December 18, 2009

Bruins ready to fight, Fighting Irish

The UCLA Bruins (3-6) will face the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (9-2) on Saturday at 11:00 PST at the new Purcell Pavilion at the Joyce Center in South Bend, Indiana. This will be the Bruin's first real road game of the year. The Irish are coming off a disappointing 87-85 loss at home to Loyola Marymount while the Bruins had an encouraging 100-68 victory over New Mexico State.

The Irish are coached by Mike Brey who is in his 10th season and possesses one of the best players in the nation in 6-8, 250 pound, Luke Harangody. He is averaging nearly 25 points per game (ppg) and 10 rebounds per game (rpg) and has a good chance to become Notre Dame's all time leading scorer and rebounder.

Hanragody is not only effective in the post, but has expanded his game to include three point shooting ability as well becoming a very good passer. The weakness of his game is perhaps on the defensive end, but there has been improvement there as well. The Bruins will likely guard Harangody by committee with a host of front court players taking a shot at him, including frequent utilization of the double team.

The starting guards for the Irish are 5-11 senior Tory Jackson and 6-3 Ben Hansbrough, a transfer from Mississippi State. Jackson is a hardnosed point guard. There is no question that he is the team leader on both ends of the floor. He is not a great shooter, averaging about 8 ppg, but has good court vision, can drive to the hoop, and is an aggressive, excellent defender. He will have an interesting match-up with Jerime Anderson.

Hansbrough, the brother of Tyler Hansbrough, has had a significant impact in his first year with the Irish. He is averaging over 12 ppg and is shooting over 50 percent. Hansbrough is a good three point shooter and gives Notre Dame a dimension they didn't have last year with his ability to drive to the hoop.

The starting forwards at this point in the season are 6-8 junior Tyrone Nash and 6-8 junior Tim Abromaitis. Nash is a power forward who is athletic and strong. He is the second leading rebounder for the Irish and, along with Harangody, gives Notre Dame a strong presence down low. Abromaitis, who didn't play at all last year, has been somewhat of a pleasant surprise on the wing for Notre Dame. He is the second leading scorer at nearly 16 ppg and is shooting around 56 percent including about 50 percent from the three point line. The Irish have a solid bench, including back-up guard Jonathan Peoples and wing player Carleton Scott.

Notre Dame is a team that has both an inside game and a perimeter game. They present defensive problems because they can spread the floor and make it difficult to double team Harangody down low. The match-ups, however, are not insurmountable for the Bruins defensively. If they can prevent getting burned from the three point line, they will have a solid chance to be in this game. It will, of course, be necessary to shoot the ball well. A 40% shooting day will probably mean an Irish blowout.

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