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Scouting Thursday's Sweet 16

Assistants give the lowdown on a pair of games

Posted: Wednesday March 23, 2005 12:53PM; Updated: Wednesday March 23, 2005 4:26PM
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Had your fill of media analysis of the NCAA tournament? We turn to the real experts -- the coaches -- to break down the Sweet 16.

SI.com pooled together the anonymous scouting reports of a host of Division-I assistant coaches to give you an insider's look at four of the best Sweet 16 matchups. Here's what the coaches had to say:

Click here for Friday's Coaches' Takes

ALBUQUERQUE REGIONAL: No. 1 Washington vs. No. 4 Louisville

Nate Robinson
Washington's Nate Robinson scored 32 points in the Huskies first two NCAA tournament games.
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images
Washington Starting Five
Pos. Player Yr. Ppg Rpg Apg
G Will Conroy Sr. 9.2 3.4 6.4
G Nate Robinson Jr. 16.6 3.9 4.6
G Tre Simmons Sr. 16.2 5.0 1.6
F Bobby Jones Jr. 11.3 5.5 1.7
F Mike Jensen Jr. 6.4 4.2 1.0
Off the Bench
F Jamaal Williams Jr. 9.6 3.5 0.7
G Brandon Roy Jr. 12.7 4.9 2.2

INSIDE WASHINGTON: The key to beating the Huskies is to run with them in transition. Don't try to be conservative -- make UW pay for pressure. You're playing with fire, but their transition defense isn't nearly as strong as their halfcourt man-to-man. ... UW generates a lot of points on the offensive glass, and not just via its big guys. Tre Simmons, Nate Robinson and Brandon Roy -- all guards -- are solid rebounders from the perimeter. ... The big men -- Mike Jensen and Bobby Jones -- are both effective 3-point shooters and your big men need to defend them away from the basket. To get ready for UW, we worked with our post players on blocking out on the perimeter -- most big guys are used to just banging inside and leaning on guys for rebounds. ... You are not going to defend Robinson with one guy. They push the ball like crazy after makes or misses, and you need to have all five of your players getting back on D. If your big guys get back in the paint first -- we call it "shadowing" -- then there's nowhere for UW's guards to go. Because if you have a guard trying to stop Robinson when he's coming at full speed, it won't work.

Will Conroy, the point-guard, likes to get you lifted and tries to drive to the hoop, while Simmons is a catch-and-shoot player. When he rises to shoot, he likes to bring the ball straight up, and a little away from his body, so if you put your hand in that space, you can disrupt him a bit. ... It's easy to fall asleep and help off of Jones, but he's their most underrated player and can drill the open 3. ... Jensen loves to ball-fake and drive -- stay down on and make him shoot over you.

If you want your point guard to have enough energy to run the offense, you might want to think about putting a taller, wing player on Robinson who can challenge his shot without having to play so close to him on the perimeter. ... They have an aggressive, gambling mind set, and they want to crush you. If you can get in a battle with them, they'll get anxious.

Louisville Starting Five
Pos. Player Yr. Ppg Rpg Apg
G Larry O'Bannon Jr. 14.9 3.4 1.8
G Taquan Dean Jr. 14.1 3.9 2.5
F Francisco Garcia Jr. 15.9 4.3 3.9
F Juan Palacios Fr. 9.8 6.7 1.0
C Ellis Myles Sr. 10.3 9.2 3.4
Off the Bench
F Otis George Sr. 5.4 5.0 0.9

INSIDE LOUISVILLE: Their post guys, Ellis Myles and Juan Palacios, are good shooters. They like to set on-ball screens for their wings, and then instead of rolling to the block, they step out away from the basket -- and that's a difficult angle to recover to. ... Garcia is really good at taking his time to beat you. He could have just four to six points at half, and make you think you're doing a good job on him, but all of sudden, he'll have 22 points and the whole team is cooking. You have to maintain your focus on him at all times.

Coach Rick Pitino's team transitions effectively after made baskets. You score -- and it's coming right up your back and shooting a 3. Taquan Dean is a complete, hard-nosed player who gets the break going. ... Larry O'Bannon will set up on the wing when Louisville pushes it, and the Cardinals are always looking to kick it out to him for a 3. Keeping a guy on him in transition is easier said than done.

The Cardinals flow from their initial fastbreak, to their secondary break, to their man-to-man offense so smoothly -- they don't have to rearrange bodies. Pitino's halfcourt offense is run high on the floor and away from the basket to create driving lanes and get post players isolated 1-on-1 outside.

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