Saturday, February 25, 2012

Five Keys to Beating Syracuse

1. Rebounding: It feels like whenever UConn out rebounds their opponents, they get the victory. That has to do with stopping teams from second and third chances at the basket and creating scoring opportunities for the front court off of put-backs, because they have struggled to find consistency in the half court sets. It also means that Syracuse will be missing shots, especially from the perimeter. UConn has had a hard time corralling those long rebounds off missed 3-pointers and they need the wings to contribute more in that department. If they can out rebound Syracuse then they will more then likely get the win.

2. Defend without fouling: They’ve had a hard time as of late to defend with their body and not with their hands. They’ve been in the bonus early and often in both halves and have put undo pressure on their offense to keep up while their opponents stand at the line and extend the lead. When was the last time that UConn had a charge called against an opponent? The back court has had a hard time of staying in front of their man and has put unnecessary fouls on the big men helping out.

3. Get to the line: This team has had a hard time of getting their best free throw shooters to the line, but when they do the offense is playing at their best, because it is a sign that the back court is being aggressive. If Lamb, Napier, and Boatright are creating plays while heading towards the rim, instead of settling for perimeter shots off the dribble, then there seems to be more fluidity in the offense. Free throws from Drummond are almost a turnover and Oriakhi is having problems sinking that first attempt. Most UConn fans are used to their team making more free throws then their opponents take but that hasn't happened this season.

4. Avoid turnovers: While it is obvious that this is a key to any victory, it is the type of turnovers that they need to avoid. It is the ones that feed Syracuse’s deadly fast break that they want to avoid. Blaney can live with the offensive fouls or aggressive plays that gives Syracuse the ball out of bounds, but lazy passes and sloppy ball handling are a sure way of getting beat. You need to limit Syracuse to the half court sets and not give this team undo momentum.

5. Transition defense: They can not have the type of effort on the transition defense that they have had throughout this past month and expect a victory. Lamb, Napier, and Boatright need to be running back after each and every shot goes up, depending the play. If they want to win this game, they need to keep the Orange in the half court. It is those fast break plays off of misses or in-bounding the ball that cost UConn in their last game against Syracuse.

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