View Full Version : The Future of College Basketball

Section 116
04-07-2008, 12:41 PM
Here is a copy of an e-mail I received from the Blue Ribbon Yearbook. Author Chris Dortch says the future of college basketball was on display Saturday night and will be again tonight. The future, he says, is length, not heighth. Dortch maintains the dominant performances by both Memphis and Kansas were due to the length of both teams. I would agree. I recall in GU's loss to Davidson, the announcers indicated Davidson was having trouble with the lenghth of Heytvelt, Daye and Downs. I would suspect those three could provide the kind of defensive length Dortch speaks of here when next season rolls around. Article follows:

NCAA Tournament Report

SAN ANTONIO--The future of college basketball was on display Saturday night at the Final Four.

Length has become the greatest weapon in the game, and Memphis and Kansas apparently figured that out long ago.

Notice I said length. That doesn't necessarily mean height. It's no surprise that the two teams that will meet in Monday night's championship game are both long and lean, equipped with lithe, spidery limbed athletes that can suffocate an opponent with defense and attack the rim on offense.

This approach will become the order of the day next year, when the three-point line will be moved back a whole foot. That won't take the three out of the picture, but teams will be less inclined to shoot it, deciding instead to attack the rim and use defense to generate offense.

Just like Kansas and Memphis are doing right now.

Defense was a huge factor in Memphis' fairly easy 78-63 win over UCLA in Saturday night's first game, just as it was in the nightcap, won by Kansas, 84-66, over North Carolina. In both games, the victors slapped on the defensive clamps, wreaking havoc by getting in passing lanes, double- or even triple-teaming post players and having the quickness to get away with it.

In the first game, Memphis limited UCLA to 37.5 percent shooting. This was not a surprising development. The Tigers have allowed their opponents to shoot a meager .387 percent this season. With the wiry Chris Douglas-Roberts (6-7), Antonio Anderson (6-6), Robert Dozier (6-9) and Shawn Taggart (6-10) to go along with bruising Joey Dorsey, the Tigers can clamp down and generate offense with their defense. Memphis, fueled by seven steals, hurt UCLA with a 14-2 advantage in fast break points.

Kansas, too, has relied heavily on its defense this season, holding its opponents to .379 shooting. The Jayhawks aren't quite as long as Memphis, but 6-9 Darrell Arthur and 6-7 Brandon Rush can cover some ground, and even though starting guards Mario Chalmers (above left) and Russell Robinson are 6-1, they've both got long arms and use them to full advantage to pick off lazy passes or strip an unsuspecting ball handler. Chalmers has averaged more than 90 steals a season at Kansas. That's off the charts. Coming into the North Carolina game, the duo had combined for 165 steals.

As good as Kansas was all season on defense, what the Jayhawks did to North Carolina in the first half on Saturday was stunning. Triple-teaming national player of the year Tyler Hansbrough every time he touched the ball and still jumping out to defend the perimeter, Kansas completely disrupted the Tar Heels. How's this for disruption: with 6:48 to play in the first half, the Jayhawks led 40-12.

To its credit, North Carolina battled back in the second half and made a game of it for a time. But then Kansas reapplied its defense and raced to an easy win. North Carolina shot just .358 from the field and was forced into 18 turnovers. Robinson and Chalmers contributed three steals each and Kansas had 10 in all.

It's significant to note that neither Memphis nor Kansas relied heavily on the three-ball Saturday night. The Tigers took just 12 shots from behind the arc and made four. Kansas cranked up just 15 three-pointers and made five.

Watch carefully when the Tigers and Jayhawks engage one another on Monday night. The game will be a preview of things to come in college basketball's future.

--Chris Dortch

04-07-2008, 01:07 PM
Nice find, and a sentiment that could bode well for the Zags if defensive intensity continues to be a priority. (We already have the length).

04-07-2008, 01:36 PM
Nice find, and a sentiment that could bode well for the Zags if defensive intensity continues to be a priority. (We already have the length).

CONTINUES to be a priority?

04-08-2008, 10:44 AM
CONTINUES to be a priority?

Yeah. We were much better defensively this year than we have been in about the last five. Not saying we're there yet, just saying we've improved and I'm hopefull that we'll continue to improve. (if.)