Game previews are so much easier the second time around. I don't need to introduce you to the players. You saw Collison, Shipp, Mhah a Moute, Afflalo, etc. the first time around. They're dangerous. We know that if Lorenzo Mata is playing, that we need to wear dark sunglasses to ease the strain on our eyes. We know this.
The timing of this game actually kind of sucks. We get UCLA coming off the heels of their loss to Stanford. They are going to be pissed. They already have the revenge factor, now they are coming off a loss as well. Now, there are two ways that we can deal with that. We know that they are going to come out jazzed to play us. We can come out flat, give them confidence, and have all the excuses in the world. Or, we can come out and frustrate them, and use that anger against them. First place, and the inside edge for a conference championship and a #1 seed are at stake, so its not like the Ducks will have anything to take lightly.
THINGS I'D LIKE TO SEE
To me, it comes down to three things. The first is offense. Last time we played UCLA, we dominated the first half by getting to the rim and taking high percentage shots. We cannot settle. I don't want to see a lot of three pointers--when we started jacking up the outside shots in the second half last time is when they came back. MVP needs to look for the drive. Malik needs to look for the drive. And Maarty needs to box out and get all the easy garbage points that he can. If we jack up jumpers, we'd better be on fire or its going to be a long night.
Defensively, we have to force them into being a jump shooting team. Bryce is going to have to keep Afflalo outside. Brooks will have to keep Collison out of the paint. They are going to have one guy shooting well outside because they have too many scorers not to. The key will be to make sure that you're not giving the other guys anything easy.
Finally, the Ducks cannot turn the ball over. Last time we played these guys, we had 14 turnovers. We need to have less than that to win in LA.
Also keep in mind that we didn't have Malik last time we played these guys. Churchill Odia played 17 minutes that game. I'm not trying to bash Church, but Hairston is going to cause a lot more headaches for the Bruins. Offensively, he can be a force, and he always takes the kind of high percentage shots that we want.
If you can't wait for the game, just watch this a few times.
You can also read Bruin Basketball Report's preview.