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UCLA prepares for Stanford matchups

The Cardinal doesn't have the big frontcourt this season, but Bruins Coach Ben Howland says they provide tough matchups.

January 31, 2009|David Wharton

The Stanford team that visits Pauley Pavilion to play No. 17 UCLA today is significantly different from the one fans might recall from previous seasons.

"It is different because you don't have the 7-foot pros in the middle," Coach Ben Howland said.

That would be the Lopez twins, Brook and Robin, now in the NBA. The current roster presents other challenges.

The Cardinal is playing more up-tempo under first-year Coach Johnny Dawkins. Along with a pair of senior guards in Mitch Johnson and Anthony Goods, Stanford has 6-8 Lawrence Hill and 6-7 Landry Fields, big men with small forward skills.

"They're a difficult team to match up with," Howland said.

The Bruins expect Stanford, which lost to USC by a point Thursday, to play mostly man-to-man defense with an occasional zone.

Growing up

The 13 points that Jrue Holiday scored in Thursday night's victory over California included five free throws, the result of a shift in his perspective. Instead of driving to the basket and passing, the freshman guard says he has started looking to shoot or at least create contact.

"I think I definitely have to," he said. "Getting to the free-throw line really helps."

That did not mean Holiday kept the ball every time downcourt. Howland liked his four assists, including a spectacular alley-oop pass to Josh Shipp.

"I think the ball just needs to be in his hands more because good things happen," Howland said.

The coach was asked whether Holiday might run the offense at times, taking over for point guard Darren Collison. He pointed out that Collision leads the Pacific 10 Conference in assists, saying: "He's doing a pretty good job there."

All mixed up

Howland said he wasn't entirely surprised to see two of the Pac-10's leading teams -- Washington and Arizona State -- lose this week.

"There's a lot of parity in our conference," he said. "And it's going to go down to the last weekend."

With media around the nation portraying this as a down season for the conference, such upsets could play a role in how many Pac-10 teams are selected for the NCAA tournament.

"Honestly," Howland said, "I'm just concerned right now with us."


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