Thursday, March 15, 2012

Five Keys to Beating Iowa State

Perimeter Defense: It is obvious to anyone who has watched UConn this season that opponents have been draining threes against them. The guards have over helped and left wide open shooters or have been caught behind screens. They need to do a better job, especially Lamb, on fighting through screens. Every Iowa State shooter must have a hand in his face or it could be a long night. Sometimes it comes down to luck and like the game against Providence, teams can get hot and hit some incredible shots. The good thing is that UConn has done a much better job on protecting the perimeter and has so far avoided a hot shooting team. Hopefully it can continue.

Transition Game: This is where UConn can do some damage. Iowa State doesn’t take care of the basketball and that can lead to some breakouts. Napier and Boatright need to apply pressure on the guards, while Drummond and Oriakhi need to protect the paint and swat shots. Those blocked shots can fuel the transition game as fast as a turnover will. On the other end, UConn needs to get back on defense and watch for those shooters stopping on the arc for some wide open three pointers. Those can deflate a team faster then any other scoring opportunity.

Rebounding: Drummond needs to get around 12 boards and use his size to attack the offensive glass. Those put-backs will be the difference maker in this game. Oriakhi will need to out-play Ejim. That means he needs to give this team 8 boards and 8 points. So it is a must that he stays out of foul trouble. The major concern is those long rebounds which UConn has a problem getting control of and with all the 3-point shots that Iowa State will throw up, there will be plenty. That means Lamb, Smith and the guards will need to hover around the 15-foot mark for those long bounces.

Half Court Sets: Napier and Boatright need to find Lamb on every other possession, especially late in the second half. When he is aggressive in the half court the offense has a flow to it. They can’t settle for the 3-point shot and need to use screens to attack. Nothing sustains offensive lulls like getting to the line and they haven’t been doing that consistently and when they have it has been their worst free throw shooters. On defense, they need to trust their teammates and communicate on switches and screens. The major cause for UConn’s poor perimeter defense is over-helping and giving shooters the space to shoot in rhythm. It has also been the major cause of Oriakhi’s foul trouble, when he has to clog up the lane.

Jump Shots: When it is all said and done it will come down to who can make jumpers. Even with UConn’s improved play down the stretch, Napier and Boatright have been struggling to hit open jumpers that only leaves Lamb as the consistent shooter. Iowa State has no shortage of players that can get hot at any moment. It is imperative that Napier and Boatright make the correct reads and take the jumper in the flow of the offense and avoid hero shots, especially when Iowa State makes a three pointer.

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