Andy Katz: Final Four scouting reports

April, 3, 2013
4/03/13
1:23
PM ET
ATLANTA -- The Final Four teams provided plenty of tough scouts throughout the season.

But each of the four teams has evolved into a tougher foe by season’s end.

Here are four scouting breakdowns from coaches who had to prepare to face each of the teams in Atlanta at some point during the season.

Wisconsin coach Bo Ryan on Michigan (Badgers went 2-0):

"We knew Trey Burke would get shots. We needed to make his shots tough 2s. You cannot let him get to the rim. You have to run him off the 3-point line. He’s had games where he’s effective from there. You’ve got to make him take 2-point shots. That’s no secret.

"The other thing is that when he’s handling the ball a lot, it’s against man-to-man. But he’s going to face zone against Syracuse. We don’t play zone. Michigan does have the shooters. I think Michigan will get shots -- it’s whether or not they’re going to make them. I know what you’re saying, 'No kidding, Bo.' But that’s not always true. Not everybody gets shots against Syracuse. The last two teams that played against them didn’t. I think Michigan will. I’ve looked at this thing. If there is a team that can beat Syracuse right now, I think it’s Michigan, because [the Wolverines] can score against them.

"Defensively, they’re fairly young and sometimes they leave guys open. But from December to January to March to April, the most improved player in the country is Mitch McGary. In high school, he did some goofy things. But he has become a really good player in our league. He’s now very solid. He’s athletic. He’s an athletic big, and he’s tough enough. All his efforts are toward getting a rebound. He makes a pass, rotates and moves his feet. Look where he was three months ago and look at him now.

"You know a kid like Trey Burke is going to get his points. We made sure other guys didn’t hurt us. If Burke can distribute, then they can win it all. If the ball is in his hands and all he’s thinking about is what he has to do against zone, then he’ll have to give the ball up. I think Michigan will be better against the zone than other teams. That’s why they have a great chance. Burke won’t just do that ball-screen stuff. Michigan can get shots. Tim Hardaway can shoot. Glenn Robinson can score. I like the way they’re playing."

Notre Dame coach Mike Brey on Syracuse (Irish lost 63-47):

"I think the No. 1 thing that makes them so dangerous is that they feel it’s their time. They’ve played the best they’ve played all year. That’s more than 50 percent of the vibe about them right now. They believe. It starts with the guards. Their guards are really good. They’re the best pair in the country right now. They are flat-out controlling the show, and everything's coming off that.

"They also feel good right now about how they are playing defense. Everyone is preparing for them, and they’ve got everyone psyched about them. Everyone is talking about how much better their zone is. I’m not sure. But you’re already dealing with the psychological component, and you’re having to prepare for them and prepare to deal with the psychological advantage to play them. It has become a mental test for 40 minutes. They are getting into low-clock decisions a lot of times, and that’s where their turnovers come from.

"The short corner screen and baseline shots over the top [are] how you can get shots. But you’ve got to get shots in transition. You need for them to feel like they can get easy shots. Syracuse is making teams change their frame of mind right now. They are grinding it out. They are also grinding it out offensively. They were a team that routinely scored in the 80s, and now they’re playing slowly offensively. They’re grinding down the clock and looking for a mismatch. Is it C.J. Fair on the baseline? Is it a ball screen for Michael Carter-Williams and/or Brandon Triche? It’s a psychological test now with them. You’re not getting the ball back with a lot of possessions in this game. It’s almost a way of playing a bit of burn right now in how they’re playing."

Oregon coach Dana Altman on Louisville (Ducks lost 77-69):

"We couldn’t stay in front of Russ Smith. Neither could Duke or anybody else. I think the first thing with them is their overall team speed, and everyone looks at their guard speed and how quick their bigs are to the ball.

"We were a decent rebounding team going into the game. We felt like we had to beat them on the boards, and we couldn’t deal with their quickness to the ball and their length. That enabled them to beat us on the boards. We couldn’t stay with them.

"Now, Kevin Ware played a great game against us. It was unfortunate about the injury. I see that as their only Achilles’ heel if one of the two guards gets into foul trouble. Peyton Siva got into foul trouble, and Ware had to play a lot off the bench and boosted them. So maybe their depth at the guard spot is their only shortcoming.

"We felt like when we broke their pressure we wanted to attack. We felt like with them changing man to zone, which is very effective in throwing teams off rhythm, it felt like we were beating them in the full-court and wanted to attack and try to be the aggressor. Teams have to make a decision. Some of their full-court pressure will be affected by their depth. Will Smith and Siva be able to go after it as much, knowing Ware isn’t there? I don’t know. If you let them get in a half-court defensive set, they are very difficult to set in against. They keep you off balance with the matchup zone, and off balance by switching man to zone.

"[Gorgui] Dieng around the basket is really good. You have to figure out a way to take the pressure off and set your offense and get some stuff.

"I coached against Wichita State, and their physicality is something, too. They’ve got good athletes across the board. They’ve got good guards who can attack and the athleticism can match it. They’re playing with a great deal of confidence right now. They’ll have to shoot 3s against Louisville before they set up that zone. I think it will be a good game. I really do."

Northern Iowa coach Ben Jacobson on Wichita State (Northern Iowa went 1-1):

"One of the things that’s different from when we played them during the season was that Ron Baker didn’t play in our two games. With Baker healthy it gives them another 3-point shooter. He’s another guy who can pass the ball and run the offense well. Cleanthony Early is playing with so much more confidence, too. He scored well in league play. I’ve watched the last month or so, and he’s playing with so much confidence offensively. Those two players can help them so much. This team can make jump shots, and that makes them really hard to play against.

"They’ve got Carl Hall inside and a really good point guard in Malcolm Armstead who can get points late in the shot clock. The difference right now is the way Baker and Early are playing. They’re also rebounding the ball, which is where they hang their hat. You’ve got to find a way to rebound the ball against them. You’ve got to rebound, because they’re going to defend you as hard as anyone. And they’ve got depth now.

"That’s where they win a lot of games -- with their rebounding and depth. Looking at them playing Louisville, that’s a terrific rebounding team. I don’t know how many guys Louisville is playing right now, but it doesn’t seem like Louisville ever gets tired. Wichita State does a number of things well, rebounding and depth. If they rebound well against Louisville and a number of guys play well against Louisville, then they’ll have a chance to win this game."

Andy Katz | email

Senior Writer, ESPN.com

SPONSORED HEADLINES

Comments

You must be signed in to post a comment

Already have an account?