We asked coaches and assistants, who this season have broken down hours of tape preparing game plans to use against the Final Four teams, to tell us what they saw and offer insights on how to play those teams. They were guaranteed anonymity in return for their candor. Here are some of their observations.
"Offensive rebounding is the biggest part of their game plan, so you have to make sure your guys are always looking for a body to block out," says an assistant whose team lost to the Spartans in the tournament. " Jason Richardson is their most explosive player. He's a 40 percent three-point shooter, but that's misleading because he's not a great shooter; he's just selective. He likes to come off screens and get himself set. If you can make him put the ball on the floor, he's not the same shooter. You have to respect Charlie Bell's outside shot, but it takes a little while for him to get it together, so if you have a good defender who can back off but still jump back on him, you can contain him. Andre Hutson doesn't have any weaknesses, but you want to make him an outside shooter rather than let him get the ball inside.
"On defense, they don't trap down on the blocks; they play you straight-up, so a good big man can score on them inside. Their biggest weakness is their offense against the zone, but you have to mix up your defenses against them or they'll figure you out because they're so well coached. If they're shooting the ball well from three-point range and they're rebounding, they can win the national championship, because they're athletic, they defend and they can play at any kind of tempo."