The first item in Tennessee's scouting report before the South Regional semifinal said this: "Limit Brendan Haywood's touches." When the Tar Heels' 7-foot center gets the ball in the low post, Carolina settles into its spacing, which gives wings Joseph Forte and Jason Capel chances to slash or spot up. Both are smooth, but neither is quick enough to get good looks unless Haywood can contract defenses with a post presence. This was no secret in the ACC, where rivals did such a good job denying Haywood the ball that he averaged only seven shots a game and the Heels struggled. But tournament foes haven't tended well enough to this chore, and Carolina's inside-out game is flourishing.
Item number 2 in that report was to control Ed Cota. "You have to do things on the perimeter that keep Haywood and [Kris] Lang from being factors down low," says coach Bill Self of Tulsa, which lost to the Tar Heels in the regional final. That means forcing the point guard to give the ball up sooner than he'd like, shadowing him with a larger defender—anything to make it harder for him to feed the post.