I don’t care much for Dave Glenn, but you shouldn’t miss his piece on tonight’s State-Duke matchup. Here’s a sample:
Defensive Matchups — If you face Duke without one defender who’s quick and/or savvy enough to stay with Redick outside, and another who’s strong enough to battle Williams inside, you’re probably going to end up looking like Mike Tyson against Buster Douglas: scared, confused and beaten, then crawling around searching the floor for your mouthpiece.
Glenn doesn’t label it this way, but here is one of State’s biggest challenges tonight:
The most common way to beat Duke’s infamous, often-suffocating, man-to-man defense is with dribble penetration. (Again, see Virginia Tech.) That’s not necessarily a great strength of this year’s State team, but one other way to make the Blue Devils pay for their aggressiveness in the passing lanes is to beat them with back-door, Princeton-type passes.
The “back-door” approach has won, but not very often. But then again, Duke doesn’t lose many games, even in a “down”year. (In case you haven’t noticed, this isn’t a down year for Duke.) Along with the obvious points of keeping Reddick and Williams in check along with keeping Big Ced out of foul trouble, State needs some dribble penetration to supplement its normal offense.
If a player can beat the Duke defender with the dribble and attack the basket, good things should happen for State. If State allows the defensive pressure to back them up near the half-court line and then throw a lazy or telegraphed pass towards the top of the key, I will be left screaming at the TV set yet again. We’ve seen the tendencies of the two teams in general and in head-to-head matchups over the last several years. State definitely has a chance to win, but it will take their best basketball game of the year to do it.