Leading up to this weekend’s Final Four, Play For The Garden is breaking down the matchup (back court, front court and coaches before looking at the game as a whole) for both Syracuse’s and Louisville’s respective games.
You can read the Louisville vs. Wichita St. back court analysis here.
Gorgui Dieng (6-foot-11) – 30.9 min/g, 10.2 pts/g, 9.5 reb/g
Chane Behanan (6-foot-6) – 26.0 min/g, 9.6 pts/g, 6.3 reb/g
Montrezl Harrell (6-foot-8) – 16.5 min/g, 5.7 pts/g, 3.7 reb/g
Stephan Van Treese (6-foot-9) – 11.5 min/g, 1.8 pts/g, 3.2 reb/g
Dieng has transformed himself into one of the best centers in the country on both the offensive and defensive ends of the court. His instincts on defense are great, blocking 9.5% of opponent’s 2-point shot attempts, and he ranks in the top 85 in both offensive and defensive rebounding percentage (13.2% and 22.5% respectively). On the offensive end he has developed a mid-range game with a surprising silky smooth jump shot that is almost impossible to defend. And given that he is 6-foot-11 245 pounds, he has no trouble battling it out in the trenches with anybody. Behanan is a bit undersized on a height basis only, but he possesses the nimbleness and skill to navigate his way around the bucket. And Montrezl Harrell is an absolute monster out on the court. His skills may be a bit raw, but he only has one gear – fast – and there isn’t much that can get in his way to slow him down when he gets moving.
Defensively, this bunch is as good as they get (which is no surprise given this is the best defensive team in the country). Dieng is your ideal rim protector, while the rest of the cavalry possesses the girth to turn the low post into a demolition derby; this area on the court is not for the faint of heart when playing against Louisville (actually, the entire court isn’t safe when playing against this defense). The front court also does an exceptional job on the press as well, taking away long-range passes and not allowing the opposition to get behind them. You must be ready to go to war in a matchup with Louisville’s front court line.
Wichita St. Shockers:
Cleanthony Early (6-foot-8) – 24.8 min/g, 13.7 pts/g, 5.3 reb/g
Carl Hall (6-foot-8) – 28.6 min/g, 12.5 pts/g, 6.9 reb/g
Jake White (6-foot-8) – 11.1 min/g, 3.6 pts/g, 3.0 reb/g
Ehimen Orukpe (7-foot-0) – 15.4 min/g, 2.7 pts/g, 4.4 reb/g
The Shockers have done a very good job in the NCAA Tournament of playing through the post. This has worked well for them because well, they have talented players in the post – Cleanthony Early and Carl Hall. The effectiveness they bring on any given possession has allowed the offense to open up and for the guards to roam relatively free on the outside. Orukpe, who is their lone true big man, brings very little to the table in the offensive department, relegating him to the bench more than the playing surface.
Defensively, their front court works well as a unit, as they aren’t afraid to change their matchups to give teams different looks. However, this team doesn’t stand very tall. For the majority of games their two biggest players on the court will be 6-foot-8. However, what they lack in size they make up for in aggressiveness. This team is relentless, especially on the boards and challenging shots.
The Edge: Louisville
Among true centers, Gorgui Dieng is one of the best, if not the very best in the country. His talent on both ends of the court is superb and he will be standing 3 inches taller than anyone on the floor for the majority of the game. The rest of the Cardinals are also very skilled and understand their roles out on the court; although Chane Behanan can get a little too trigger happy when he gets the ball in his hands. Nonetheless, unless the Wichita St. front court plays at a much higher level than what they have been, it is difficult to imagine them matching up well with Louisville on offense or defense.