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More Notes On The Devils: Handling 3-2 & Other Matchups

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Let’s talk more about the Sundevils.

One of the key factors to keep an eye on tonight is how will the Ben Ball warriors handle the Devils 3-2 matchup zone. From Dohn in the Daily News:

During coach Ben Howland's tenure, opponents have used a variety of zone and junk defenses to slow UCLA, including the a triangle-and-2 defense USC used to derail the Bruins earlier this month.

However, Howland's teams also tend to improve in attacking zone defenses as a season progresses, and that should be a determinant this weekend when the fifth-ranked Bruins welcome a pair of zone-based teams, beginning with Arizona State tonight and concluding with Arizona on Saturday.

"It's because we're a man(to-man defensive) team," UCLA junior forward Alfred Aboya said. "Always in practice, when it's 5-on-5, it's always man-to-man and we get used to that. We never practice zone. When we prepare to play a team that plays zone, we try to simulate how they do it.

"As the year goes on and we get familiar with it, we start to break it down easily."

Arizona State plays primarily a 3-2 matchup zone, although the Sun Devils change to a 1-3-1 zone, much like Arizona plays, to throw off an opponent's offensive rhythm. The activity of its zone defenses has enabled Arizona State (14-5, 4-3) to position itself for an NCAA Tournament bid.

"They play a little 1-3-1, a little 1-3-1 trap, but primarily it's a 3-2 matchup zone that's pretty aggressive," Howland said. "They pressure the ball, play the passing lanes and match up on the guys in their area."
Our BruinRod offered up his thoughts on how we will handle this 3-2 zone:
I am very interested to see how we handle ASU's zone. The Sun Devils like to run a 3-2 zone that is very effective at slowing teams down in the halfcourt offense, and denying guard penetration to the basket. This should frustrate players like Westbrook, but even though we have struggled again against zones this year, I am optimistic we will fare much better against a 3-2 as opposed to a 2-3, thanks to Love.

While a 3-2 generally does a good job getting out to shooters quicker and collapsing on the high post, it can leave some gaps down in the low block. I've watched a couple ASU games this year, and when they have faced a legitimate low post threat, they have responded by trying to send a quick trap once the big man catches the ball, not unlike the hard trap our Warriors are so good at. That is one reason some of our games against them the last couple years have been close, because ASU didn't need to double Mata/Aboya, and could keep the typical zone busters like Roll guarded, daring UCLA to beat them with their big men. This year, they will have to double, or Love will eat them alive. And even when they do double, Love is such a good passer it should create some easy baskets and open looks for Collision, Shipp, and the rest of the bunch. This would actually be a really good game to get Dragovic minutes, and hopefully get him in a nice rhythm. On the opposite end, I would not expect to see a lot of Stanback. The Mildcats are a better matchup for him, at least offensively.
The Love-Pendergraph matchup downlow is going to be fun to watch. I am sure they are going to be battling all night. While Westbrook will probably lock up against Hardin. Hopefully Luc’s return to the lineup will enable our guards to regain their aggression around the perimeters. There are other match-ups we need to keep an eye on tonight including the one between Abbott and Shipp. From Bruin Basketball Reports’ preview:
Freshman Ty Abbott (6’2, 200) starts at one wing. A prolific outside shooter who gives the Sun Devils a key third scoring threat, He is averaging 11.2 points a game.

Abbott’s shooting has tailed off recently and some postulate he has hit the proverbial freshman wall. Last week Abbott was just 3-15 on three-pointers, up until that game, he had been shooting over 40% from beyond the arc.

Josh Shipp will try to extend Abbott’s shooting woes but he’ll need to do a good job of closing out quickly on Abbott on the perimeter.

Josh’s little brother, Jerren (6’3, 214, So), starts at another guard spot. Jerren Shipp is averaging 7.1 points and 4.2 rebounds a game. He is struggling from the field this season, shooting just 38.9%. A solid player who does not make a lot of mistakes (0.8 turnover), his hustle on both ends of the court helps to make the team better.

At point guard is freshman Jamelle McMillan (6’1, 165), his improved play moved him into the starting line-up. He splits time with last year’s starter Derek Glasser (6'1, 180, So). McMillan is averaging just 2.4 points and 2.8 assists a game while Glasser is averaging 5.2 points and 4.2 assists.

McMillan gives the Sun Devils more speed on the perimeter than Glasser, although Glasser is capable of holding his own, especially in Sendek’s style of offense.
Glasser seems to be one of those players who can always knock down a clutch bomb if he is left alone. So DC and co. will need to keep an eye on him.

Again keep in mind these guys are coming off three straight losses. So they are going to come out like a wounded animal desperate for survival. Because a prolong losing streak would be devastating to their tourney hopes. And they are going to do everything they can to come out of their funk tonight.

Our guys simply cannot afford to let their guards down tonight. Because if they do as we have said before they are going to find themselves in a bad position heading into Saturday night. Let’s hope we bring the same intensity today we showed against the Cougars at Pauley two weeks ago.

GO BRUINS.