Friday, November 20, 2009

Guest Contributor Ray Floriani: At the Coaches vs Cancer

by Ray Floriani

NEW YORK CITY – The first one was a rout. The nightcap looked like one was in the works. In the end North Carolina was left to sweat out a 77-73 decision over Ohio State in the Coaches vs.Cancer semis at Madison Square Garden.

The scores and TEMPO FREE Breakdown:

North Carolina7776101
Ohio State737597

Syracuse entered the game averaging 84 possessions a game. The Orange imposed their will pace wise and defensively. Cal could not solve the patented 2-3 zone of Syracuse. Often the possession, after several passes, would end in a three pointer. Cal (44 per cent eFG) shot 6 of 20 from three point land. Cal was without (injured) three point threat Ryan Roberson, an 18 ppg scorer, but coach Mike Montgomery refused to let that be an excuse.

Both teams had solid turnover rates, Syracuse at 15% and Cal at 19%. Actually Montgomery was very concerned over the 15 turnovers his team committed because they led to 19 Syracuse points. A closer look shows Syracuse had 10 steals so at least two thirds of the Cal turnovers were very damaging types leading to Syracuse transition opportunities.

Scoop Jardine led the Orange with 22 while Cal’s Jerome Randle, getting a good look by NBA scouts, paced all with 25 points.

The night cap was a tale of two halves. At the break it was 38-24 North Carolina and the Buckeyes (31 % eFG) had to be thankful it was that ‘close’. The second half saw the Big ten reps find the range, especially beyond the arc . The Buckeyes shot an eFG pct of 65% and made it too close for Roy Wiliams & Co.

Certainly, there were breakdowns on the Carolina side. but Ohio state found a late game rhythm and hit a succession of treys in the final two minutes to turn a 3-4 possession contest into a one possession affair. The late jim Valvano used to discuss how shooters facing a double digit deficit often loosten up , relax and start to hit shots. When the game is close they tend to tighten up. Carolina was consistent efficiency wise for their two halves. The Tar Heels posted a 103 mark the first half en route to a 101 finish. Ohio State was dramatically different.

1st Half2nd HalfGame
Ohio State6712697

North Carolina, led by Deon Thompson’s 17 points, had 4 players in double figures. OSU’s Evan Turner (I almost typed Evan Turnover) had an interesting line. Turner led all scorers with 23 points, pulled down 11 boards but had 10 turnovers.

OSU meets Cal in the consolation with an interesting ACC-Big East battle, North Carolina and Syracuse set for the championship.

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