by Ray Floriani
NEW YORK CITY - The Jimmy V Classic gave us another one of those March-like evenings in December. Four nationally ranked teams. A charged up atmosphere. A sellout (19,391) crowd filling Madison Square Garden. And all in the name of a wonderful cause.
The Pace & Efficiency:
Oliver's Four Factors:
The first four minutes were played at a 90 possession pace, too fast for either team to operate efficiently. Entering the game Kansas and Memphis both averaged possessions per game in the seventies. But the teams were over anxious, perhaps from the "large stage" provided by Madison Square Garden and ESPN, and it showed in their play. KU led 5-4 but had twice as many turnovers (4) as field goals. As the half progressed the tempo stayed fast but a little more reasonably paced.
About the only area Memphis had an edge was in turnover rate. Kansas coach Bill Self discussed those dreaded TOs as lost opportunities where his offense failed to capitalize. Going beyond the raw numbers we see the Jayhawks went from the 14:02 to 6:55 mark of the second half without a turnover. During that time they built a double digit lead that proved to be insurmountable for the Tigers to overcome. Kansas' shooting from the floor was not surprising considering their easy access to the paint where they enjoyed a 46-35 edge in scoring. They also spread the wealth with four players in double figures paced by Markieff Morris with 16 points. About the only place they did not shoot well was from the line (11 of 19 for 58%). The young Tigers, suffering their first loss, struggled on both ends. The defensive end was most upsetting and of immediate concern for Memphis coach Josh Pastner.
Offensively, a good part of the Memphis offense was 'gift wrapped' by Kansas, as the Tigers enjoyed a 29-18 edge in points off turnovers.
The Pace & Efficiency:
The Four Factors:
Tom Izzo was none too pleased. The Michigan State coach called it "gut check time" for his Spartans following the loss to Syracuse. The thing that had Izzo most perturbed was "we got our butts kicked". Specifically they were dominated to a 42-24 edge by the Orange in points in the paint. "That has never happened to us." Izzo said. "Nor will it happen again." Rick Jackson of Syracuse was the main inside threat for the Orange with 17 points 16 rebounds.
The offensive rebounding percentage and free throw rate reflect how Syracuse owned the paint. Orange had fifteen first half field goals and fourteen were in the paint. Besides Jackson's inside work Scoop Jardine (19 points) was effective on penetration. Jardine finished with 6 of 6 shooting (7 of 9 overall) from two point range.
Another highly regarded team falls to the 2-3 zone of Syracuse. Big East teams seem to fare a little better because they face it at least once a year. If you are out of the region, as Michigan State, you probably see some zones but none as tough and difficult to beat like that of Syracuse. Reviewing it on tape just doesn't do the zone justice. Athletic, quick and long defenders move, close the gaps and deflect passes in the Syracuse 2-3.
Izzo's Spartans struggled so much with the zone they reverted to what he called a "sissy jump shooting game". One that netted 7 of 24 (29%) shooting from three point range.
For those who argue zones are too passive we submit the TO rate figure. That is one quarter of Michigan State's possessions ending in a TO.
Michigan state did make a nice run to get it to a one possession game midway through the final half. Syracuse went on a run at that point to close it out. The run was aided by only two Spartan field goals from the 12 minute mark until 90 seconds remained and the issue settled.
Michigan State's best success game on late first half lobs over the back of the zone. An adjustment on the back line (being more cognizant on the baseline) by the Orange at the half ended that threat.
Jim Boeheim made the observation that he 'never had a team struggle like this in the early season." Not a bad sign given the Orange are 8-0 despite some bumps in the road.
The Syracuse mentor did note his club's offense is the area that needs some improvement. The defense has been good to date.
Durrell Summers, a 6-5 senior, led Michigan State with 18 points and was the most effective and versatile Spartan. He finished a few 'alley oops' inside and was 4 of 9 from three.
Numbers weren't eye catching but Boeheim was pleased with the play of freshmen C.J. Fair, Fab Melo and Baye Moussa Keita. A 7-foot center, Melo, "was very active," per Boeheim. "We just have to cure him of taking jump shots," Boeheim added with a touch of humor. Saddled by foul trouble Melo handed out two assists in thirteen minutes.
Special mention to Scott Peterman who runs the mensbasketballhoopscoop.blogspot.com web site. Proceeds for any e-book sold this weekend from his site, were donated to the V Foundation for cancer research.
Kansas put four players in double figures and Markieff Morris of the Jayhawks led the way with 16 points. Kansas is 8-0, Memphis is now 7-1.
Syracuse advanced to 8-0 while Michigan State is 6-3. Scoop Jardine led all scorers with 19 points.
It was Kansas' first win in three trips to the V Classic. Jayhawks' other two appearances were losses to Atlantic Ten and Big Five schools, Temple in 1995 and St.Joesph's just five years ago.