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Two compelling matchups are set for the Final Four tonight. Here's the lowdown, with the scouting reports coming from players or coaches who faced one of the participants.
Sunday, April 7, 2013
WICHITA STATE (30-8)
Rockbridge County graduate Jeff Early was a senior guard this season at Southern Illinois, which lost to Wichita 82-76 on Jan. 9 and beat Wichita 64-62 on Feb. 5.
On his cousin Cleanthony Early: "With Cleanthony at [power forward], they can spread the field and he can hit the 3. It gives them a good mismatch for most people. He talks a lot of trash, so he tries to throw you off your game."
On Wichita's offense: "They'll [shoot] it early in the shot clock, so you'll never know if they're going to come down on a fast break and set a play up or the first chance they see that they can get a [basket], they'll just let it go."
On Wichita's defense: "They play really aggressive. They make you force some things. They make you play uncomfortable. They're in the passing lanes. They kind of gamble a lot."
Former Radford University coach Ron Bradley is an assistant at DePaul, which lost to Louisville 79-58 on Feb. 27.
On Russ Smith: "He can really, really get it going. He scores in so many different ways. He's really streaky."
On Louisville's offense: "The sum is greater than the parts. [Peyton] Siva really makes them go offensively; he gets in the lane, he creates shots for other people. Outside of Russ Smith, who on any given night can be as good as anyone, they're not spectacular offensively."
On Louisville coach Rick Pitino's defense: "He's just brilliant with what he does with his pressure. He changes his fullcourt pressure game to game, according to the personnel on the other team. Their halfcourt defense is very good as well. [Wichita] will have to score in transition to beat Louisville."
William Fleming graduate Troy Daniels was a senior guard this season at VCU, which lost to Michigan 78-53 in the round of 32 in the NCAAs.
On Trey Burke: "His ability to read the defenses, he has great skills in that. He can handle the ball very well, he can score the ball, he can get his teammates involved - pretty much an all-around great point guard."
On Michigan's offense: "They're tough to guard because they have weapons all over the floor. But they've got to get it going because Syracuse has a great zone."
On Michigan's defense: "They really pack it in in the paint, so it's hard to drive and for the point guard to kick out to shooters. They do a good job of closing out. The big guy [Mitch McGarry] was doing the stuff that you don't see in the stat book as far as deflections and squaring guys up and making them not score."
Roanoke College graduate Brian Blaney is an assistant at Providence, which lost to Syracuse 72-66 on Jan. 9 and 84-59 on Feb. 20.
On Michael Carter-Williams: "He gets double-digit assists. Now all of a sudden he can shoot the ball a little. He rebounds. He guards like crazy; the deflections are nuts. He just impacts the game in every facet."
On Syracuse's offense: "They fill the lanes, they're athletic, they can finish in transition. They score a ton from their defense - a deflection, a steal, a blocked shot, a rebound."
On Syracuse's defense: "They're just too quick and too long. You've got 6-4 and 6-7 [guards] up front and then you've got all that size behind. Those forwards come out really, really high and invite the short corner pass, but if you throw it there, they're going to trap you."
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