It’s time once again for America’s fastest-growing basketball blog sensation: Coffee Talk.
This week’s question is pretty straightforward: Now that we’ve dissected the Memphis Tiger basketball team every way I know how to, what do you think the keys are to a Spartan victory Friday night?
To spur discussion, here’s an excellent scouting report on the Tigers provided by a college basketball scout to SI.com’s Luke Winn. Key excerpts and quick takes on the implied keys for Spartan success are below.
“The sets they run are not complicated, but that’s smart on [coach John Calipari’s] part because it allows them to play off of their natural ability, and create havoc that way. A sagging man-to-man defense is what I think is best rather than a zone: You just leave too many gaps with the zone, and you don’t have set block-out responsibilities that way, so guys like [Joey] Dorsey and [Robert] Dozier will kill you on the offensive glass. And you need to limit their second-shot opportunities, or you’ll have no shot of winning.
Implied keys: Sag off their perimeter players to cut off driving lanes and try to force perimeter shots. Rebound the ball defensively.
“I think you can score on Memphis early in transition, by throwing over the top of the press, or score on them late in the shot clock. But don’t try to score in between that. They’re a very good defensive team, especially on your first 2-3 passes in the half court, but by the sixth or seventh pass they’re not very good. They want the ball back so bad that they try to make steals at that point, and get out of position. They feel like they can afford to gamble because they have shot blockers behind them. If you drive the ball, the key is to come to a jump stop, pump-fake, and if nothing is available, kick the ball back out and start over again.
Implied key: The point guards will need to make good decisions with the ball. Push the ball when the opportunity arises, but don’t force bad shots in transition.
OK, have at it. What do you see as the keys to the game for MSU? Which players in particular need to step up? Should I wear a green, white, or athletic gray t-shirt for good luck?