve center Lorenzo Mata-Real is making his third straight Final Four appearance.

Meanwhile, fourth-year junior wing Josh Shipp is at the Final Four for a third time, although he was injured and did not play during UCLA's 2006 trip.

"It helps us out a lot because we know what to expect," Collison said. "On the court, we know what teams are going to bring us. You have to play your best. Off the court, you know how to handle the media obligations. You can't get caught up in all the hype, all the negativity that they say about you."
I am sure our guys will also be the first to tell anyone, as much as experience matters, it won’t count for much if they don’t "bring it." Elsewhere in the local papers, Robert Kuwada (the OC Register reported who called Howland’s matchups against Horn (WKY) and Miller (Xavier) "even") is really scared of the Tigers, and Steve Dilbeck from the Daily News thinks UCLA will go down against Memphis.I hope the team managers make sure Coach Howland reads that Dilbeck article. I have a feeling that kind of stuff will get pinned on the board.