|03-30-2005, 10:41 AM||#1|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: Land o' Lincoln
Very good Final 4 analysis
Even though I can't stand this guy, Steve Alford comes through with a really solid analysis of Illinois, MSU, UNC, and Louisville.
Iowa's Alford brings unique perspectiveBy Andy Katz, ESPN.com
Steve Alford's phone has been ringing quite a bit this week. He's not saying from whom.
Steve Alford's Hawkeyes had a 2-4 record against the Final Four teams.
The word is that Alford knows all about the Final Four. He should. He's the lone coach to play all four teams this season.
The results? Iowa went 2-4 against the Final Four.
The Hawkeyes beat Louisville 76-71 in their second game of the season at the Maui Invitational before losing to North Carolina 106-92 two nights later in the event's final (after beating Texas in the semis).
In Big Ten play, Iowa lost to Illinois 73-68 in Champaign on Jan. 20 when the Hawkeyes still had Pierre Pierce. After Pierce was dismissed from the team for his alleged role in an altercation with a former girlfriend, the Hawkeyes then lost to Michigan State 75-64 and to Illinois 75-65, this time at home.
The Hawkeyes did beat Michigan State 71-69 in the Big Ten tournament quarterfinals in Chicago, a win that essentially put Iowa into the NCAA Tournament.
We're fairly certain, with six games total against the four teams, that Alford qualifies as a capable scout.
Click on the links for his take on each Final Four team:
Illinois | North Carolina | Michigan State | Louisville
ALFORD ON ILLINOIS
How to beat them: "Control Roger Powell. If Powell has double figures in points and rebounds, then you're finished. We were close in both games because Powell wasn't a factor. If he is, they're almost impossible to beat. The three guards (Deron Williams, Dee Brown and Luther Head) are going to get theirs. One might be off but the other two will produce."
Achilles' heel: "Depth. If one guard gets into foul trouble and they have to play Richard McBride a lot of minutes, there's a big dropoff. He's a shooter and must play off the others. If Deron Williams gets in foul trouble, Dee Brown has to go to the point and that slows them down. If one of the bigs gets into foul trouble, that's OK, but if one of the guards does, there is too big a dropoff."
ALFORD ON NORTH CAROLINA
How to beat them: "They have the best talent of any team we played. They are a big-time team in transition. The strength for them is their offense and that's how they have to win games. How do you stop them? Playing a team like Michigan State could do it because they will guard them. We played them the third game in three days in Maui and we were exhausted. They scored 106 points but we still scored 92 and we didn't have fresh legs."
Achilles' heel: "Defensive intensity. North Carolina has to score in volumes. Wisconsin scored 82 points against North Carolina. The Badgers didn't score 82 in any game in the Big Ten. If you play Wisconsin in our league it's the first one to 60 wins. They scored 82 on North Carolina! I think Michigan State will guard them and Michigan State will score easier than Wisconsin will. Wisconsin hurt North Carolina with an undersized four man in Alando Tucker and Michigan State has an undersized four man in Alan Anderson. That could be a problem, too."
ALFORD ON MICHIGAN STATE
How to beat them: "First of all, the pressure is off those kids. That senior class has had enormous pressure on them, like our juniors had in getting to the Tournament. Those kids arrived when Michigan State had been to three straight Final Fours and won the Big Ten. They hadn't done either, and hadn't beaten Duke. They've played with a lot of pressure. Now they've beaten Duke and are going to the Final Four. They are relaxed.
"How do you beat them? You have to come out to fight them on the boards. We outrebounded them and had to do a good job with transition. You've got to make the Spartans play halfcourt and run their sets. They want to fly up court. Michigan State and North Carolina have the two best transition teams. That's what is going to be interesting: who gets the easiest baskets? Both teams pride themselves on getting into the 80s or 90s and easy baskets. The key matchup would be Raymond Felton and Drew Neitzel at the point, the experienced against the young one."
Achilles' heel: "Paul Davis can get pouty, and if he disappears, then Sean May dominates. If it's a wash, then it goes to the point guard. If Paul Davis isn't in the flow early, then he'll disappear. If he disappears, then the Sparatns don't have another low-post scoring threat in the halfcourt."
ALFORD ON LOUISVILLE
How to beat them: "The reason Louisville is better this year is that Juan Palacios gives them a scoring four man and Ellis Myles is a legit low-post threat. They didn't have that last year. That frees up their guards for 3s.
"They have players that really understand the game and understand how to play. Like Illinois, Carolina and Michigan State, they move the ball and are unselfish and make the simple play. You have to make them play halfcourt. You have to make them go for their in-between game and don't let them get free for 3-point shots. If you can, get them inside the arc and make them feed the post to Myles and Palacios and not let them drive and kick."
Achilles' heel: "You've got to take away the drive-and-kick game. That's the go-to move for the Cardinals. If they are able to do that for Taquan Dean and Francisco Garcia, the Cards can win. If that gets taken away, the Cards are in trouble."
So who wins, Steve?
"We've played all four of them and of the four teams we've played, Illinois and Michigan State were the better defending teams. All four are great offensive teams but to win the Final Four when there is equal talent, you have to get stops and Illinois and Michigan State can tweak their defense to a level that I'm not sure Carolina and Louisville can."
So, Alford has an all-Big Ten final. No surprise. And the winner is, Steve?
Andy Katz is a senior writer at ESPN.com.
|03-30-2005, 11:22 AM||#2|
Ring of Famer
Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Somewhere in Jersey
of course Alford will pick an All Big 10 final. His phone has been ringing, from who? I hope its ESPN. He hasnt lived up to expectations at Iowa.
|03-30-2005, 02:01 PM||#5|
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Eastlake OH
This is my analysis from watching these teams play:
How to beat them:" Inside game. They are a 3 guard team with their tallest starter at 6"9, 2 big men down low in the post and crashing the boards will create the opportunites needed to knock off the Illini. I watch the OSU game when they lsot, and the Buckeyes did jsut that with Dials and Sylvester, they just kept feeding it to Dials all game long and Illinois didnt have the answer. It got them back in the game and eventually won it, teams need to do the same."
How to beat them:"Slow the game down. Wisconsin kept it a close game, but the Badgers are a low-scoring defensive team that let UNC run with the ball in transition and they couldn't keep up. If a team wants to beat the Heels, they'll need to slow it down and make North Carolina play at their tempo. Also, you need an answer for Sean May. If May gets his touches and scres his points, UNC will be tough to knock off, so try and double down or face guard tod eny the entry pass in attempts of shuttign him down.
How to beat them:"Expose their 2-3 zone. Pitino has always loved the man defense, but lately has switched to a 2-3 zone, the Cards have only been using this set-up for half a season or so and if you have a good 3-point shooting team, this can be exposed big time. Identifying when Louisville is in man and when they are in zone will be key, perimeter shots in zone, down low and post game when in man, and Louisville is beatable."
How to beat them:"Much like UNC, MSU plays a transition game and they like to run, so slowing the game down is key. If you can hold them to 70 points a game, then Michigan State will go down. They have a fast running team but also likes set plays by getting the ball in Tolberts hands and seeing what he can do with it. Their defense is a bit shaky and rebounding isnt stellar, 2 more way to get some points and create mismatches out on the court."
|03-30-2005, 02:51 PM||#6|
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: St. Louis
All the way....excellent analysis and he's right on the eventual winner :-).
|03-30-2005, 02:58 PM||#7|
Join Date: Sep 2002
Location: South of Boston
Dee Brown Drops Out Of Tournament To Study For Finals
CHAMPAIGN, IL--Illinois basketball fans expressed disappointment yesterday when star player Dee Brown announced that he would skip the remainder of the NCAA tournament in order to study for final exams. The junior guard reportedly has several “killer” exams in the next few weeks, prompting his decision to abandon his team in the middle of a title run.
“I know this is hard for the fans to accept, but it’s something I really had to do,” said Brown. “Suppose my team reaches the championship game. How am I supposed to take my Psyche final the next morning? It’s at 8:00 am. It’s not like they’re going to go out of their way to arrange some kind of special ‘make up’ day for me just because I’m a basketball player. What do you think this is, some kind of crazy fantasy world?”
In addition, Brown has final exams in sociology, calculus, African-American studies, and history all within the next two weeks. The unfortunate schedule creates a huge conflict for him.
“I’m sorry, but whoever scheduled this tournament didn’t take into account that players have exams to study for and take,” he said. “My sociology final alone has, like, 10 essay questions and 50 multiple choice. I’ve got to bring my ‘A’ game if I’m going to pass that one. There will be plenty of time to play hoops with the guys afterwards. I’ve got the whole summer ahead of me.”
The Fighting Illini are supporting their teammate’s decision to skip the rest of the tournament. Some of them have contemplated doing the same thing.
“I totally understand why he’s doing what he’s doing,” said forward James Augustine. “Playing basketball is fun but at the end of the day it’s really just a game. Studying can build valuable life skills that will help out in the job market. I may actually skip the next game myself just so I can get a head start on my English lit. final. We’re supposed to get a ton of questions about Moby Dick and I haven’t even read the damn thing yet. All I know is that it’s about some killer whale that terrorizes beachgoers on a small New England island.”
Rick Pitino, coach of the Louisville Cardinals, also applauded Brown’s decision, saying more Illinois players should follow his lead.
“I think he made the right decision. It was a no brainer,” Pitino said. “In fact I’m surprised more of their players haven’t done the same thing. I think all their starters should take the tournament off and focus more on intellectual pursuits. Basketball isn’t everything. Remember, there are over 70,000 student athletes in the country, and almost all of them are going pro in something other than sports. I have no use for those people, but hey, to each his own.”
Brown’s decision took the NCAA by surprise. He is one of the most recognized players in the country, and his absence could have a profound impact on television ratings. Still, president Myles Brand refused to criticize Brown for putting academics first.
“Taking Brown out of the game certainly takes some of the shine of the Louisville-Illinois matchup, but you have to weigh the pros and the cons,” said Brand. “Sure we’re going to lose one of our most popular and talented players, but he’ll probably pass those finals with flying colors. The NCAA is not about producing professional athletes. It’s about molding young minds into the leaders of tomorrow. Remember, there are 70,000 student athletes in this country, and almost all of them are going pro in something other than sports. Oh, you already heard that one? Damn. I memorized it for nothing.”
Officials are privately concerned that Brown’s decision to drop out will spark a trend among the other players. If any more stars follow suit, the quality of play in the tournament could drop considerably.
“This is a stressful time of year for everyone,” said Tar Heels guard Rashad McCants. “Between basketball and final exams, it’s enough to give you a nervous breakdown. I wouldn't mind dropping out myself. It’s such an inconvenience having to juggle this tournament with my studies. I'd love to just relax on Monday night and spend my time going over the material for my final exam in Ancient Egyptian Cabinet Making. That’s my major. I’m really only playing basketball so I’ll have something to fall back on.”
|03-30-2005, 05:48 PM||#9|
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Eastlake OH
If God isn't a Tar Heels fan, then why is the sky Carolina blue?