Thursday, March 24, 2005

Sweet 16 Preview

Thanks for all the feedback from the live blog thread. Live blogs will return Friday. Just one thing today.

Preview: West Virginia-Texas Tech

In many ways, this West Virginia is like the opponent Texas Tech faced in the last round, Gonzaga, with Mike Gansey is playing the role of the Adam Morrison sharp shooter and Kevin Pittsnogle and D'Or Fischer in the Ronny Turiaf and J.P. Batista roles. West Virginia also runs a 1-3-1 zone, which Gonzaga played in stretches against Tech and numerous other Big 12 teams have tried from time to time to prevent the Motion offense, so its not like Tech is a stranger to the system.

The problem is Pittsnogle and Fischer, both of whom log significant playing time for the Mountaineers, are much taller than Darryl Dora and Devonne Giles. Don't get me wrong,
defending a taller post player can be done, but they didn't do it very well in the first half of last game, and Darryl Dora and Devonne Giles played most of the game with fouls, which limited their effectiveness. I think they got lucky that Turiaf and Batista disappeared in the second half, and I don't think the West Virginia players will do same.

Granted, the ball has to get in to their hands first and Ronald Ross, Jarrious Jackson, and Martin Zeno are tenacious perimeter defenders who force a lot of turnovers. What the Raiders can't do, however, is get out-rebounded. Gonzaga did that in the first half last game and the Raiders were down a lot at halftime.

On the offensive end, someone other than Ronald Ross has to step up for this team if Texas Tech is to advance, because you know West Virginia, zone or not, is going to focus it's efforts on stopping Ross. This is a team, after all that came in to the tournament with 4 players averaging 10 or more points per game. Last game, all four (Ross, Jackon, Zeno and Giles) all produced. They need to produce again.

As for the intangibles, neither of these teams has quit, as evidenced by the run of both to their respective conference championship games.

Overall, as much as I'd like to see Texas Tech in the Sweet 16, I think this is the game where their lack of size catches up to them.

Tomorrow: So where does Tech Basketball go from here?
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