Opposing coaches scout top teams (cont.)
OHIO STATE: They're very good in transition because they're feeding off steals and long rebounds. [David] Lighty, [Jon] Diebler and [William] Buford are all shooting well from three and they can all stretch the defense. So you have to get back in transition and make them go against your set defenses, make them grind it out in the half-court. Their main weakness is they only go six deep. I thought they were sucking wind at the end of the Purdue game, and they were at home. I think they play so much zone because they can rest in it. If I had a team that could go 10, 11 deep, I would press the hell out of them because I think it would tire them out. Mississippi State, for example, would be a bad matchup for them. Defensively they're doing a mixture of man-to-man and a 1-3-1 zone. Everyone is 6-foot-5 or bigger, and [Evan] Turner plays at the top of that zone at 6-7, so if you throw a sloppy pass they're going to get a breakaway. When they're not playing well it's because they're turning the ball over. They were up big on West Virginia in the first half but then they got a little loose with the ball. Turner is more of a probing point guard who gets into the gaps and uses spin moves to get inside. His weakness is probably his three-point shot and he gets a little careless with that ball. You have to make him shoot over you.
PURDUE: They're so good because no matter what, they can run that motion offense. On defense they get up on you, they pressure you. They're forcing 16-plus turnovers a game. Their biggest weakness is their ability to guard dribble penetration. You can penetrate on them because they're up denying on the wings. And if [JaJuan] Johnson gets in foul trouble, they'll have problems. They have good depth, but not at that position. If you go back and look at the games they've lost, Johnson did not play well. He takes a lot of jump shots, but he's more comfortable outside. That's a strength for them because he's pulling your big man away from the basket. But if you double him in the post he has a hard time making decisions. His assist-to-turnover ratio is really bad. A lot of times your five-man is not comfortable guarding on the perimeter. [E'Twaun] Moore is one of the hardest players to guard in our conference, but he's their weakest perimeter defender. I would definitely attack him. Another weakness is their rebounding. You can get to the offensive glass on them. Johnson is not a burly center. Their chemistry is great because they have three guys who are their main scorers, and the other guys like [Chris] Kramer, [Kelsey] Barlow and [Lewis] Jackson just play their roles. In general they don't like to be pressured. A team like Texas would give them trouble.
WISCONSIN: Oh man, I hate the Badgers. That swing offense drives you crazy, but if their guards are not scoring it can really hurt them. They know who they are. They have multiple ballhandlers and scorers, they're a good passing team, a great free-throw shooting team, they have great shot selection. Their three-point shooting is the key for them. Their biggest strength is they do not turn the ball over. You have to get into [Trevon] Hughes physically. They're hard to defend because they run a lot of ballscreens, and their five man can pop out and shoot. Their weakest position is the four, where [Tim] Jarmusz has been starting. He's getting exposed more than anybody else, especially when [Jon] Leuer was out. He doesn't knock down shots consistently enough, and that allowed people to focus more on Hughes and [Jordan] Taylor, so people are sticking to those two plus [Jason] Bohannon and then it's harder for them to score. Any team with two good post guys would give them trouble. That being said they can get a shot any time they want. You have to be patient defensively to beat them and I don't know how many teams are patient this time of year.
MICHIGAN STATE: Their biggest problem is they don't have a legitimate inside threat. If you can attack them from the inside out, and if you can contain [Kalin] Lucas, who's the head of the snake, you have a great chance to neutralize them. Chris Allen can't really create his own shot, so a lot of his offense comes off of Lucas. I still haven't been able to figure out Raymar Morgan. Draymond Green has done a good job, but he doesn't give you that inside presence, so you can attack their perimeter. You have to play Lucas to contain him, because once he gets by you he is so good with the ball and makes the right decisions. I'd rather make him a jump shooter. They always seem to get hot in March, but I'm not sure I see that happening this year. I'm a little more leery about this group than I've been the last few years.
ILLINOIS: For them, it all depends on how [Demetri] McCamey plays. Remember he shot it great against Michigan State. They go as he goes. He gets lost on defense sometimes. He doesn't guard a soul. They put him on the worst player. In general they do give up dribble penetration, but their help is good. You never know what you're going to get from their bigs. Mike Davis has not had a good year. He has just been so inconsistent, you never know which Mike Davis you're going to get.
KENTUCKY: The main question with them is obviously their inexperience. Regardless of what people say, freshmen are freshmen, and all it takes is one freshman moment in a single-elimination tournament to end your season. The second thing is their perimeter shooting. Statistically their percentages are respectable, but their volume of outside shots is not high. Nobody gets up and down the floor like John Wall, but when you get into the tournament, the pace tends to slow down. Teams that are averaging 75 points a game are going to get 70 or fewer. If people put a premium on possessions, they are going to have to make perimeter shots. DeMarcus Cousins' emergence offensively has taken the focal point off of Wall, and to [John] Calipari's credit they're going more inside-out. Against Wall, you have to change your looks and try to get him confused, and he will turn it over by trying to go too fast. Then at the end of a shot clock, you have to make him make jump shots. There is no doubt Cousins is the best post player in college basketball. He's a load on the block, and it's incredible he gets one of every four shots taken off the offensive glass. [Patrick] Patterson is almost an afterthought, but he hit the big three against Vanderbilt, so you know he's going to make big plays.
VANDERBILT: Honestly, I don't know that they have a real weakness. I was surprised they didn't beat Kentucky, though you're obviously not going to beat many teams shooting 2-for-20 from three. Jermaine Beal is a strong lead guard who can score, and he runs their team. They have good perimeter shooting with [Brad] Tinsley and [John] Jenkins, an athletic wing in [Jeffrey] Taylor and good size with [A.J.] Ogilvy, [Festus] Ezuli and [Andre] Walker. This is the most athletic team Kevin Stallings has had there. The main thing with Ogilvy is you can't allow him to get deep with the ball. He's bigger than people think, he can go right or left shoulder, he shoots it quick. You have to make him a jump shooter. Maybe their one weakness is when they face a lot of pressure. They have to be better at that because they'll turn it over some. Like if they played Clemson or someone in the second round who is committed to pressing for 40 minutes, that could give them problems.
TENNESSEE: I think Tennessee has a lot of holes, to be honest with you, though Bruce Pearl has obviously done a great job managing what they went through. Wayne Chism has had a great year, but I question their guard play and perimeter shooting. Bobby Maze is playing better but his decision making is still questionable. Scotty Hopson can be the best player on the floor, but he also disappears. Great players don't do that. I'm also not a J.P. Prince fan. He's the most emotional guy in our league, much more so than DeMarcus Cousins. As a fifth-year senior who's the son of a coach, you wouldn't think that would be the case. I think they're in good shape as far as getting to the tournament, so all they have to do is tread water to get there, but I do not see them having a Sweet 16 run.
FLORIDA: Perimeter shooting is their biggest weakness, which is unusual for a Billy Donovan-coached team. [Chandler] Parsons has played lights out for them. They're bigger than people think. You've got [Alex] Tyus, [Vernon] Macklin and Parsons in the frontcourt -- that's pretty big. Macklin has really improved offensively. He hasn't scored a lot consistently, but he's 6-9 with about a 7-3 wingspan, and he has really helped them. I like [Erving] Walker's motor, but I would not want him running my team. He's a volume shooter and he's real little. His ballhandling is questionable. [Kenny] Boynton has been just OK. If you look at his numbers he's getting about 14 a game, but he has a lot of maturing to do to play at this level. He leads them in shots but he's shooting in the twenties from three. They don't press as much as they have in the past. They'll 2-2-1 you, but it's very passive. They zone you a lot, which is effective with their length in the frontcourt. Billy has become really committed to that zone the last two or three years.
MISSISSIPPI STATE: When they make shots they're a handful, because they're going to shoot a bunch of threes regardless. [Jarvis] Varnardo changes things, but to me the key is Dee Bost. When he plays well I think he's one of the most talented players in our league. He's strong, he's fast, and when he plays with confidence and makes shots they're very hard to beat. Ravern Johnson can go for 20 on any night. They almost beat Kentucky and he didn't even play that game. They have a lot of complementary guys to play with Varnardo. He has had a good year. Some of the pro scouts may be scared of him because of his lack of size and strength, but he can really block shots and he's a low-maintenance kid. His offense is so much better than when he got there. He can make free throws now, and he's not a terrible passer out of the post. It used to be if you doubled him he'd throw it to you, but he doesn't do that anymore. They have some work to do, but if they get in as a 12 seed, I wouldn't want to be the 5 seed that has to play them in the first round.
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