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Husky Men's Basketball

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January 30, 2008 at 12:09 PM

Scouting Stanford’s defense

The task for the Huskies tomorrow — as they begin one of their most critical stretches of the season with four straight at home — will be to penetrate a Stanford defense that quietly ranks as among the best in the Pac-10.
Seems like Washington State, UCLA and Arizona State get most of the pub for having great defenses in the conference this season.
But the Cardinal actually ranks second in the Pac-10 in both scoring defense (57.5 behind WSU’s 53.9) and field goal percentage defense (39.2 to USC’s 37.6).
UW coach Lorenzo Romar says the key to Stanford’s defense is obvious — the presence of the 7-foot Lopez twins, Brook and Robin, in the middle.
“They have two big guys in the middle who make you really think about what you need to do when you get to the rim,” Romar said. “They both block shots, obviously. And Lawrence Hill (6-8 junior forward), if he is in there with them, he’s 6-8, so they have really good size.”
Due largely to the presence of those two, Stanford ranks first in the Pac-10 in blocked shots at 4.63 (the Lopez twins have 58 of Stanford’s 88 blocked shots this season. Hill has another eight).
Romar said Stanford may be most like WSU in the way it plays defense (Arizona State is known for its 2-3 matchup zone) but said there are also some similarities to Arizona with Jordan Hill in the middle. Hill had five blocks against UW Saturday but as Romar pointed out “there are other shots that he changes and you just don’t know what that number us. When you have two guys like that, it makes it tougher to score.”
Indicating further that Stanford’s defensive strength is in the middle is that the one area where the Cardinal defense doesn’t rank highly is from the three-point line — Stanford is sixth in the conference in three-point field goal percentage at 33.2 percent, and has been clipped at a higher number in Pac-10 play (35.2 percent).
So the key for the Huskies could be hitting some outside shots to either loosen up the middle, or simply avoid it completely as much as possible. Which further means that the key player for UW could be Ryan Appleby, who of late has been playing demonstrably better at home than on the road. Appleby is 8-24 on three-pointers in Pac-10 home games, averaging 11.3 points, while he is 6-22 in Pac-10 road games, averaging 5.5.

Comments | Topics: UCLA

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