JOE D’S NOTEBOOK March 28th
FRIDAY, MARCH 28. GAME DAY: The time for talk has ended. Tonight at 7:27, the pre game analysis will be rendered as useless as mock drafts and five day forecasts. When UConn and Iowa State take the floor at Madison Square Garden, one team will be headed to the Elite Eight and one to the off season.
The Cyclones are no fluke. Fred Hoiberg has used his 14 years of NBA knowledge and has his team playing a unique college style.During their 50 minute practice yesterday, all the Iowa State players were taking three point attempts during a drill.They average over 23 attempts per game from three point range. And they make almost eight and a half per game, putting them 21st nationally. Their ability to spread the floor makes them a tough team to guard. And with Georges Niang out, they will most likely have five players in the game at a time who can shoot from beyond the arc. It’s imperative that UConn runs them off the three point line.
But Iowa State isn’t one dimensional. They like to run and with their versatility, they can all grab the rebound and head up the floor, particularly the Big 12 player of the year Melvin Ejim. Transition defense is a must for UConn tonight. The Cyclones ran the Huskies off the floor two years ago when they played in Louisville. UConn can’t let that happen again tonight.
The Huskies seem to be ready for the challenge. Playing 2 1/2 hours from campus with the Garden likely to be Gampel Pavilion SouthWest is an edge. But once the ball is tossed up, the venue doesn’t matter as much as the players on the floor. And I think UConn is playing it’s best basketball of the season. Everyone is contributing and call me crazy but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Omar Calhoun, stuck in the midst of a dreadful three month slump,make some shots back in his native New York.
Shabazz Napier said yesterday that games like these often come down to intangibles and he is 1,000% correct. Who wins the 50-50 ball That indeed may be what decides tonight’s game.It should be a memorable night at the Worlds Most Famous Arena.
Wayne and I hit the air running at 6:50. I hope you can join us.