Bumped. GO BRUINS. -N
The first thing I want to discuss is the defense SC will throw at us. I think its a guarantee we will we see man to man, traditional zone, and potentially one the gimmick zones (Box 1/Triangle 2) to slow down the Bruins. However, I think we are going to see a majority of man to man from SC. Here's why:
1.) The Bruins have shown to be a very good perimeter shooting team lately, and I think these last 8 games have been far more indicative of our capabilities than the first 6. Collison has been efficient, Roll is playing out of his mind, Shipp has some confidence, Jerime can knock it down, as can Malcolm if healthy. Jrue is a confusing player for me. I'd almost prefer he pass up threes at this point just because the rest of the team has been so good. This kind of output can put the traditional 2-3 zone to shame. Even Drago had a good game against Oregon.
The most important point to take away from this is that SC would really have to hope everyone is having an off shooting night for the zone to be successful. And with so many capable shooters, its hard to imagine Collison and co. shooting below 33% from distance, which I believe is what SC will need to hold us to in order to win (if they play majority zone). I don't think they can afford to let the Bruin shooters dictate the pace of the game, especially with Collison's ability to get to any spot he wants (often at the rim) no matter the defense.
2.) The gimmick zones will again be difficult to succeed against so many capable shooters. If you man up 2 of our guards or wings, who do you leave open? Jrue? Drago? Shipp? Roll? (ha) There are just too many shooters who can knock it down any given day on this team to able to mess around with defenses that are meant to put the ball into lesser hands. Collison would get a man for certain in a box 1 and triangle 2. The other, if its Jrue, Shipp, Roll, Lee, or Anderson, will undoubtedly be a few hard dribbles and a kick out from getting an open shot for one of our shooters. I believe any sort of zone defense really puts the pressure on SC to score all night.
3.) However, the kicker will be the depth of SC. There best bet to me seems to play man, especially with the athleticism and overall team size. But they will struggle to play 8 deep. They just don't have the depth at guard to be able to sustain pressure man to man and might have to, by default, play a fair amount of zone. They're bigs may be manageable, but the guards are 6'4''/6'5''. Derozan and Washington are also have great size for their position. This is a game where I see Keefe struggling mightily, and Drago and Gordon needing to be at their best for this to be a comfortable win. Overall, SC's starting five will present significant problems when they play us man to man. Our best shot is taking full advantage of the zones we will see in order to force them to play man the entire game. We should be at full strength down the stretch while SC could be struggling at that time.
4.) On defense, staying out of foul trouble will be the most critical aspect. If we get caught getting cheap fouls on the hedges, it'll be a trying game. But SC will need the kind of output that Oregon had, which was a product of one outstanding offensive player and outrebounding the Bruins on the offensive glass, a byproduct of the foul trouble Aboya and Gordon got in (DG had 3 fouls in 8!!!!! minutes). I have a tough time believing that this will happen again. The game in Eugene was the type of game Oregon needed to have a chance to win, but our seniors and Collison's superior abilities were the difference. This could be a dogfight, but one that the Bruins are better equipped and ready for.
USC can't match our depth, and would really need a poor offensive display from our Bruins to win. I have supreme confidence in our boys but of course understand the nature of this game and the types of off nights college players can have. It just seems so unlikely to do so in a game in this rivalry in the midst of a mini-tear. Not to sound over confident, but we are too good to have a let down this early. Darren, Josh, Jrue, Alfred and Roll are playing poised and smooth right now with the others fitting nicely into their roles. If we do lose, I think it will mostly tells us how good SC is capable of being (look at the Oklahoma and Oregon games), but still lack the depth and consistent perimeter shooting of a top 15 team (one that is capable of beating UCLA while not playing their best basketball... like Texas).
Comments? Clarifications? Questions?