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Posts Tagged ‘Game Preview’

Opening Weekend Preview

Posted by naterb on November 11, 2009

As more writers join in, hopefully there will be team-by-team previews for either each week or game. But for now, here’s just a quick peek at the games this weekend.

At this point in the year, it is very rare to see a tough match-up for any school. After all, nobody wants to open their season with a loss, receive the proverbial “trial by fire,” or go against another top-tier program without some real game time under their belts.

That trend has not changed this year as the toughest game could be when Stanford travels to San Diego – and unfortunately that isn’t because San Diego is that good.

For some schools this may be the last chance you get at seeing the twelfth man on the roster. For others it will be nice to get a glimpse at the roster from top-to-bottom. Whatever the case may be, it is still interesting even if not suspenseful. Here’s a quick look at this week’s games. Read the rest of this entry »

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Game Preview: OSU @ UA

Posted by naterb on January 10, 2009

Even if the Beavers fail to beat another opponent for the rest of the season they can have a successful season. Craig Robinson’s and OSU’s goals are modest this season – 1) Improve upon their 0-18 conference record from a year ago. 2) Show growth as a team every game. By those standards, the Beavers have already had successful season. Don’t expect them to stop there, however. After the USC game, the Beavers are starting to believe that they can contest and beat anybody in the conference. That’s a big change from a year ago.
Calvin Haynes has been a monster off the bench with 15.7 ppg and should find himself with a starting role in the near future.

Calvin Haynes has been a monster off the bench with 15.7 ppg and should find himself with a starting role in the near future.

Craig Robinson has changed a lot of things in Oregon State since his arrival in Corvallis – even if the overall record and box scores don’t show it. The Beavers are still giving up more points than they score on a nightly average, they still have the 2nd worst turnover rater in the conference, and have been out-rebounded by over 3 boards a game. But there is a swagger that can be seen in their step now. A sign of confidence and a glimmer of intensity that was lost during Jay John’s final season. The players are buying into Robinson’s Princeton style offense and are getting better with every game – evidenced by the fact that they closed out their non-conference schedule by winning four of their final five games before pulling off the upset over USC.

 Perhaps the result of those games not only has to do with Robinson, but the impact of Calvin Haynes. After being academically ineligible for the fall semester, Haynes had played during the last seven games and has become the teams leading scorer with 15.7 a contest – that’s 8th in the PAC-10. Haynes has been coming off the bench for the Beavers since his return, but considering his scoring average and that he’s the 2nd best 3-point shooter on the team, he should be starting soon enough. Haynes is an impact player that believes in Robinson and his system. Things like that are what have the Beavers heading in the right direction after truly hitting rock-bottom a year ago.

The Beavers’ new swagger and confidence has them believing they can contend with any team in the conference and win, which means teams can no longer sleep on the Beavers. Despite the swagger and effort these kids have and the trust they’re putting into Robinson, the USC win will continue to prove as the exception rather than the rule. After all, you don’t go from 0-18 to competing for the PAC-10 title by changing your coach and bringing in three recruits.

The Beavers are still being out-rebounded by over 3 a game, outscored by 1.5 a game – against mediocre competition, and have a negative-four turnover ratio. The results have improved slightly, but are still comparable to a year ago. But the swagger is new. The confidence is new. And the style is new. The Beavers are pointed in the right direction already, and its been less than a year.

Key’s to the Game:

 

  • Improve the Defense: The Ducks believed they could get a shot off anytime they wanted against Arizona – and that’s something that needs to change if they hope to compete with UCLA, CAL, and ASU for the conference title. The Beavers are not a solid 3-point shooting team, but are good enough. Even Roeland Schaftenaar can pop out and knock down the occasional three-pointer.
    Projected Need: Force the Beavers into 14 or more turnovers while shooting less than 40% from the field and beyond the arc.
  • Get an Education: Nic Wise needs to get his head up and see the floor again. During the last two games Wise has had a significant increase in over-penetrating and not reacting to the collapsing defense quick enough. The result has been a lot of offensive fouls and excessive turnovers. I would like to see Wise, for the time being, scoring less and focusing more on his assists and turnovers.
    Projected Need: Wise 7 assists, 2 or fewer turnovers
  • Chase Budinger: Budinger got it going within 8 feet against Oregon, but that’s not enough for me to believe he is out of his slump yet. Budinger needs to continue to be aggressive and get to the rim. But I’d like to see more of those long-range shots starting to drop too. Budinger has had one good game, but I believe it takes two back-to-back to really break a slump. Time to break it, Budinger.
    Projected Need: Budinger 40+% shooting, 6 free throw attempts, 3 3-pointers, 16 points
  • Jordan Hill: For the first time since the Gonzaga game, Hill failed to record a double-double against Oregon. Keep in mind he was only 1 point away as he was hustling and playing hard, despite the ‘Cats not looking to get the ball to him. The Beavers have several big bodies to throw at Hill which should make it difficult, but they aren’t much more than big bodies. Hill should be able to dominate inside
    Projected Need: Get Hill 12 good looks at the basket. Just 12. He’ll do the rest I have no doubt.

 

 Princeton Offense: Every now and then it helps to have a refresher – and for some they’ve never learned – so I’ve posted two links found on ESPN about the fundamentals of the Princeton Offense. It has been split into two sections, the low block and the high post. Includes some good visuals as well. I hope that at least one person can find them useful.

Part 1 (The Low Block)
Part 2 (The High Post)

Posted in Arizona Wildcats, Game Preview, NCAA Basketball, PAC-10 Basketball, Sports: General | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Game Preview: Oregon @ Arizona

Posted by naterb on January 8, 2009

It’s a fight for survival as both the Wildcats and the Ducks enter tonight’s game at McKale Center 0-2 in conference play. The Wildcats are favored by 11 over the 6-8 Ducks, but don’t let that deceive you. The Ducks are perfectly capable of stealing a road win in Tucson – especially if they’re clicking on all cylinders. With the rigorous schedule the Ducks have faced and the inexperience at nearly every position, the Ducks 6-8 record is understandable. But with the #8 schedule in the nation, it figures that the Ducks should have learned a lot during the off-season and could be ready to have it all come together.

Freshman Michael Dunigan is a beast on the low blocks for the Ducks – giving them their first true threat in the paint since A.D. Smith in 2000. Dunigan is currently averaging a modest 10.5 points and 5.7 rebounds per game. But anybody that is capable of throwing down 18 points and 7 rebounds against “Psycho T” (Tyler Hansborough) and UNC is a threat that must be given a healthy dose of respect.

Another sign that Oregon is finally putting it together is wingman LeKendric Longmire. During the final five non-conference games Longmire averages 12.8 points a game while shooting 58%.

Unfortunately, with the exception of erratic Tejuan Porter, scoring has never been the major issue. The Ducks have struggled mightily on the defensive end for the past few seasons and are currently allowing a conference worst 77.4 points per game, allowing opponents to shoot nearly 50% from the field and being out-rebounded by nearly 7 a game.

Keys to the Game:

  • Get Fired Up: This is a must win for the Wildcats after going 0-2 in the Bay Area. If they fall to 0-3 the chances of them making the NCAA Tournament go out the window. Their post-season is on the line, and they better play like it from start to finish.
    Projected Need: Score 15 points in the first 7 minutes.
  • All About the Little Things (I): The Wildcats have been terrible about getting after the little things. Securing the defensive rebounds (especially on the long-3), hustling for loose balls, making the extra pass, coming hard off screens, protecting the ball, etc.
    Projected Needs: Out-rebound the Ducks by 7. Have a T/O differential of -4.
  • All About the Little Things (II): Nic Wise and Tejuan Porter measure in under 6’ but both have the capability of getting to the rim or shooting the three. The momentum and course of this game will hinge on this match-up of undersized guards.
    Projected Needs: Wise 14 points, 6 assists, <2 turnovers
  • Michael/Jordan: Michael Dunigan and Jordan Hill is the second match-up to keep an eye on. Hill has the experience and is a better player, but at 250 lbs. Dunigan has the size to push Hill off the block a bit. Hill needs to take it to Dunigan early and often.
    Projected Needs: Hill – 18 points, 12 rebounds, Dunigan – Fewer than 14 points, 7 rebounds
  • Knew this was coming: Chase Budinger needs to find his rhythm again, and he needs Pennell’s help. Pennell should run some early set plays to get Budinger some good looks at the hoop or draw a foul and get to the free throw line. I can’t think of a more opportune time for Budinger to come out of his slump than against a team allowing nearly 50% from the field.
    Projected Needs: Budinger 40% from the field, 8 first-half points, 8 free throw attempts, 14 points

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Game Preview: Arizona @ CAL

Posted by naterb on January 2, 2009

Warning: Today’s game against CAL will have enough history, drama, anticipation and anxiety that drinking super-caffeinated beverage that you are currently holding to your lips must be considered dangerous to your health. The Surgeon General has issued no such warnings, but trust me when I tell you that combining the two will be hazardous to your health. Side effects may include:

  • Mental breakdowns
  • Anxiety attacks
  • Heart attacks
  • The uncontrollable urge to jump out of your over-used recliner every time Arizona makes a basket in the final five minutes causing panic and fear for others within hearing distance.
     

Entering conference play the Wildcats have shown tremendous growth and player development during their OOC (out of conference) games. We’ve seen from nauseating plays to marvelous performances, and heart-breaking losses to spectacular victories. More importantly we’ve seen the transformation of Kyle Fogg and Jamelle Horne into impact players. But there is still a laundry list of unanswered questions and hurdles that still loom in the path of the ‘Cats. The only thing that is certain about Arizona’s Conference Opener against CAL is that they will have their first opportunity to provide answers to the questions.

The first question that Arizona needs an answer to is can they win on the road? In an uncharacteristic OOC schedule the Wildcats found themselves at on the road for only two of their nine games. With few opportunities to win on the road, and both occasions producing a loss, the ‘Cats have already been dubbed a team that can’t win on the road.

I don’t believe this is the case. Both losses came against more experienced teams in Texas A&M and UNLV. The fact that Arizona jumped out to an early lead and led until the final 30 seconds of the game is an indication that they weren’t playing scared, but fell victim to a more experienced squad on the road. During the second road trip to UNLV the found themselves pitted up against the toughest defensive team they’ve faced this year – and the Rebels just happened to be having their break out game this year. Neither of those situations are easy ways to pick up a road win. Because of that, I believe that the lack of a road win for this squad has more to do with limited opportunity and not capability.

Despite the fact that Arizona has dominated this conference match-up recently, with a 16-2 record since 2001, winning at Haas Pavilion will not be an easy task. While it is important to note that both of the losses came on the road at Haas Pavilion and CAL is 8-0 at home this season, there are bigger obstacles and facets to this game that trouble me. That leads me to the next question that Arizona has to find an answer for. Can Arizona’s defense step up and shut down  the prolific 3-point shooting of the Gold Bears?

For the season as a whole, Arizona has defended the perimeter very well by limiting opponents to 33.5% from beyond the arc. But in their three losses Arizona has allowed average 3-point shooting teams to hit marks of 43.3% (UAB), 45% (TxA&M), and 45.2% (UNLV). Not a single team averages above 35% on the season from beyond the arc. Defending the perimeter against CAL is a much more daunting task. The Golden Bears lead the nation in three-point percentage with an amazing 50.6% from beyond the arc. Arizona is going to have to step out on Jerome Randle (32-57), Theo Robertson (24-39), and Patrick Christopher (13-36).

My third question I mentioned in my entry “Shooting Problems & Muscle Strains.” This is a three-part question. First, can Chase Budinger break out of his recent shooting funk, or will he return to his previously lethargic shooting performances from his freshman and sophomore years? Secondly, will Jordan Hill’s leg be healed enough for him to suit up? If you haven’t realized how important Hill’s floor presence is to this team, suffice it to say he is the key that unlocks the offense and deadbolts the defense. Finally, if either of the questions are answered “no” then can the rest of the ‘Cats step up enough to get the win? Recently, the ‘Cats have seen amazing decision making by Nic Wise whose play has been drastically better since the loss at UNLV. More importantly, we’ve seen Jamelle Horne and Kyle Fogg blossom into impact players for this team. If Budinger or Hill are incapable of overcoming their problems, all three of these players will need to step up in a big way.

A Few Twists:

As I stated before, CAL is the best three-point shooting team in the nation. What I didn’t mention is that Arizona is the second-best three-point shooting team that drops them in at a clip of 43.5 percent. If that doesn’t heighten the importance for both teams perimeter defense, perhaps this will: On the season CAL has been limiting opponents to 32.1% from beyond  the arc, but in their two losses they allowed Florida State to shoot 41% and Missouri to shoot 46.2%.

The return of Mike Montgomery on the opposing bench is what has my interest piqued the most. Remember, the last time Arizona faced a Montgomery-led team was February 7, 2004. The #12 Wildcats traveled to Maples Pavilion in to face the second-ranked Cardinal. My narration can’t do justice to this so click play on the video below and you’ll see one heck of an ending.

Not only do I find it interesting that the last time Arizona faced off against Montgomery was on the road in the Bay Area against an evenly matched opponent, but I’m anticipating this to be the first thriller of many thrillers to come in this series.

Breaking Down CAL:

Team MVP: Jerome Randle – 19.5 ppg, 4.8 apg, 56% 3-pt
Other CAL features:
Theo Robertson 12.1 ppg, 61.5% 3-pt shooter
Patrick Christopher 14.0 ppg, 36.1 3-pt shooter
Jamal Boykin 9.9 ppg, 6.2 rpg
Everyone else: 17.6 ppg, 14.5 rpg

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