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    We are a day away from our next challenge. Coach Self seems to be on his game plan; make sure our players are well-rested. Bill figured out that the Duke game took a lot of energy out of our guys. It did. Those nail-biters always drain players.

    March Madness has really become about who is hot and who is not. Coaching also plays a big role because their strategies can impact who shoots the lights out or not.

    Villanova is known for defense. And when they have a week to prepare for an opponent, they become lethal. Coach Wright seems to know how to scout and prep his players as good as anyone in college basketball.

    So what will we face? High pressure on the ball with a player doubling-down to pinch Doke in the low post? Yes… we can count on that. All we need to do is go back to our last lost to Villanova to see what they will try again.

    Our recent push on offense is to feed the high post. Get Doke low in the post and to one side, creating a big hole near the FT line. Then we put Vick in the middle, to sink in the defense and open up our trey shooters. A great attack on zone defenses. Will Villanova play zone? Most-likely, they will come out with their tough M2M defense and then switch sometimes to their 2-3 zone to mix things up.

    We have several strategies we can run against Nova. I feel like our first strategy will be to feed Doke and see if he can be effective. What Doke has to be ready for is Nova’s ability to pinch him with a double-team. Wright is perhaps the best D1 coach at teaching his players how to double-team. From his press, right down to doubling in the low post, Jay knows how to teach his players and they always get some kind of net benefit in this area. Always.

    Doke will have to be prepared to face a more-aggressive double in the post. He will have to pass with certainty and sharpness, paying attention to timing and spacing of the defense. Last, he must throw crisp passes on the numbers. If we want to hit a high % of treys, the key will be the passing. Crisp and on target for a simple motion into a jump shot. Nova plays excellent defense. They close out shooters rapidly. Fortunately, all our trey shooters have a pretty quick release.

    We really must control tempo in this game. Nova will want to slow us down to play a slow, half-court game. That’s on the defensive end, but their offense is capable to run fast or slow.

    This could come down to the two Naismith Award finalists. Which player will play the smartest game? Devonte has struggled of late. But he usually rises to big challenges against big players. Look what he did to Hield in Norman. I hope Devonte studies Brunson carefully before this game. Brunson is a headsy player and will challenge Devonte on several levels, always trying to draw fouls. Imagine if Devonte gets in foul trouble? This is a major concern as is foul trouble for Doke and others. Brunson does what we should do… he uses lots of ball/shot fakes to draw charges until defenders stop overplaying him. He gets defenders to commit, and then he throws his body into the defender to draw the foul while still getting the ball up for a possible “and-one.”

    Both teams will bring lots of strategy to this game. We will see several strategies attempted. I would think strategy is key to this game because both teams are pretty solid at executing strategies. So we should see a game that goes back and forth as teams shift focus to address weaknesses or the other team’s strengths.

    Wright might end up challenging Self for best Riverboat Gambler. Here he is in full stride:

    “That’s the mark of a great coach,” Wright insisted. “What you do in the tournament is not really a mark of your talent as a coach, but it’s matchups. It’s who’s healthy. You know, it’s a break here or there. It’s a call by a referee.”

    So coaching isn’t important in the Final Four. Yeah… right!

  • @drgnslayr I have a small concern that Devontae will be a little focused on the POY Matchup and over exert at first. He seemed to do this in the first game at OU when there was all the hype around Trae Young and Devonte. D’Tae seemed to be out to prove something the first 10 minutes or so, and I believe that backfired Let’s hope he comes out 100% team ball and no inclination or tendencies for Hero ball.

  • @Blown maybe he will play like he did against Buddy!

  • Nice post Dragon! I’m slowly gaining more respect for Jay Wright, but I really hope I can go back to making fun of him for early tournament flameouts. He’s had quite a few with very good teams. I do believe he outcoached Bill Self 2 years ago, but hoping Bill learned something from that matchup.

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