Monday, March 22, 2010

Sweet Sixteen: Questions without Answers...yet (Part II)

Continuing what will be two days and four posts.

You might hear more from me - or Pay - otherwise; however, I'm going to ride my tournament momentum and address a few issues on the upcoming weekend of regional semi-finals and finals.

Midwest = Mid-day Monday
West = Late Monday (aka BELOW)

East = Early Tuesday
South = Mid-to-late Tuesday

Izzo and Sparty already got their due.
Up next: the West Regional.
Credit: Yahoo! Sports

West Region: #1 Syracuse vs. #5. Butler

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Syracuse QUESTION: The health of Arinze Onuaku is a pre-existing circumstance. One I've mentioned more than enough, right? That aside, question is: what can Syracuse expect from the point guard position (duo of freshman Brandon Triche & sophomore Scoop Jardine) on both sides of the ball?

Syracuse X-FACTOR: How does Butler deal with the 2-3 zone? If they can't hit outside shots early and the Orange can rebound, much like they did against Gonzaga, things should go quite smoothly again for the Orange. Key word: can't.

Orange(man) I'm Watching: Wes Johnson was Big East Player of the Year and a 1st-team All American. Whether or not Onuaku plays (broken record?), he needs to be more selfish. Problem is, that's against Johnson's nature. Bigger problem is, how do you ask that without giving him potentially too much range? Credit the relationship he has with his teammates and, most of all, Jim Boeheim for that answer.

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Butler QUESTION: Out of conference opponents often struggle mightily against Syracuse's 2-3 zone. You don't see a zone like it often (or at all) and especially not with the length and athleticism Syracuse has. Butler has 3 days to prepare to attack it. Question is, how do you simulate that type of length and proficiency in practice?

Butler X-FACTOR: Outside shooting. His 10+ 3s and you can beat the Orange. Louisville did it, twice. Attack the zone and run and gun with the Orange and you can beat them. Georgetown did. Greg Monroe gave the blueprint for a big man. Either way, you need to score 90+ or hold the Orange 20% below their FG average to beat them. Don't turnover the ball either. And defend Andy Rautins well. Don't underestimate Butler being able to do a few of those things potentially.

Bulldog I'm Watching: Shelvin Mack. 25 against UTEP, but only 11 against Murray State. Mack will need to be productive from the perimeter and help break down the zone in order for the Bulldogs to keep up a consistent offensive pace. Long lapses are the worst nightmare for the Bulldogs next Thursday.

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

#6. Xavier vs. #2. Kansas State

Xavier QUESTION: No need to ellaborate. TEMPO is the be all, end all of this game. Question is, how do the Musketeers force Kansas State into their tempo and avoid running up and down the court against superrior athletes?

Xavier X-FACTOR: Xavier didn't rebound very well down the stretch against Pitt (outrebounded 35-29). That could be an issue against Kansas State. It you give Jacob Pullen multiple opportunities, he'll burn you. Big time.

Musketeer I'm Watching: Dante Jackson better stop missing free throws late. He did in the A-10 semi-finals and it burned the Musketeers. He did it against the Panthers on Sunday evening and it ALMOST did again. If Jackson can't contribute in late stretches - and more than just on a leadership level - the Musketeers won't put up enough points to defeat the Wildcats.

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Kansas State QUESTION: Question is, how does Frank Martin allow his guards to have free range without turning the ball over and forcing poor shots? Xavier values possessions as well as any team in the nation. That means you better do the same. Otherwise, an 7-8 point lead against the Musketeers may feel like 15+ from other opponents.

Kansas State X-FACTOR: Speed and athleticism. Pullen and Clemente should get to the line 10+ times EACH. Both are ridiculously quick off of the rebound, can create their own shot with relative ease, and have no problem hitting from the outside. These two guards must dictate the pace of this game. Which means run, run, run.

Wildcat I'm Watching: Jacob Pullen is a star. His hip-injury is a little overplayed and it won't bother him. If he wants to do so much more than what Michael Beasley ever could in Manhattan (Kansas), he'll deliver in the clutch on Thursday night and put his team close to the brink of what was once seemingly unthinkable: a Final Four appearance.

The East regional gets it due earlier tomorrow. Until then...

1 comment:

Paymon said...

One more X-factor for Butler in addition to the elephant in the room, which is the 2-3 Zone ... and that is Butler's transition defense.

What makes the 'Cuse special is their length, and being able to get easy buckets after rebounds.

In watching Butler play UTEP (very different than Syracuse, I understand), the Bulldogs got back very quickly.

Gordon Hayward is critical to busting the 2-3. If he doesn't play well, they might as well go home now.