Monday, April 6, 2009

Title Game

Wayne Ellington and Danny Green are very silky three-point shooters, so much so that I’d like to take both of their jumpers on a date and just see what happens. But neither are great three-point shooters off the bounce. They are best when they spot up and knock ‘em down. They are extremely confident, and should be, but they get into trouble when their feet aren’t set and they shoot threes anyway. Against Nova, Green made a bunch in a row, but then had sort of a transition look at the basket, took a dribble and shot up a leaner from beyond the arc. Of course it didn’t drop because he was out of rhythm and shot it awkwardly, but he was so confident that it would fall (because nearly everything else was) that he pulled anyway.

If Michigan State can force him into those kinds of shots, that would be a huge positive for them. However, he is so effective off the dribble when going toward the hoop, and he neglected that part of his game entirely on Saturday. Michigan State should guard him tighter, and if they do, he can’t force shots. If he does, Carolina is going to be in trouble. One thing that Green can do and Ellington can also do, but to a lesser extent, is shoot from farther out. It’s easy to see that Green’s range extends to NBA line and beyond because he shoots so effortlessly, kind of like how Kevin Durant jacks. If Michigan State sags, he should pull. A shot from farther out is better than a contested shot for him. But he should attack the rim from the angle and utilize the glass if they body him up; he’s very good at that.

Lawson was nice again against Nova’s tough backcourt, but Izzo’s teams always play tough perimeter D. I’d be surprised if they didn’t slow him down and force the ball out of his hands. I doubt he’ll get any free looks at the hoop either from downtown. He’s been able to utilize screens, because defenders have gone under them, and hit his jumpers. I’ve got to think that Michigan State is going stay on him and go over the screens and have help in the lanes. We’ll see though.

Hansbrough showed that he gets after rebounds, but also that he has some of the most disgusting-looking post moves I’ve ever seen. That “hook” shot thing he tosses up from the middle of his torso should be sent to next Thursday by any self-respecting post defender. I can only assume that he’s able to get these off because he barrels into people and leans away, but a guy with any length at all will kill that. That said he gets to the line and makes people pay for fouling him, which is huge for a “big” man like him. As I’ve said before, he’s got a great-looking 15-18 foot jumper and that will save him a spot in the NBA, but we’re not talking about the NBA, we’re talking about tonight’s game. He’ll get his and be a factor, but he won’t be the reason that Carolina wins or loses. It’s in the hands of Ellington, Green, and Lawson. The 1, 2 and 3s make this team go.

Michigan State has been playing really well and their ferocity and determination on the boards against UConn was impressive, especially given UConn’s frontcourt. They simply got after it more and it’s very hard not to appreciate that. Their guards have been playing wonderfully and shooting really well. I would not be surprised if they took this game because they have the berries to withstand Carolina’s tidal-wave like offense. I love watching Carolina play because they are fearless and play fast, and oftentimes, smart basketball, but I’ll probably be pulling for the Spartans simply because they’re the underdog and they seem to have a little bit of magic about them. No, not the one in the stands, but he’s there too.

All that said, here’s my predicted final: Carolina 88 Michigan State 83 (Lawson MOP).

A few asides from the Saturday games:

Reggie Redding

looks like

Damon Dash

Tyler Hansbrough

looks like

J.D. McCoy from “Friday Night Lights.”

Dante Cunningham

looks like

Eddie George, right down to the swollen muscles and skeltorish face

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