Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Bruins and Tigers, a 2006 Defensive Redux?

By KS Wong
Bruin Basketball Report

This Saturday UCLA plays Memphis for the first time since the West Regional Final in 2006 when the Bruins smothered the Tigers for a 50-45 win at the Oakland Coliseum to earn its first Final Four appearance since 1995.

Similar to 2006, many people this year have questioned whether the Bruins match-up well against the Tigers on the court.

In 2006, Memphis was considered the more athletic team with bigger and longer players. The Tigers had a high-octane offense, averaging over 81 points per game.

The Bruins in 2006? Well, they were considered the 'disciplined' team.

Sound familiar to recent articles in the media?

Yet, there are certainly some real differences in both teams from two years ago, which may have a big impact on Saturday's game.

In the 2006 regional final game UCLA Coach Ben Howland had the luxury of having two lock-down defenders, in Cedric Bozeman and Arron Afflalo, both who had the ability to guard any position on the perimeter.

Howland exploited this advantage against Memphis by switching defensive assignments at the start of the game by placing 6'6 wing Cedric Bozeman on 6'2 guard Darius Washington and assigning 6'4 Arron Affalo to guard the taller 6'7 Rodney Carney.

The 2006 starting five match-ups:

Jordan Farmar on Antonio Anderson, SG
Arron Afflalo on Rodney Carney, SF
Cedric Bozeman on Darius Washington PG
Luc Richard Mbah a Moute on Shawnee Williams, PF
Ryan Hollins on Joey Dorsey, C

The strategy worked.

Washington, who had dominated Jordan Farmar in an earlier meeting between the teams, was held to 4 of 10 shooting and was forced into four turnovers by Bozeman's shadowing defense. And in an epic battle on the wing, Afflalo shut down NBA-bound, C-USA Player of Year Rodney Carney, limiting him to just 5 points on 2 of 12 shooting.

With Memphis' two stars shutdown and 7'0 Bruin center Ryan Hollins manning the middle, UCLA held the Tigers to a season-low 31.5% shooting and 18 turnovers on its way to a convincing victory.

Move forward to 2008, UCLA has Pac-10 Defensive player of the year 6'3 Russell Westbrook; however, it does not have nearly the defensive personnel of the 2006 club.

Whereas the presence of Westbrook helps to make up for the loss of Afflalo on the defensive perimeter, instead of a 6'6 long and agile Bozeman, the Bruins have Josh Shipp who is perhaps the team's weakest defender on the wing.

And while Darren Collison is an excellent on-ball defender, his 6'1, 165 lb frame puts him at a decided size disadvantage against the Tigers' big backcourt of 6'3 205 lb Derrick Rose and 6'7 Chris Douglas-Roberts.

Howland recognizes the quality of the Memphis backcourt and understands the challenges his team faces in matching up with it.

"Their offense starts with Derrick Rose," Howland said. "Jason Kidd is a very good analogy, but with a better jump shot at the same stage. Chris Douglas-Roberts is very skilled with the ball, at putting the ball on the floor and making plays. He attacks the rim, he can knock down a three. He can do it all.

In 2006 Darius Washington was a solid point-guard for Memphis but NBA-lottery bound Rose is a completely different player who provides the team speed and shot creation at the point. Rose is definitely a difference maker and makes the Tiger offense hum.

The match-ups on the perimeter for Saturday's game between the two clubs will likely be Russell Westbrook on Douglas-Roberts, Josh Shipp on Antonio Anderson, and Darren Collison on Derrick Rose.

"We haven’t talked about the match-ups yet but most likely I will be on Rose," Collison said. "For a freshman to do what he does is a terrific accomplishment. I’ve played against him a couple of times in camps. A good player. He’s very athletic."

UCLA has one of the best team defenses in the nation. The Bruins pride themselves on their quick rotations, hedges, and pressure defense; however, basketball is also a game of individual match-ups.

Whether UCLA will be able to duplicate its stellar defensive effort of 2006 on Saturday against Memphis may likely come down to the match-up between Collison and Rose.

Look back: BBR UCLA vs. Memphis - 2006 Game Preview
Look back: BBR UCLA vs. Memphis - 2006 Game Summary

(photo credit: AP)



At Apr 2, 2008, 5:27:00 PM, Anonymous jake said...

I guess what we are going to see is Westbrook playing a deny the ball type defense on Douglas-Roberts something I think he is very good at. Certainly Collison will be out sized by Rose but he does have the quickness, hands, and experience to match up fairly well. We are also talking about a healthy Collison unlike his first game back against DJ Augustine. I feel that a very important key to the game will be who controls the boards on misses. Which makes both Love and Mbah a Moute (and certainly Keefe) big factors. With a slowed down tempo we want to try and get more possessions and grind it out.
Don McLean made a few interesting comments regarding possibly taking a few possessions in the first half and put Memphis on the line to set the tone in the second half and down the stretch. It could also stop the flow and momentum of any Memphis runs. I could see doing that ... but certainly caution against getting anybody into foul trouble. Aboya ... come on down. Foul that guy.
Can't wait for the game.

At Apr 2, 2008, 6:13:00 PM, Anonymous BruinFan said...

Brew In and I had a few brewskis....only kidding...
I did not read the article nor am I concerned about the Tigers, Kansas or Carolina
1) We are more experienced
2) We will D the F*** UP
Hang this shit already....
-Love to all.....and Howland's she single?? lol

At Apr 2, 2008, 11:07:00 PM, Anonymous larbob said...

Kevin Love will be the difference. But the Bruins still have to take care of the ball and keep Memphis out of transition. Memphis is not nearly as good in a half court game.

At Apr 3, 2008, 1:25:00 AM, Anonymous JD said...

The backcourt matchups are going to be tough but I think Collison is quick and disruptive enough to take care of Rose....but its going to be a battle for sure.

At Apr 3, 2008, 3:55:00 AM, Anonymous jake said...

Memphis is very good in the half court defense and are opportunistic in creating/capitalizing on turnovers. I don't consider UCLA a very passing team - they seem to have had trouble making entry passes to the low post and can be lazy in their passes around the perimeter. Just something they need to sharpen a little.

At Apr 3, 2008, 4:42:00 AM, Anonymous Big Woof! said...

Don't overlook the possibility of putting Westbrook on Rose and Luc on CDR at times - this could be an effective alternate scheme.
I'm also interested to see if Kevin can get Joey in foul trouble very quickly. Coach Cal could be looking at throwing a zone against us.
Hope Josh is shooting a lot in practice - we'll need his and our other guys to hit their outside shots.

At Apr 3, 2008, 6:06:00 AM, Anonymous dee said...

yup... if u have notice at times during the tournament, howland play 3 bigs love, keefe, LRMM, with 2 guards... that way LRMM can switch over to guard the bigger guards...
the difference for memphis would be hitting FT and if their wing can step up to the game... for us will be making points down the stretch and getting dorsey into foul trouble

At Apr 3, 2008, 7:40:00 AM, Anonymous Dude said...

Sorry, but in 2006 they didn't play at the Oakland Coliseum, as this would have made it an outside game played on a baseball/football feild. It was the Oakland Arena.

At Apr 3, 2008, 9:06:00 AM, Anonymous Brew In said...

The 12 packs are in my freezer, prepping for the game. Bring one out and start the chillin'...Just like the Bruins rotation on Memphis.
We keep them off-guard and rotate Collison and Westbrook on Rose, Westbrook and LRMM on Douglas-Roberts, bring in Aboya for spot minutes to "rough" them up, have Keefe run all over the place and agitate the crap outta everyone, and let KLove and Mata reject anything that gets by them.
BruinFan, get ready for a victory brew!!!

At Apr 3, 2008, 4:19:00 PM, Anonymous BruinsVictory said...

It's going to be a good fight 'til the buzzer sounds, and UCLA marches on to the championship game... Collison and Love need to do their things... i agree that the prince needs to play good defense on Douglas-Roberts and Westbrook on Rose... Rose is super fast so it won't be easy... Collison needs to D up on Rose as well.
Go Bruins!


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