Death Glare! - Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE
Having staged a furious 2nd half comeback to avoid getting Stanford'd by the feisty Drake Bulldogs, the Cal Bears advance to a semi-finals match-up against the Georgia Tech Yellowjackets. Although Georgia Tech ranged from woeful to awful(11-20) last year, they're 3-0 thus far in 2012. Bolstered by plenty of returning veterans and a #16 national recruiting class, the Yellowjackets rely on defense, rebounding, and rugged inside play. It's a good thing Cal hasn't struggled with...defense or rebounding.
G Mfon Udofia(Sr), 8 ppg, 3.7 apg
G Brandon Reed(Jr), 3ppg
F Robert Carter(Fr), 8.7 ppg, 5.3 rpg
F Marcus Hunt(Fr), 11.7 ppg, 6.7 rpg
C Daniel Miller(Jr), 7.3 ppg, 7.3 rpg
G Jason Morris(Jr), 4 ppg
F Kammeon Holsey(Jr), 11.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg
G Chris Bolden(Fr), 6 ppg
Hunt and Carter were both ESPN top-60 recruits out of high school. They're strong, athletic and tough around the basket. Veteran center Daniel Miller is their leading shot-blocker and has some nifty passing skills to go along with his primary role of cleaning the glass. If that's not enough, Georgia Tech also has one of those pesky high-motor guys, Kammeon Holsey, for more interior scoring off the bench.
Udofia struggled with turnovers last year, but has been a much more proficient floor general now that he has guys who can finish.
If there's one area where the Yellowjackets appear significantly deficient, it's behind the 3-point arc. And now I've officially jinxed some unknown scrub into having a career day against us.
Georgia Tech didn't shoot well against Rice (38.9% FG, 16.7% 3FG), but out-rebounded the Owls 50-23 while holding them to 22.9% from the field.
Because our big men have played inconsistently at best, it'll be interesting to see whether Monty can afford to go small with our four-out, one-in lineup. It's often our most effective group, but the Yellowjackets might have too much size.
Keys to the Game:
1) Stay out of foul trouble.
With Kreklow out due to a re-injured foot, Monty really only has a seven man rotation that he can trust. Solomon and Kravish absolutely need to be disciplined on D and stay down instead of jumping for shot fakes. If we have to play Bak or Behrens for any extended amount of time, it's over. The Georgia Tech bigs will eat them alive. We'll have to hope that our guys still have their legs after last night's nail-biter. While we had to ride our starters for big minutes, Georgia Tech goes 10 deep.
2) Box out.
Georgia Tech isn't a great shooting team and they're much more proficient on defense than on offense. But, they have four different big men who can all score inside and like to crash the boards. We can't afford to give up easy baskets and additional possessions all night long. Allen Crabbe is going to need to really exert himself on the defensive glass.
3) Exploit match-ups.
If we're going to give up size on one end, we need to make them pay on the other. We already know that we'll need Cobbs and Crabbe to stay hot from the outside. But we're going to need to find other ways to get points against a tough defense. Whether it's transition buckets, or Smitty/Wallace stepping up, someone needs to provide that 3rd scoring option.
It doesn't really matter that the Yellowjackets were picked to finish near the bottom of their league. On paper, they look like a tough opponent whose strengths conveniently seem to poised to take advantage of our weaknesses. In some ways, it almost looks like a reprise of last year's game against South Florida. This would be a great time for our bigs to snap out of their early season funk and play to their potential. In Monty we trust?