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THERE ARE a few areas in which you challenge Brook and Robin Lopez—the twin 7-foot sophomores who anchor ninth-ranked Stanford—at your peril. Take trivia about their hero, Walt Disney. You will not stump them. Where did Walt grow up? "Born in Illinois, moved to Marceline, Missouri," says Brook, as he sits on steps inside Maples Pavilion. Donald Duck's first cartoon? "The Wise Little Hen." When did Steamboat Willie come out? "November 18, 1928," he says, shooting you a withering who-doesn't-know-that? look.
A few days later Robin stands on the court before practice. When did Pirates of the Caribbean open at Disneyland? "1967," he says. Space Mountain? "1977." What was the name of Disney's first animation partner? "Ub Iwerks," says Robin. You might as well have asked him how many dwarves hung out with Snow White.
The Lopezes, whose fascinations extend to comic books, Greek mythology and Michael Jackson, are equally comfortable handling all comers in another precinct: the paint. Brook, who was piling up a team-high 19.1 points and 7.9 rebounds a game, along with 2.1 blocks, is a likely NBA lottery pick whenever he chooses to turn pro. Robin, who was averaging 9.4 points, 5.9 boards and a team-leading 2.2 blocks, is projected as a second-round choice. Would-be scorers, however, are hard-pressed to distinguish between them. Last year the brothers rejected more shots (118) than seven Pac-10 teams; at week's end they were helping to hold opponents to just 38.2% shooting and 57.8 points a game, propelling the Cardinal (21--4) into the Top 10 for the first time in coach Trent Johnson's four-year tenure.
"They're just big!" says Oregon coach Ernie Kent, whose Ducks were crushed 72--43 at Maples on Feb. 7. "They seem more like 7'6" because their arms are so long. The more basketball they play, the better they seem to get."
When the twins square off one-on-one or face each other in practice, they can be so fiercely competitive that "we have to keep an eye on them and change matchups," says assistant coach Doug Oliver. "They start pushing and shoving, and they won't call fouls on each other." But when they are on the same team, they are just as rabid in their support of each other. When Brook made a decisive block near the end of a 67--66 win over Arizona last Saturday, Robin leaped off the bench and roared louder than anyone. Yet Brook is quick to say, "Robin is the best shot blocker I've ever seen."
Their mutual inspiration is Disney, a man they became enchanted with while living in Southern California for their first seven years. They don't just know facts about Walt's work, they have opinions. As they sprawl on a couch in Maples before practice one day, wearing matching flip-flops, they explain why they believe traditional animation is superior to the computer-generated form. "It's really hard to create expressive humans that you can relate to with computer animation," says Robin, an incurable doodler and prospective studio art major who is taking a class in traditional animation. "They haven't been able to get it right yet, so a lot of movies have really stylized humans and cartoonish animals."
"That's why they've done toys and fish and stuff like that," adds Brook, who plans to be a creative-writing major. Together the brothers dream of one day starting an entertainment enterprise a la Walt. Says Brook, "Our strengths complement each other."
TESTS PERFORMED on the day they were born (April 1, 1988) were inconclusive, so the twins don't know if they are identical or fraternal. While they both have angular features and basso profundo voices and are nearly matched in weight—Brook is 260 pounds, Robin 255—they aren't hard to tell apart. Since elementary school Brook has kept his hair short and Robin has worn his, well, bigger. If you see a floating cinnamon cloud, that's Robin underneath.
Brook is the more extroverted brother off the court and the more easily frustrated one on it. ("I'm the angrier twin," he says, laughing.) Though he has the unmistakable dimensions of an NBA power forward, he can play with guardlike finesse, which is not surprising since he grew up emulating the game of Arthur Lee, who was an AAU teammate of the twins' oldest brother, Alex, before becoming an All-America point guard at Stanford in 1999. (Brook even wears Lee's number 11.) "Brook can do anything he wants," says teammate Kenny Brown. "He has a great touch. He's not going to blow past you, but he will fake you and move, and he always finishes."
The game seems to come easily to Brook, which may explain why he sometimes takes plays off in practice. His coasting got him in trouble last spring when he stopped going to class and stopped turning in papers, resulting in subpar grades and lost eligibility for the fall quarter. As a consequence he had to sit out the first nine games of the season. ( Stanford went 8--1 but lost to Siena on Nov. 17.) "I was just being lazy," says Brook. "I had to get back to doing what I was doing before and be accountable."