I would like to apologize to regular readers of Cuse Country. Yesterday afternoon this blog was hijacked by an impostor claiming to be me. He or she authored a darkly pessimistic piece that claimed SU’s zone defense would be torn to shreds by UConn’s superior quickness and shooting. The post featured ridiculous claims such as “Walker and Napier will be slashing into the lane all night” and “the defense won’t be shutting UConn down”. Clearly whoever wrote that post was, at best, a fool. Pay no attention to it. Pretend it never happened.
What did happen was yet another masterful coaching adjustment by Jim Boeheim. He tweaked the positioning and movement of the zone away from its base system to focus more on the perimeter in general and Kemba Walker in particular. After the game, Boeheim admitted as much.
We doubled [Walker] off the screens tonight… which we don’t like to do.
Maybe they don’t like to do it but UConn was clearly unprepared for it. And Calhoun was unable to make any in-game adjustment to what SU was doing. It also seemed (to my admittedly untrained eye) that the forwards in the zone were leaning more towards the top of the key and the three-point areas on the wing. This opened up a lot of space inside, but UConn was unable to take advantage, thanks primarily to the play of Baye Moussa Keita who was a defensive force (Six steals?! Are you kidding!?) and also to their big men’s general reticence to take jump shots.
I came away from this game once again awed at Boeheim’s limitless reservoir of variations on the base zone defense, and his ability to identify the particular adjustments that will most frustrate his opponent. And I feel bad for whoever posted that earlier pessimistic article. That guy just doesn’t get SU basketball.