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March 22, 2008Stanford has twin 7-footers Brook and Robin Lopez.
Fortunately, Marquette center Ousmane Barro has a brother, Daouda. Unfortunately, he's 7 years old.
"Too young," Barro said with a chuckle.
Not to worry. Barro will have plenty of help when the sixth-seeded Golden Eagles face No. 3-seeded Stanford in the South Region's second round on Saturday. At 6-foot-10, Barro is Marquette's only player taller than 6-9.
Starting forward Lazar Hayward, at 6-foot-7, will pitch in. Dwight Burke, a 6-8, 250-pound forward, and 6-foot-9 Dan Fitzgerald will help off the bench. The Golden Eagles' guards will try to pester the Lopez twins with double teams, hoping to make them give up the ball.
When it comes to stopping the Stanford trees, it takes a village.
"We're going to need everybody," Barro said Friday after practice.
The Golden Eagles are used to facing talented big men in the Big East, and they've had mixed success. Georgetown's 7-foot-2 Roy Hibbert hit 7-of-11 shots from the floor and scored 20 points in the Hoyas' 70-68 overtime victory on March 1 in Milwaukee. Barro fouled out in 16 minutes.
Marquette coach Tom Crean said that when it comes to stopping big centers, "we've had our successes, we've had our minuses, but we've had a lot of experience."
Barro said he's usually been able to hold his own against opposing centers in the Big East.
"But the Lopez brothers, that's different because we never see two 7-footers in the same game playing at the same time," Barro said.
And, he might have added, playing well at the same time.
In an opening-round rout of Cornell on Thursday, the twins combined to make 8-of-11 shots from the floor, scoring 18 points in 38 minutes. Robin Lopez also had five blocks.
At least Barro won't have any trouble telling them apart. Robin Lopez is the one with the mop top.
"I don't think we're going to get confused because one of them's got big hair and one of them doesn't," Barro said. "You can see them right away."
Brook Lopez has heard that one before.
"You hear it all the time in chatter between two players," he said. "It's lucky in basketball you've got numbers on the back of the jerseys, too. That helps a lot."
The brothers started wearing different hairstyles in sixth grade, and Brook Lopez said he doesn't think it puts them at a competitive disadvantage.
"We've talked about looking exactly the same on the court," Brook Lopez said. "I don't think either of us would really go for it, though."
Robin Lopez certainly wouldn't.
"We're effective enough right now without risking my hair," Robin Lopez said.
Stanford has other weapons. But only one other player -- guard Anthony Goods -- averages more than 10 points per game.
The Lopezes said they've seen almost every defense imaginable, from double teams to zones.
"Some were bizarre," Robin Lopez said.
"I remember a couple of weekends ago, USC sat someone in my lap and then played someone behind me," Brook Lopez said.
Marquette's staff has probably already seen the tape of that game. The Trojans limited Brook Lopez to 4-for-13 from the floor and 11 points, and USC prevailed 77-64.
UCLA coach Ben Howland, whose Bruins are here as a West Region entry, was asked how he defended the Lopezes this season. UCLA went 3-0 against Stanford, with Brook Lopez averaging 15.3 points and Robin Lopez averaging 10.3.
"I don't think you match up," Howland said. "I think you've got to do it as a team."
That's what the Golden Eagles intend to do. They also plan to take advantage of their own advantage -- quickness.
"(The Cardinal) run everything from the inside out," Fitzgerald said. "But the way we look at it, they've got to guard us too. Our whole mentality is attacking them, and having them guard what we do. I think that will be just as hard for them."
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