Here's your primer on Oklahoma State from earlier in the year.
The Cowboy personnel groups haven't changed a whole lot but ours have and that may be a problem.
There is no Doge to tag James Anderson, but the talented wing isn't the shooter on the road that he is at home so we've go that going for us...which is nice.
The same player scouting reports found in the game 1 preview can and should be applied tonight. The Cowboys will play four glorified guards and they'll leave the paint work to Matt Pilgrim and Marshall Moses. Those two bigs have seen a reversal in minutes since our last tilt.
Pilgrim played over 30 minutes in the Cowboys last game vs. Baylor, while Moses logged just 10. Neither is a huge back to the basket scoring threat so Dex Pittman isn't the absolute must play that he might be against bigger clubs. There should be plenty of matchup friendly minutes for Gary Johnson.
As for the Cowboy guards. All four of them. Here's a quick refresher. Keiton Page is to be chased off of his jumper at all costs. We want him dribbling and making plays going to the lane. Obi Muenelo is a streaky shooter and we need to make him make a couple before we really close out on him aggressively. Fred Gulley is a poor shooter (ZERO 3's made all year) with a propensity to turn the ball over. He's Dogus Balbay with Jai Lucas' ballhandling ability. Gulley should be our primary source of help anytime he's on the floor. Sidorakis will come in for Gulley to give the Pokes more size and offensive punch.
The fourth guard is the Pokes' big dog James Anderson. He's the best player in the conference and everything we do on defense as a team should be designed to make life difficult for him. If I'm guarding him I've got a 3 step process.
1. Deny like my life depends on it. Throw man-you-ball rules out the window with this cat. 2. Once he catches I sit on his right arm and take away the easy catch and shoot. 3. Make him go left and don't foul. My teammates should be in good help position because the scouting report says every defender should be playing with one eye on Anderson. Someone take a goddamn charge please.
As far as team defense goes, it all depends on offensive personnel. If we're going to try to bludgeon the Pokes with double post looks that feature James and Pittman on both blocks, I'm all four it. Let's make Muenelo or Anderson play post defense on James and see how they fare. It's high time we dictate matchups to our opponents.
The catch is, we'll have to protect this big personnel group on defense, which would include Brown, Bradley, Pittman, James, and Hamilton, with some sort of zone because we can't find covers for Hamilton and James with Pittman on the floor. Give me an active 2-3 please.
Or if we want to get cute a triangle-two works for me. Park Pittman, James, and Hamilton around the cup to take away penetration and own the boards. If we decide to junk it up, we need to mark Anderson and Paige with Bradley and Brown respectively. Have Bradley deny Anderson, and tell Brown to make Paige put the ball on the deck. If Muenelo makes a couple, we'll need to come out of the triangle and 2 and mark him. Perhaps a two man zone with Hamilton and Pittman totally ignoring Gulley and Pilgrim if Obi Muenelo is hot. Turnabout's fair play.
If we're playing our non-Pittman group we should have some available covers for Gary Johnson and Jordan Hamilton in our man defense. I'd put Hamilton on Gulley/Sidorakis because neither is much of an offensive threat. Brown can play Paige and Bradley draws Anderson.
The key matchup is James on Muenelo. I'd have Damion give cushion to take away driving lanes. Again, it may sound like a theme at this point, but we need to make Muenelo a jump shooter. If he's hitting so be it. Adjust.
The good news is that Oklahoma State gives us some matchups on offense that we can really take advantage of to build confidence. If we can find ways to defend, whether it be through zone, a junk defense, or some scouting report driven man to man, we should win this game.
And unlike most of our games in the last month or so, this one should be fun to watch.