Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Different Bruin Team To Face Bears in Showdown

By Bruin Basketball Report

When the Bruins step onto the court at Haas Pavilion for Thursday night's showdown, it will show up with a very different team from the one which was defeated by the Cal Bears earlier in the season, 68-61, at Pauley Pavilion.

Basketball, more than most sports, is a game of match-ups; and against a big, physical Cal frontline of DeVon Hardin, Leon Powe and Rod Benson off the bench, the Bruins were out-manned in their first contest in December.

In that game the Bruins sported a starting line-up of Josh Shipp, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Lorenzo Mata, Arron Afflalo, and Jordan Farmar.

Since then, Shipp announced he would apply for a medical redshirt due to his hip injury and Mata has been sidelined by a knee injury.

Seniors Ryan Hollins (groin) and Cedric Bozeman (shoulder) were both injured and did not play against Cal, but will both be in the starting line-up on Thursday.

The 7'0 Hollins gives the Bruins a better match-up in the middle against the Cal big men who were literally shooting over the top of the smaller Bruins at Pauley, especially the 6'11 Hardin.

With Bozeman, the Bruins have a player who doesn't score or rebound as well as Shipp, but he is a better defender and perimeter passer. Just as importantly, his ability to play all three perimeter positions has helped take some of the pressure off the dynamic duo of Afflalo and Farmar.

Against Cal, Farmar and Afflalo played 36 and 39 minutes, respectively. Since then, coach Ben Howland has made a conscious effort to reduce their minutes and to keep their legs fresh for the end of games. Farmar has been averaging 30 minutes, while Afflalo has been playing 32 minutes per game.

Another player helping to offset minutes played by Farmar and Afflalo is Michael Roll.

After only playing one minute against Cal in the earlier game, Roll is averaging over 15 minutes per game and has given the Bruins another long range threat to attack a team with from the perimeter. Against Oregon on Sunday, he single-handedly broke the Ducks zone with two three-pointers in the second half.

The Bruins will also have a healthy Jordan Farmar for this contest. He had reinjured his ankle against Stanford and was questionable for the previous Cal game. But after pregame warm-ups it was determined Farmar would start in the game.

Although he played, the negative effects of his ankle injury were obvious on both offense and defense. Farmar was only 2-11 from the field for 6 points; in addition, he was slow to cover on defense. Omar Wilkes put back a key rebound late in the game due to Farmar's inability to block him out on the play.

Alfred Aboya's groin pull is still bothering him this week. As a precautionary measure, coach Howland will keep him out of practice until the game since he will play a key role against Cal.

In the last Cal game, Aboya was the single most effective Bruin frontline player. His size, quickness, and toughness makes him a good defensive match-up against Cal's All-Pac-10 conference power forward Leon Powe; and thus the extra steps taken by the coaches to keep him healthy this week.

UCLA-Cal Game Preview To Follow



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