Get inside March Madness with SI.com's Luke Winn in the Tourney Blog, a daily journal of college basketball commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
3/26/2008 12:00:00 PM
Scouting The No. 1 Seeds: Memphis
David E. Klutho/SI
SI.com asked an assistant coach from a former Memphis opponent to break down the Tigers using material from his actual scouting report. Here's what he had to say:
"Everything starts with their backcourt. You have to pressure whoever has the ball out to the perimeter, but play soft on everyone else so you can keep the gaps filled when they do their dribble-drives. Close the gaps, make them kick it back out, and then close on the shooters. You want them taking as many jumpers as you can, because they're not a great shooting team.
"The sets they run are not complicated, but that's smart on [coach John Calipari's] part because it allows them to play off of their natural ability, and create havoc that way. A sagging man-to-man defense is what I think is best rather than a zone: You just leave too many gaps with the zone, and you don't have set block-out responsibilities that way, so guys like [Joey] Dorsey and [Robert] Dozier will kill you on the offensive glass. And you need to limit their second-shot opportunities, or you'll have no shot of winning.
"Derrick Rose is a heavy right-handed driver who likes to use hesitation moves to get to the rim with his right hand or shoot one-handed leaners. He likes to cross over from left-to-right, and he also tries to seek contact with his left shoulder before going up. Our scouting report on him was to push him left, because he's liable to get out of control that way. He goes so fast that sometimes he'll leave the ball when he goes left, and he doesn't always finish as well when he has to go to that side, either.
"[Antonio] Anderson is a glue guy who's good at a lot of stuff and great at nothing. The reason he's a glue guy is because he'll let the ball go through him, to CDR [Chris Douglas-Roberts] or Rose. Anderson will only pull the trigger on a three late in the shot clock. That's why the other guys -- who are better shooters -- don't start in front of Anderson. He gets those minutes because he'll let it go through. If you put [Doneal] Mack out there, he's gonna shoot it every time he touches it, and CDR and Rose won't get it back. When CDR does get it, he's shooting over 40 percent on threes, but he doesn't take that many. He does most of his work off the dribble.
"Against Dozier, you have to play physical. He doesn't like a lot of contact, and you need to body him up to keep him off the glass. When he's on the perimeter, play him to drive to the right and then pull up; he likes to fake one way or the other with a foot fake, and then spin back around with a jump hook or a fadeaway.
"It's hard for them to win if Joey [Dorsey] isn't involved. He's always opposite the ball, waiting for those offensive rebounds. That's his game -- just rebound the back side. Memphis doesn't shoot a great percentage if you keep them out of the lane, but it'll beat you on the offensive glass. The only way Dorsey gets the ball -- and really, this is their way of getting a post feed -- is when their guards drive, force the bigs to come up to help too quickly, and then throw a lob over the top of you to the corner of the backboard. That's how they keep [Dorsey] happy, by getting him a few dunks, and then he keeps rebounding for them. If he's not a man on the glass, they probably wouldn't have beaten Mississippi State in the second round [of the NCAA tournament].
"A team that's going to beat [Memphis] will need to have a deep bench, because the dribble-drive is so hard to defend, and if you're tired and reaching in, you end up picking up fouls. If you get in early foul trouble, then they've got you. Because once they start driving at you hard, you'll have to let them go by. I think a team like Kansas, that could run with [the Tigers] and has a lot of bodies, could hang in an up-and-down game.
"I think you can score on Memphis early in transition, by throwing over the top of the press, or score on them late in the shot clock. But don't try to score in between that. They're a very good defensive team, especially on your first 2-3 passes in the half court, but by the sixth or seventh pass they're not very good. They want the ball back so bad that they try to make steals at that point, and get out of position. They feel like they can afford to gamble because they have shot blockers behind them. If you drive the ball, the key is to come to a jump stop, pump-fake, and if nothing is available, kick the ball back out and start over again.
"Anderson is their best defender; you need to try to attack Rose and CDR, because they don't always compete all the way to the rim. They're good athletes, but they don't want to get in foul trouble. On the inside, Dorsey is a banger who does things to get under your skin. He'll hold you, grab you, shove you, but he does that work long before the ball hits the rim, so the refs don't call it as much.
Memphis is going to show you all man-to-man, and they play it physically, trying to intimidate you and take you out of your game. They'll bully you and talk trash to you. And because they're looking for early steals, you need to play with poise and be patient with your attacks."
Memphis is everybody's pick to lose...Nevermind UCLA's miraculous escape of a 9 seed...nevermind the UofM's only loss this season was to second ranked Tenn. in the last minute of the game. Certainly do not consider their 2nd best record in the ncaa against top 50 rpi teams or their victories over UCONN, Oklahoma, Georgtown, USC, ect...Nevermind that an elite 8 team from last year lost no one of importance and only added the best point guard in the nation. Forget all that, because they don't do well from the line. Yup, not a chance. Keep doubting, we will just keep winning
Finally. I could not agree with you more. It would be nice if the "talking heads" on ESPN and other networks would actually watch a Tiger game and know this. All they do is spout the same old statistics regarding free throws.
ye umm about that you Memphis fan. Your top win was against GoergeTown?? Hah! You played the bottom of the Top 50 Teams. and you mentioned Oklahoma??Texas beat them 2 times big deal....USC WAS joke also. Lets see who Texas beat.UCLA on the road!!CREAMED TENNESEE ON A NEUTRAL COURT. Beat Kansas.Played well vs Michigan St. in Detriot. And if not for a miracle shot wouldve beaten Wisconson, which they dismantled throughout the game. Memphis was in an easy confrence.They are the weakest number 1. And i will be surprised to see them even beat michigan st. Let alone beat Texas! Texas will win the south . And if not them. It will be Stanford. Texas will make the Final Four. Play Ucla and beat them just as they did in the season. And this time it wont be on the road. but on aneutral side.And I have no idea who the other 2 are gonna be.
That's the scouting report from an assistant coach who faced the Tigers? Not much talk of CDR - the All-American? The leader of the crew? Jeez. Unless this coach works up on Rocky Top, it's easy to see why his team lost.
I think I might have a better idea on how to beat Memphis. Just keep fouling. Memphis is a pitiful free-throw shooting team, and fouling them as much as possible will be a sure-fire way to limit the Tiger's score. But honestly, out of all this, I want to see Memphis in the title game.
Memphis has zero wins against the remaining Sweet 16 teams and 1 loss. Hard to get excited. UCLA in contrast is 7-1 (last second loss to Texas) against remaining tournament teams. I personally think that the RPI is garbage, but you tell me who has proven that they can beat quality opponents and who hasn't.
Anonymous UT poster...yes you have some big non conference wins and you choose to try to denigrate Memphis' non-conference schedule, but a great majority of their non-cnference schedule made it to the tournament. You convenienty leave out the fact that your Horns lost to Mizzou and T. Tech led by PAT Knight. Would those be considered quality losses. Look... Texas has a great team and may come out of the south region but you are talking out of your a.. if you totally dismiss memphis.