After reading Sean’s great interview with House of Sparky over at Nunes, I contacted Cory from H.O.S. and asked him how Syracuse can beat Arizona State, and how ASU can defeat the Orange. His responses are below. I provided the Syracuse versions to this question on his site as well. Enjoy.
Three Ways ASU Can Beat Syracuse
Arizona State plays a 2-3 matchup zone that tries to limit interior scoring at the expense of leaving a fair amount of threes open for the opposition. Against a Syracuse team that shoots 34.3% from beyond the arc, this is a tricky proposition.
1. Extend the zone, forcing Arinze Onuaku to make plays.
With Jeff Pendergraph playing solid defense in the paint, Onuaku will be hard-pressed to shoot 66% from the field, like he has been doing all year long. Andy Rautins and Eric Devendorf are far too dangerous to leave open from downtown, so the extended zone will look to force the ball inside.
2. Stay out of foul trouble, Jeff Pendergraph.
Leading us to our next point. Without Pendergraph in the game, our defense takes on a different dimension, with backup center Eric Boateng down low. He’s not very good. He has very little control of his body once he gets some positive momentum, and is prone to hard fouls. Boateng is not a scorer, either, limiting our options on the offensive end.
Let me make this very clear: without the impassioned play of Jeff Pendergraph for at least 35 minutes tomorrow, Arizona State is in huge trouble. Pendergraph takes pressure off of James Harden on the offensive end, and is a force on defense.
3. Revive James Harden’s ailing game.
Harden hasn’t looked like himself since the Pac-10 Semifinal matchup against Washington. Against USC in the Pac-10 title game and Temple on Friday, Harden was focused on finding the open man instead of looking for his own shot. Are defenders catching on to his subtle nuances and shutting him down? I certainly hope not.
When he’s on, Harden has the ability to singlehandedly beat any team in America. He lacks motivation at times, but there will be no shortage of enthuasism tomorrow morning. With a fiery player like Eric Devendorf on the court, Harden will undoubtedly step up his game.
Three Ways To Beat Arizona State
1. Get Pendergraph out of the Game
ASU can be beat when you play with the right mindset. The first step is getting Jeff Pendergraph into foul trouble, as I mentioned before. We are paper thin in terms of size. With Pendergraph on the bench, the zone can be attacked by Onuaku and the strong drives of Jonny Flynn.
2. Keep the defensive pressure on/allow no open looks
Once this objective is complete, Harden now feels the increased pressure of scoring the lion’s share of points for ASU. Give him no room to make anything happen. Force Jerren Shipp and Jamelle McMillan to shoot when they are in the game.
Pressure Derek Glasser in the backcourt, as he is prone to turnovers when the full court press is on. Defensive intensity will help you. Be careful not to give Rihards Kuksiks, Derek Glasser, or Ty Abbott open looks from three, as they will make you pay.
3. Work inside out on offense
Finally, break the zone from the inside. After the matchup zone sags to protect the basket, Devendorf, Flynn and Rautins will be able to find an open shot from outside the arc. From a percentage standpoint, playing Syracuse is a logistical nightmare for Arizona State. From three or from the paint, the high field goal percentage plays into the hands of the Orange.
Thanks to Cory for the insight. Check his blog later more great post-game analysis.