Friday, March 23, 2012

Guard battle could be key

The North Carolina State Wolfpack warm up before practice at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.

The North Carolina State Wolfpack warm up before practice at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.


— The battle between North Carolina State big man C.J. Leslie and Kansas University power forward Thomas Robinson in tonight’s Sweet 16 game at the Edward Jones Dome will be one of the most-watched individual duels of the tournament.

But a few inches lower and 15-20 feet farther away from the basket, there’s another head-to-head match-up that could go a long way toward determining which team advances to the Elite Eight on Sunday.

KU senior Tyshawn Taylor, 6-foot-3, 185 pounds, and N.C. State sophomore Lorenzo Brown, 6-5, 186, play point guard for their respective teams. And it’s each man’s goal to make life miserable for the other.

“I think that’s gonna be a huge match-up,” KU senior Conner Teahan said. “If you can take a point guard out of a game, you take a team out of a game really quick, and that’s something we put a lot of emphasis on. Tyshawn, when he’s locked in defensively, can do that.”

Throughout most of the season, Taylor and Brown have used their height and length as an advantage against the multitude of smaller — and sometimes quicker — guards that have dug in across from them. Staring into a mirror of sorts figures to be different for both.

“I’ve been playing against guards that are all smaller than me this year,” Taylor said. “So that’s gonna be something that’s new for me personally.”

While neither player is a completely refined point guard, both are the catalysts that make their teams go. Brown enters the game averaging 12.8 points, 6.4 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game. It’s his size that allows him to contribute in so many areas, something Taylor (16.9, 4.7, 1.9) knows all about.

“I mean, he’s 6-5, and he plays point guard,” N.C. State junior Richard Howell said of his teammate. “I feel like that’s one of the biggest strengths in the world.”

It was not always that way for Brown. A season ago, during the Wolfpack’s largely disappointing 15-16 season, Brown played shooting guard. It was a struggle. In 26 starts, he shot just 41 percent, averaged 9 points per game and seemed to play a role that teammates described as “out of place.”

“I’ve always felt like he was a point guard,” said 6-5 C.J. Williams, Brown’s backcourt-mate. “I’ve known Lorenzo since high school, and he always played point guard, he just hit a growth spurt so people tried to slide him over. But I feel like he’s a better point guard than he is a two guard.”

That certainly has shown this postseason, as Brown averaged 15 points and eight assists during his team’s upset victories over No. 6 seed San Diego State and No. 3 seed Georgetown last week in Columbus, Ohio.

With second-seeded Kansas (29-6) standing in his way of the Midwest regional final, Brown knows he needs to continue his steady play if the Wolfpack (24-12) hope to pull off another upset.

“I guess me and Tyshawn’s roles are controlling the teams,” Brown said. “It’s going to be a great challenge, but just having a team like this supporting me will help me out a lot.”

As far as his teammates are concerned, Brown’s the guy they want leading them.

“I’ve been around Lorenzo Brown almost all my life, and I’ve never, ever, seen pressure get to him,” Howell said. “He’s one of the calmest, most laid-back, coolest dudes I know. Pressure is just another word to him. It’s a great match-up. That’s two of the country’s best guards going at it, and it’s definitely going to be a hard-fought battle.”


jayhawker_97 8 years, 4 months ago

13 vs Withey.

Leslie vs TRob.

i rooted for the Packs vs Hoyas before. they just look like a very good matchup against us. let's beak 'em, Hawks!

Alohahawk 8 years, 4 months ago

No quick shots, unless they're wide open shots. Keep running the offensive sets, forcing N C State to play a lot of tiring defense. With their shorter bench they'll get tired and will be prone to foul.

Curtis Stutz 8 years, 4 months ago

Definitely abnormal I'd say for our guards to not have a size advantage, but I definitely think the experience and quickness of TT could really work to our advantage in this matchup.

Ben Kane 8 years, 4 months ago

don't know why but i'm not as scared about this game as i was about either of the past two. I'm not saying this game is a gimme but I feel we really have a chance to exert ourselves and i expect us to come and loose and excited.

Gary Wirsig 8 years, 4 months ago

Photo makes it look like the Wolfpack has added line dancing to their workout.

Matt Bowers 8 years, 4 months ago

Its dynamic stretching. Its come on strong over the past five years and I use it for the soccer team I coach, its a great way to warm up and reduce injuries.

Rock Chalk

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 4 months ago

I'll make it simple: Lorenzo Brown v Good Tyshawn = Kansas Lorenzo Brown v Evil Tyshawn = long night

Tony Bandle 8 years, 4 months ago

I would say "evil" is a bit harsh..."bad", "inconsistent", "hurried", "out-of-control", "old" or any number of adjectives would probably be more appropriate........however, we certainly get the drift of your statement

Rob Wempe 8 years, 4 months ago

I think you will see a lot of switching on Brown. You will see EJ and Releford take some turns on him.

ParisHawk 8 years, 4 months ago

That is so right, and it has been studied by psychologists: once you see a pattern, it is upsetting to have the pattern disappear and it takes much longer to see the new pattern.

That's why you're more unpredictable if you're predictable some of the time.

HawkKlaw 8 years, 4 months ago

Get at it Tyshawn! Take your team to the Elite 8!

jaybate 8 years, 4 months ago

In a fit of mastering the obvious, I identified Lorenzo Brown as key a couple of days ago. I said KU has to contain him. But I did not say KU should make the game about a match-up between Tyshawn and Lorenzo.

And so I disagree with some that think this reduces to a decisive battle between Tyshawn vs. Lorenzo.

NCSU perhaps hopes to reduce it to that.

For that reason alone, KU should not permit it to happen.

Team. Team. Team.

Tyshawn is two inches shorter, carries more muscle, is two years more mature physically and emotionally, has played in lots more big games, and so should fair well against Lorenzo, but for one thing.

Tyshawn is moving into his trey slump and Brown will be daring him to shoot the trey, laying back, and cutting off his driving lanes. Tyshawn without his J, equalizes Tyshawn with Lorenzo, who's not a good trey shooter; this reduces the match-up to who is most effective driving inside and guarding the drive inside.

I have no doubt that Tyshawn has the speed to get by Lorenzo the first half, but as the game moves down the stretch, that 2 inch advantage of Lorenzo's will matter more and more both driving and defending the drive.

So: KU absolutely does not want to approach this as Tyshawn vs. Lorenzo being a decisive match-up, especially when there is no need to do so.

If KU were to turn this into a one man against another man game, the proper choice would be Thomas Robinson.

No one has been able to stop him this season without using three men and Thomas having an off night.

jaybate 8 years, 4 months ago

Next, as I said the other day, if Tyshawn is not hitting the trey, which I suspect he won't be again, and if EJ is hitting the trey, then Tyshawn takes Lorenzo and we keep EJ's legs fresh for trifectation.

But if EJ is cold, and he is perhaps due for a cold shooting game, then I think you have EJ bring the ball up, EJ guard Lorenzo and put Tyshawn on the wing to force Gottfried into a difficult choice: does Lorenzo guard EJ out front, or Tyshawn on the wing?

If he keeps Lorenzo on Tyshawn, then you have EJ start driving the lane on their two guard guarding EJ.

If he switches Lorenzo to EJ, then you originate with a wing point offense using Tyshawn from the wing to drive on their 2 guard.

Either way, you turn this into a game about attacking their two guard, and marginalize Lorenzo's role as much as possible.

Of course, the whole point of attacking the two guard is not to get Tyshawn, or EJ a bunch of points, but rather to force a tough choice on their bigs when either Tyshawn, or EJ beat their two guard into the lane and are in position to dish to either Thomas or Jeff.

The moment our guard is in the lane, then the fact that they can likely stop either Thomas, or Jeff, but not both, then we have them by the short hairs. Fouls and easy baskets will result.

At the other end of the floor on defense, it becomes a game of blocking and altering shots and sealing and rebounding to eliminate the key strength of their game--the stick back on the offensive rebound.

To this end, we should be using Kevin and Justin quite a bit to rest Thomas and Jeff and to burn some fouls on NC State. wisssoxfan and I are big believers that ACC is not a Bang Ball conference. I think the Big 12 is rougher than the ACC. Therefore, the Kansas Jayhawks ought to put the wood on NC State, everywhere on the floor, but especially inside.

jaybate 8 years, 4 months ago

I do agree with someone, or other, above that says we need Jeff to come out motivated. We don't need him waiting for a half time lecture, or a punch in the mouth. We need him to come out very active. If he does, he will create a situation where we can substitute early and often, something we need to do to shape the battle field for the UNC game on Sunday. If he doesn't, if the whole team comes out and sand bag, as Self may be tempted to try, I fear that the KU will have to play its starters too many minutes.

On the other hand, Self has had the team sand bag at least three times this season so far, so you can't count that option out entirely either.

But at the Sweet 16 level of play, you would have to have steel gametes to sand bag.

Hmmm. Its pretty apparent this bunch, and their coach, have such metallic reproductive parts already.

I give.

I don't know what he will do regarding sand bagging.

I'm betting Gottfried is going to try to play this thing at a fast pace. Gottfried would like a lot transition ball to avoid having to play against KU's inside strength, since NCSU is not much of a trey shooting team.

I think Self being Self, he'll run with NCSU and at least try to come out of the blocks fast with a lead after 5 minutes and sum and keep playing it quick as long as they want.

But if KU struggles to separate, or is down five after five minutes, I reckon Self might muddy it up. This KU team plays grind it out pretty well.

Michael Bratisax 8 years, 4 months ago

Saw this article...Gimmick defense?

Kansas not afraid to switch up its defenses

For me..whatever it takes! Anyone else notice the Big 10 teams took a beating last night? I have Ohio St in Final 4 so was glad they beat a VERY good Cinci team.

Justin Daniel 8 years, 4 months ago

If Taylor plays like he did the majority of the Big 12 season, drive the paint, knock down a three here and there, we will be okay. If he plays like he did in Omaha we are in trouble, BIG trouble.

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