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Stanford twins maintain their own sense of self

HOUSTON — Forward Brook Lopez stood in the middle of the Stanford locker room playfully answering questions, even tired ones about his and his twin brother's fascination with all things Disney.

And where was his sibling, Robin, on this Thursday afternoon? Well, the sophomore center sat quietly in his stall across the way, seemingly hoping to avoid any attention.

"I'm the more outgoing twin," Brook said. "People say I'm the evil twin. That's the general consensus."

"I've heard that," Robin said of his brother's rep as the "evil" one. "It's just the way he is around our friends. It's nothing serious. He's not a jerk or anything."

And there you have it.

These 7-footers complement one another.

One's more an extrovert, the other an introvert. One's more conservative in his coif (Brook's curly locks are neatly and closely cropped), the other more radical (Robin's curls are longer and more mop-like.) One's more polished offensively, the other more so defensively.

But taken together, they're quite the pair, which is a big reason the No. 3-seeded Cardinal (28-7) is meeting No. 2-seeded Texas (30-6) in the NCAA Tournament South Region semifinals tonight at Reliant Stadium. Top-seeded Memphis (35-1) faces No. 5-seeded Michigan State (27-8) in the other Sweet 16 matchup.

"When you get ready to play them, you realize that you are going to have to compete every possession," Texas coach Rick Barnes said, "because they are in there together."

'Goofballs'

The Lopez boys knew for years they would go to the same college and it would be Stanford, their mother's alma mater.

"There's a certain comfort zone (together)," Robin said.

"We played together our whole lives," echoed Brook. "It gives you a very secure feeling having him on the floor. I know the way he plays and he knows the way I play. It's one less thing to worry about. We're on the same page."

Off the court, too.

Growing up in Southern California until they were 7 years old, they developed a love and fascination for Walt Disney. They know when certain attractions opened at Disneyland, and don't even start a trivia contest on Disney's animated films. You'll lose. They also share a passion for the works of Homer and Michael Jackson.

"They're both goofballs," senior forward Taj Finger said.

"They're characters," added junior guard Anthony Goods. "Robin loves to sing. Brook loves to tell Robin to shut up."

Stanford coach Trent Johnson has sure liked having both brothers, eclectic interests and all, with him in Palo Alto.

"It's been great," he said, jokingly calling their signing "job security."

He added: "If there's been any negative, it's that when they go against each other in practice, you have to separate them sometimes because they get after it pretty physically."

Hmm. Some sibling rivalry there?

"Nothing past kidding with each other," Robin said, quick to point out that "you go at it hard with anybody in practice."

Still kids

No one ever accused Robin, all 255 pounds of him, of not going hard. Last year, he sometimes pushed too hard and that often resulted in forced shots and foul trouble. He has shown better patience this season, especially in the postseason.

In NCAA Tournament wins against Cornell and Marquette last week, he hit 14 of 19 shots. He had no fouls against Cornell and, despite three against Marquette, played smartly and was on the floor 38 minutes.

"We can all see he has improved offensively," Johnson said.

For the season, Robin's also tied for second in scoring (10.3 points) and is second in rebounding (5.7). He leads the team in blocking shots (83) and is already second in school history (156) to Tim Young (167).

Meanwhile, the 260-pound Brook, older than his sib by a minute, leads the Cardinal in scoring with an average of 19 points and rebounding with an 8.1 average. But he hasn't always gone hard enough off the court. Last spring he skipped some classes and was suspended for the first nine games of this season. Once he returned, he showed he had learned to better harness his fire.

Case in point: Despite foul trouble, he scored 30, including a winning baseline leaner in the waning seconds, in the second-round win against Marquette.

"They are both very emotional, both very competitive and want to win so bad and sometimes it pushes them someplace where they shouldn't go," Johnson said. "(But) just watching their growth socially and athletically has been impressive. And it's a fact of any 19-year-old built like a man and has their skill set, they still are kids."

Brian Landman can be reached at landman@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3347.

Stanford twins maintain their own sense of self 03/27/08 [Last modified: Thursday, March 27, 2008 10:09pm]
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