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Coaches' take

Breaking down a key Thursday game

Posted: Wednesday March 16, 2005 12:02PM; Updated: Thursday March 17, 2005 11:34AM
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SI.com asked two Division I coaches to anonymously give their take on a pair of the best first-round NCAA tournament matchups. Here's what they had to say:

No. 8 Texas vs. No. 9 Nevada, Chicago Region

NCAA Tournament

Typically, having a freshman at the point would be a concern, but Texas' Daniel Gibson (14.4 ppg, 4.0 apg) was a big-time player out of high school, and he's been running the show all year. In four or five months, he'll be considered a veteran. He's stepped up and hit some big shots.

The Longhorns are a physical team that sets a lot of ball screens. The Big 12 is physical -- and Texas' big guys, Jason Klotz (10.9 ppg, 5.8 rpg) and Brad Buckman (12.4 ppg, 8.2 rpg), certainly play that role, although they took a step back in that department when they lost P.J. Tucker and LaMarcus Aldridge in January.

You can't key on one guy when defending Texas. It has a balanced attack -- Gibson, Buckman, Kenny Taylor and Sydmill Harris can all beat you -- and shoots the 3-pointer well. The 'Horns also are excellent on the offensive glass.

They've had some success playing zone defense late in the season, but one of their vulnerabilities is on transition defense -- you can run on them and get some easy buckets. They are physical defenders who get in your face, but if you can handle the initial pressure -- whether it's on the ball or a trap -- you have a pretty good chance to attack them and make plays. They don't mind playing at a high tempo, but if you're smart playing that pace, you can beat them.

As for Nevada, forward Nick Fazekas (21.4 ppg, 9.4 rpg) is a star. He looks thin, and you'll probably think he's weak at first glance -- but he's not. You won't think he's capable of scoring and rebounding the way his statistics indicate, but he's a proven commodity with great touch for a big man.

Kevinn Pinkney (12.1 ppg, 7.7 rpg), the Wolf Pack's other forward, is high-energy and a vital part of their attack. He's athletic, good on the glass and in transition. He's what I'd call a "lively big guy," whereas Fazekas is more of a skill player.

In their offensive sets, the Pack are very meticulous. You know what's coming -- they set good screens, make a lot of flex-cuts and throw the ball inside -- and yet, they anyway. They have a freshman point guard of their own, Ramon Sessions (9.1 ppg, 5.2 apg), who was a recruiting steal. Like Fazekas, he doesn't look that good -- he appears shaky at times -- but then he'll blow by you and hit floaters in the lane. His assist totals have gone up as the season progressed. They don't have backcourt stars like last year, when Kirk Snyder and Todd Okeson led them to the Sweet 16, but the team knows its roles. Wingman Jermaine Washington (6.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg) is athletic and can crash the boards, and forward Mo Charlo (9.3 ppg, 3.4 rpg) is a good passer from the high post.

What Nevada doesn't have is long-range shooters. Fazekas is the only regular who can hit 3s, and that gives Texas some options on how to guard him. Rick Barnes' team can opt to double Fazekas as long as they remember to keep Pinkney and Washington off the boards. It'll be interesting to see if Buckman and Klotz are capable of keeping Fazekas under control.

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