We asked coaches and assistants who this season have broken down hours of tape preparing game plans 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.
"All the talk has been about how fast they are, but they're also a great defensive team," says an assistant whose team lost to the Jayhawks in the NCAAs. "Their defense is 70 percent pressure man-to-man and 30 percent point zone, which is so effective because they have such big, long players. Nearly 99 percent of the time after they miss, they'll run their man-to-man pressure defense. You can be effective against the pressure defense with hard screens and by penetrating. The problem is, if you attack, watch out for forwards Nick Collison and Drew Gooden, great shot blockers.
"Most of their offense is generated off the fast break. They also run a three-, four-or five-man motion offense, and if they have one weakness, this is it. If you can take the first or second pass out of their motion, you force them into a one-on-one situation, which without question isn't their strength. This team has a lot of leaders, but Hinrich is the leader. He looks totally healthy. Boschee is a great shooter with a quick release and is an adequate defender, but you can beat him off the dribble."