And that's the right call.
A lot of people assumed that Tristan Thompson would cover Arizona's 6-8 240 pound terror, but I argued otherwise yesterday and it looks like Rick B agrees.
Here's why it's the smart move:
1. If you put Tristan on Williams, Williams will take Thompson out to the 3 point line. There he will face up and either drive to the basket with a high probability to draw a foul or drill a 3 pointer, which he shoots at an absurd 61% rate. Tristan's backside help would be a non-shot blocker that Williams will likely dunk on. Putting TT on Williams also pulls our shot blocker and best rebounder out of the lane and destroys everything that underpins our team defense. We lose our defensive rebounding and it creates paint more inviting than Kate Beckinsale's buttocks.
2. Gary Johnson hasn't played useful basketball since the Baylor game in Waco. He's lost right now. In that game, the coaches challenged him by placing him on LaceDarius Dunn and when Lace realized he couldn't muscle him like a girlfriend, Baylor's tournament hopes went up in flames. NIT Tournament hopes, that is.
Ha ha ha ha! Ha ha ha ha!
One way to get a player out of a funk is to give him a single task, tell him where to place his entire focus, and let him forget about anything else. Gary: defend. Defend. And - when in doubt - defend.
3. Derrick will still light up Johnson. Because he's a smarter player than Dunn, he has more game, and he's nice to his girlfriend. That doesn't matter. Jacob Pullen just scored 38 of Kansas State's 65 points on a sizzling 13 of 22 shooting. In a loss. Five fingers to make a fist.
4. Gary Johnson is not a gifted defender, but he is a willing defender. Will is what we want. We want a guy who will get 15 dropped on him in a half and then contest the next shot just as hard. And if he doesn't do what's needed - pull him and throw another body out there.
My suggested rule for defensing Derrick Williams that our players can remember in actual game situations?
- When Williams posts up, bring some help from the backside. Dogus or Cory preferably. Do it until Arizona punishes it.
- When Williams faces up on Gary, play natural team D and react appropriately by helping your teammate.
- Don't zone. It's so tempting to zone. Don't. I have zero faith in our ability to execute that in game conditions.
That's it. Make Williams earn his points. If he drops 25 on us while his teammates struggle, we win.