Three Keys for Final Four Teams
by Trevor Whenham - 04/05/2008
In the continued quest to find something to differentiate these four teams left in the Final Four and find winners for the next three games, it's time now to take a look at three teams and to isolate three keys for each team if they want to live up to their potential and win it all.
Big game from Psycho T - Tyler Hansbrough can win this tournament almost by himself if he is at his very best. That's how he has been all tournament. To do that he needs to be working to get the post as much as he can. Despite his shooting display against Louisville that is still where he is the most dangerous and valuable.
Play their own game - The Tar Heels haven't struggled much in the last couple of months, but when they have it has been because they have let the other team dictate the style and pace of play. In the tournament they have consistently asserted their authority from the opening buzzer, and the results have been obvious. They probably have the talent to set the tone from here forward if they choose to.
Run the court - The Tar Heels are freakishly fast at getting up the court. Ty Lawson is as fast as any player other than Derrick Rose, and Ellington, Green and Hansbrough all get up the court with incredible urgency. This is a tremendous advantage, and one that they will have to continue to exploit.
Positive balance - Kansas is an impressive and dangerous team mostly because they are very efficient on offense without having that offensive system built around one or even two players. That's effective, but only if all the contributors are playing at their best. If a player or two has an off game, or if someone tries to become the star, then they will be vulnerable. Kansas needs to keep riding the horse that got them this far.
Win the turnover battle - At their best there is no backcourt in the country with better hands and more turnover generating potential than Mario Chalmers and Russell Robinson. They got in trouble against Davidson because they let the Wildcats lead the way in turnovers. That didn't happen often during the season, and it probably can't happen again if they want to keep playing.
Give Chalmers the chance to shoot - Mario Chalmers has been their best shooter down the stretch. Kansas needs to ride that hot hand and find ways to get him the ball as much as they can.
Get Rose and Douglas-Roberts on the same page - Freshman Derrick Rose is better now than ever before, and a big part of the reason for that is that he and Chris Douglas-Roberts are almost perfectly in sync. If that continues then the team will be very hard to beat. The two have absolutely owned the lane. Unless a team can stop that this will continue. Stopping it is much easier said than done.
Create turnovers - Over the last two games you could see the will dissolve in both of their opponents as the Tigers were able to steal the ball and turn them into almost instant baskets. The speed and athleticism creates the turnovers, and it will continue to be effective as long as the Tigers continue to make it a priority.
Dictate the style - The dribble drive motion is incredibly effective if it is working well, and it catches teams off guard because it's not what you see most of the time. In the last two games Memphis came out and set the tone from the opening tip. They were in control, and neither opponent felt like there was anything they could do about it. More of the same is crucial.
Keep building around Love - The Bruins' success has been largely due to Kevin Love. They have made him the centerpiece of the game plan, and he has responded as well as a player can. They need to continue riding him going forward because he is such a difficult player to match up against, and so few players have a good answer for him.
Pound the offensive boards - The Bruins are as good as any team in the country at controlling the offensive glass, and they make teams pay for it. Against both Western Kentucky and Xavier they regularly asserted their dominance and it showed in the final result. They have at least four players who can swallow the rebounds, and they all need to be focused on it relentlessly.
When all else fails, give the ball to Collison - The team sometimes has a tendency to look to Russell Westbrook when the shot clock is ticking down. This is a mistake. Darren Collison is a far better choice. He's the team's best three point shooter, and the best playmaker they have.