Friday, March 27, 2009

Collins keeping Spartan up at night

Michigan State guard Travis Walton, center, looks to pass during practice Thursday, March 26, 2009 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. At right is Spartans' guard Durrell Summers.

Michigan State guard Travis Walton, center, looks to pass during practice Thursday, March 26, 2009 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. At right is Spartans' guard Durrell Summers.



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— For a typical game, Travis Walton watches three full game tapes of the player he’s defending. This week, he’s says he’s going to make it to five.

The Michigan State senior guessed he has spent 20 hours watching film of Kansas guard Sherron Collins — so much so that it’s starting to become unhealthy.

“I went to sleep, and I think I had a little dream about him. About ball screens,” Walton said with a laugh. “I don’t know if it was just Sherron Collins. I think it was just Kansas and playing basketball and ball screens.”

Though Walton might be making headlines for his career-high, 18-point performance against USC on Sunday, he’s going into today’s game without even giving a thought to his offense.

He has been too busy studying Collins.

“You can’t let him have 15 (points) and 10 (assists), because then he’s still giving you 20 points off of assists,” Walton said. “So you’ve got to try to contain him and try to take away one of his strengths.”

Walton certainly has done his homework. After he was asked about Collins’ stat line in KU’s game against MSU on Jan. 10, Walton immediately started listing off numbers.

Twenty-five, eight and eight. Six-for-14. Eleven-for-14.

Off the top of his head, Walton had listed Collins’ points, assists, turnovers, field-goal shooting and free-throw shooting from a game played more than two months ago.

“That’s my job. I’m a defensive guy,” Walton said. “That’s who I’ve got to guard. That’s who my assignment is.

“He’s a great player, so when you’re playing against great players and playing against players that are pretty good, you want to know everything about them so you can help your team’s chances of guarding him and not get embarrassed.”

Tuesday, Walton entered the Breslin Center so late to watch tape that he only saw one person there — a television reporter that was finishing up a story after the MSU women’s 63-49 NCAA Tournament victory over top-seeded Duke.

So what tendencies has the guard seen from Collins?

“He’s just tough. He can push the ball at any time. He’s going to attack you,” Walton said. “If there’s three players back, and he’s the only one coming, he’s going to attack. You don’t really get that too much out of players.”

The Spartans did a respectable job against Collins the first time. Using a “six eyes on Collins” strategy — meaning the player defending the ball and two other defenders were told to watch Collins at all times — MSU forced the guard into six first-half turnovers while taking a 37-18 lead.

“One thing we’ve got to do is to try to just contain him,” MSU guard Kalin Lucas said. “I think if we contain Collins, we’ll be OK.”

Walton, through his study, has noticed a change in Collins recently.

“He’s been trying to attack a lot more,” Walton said. “You look at his last five games’ stats, he’s averaging over 20 shots a game. He’s got to attack more.

“I know probably in his mind, he’s thinking, ‘In order for my team to win, I’ve got to shoot the ball. I’ve got to not worry about how many turnovers I have, how many shot attempts I have, what’s my percentage. I’ve got to make big plays and big shots.’ As a big-time player, you’ve got to think like that, and you’ve got to be like that.”

Walton admitted he’s not a guy that sleeps a lot.

He figured Thursday night wouldn’t be any different.

“I’ve watched all the film I can watch,” Walton said, “and I’m watching even more.”


keith horinek 13 years, 3 months ago

Ku is already getting in their heads and the game hasn't even started yet. gotta love it!

jaybate 13 years, 3 months ago

Kalin Lucas told the tale on MSU's approach to Sherron: give him his shots, stop his assists.

Ratso Izzo wants a one man game: MSU vs. Sherron.

Mug Cole.

Blanket Tyshawn, Brady, and Marcus.

Keep the ball in Sherron's hands at all costs. Encourage him to struggle inefficiently for 25-30 points, while choking off the rest of the team.

Note on the MSU Bulletin Board: Hold Collins to 2 Assists and MSU Wins!

Ratso Izzo is good. He is very good, as mobster Paul Vitti (Robert de Niro) said to Dr. Ben Sobel (Billy Crystal) in "Analyse This."

He's got his players trying to get into Sherron's head already, trying to make him doubt his game.

You're good, Ratso, you're very good.

But not good enough!

We're taking away your three point game, Ratso. You aren't getting any free looks out there. We're going to the glass hard with two guys and we're going to put your tall three on the butt of our short threes and we're going to drive them back into the cheap seats, Ratso. We're going to reduce this to a two on two rebounding game, and that tall three of yours is going to be more black and blue than Cole will be at the end of this game. In fact, we'll take both your tall threes out if we have to. They are going to be guarded like they have never been guarded and pushed like they have never been pushed. And we're going to shoot 40% from three and you can't beat us if we do, Ratso. You can't do it. Its statistically impossible. Stop our treys and Cole destroys you. Stop Cole and our treys destroy you.

We're coming after you, Ratso!

And we aren't bringing a stinking knife to a gun fight this time.

Mano a mano in the trenches, but you're three is going to be playing from the cheap seats no matter how big he is. Morningstar and Little are going to push him every play. Up and under. Up and under and then drive him back. It will be 2 on 2 in the paint, Ratso, and you know you can't win if it is.

Michael Auchard 13 years, 3 months ago

Interior defense will be the difference in this game. Whichever team has it will win.

justanotherfan 13 years, 3 months ago

This may be a game where Self has to switch his rotation up a little bit to counter what MSU wants to do. Michigan State is hoping to force/encourage Sherron to become a one man show. With stand up shooters like Brady and Tyrel on the floor, MSU can do that by simply not helping off shooters when Sherron drives, and crowding the lane with big bodies.

Enter Tyshawn Taylor and Mario Little on the perimeter, maybe even using a Morris twin to face the basket rather than play with their back to it. That gives us other creative options besides having to run everything through Sherron, since its pretty apparent that Michigan State wants to turn him into a black hole. Maybe even sneak Travis Releford off the bench for 5-8 minutes to maybe help get us in transition a few times.

This is the type of game that scares me for this particular KU team, because we don't really have a second consistent creative option offensively. If Sherron isn't getting people shots, we bog down very quickly. There is pressure on Tyshawn Taylor to come out fast tonight. He needs to be aggressive about getting into the paint, and about getting other people shots (Brady, Tyrel, Cole, etc.). You know MSU won't leave Sherron, so Tyshawn has to attack when he has the ball, effectively turning it into a 4 on 4 shell game.

Mario Little is also critical, but we need to get him in favorable matchups. Either going small (where he plays the 4, but steps away from the basket to exploit his quickness advantage) or big (where he plays the 2 or 3, but gets a matchup with a guy he can post with his strength and size.

Trouble is, neither of these guys has been that consistent, and Sherron won't be able to beat MSU alone. Of course, I think Sherron will still have to give us 16 pts, 5 assts minimum, but MSU wants Sherron to go for 25 and 2 tonight because everyone else will stagnate.

jaybate 13 years, 3 months ago

Here's another way to slice it.

We need 40 points on 50% FG shooting from Marcus, Brady, Tyshawn and Mario. It can be distributed any way. It doesn't matter. Any treys contributing to this have to be made at 38-40%. Not less.

We need 40 points from Sherron and Cole, distributed any way at all, again at a rate of 50% FG shooting after adjustment for treys.

With the above scoring efficiency, we can afford to be outrebounded +2 to +4.

On defense, we need to hold their trey shooting to 35% or less.

The above spells certain victory if we have equal or fewer TOs.

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