Derrick Rose 6-3 PG. 14.3 ppg 4.3 rpg 4.5 apg. Big physical lottery pick caliber lead guard that can get a shot for himself or a teammate virtually anytime and anywhere. His strength allows him to ward off smaller defenders for midrange looks. His quickness allows him to get by bigger defenders. One weakness is he disappears at times given the abundance of talent around him. It's important to note that he struggled in the two "showcase" matchups vs. Arizona and USC. Finished with just 12 points and 6 turnovers against the Wildcats. Against USC and a triangle and two, he was held to 9 points on 3-9 shooting with 5 turnovers.
Chris Douglass Roberts 6-7 Guard 17.5 ppg 4.5 rpg. The best pure scorer in America. He's long and quick and can get to the cup against bigger defenders. Has an unmatched midrange game, and shoots an ungodly 41% from 3. He's the Tigers' go to guy. Sometimes dominates the basketball which gets his team out of rhythm. Defensively he's a nightmare getting into passing lanes for deflections and steals.
The top scoring backcourt in the nation.
Antonio Anderson 6-6 Guard 8 ppg 3.7 rpg 3.5 apg. He's Justin Mason wearing blue. Defensive stopper and stat sheet stuffer. A bit bigger so he can guard perimeter shooters and hybrid forwards alike. Weakness like many of the Tigers is FT shooting. Shoots just under 60%.
Robert Dozier 6-9 Forward 9.4 ppg 6.8 68% FT shooter. He's Jay Bilas' wet dream. Long with sick athleticism. He'll play in the league if he can get stronger. Blocks two shots a game and hits the occasional deep bomb. Can be bodied a bit and is prone to foul trouble if you attack him.
Joey Dorsey 6-9 F-C 7 ppg 9.5 ppg 37% FT. He's the unselfish finisher in Calipari's Dribble Drive Motion (DDM) offense. He'll dominate the weak block looking for dishes and weakside rebounds off of penetration. He doesn't post much at all. Horrible foul shooter. Defensively he's a shotblocking force inside but is also prone to foul trouble if attacked because he doesn't have elite size. He's fouled out 5 times on the year.
Shawn Taggert- another long athletic forward that spells Dorsey or Dozier. He's tougher than HenryJames because he has a tattoo on his larynx and doesn't listen to Nickelback.
Doneal Mack - big guard that can shoot it. 37% from deep.
Willie Kemp - another perimeter specialist to shoot teams out of zones designed to stop the DDM. 38% from deep.
Andre Allen - water bug guard used to come in to spell Rose.
Attacking the Tigers
The Tigers will put an ultra-athletic, long team on the floor, so passing the basketball becomes problematic. Teams must do a good job of meeting the basketball and using the proper spacing to keep these racehorses out of passing lanes and on to easy dunks. Memphis' wing denial and fierce pressure is similar to that of Kansas, but they bring more length and less discipline to the table than the Jayhawks. They'll gamble on you so you have to take care of the basketball and attack accordingly. Their interior isn't nearly as physical as Kansas' but they are more athletic, so penetrators/cutters must take the ball right at the shotblocker and attack the rim. Weak minded layups and floaters will likely be sent into the third row. Go to dunk the ball or don't go. So how do we attack Memphis' pressure?
Texas can take advantage of the respect Memphis will have for Atchley and James' perimeter skills by vacating the paint or lifting Memphis' big men, and then backcutting the Tigers' overplaying wings for easy layups. Essentially you take Dozier and Dorsey to the perimeter just before you attack backdoor.
It sounds like an oversimplification, but DJ using a high ball screen vs. Rose or even Mason taking Anderson off of the bounce will exploit the lack of dribble penetration help the Tigers lend. Penetration lanes should be available because of the heavy pressure Memphis puts on the wings.
If we're having trouble reversing the basketball via the pass because of overplays, guard exchanges or dribble handoffs will work well to flip the floor and catch Dorsey or Dozier out of position. Our guards need to remember to keep the dribble alive and not make a forced pass because Memphis does such a good job of getting into passing lanes.
Bennett's defense is tailormade for Memphis' DDM
As mentioned before, the Tigers run what's called the Dribble Drive Motion (DDM) offense. It's an offense that John Calipari calls Princeton on steroids. First let me try to explain the crux of any motion offense, just in case you're like Sailer Ripley and not only do you hate Bob Knight, but you've spent your entire basketball life trying to gain street cred after calling a charge in your local pickup game. The traditional motion offense gives its players a variety of screens from pass and pick away on the perimeter, to down screens on the wings, to cross screens from post to post. Each player using these types of screens and the many variations of screening and cutting in general, must read his defender to decide what is the appopriate action. My defender is trailing me, so I curl around the screen. My defender goes underneath the screen so I fade for a perimeter shot. My defender is trying to fight through the screen so I catch and shoot or pump fake and go. My defender is overplaying the screen, so I test step and backdoor. And each screener has a read, with dives, slips, screens and rescreens etc. In a nutshell, you have a lot of moving parts unlike set plays.
Now the dribble drive motion takes the passing element of the motion offense and minimizes it as a means to move the basketball. Instead the emphasis is placed on driving or penetrating the basketball to move the defense and hopefully execute your offense with an open shot. That's not to say passing is non-existent, it's just not the focal point to get defenses to move. A typical Memphis possession will have an initial penetration which makes the defense help and recover followed by a pass to the recovering defender's man. Then penetration from that player and a pass to the next recovering defender's man who will be a bit more out of position than the first. Rinse. Repeat. Until you've loosened the D for an easy layup, an easy dish, or an easy kick for an open 3. It's like chewing food, the more you penetrate, the more you break down the defense. The key is you've got to have 3 or 4 skilled players that can penetrate, pass, and shoot. Here's a great preview with some more information on the DDM. So how do you defend it?
Stay in front of the ball
It's a lot like a phalanx. Once the first man gets beat, it's probably all she wrote. As long as you can effectively prevent penetration, you can avoid breaking down by having to help and recover. The good news is Texas does an excellent job of on ball defense 1 through 4.
There really isn't much difference between Texas' 3 guards, so it makes sense to limit damage created by having to hedge ball screens or exchanges by just switching every guard to guard screen. Sure, you might get a Douglass Roberts on AJ Abrams, but that's certainly something that can be managed unlike a dunk or a Brook Lopez 4 footer.
Play soft on the Wings
Texas should take a page out of Tony Bennett's pack-line defense and play our wings soft to dissuade dribble penetration from the point. It'll also help any recovery back to the wing after penetration because it's a shorter distance to just recover than having to help then recover. The tradeoff is you'll give up some open wing jumpers, put I'll take that tradeoff with certain Tiger players.
Keep your bigs on the glass
Memphis' DDM also gets bigs out of position helping and this results in Dorsey with an easy finish from a dish or an offensive board. Maintaining our perimeter shell will help Connor and James rebound defensively.
It seems like a no-brainer, but the downside is rebounding against an athletic team like Memphis considering there aren't any blockout assignments. They can slash and get to longer rebounds making it tough to close out possessions even if you force a miss. I'd suspect wholesale personnel changes if we do decide to zone, going more for a larger back line.
I think Texas has a shooter's chance in this game. We'll have to hit better than 40% from deep, and focus on resting our backcourt throughout the game, because Memphis' perimeter is Kansas-deep. The frequent tournament time-out structure will help, but I'm very worried about tired legs from DJ and AJ at the end. Our one ace in the hole is Memphis' foul shooting. If we can take advantage of their undisciplined play and maintain contact in the last 5 minutes we can exploit their weakness at the line. I'm a bit concerned that their talent will simply overwhelm us if we get down at any point in the contest. Hopefully the crowd can help in that respect. Still, I'll try to stay objective and call it 78 to 73 Memphis in a very entertaining game. Then I'll go home and kick my dog for jinxing Dogus Balbay's knee. We could use him tomorrow.