Round Table Discussion – Indiana – Oklahoma
The pre-game hype might belong to Kansas-Maryland, but the Hoosiers and Sooners will still make for some intriguing action. Indiana is this year’s version of your typical NCAA Tournament party crasher. They finished the regular season with a modest record, lost in the early stages of it’s conference tournament, entered the NCAA’s as a five seed and proceeded to advance to the Final Four with some stellar play (all those threes against Kent State) and a little luck (hey, I’d rather play UNC-Wilmington instead of USC and Kent State instead of Pitt, too). Speaking of UNC-Wilmington and Kent State, the Hoosiers have capitalized on playing low seeds in the tournament and will now have a chance to prove if their first Final Four appearance in 10 years is no fluke.
But one has to wonder if seeds had held true to form, would Indiana have made it past the second round after a match-up with Southern Cal? But hey, the Hoosiers did survive the Dukies, so they have proven they can play with the big boys. Playing in the rough and tumble Big Ten would get most any team ready for Big Dance success, though.
Oklahoma has to be the quietest 30-plus win team in the history of the NCAA tournament. OK, maybe not, but you have to figure they’re close. Although they have the misfortune of playing in the same conference as Kansas, they still can prove they are indeed the best in the Big Twelve.
The Sooners have reached the final weekend of the college season thanks in part to their suffocating brand of defensive-minded basketball. They bang you, they bruise you and most of all, they demoralize you. But this isn’t a one-dimensional team by any stretch of the imagination. The Sooners are tough on the blocks and can be deadly on the perimeter. Proof of this can be seen throughout tournament play as Oklahoma has kept their foot on the gas pedal. The Sooners first slammed on this pedal when they up-ended Kansas in the Big Twelve conference tournament final. That win over the Jayhawks served notice to the entire country that the Sooners are for real, and not just for real, but, FOR REAL.
Oklahoma’s game against Indiana on Saturday may be a case of the irresistible force against the immovable object. The Hoosiers will want to open up the inside thus enabling them to find good long-range looks. The Sooners will do anything in their power to cut off any perimeter success for Indiana and dare the Hoosiers to beat them inside. The Hoosiers may be bigger, but are they tougher?
If the Hoosiers can withstand the pounding they are bound to receive from the Sooners and shoot like they have been, Indiana vs. Oklahoma may be Saturday’s best.
In Part II of our Round Table discusison, Hoopville’s staff writers analyzed Saturday’s game. Here is the transcript of their discussion:
Keys to the Game – Indiana
Adam Shandler: For Indiana, it’s all about defense. They used a crafty double team rotation system against Duke that forced the Blue Devils to rotate the ball more and make one more predictable pass.
Adam Reich: Indiana needs to take care of the ball against Oklahoma. With Tom
Coverdale, their best ballhandler, suffering from an ankle injury, Indiana
will have to rely on Dane Fife, Kyle Hornsby and freshman guard Donald Perry
to handle the rock. Oklahoma plays terrific defense, and their pressure
could force numerous Hoosier turnovers.
Jon Gonzalez: For the Hoosiers to come out on top, they must mix up their game plan and punch Oklahoma in the mouth by playing tough on the blocks early.
Michael Ermitage: That, and making three point shots at a good percentage, at least forty percent.
Brian Seymour: What’s key is maintaining the balance between the Hoosiers inside and outside game, which has led to its run to the Final Four. The Hoosiers have had four different players lead the team in scoring each game and that kind of balance speaks to what has got them here.
David Mosse: Yes, but the biggest question mark heading into this game is the health of Hoosiers guard Tom Coverdale, who injured his ankle in the regional final victory against Kent State. If Coverdale is unable to play, Indiana stands very little chance against the powerful Sooners who have quietly emerged as perhaps the best team in the country.
Keys to the Game – Oklahoma
Seymour: Oklahoma needs to dictate the tempo of the game and pound the smaller, less athletic Hoosiers incessantly. In short, they need to jump on them from the opening tip and not let Indiana’s outside shooters get hot.
Gonzalez: For Oklahoma, their success starts and ends with their defense. The Sooners have been tough on everyone and Saturday looks to be no different. Indiana has been shooting the lights out of late and Oklahoma has to put the brakes on IU’s shooting. The Sooners are going to have to lock up the perimeter and dare Dane Fife and company in penetration and inside looks.
Mosse: The Sooners will continue to ride the impressive outside shooting of Hollis Price and Ebi Ere.
Ermitage: Yes, but keeping Dane Fife off of Hollis Price is the key. Fife is a sticky defender and the Sooners need Price for the offense to be effective.
Reich: Oklahoma has to continue to hit the boards hard. Indiana is thin on the
front-line with Jared Jeffries and Jeff Newton. These guys do not have the
bulk to body up with Aaron McGhee and Jabahri Brown on the glass. If the
Sooners send three or four to the offensive glass they could get some
easy second chance buckets.
Shandler: OU has four guys who own the boards and that’s going to be essential if Hollis Price has an off shooting night. But I don’t expect Price to have an off shooting night.
Mosse: Hollis Price against Tom Coverdale is the matchup to watch.
Shandler: Right. We all know that Hollis Price is going to go off in this game but to what extent? Coverdale is a solid defender and he’ll at least have to make Price work for every pass and shot. Look for all the Hoosiers to get involved in covering Price.
Ermitage: But it will be Fife’s job to shut down price. The Hoosiers have a plethora of big men to slow down Aaron McGhee but if Fife can’t stop Price, then the Sooners will be tough to beat. Also, Fife will need to still maintain an offensive presence despite the enormous chore of chasing Price around all day.
Phil Kasiecki: It’s Jared Jeffries against Aaron McGhee. They are two of the toughest players in the country to guard, as both can score on the post and both can step away from the basket and hit from outside. Both can rebound well and run the floor, so it will be interesting to watch these similar basketball players.
Seymour: These two players should be matched up against each other quite a bit and share a lot in common. Both play taller than they are, both have a nice outside shot and both are key offensive contributors. If either can be held under 15 points, it’ll be a big step for their opposition.
Reich: Jeffries is Indiana’s only real inside threat, while McGhee is Oklahoma’s best scorer in the post. Each has been prone to foul trouble, so a couple quick
ones on one could mean a big game for the other.
Gonzalez: Plus, Jeffries has the ability to take over a game and will be a tough draw for McGhee. McGhee is used to premier post-players – he did go up against Drew Gooden and Kansas, so he will be ready. But if Jeffries can open it up and makes some intermediate shots, McGhee will have work ahead of him.
Player to Watch – Indiana
Kasiecki: For the Hoosiers, Tom Coverdale will hold a key to how they do. The point guard was the South region Most Outstanding Player and has run this team well all season by taking good care of the ball and scoring on occasions where the opportunity presents itself. His status is still uncertain at press time, but as the point guard of this team he will be a big key to the outcome.
Seymour: I think that goes without saying. Will he play? How much will he play? At what level will he play? If he can give the Hoosiers even 20 minutes at near full ability, it’ll be a huge boost for an already outmatched Indiana team.
Shandler: The best player for Indiana has to be Jared Jeffries. He’s long and gaunt but he’s versatile, and even at 6-10, he has the skills to play all five positions on the floor.
Reich: Expect Jeffries to have a big game. He is too quick for the bigger
McGhee, and if the Sooners try to neutralize his quickness he could muscle
a smaller defender on the block.
Gonzalez: I think the key is Jarrad Odle. Odle is a monster on the boards and has been coming on strong of late. His tenaciousness on the offensive boards could lead to a lot of put backs. This is key since OU plays so tough on D.
Ermitage: Yes, but it seems that Kyle Hornsby is the unknown offensive catalyst for the Hoosiers. When he’s hitting threes, it seems to open the offense up.
Player to Watch – Oklahoma
Reich: Watch for guard Hollis Price to have a big game for Oklahoma. He has been
shooting the three remarkably well thus far in the tournament, and his
quickness cannot be matched by any of the Hoosier guards. Whoever gets the
assignment of covering Price will have his hands full.
Seymour: I was in Norman in January and the Sooner fans are crazy about this kid, he can shoot the lights out and isn’t afraid to take big shots. If he gets hot, Indiana is cooked.
Shandler: We’ve blown enough smoke up Hollis Price’s skirt, and with good reason. But OU has another big gun in Aaron McGhee. He’s 6-8, 250 – a whole lotta man – who’s been averaging 15 points and almost 8 boards a game. Between him and Ebi Ere, the Hoosiers will get brutalized underneath.
Ermitage: I think Aaron Mcghee. He has been dominant throughout the tournament but may face his stiffest test in the long-armed Hoosiers. He is capable of bringing his game outside and must against the tall front line of IU.
Gonzalez: Ebi Ere can get to the basket and will give Indiana fits with his scoring ability.
Kasiecki: For Oklahoma, watch Quannas White. As he has been all season, he was the real unsung hero of their regional final win. He ran the show perfectly and played excellent defense on Clarence Gilbert of Missouri. He has played very well of late, and complements Hollis Price well in the backcourt. In the NCAA Tournament, he has a 3.6 assist/turnover ratio.
Players on the Rise
Reich: Oklahoma swing man Ebi Ere should get a number of open looks when Price
and guard Quannas White drive and kick. He can get hot quickly, as he did
against Xavier in the second round. Ere is also a tremendous rebounder who
can grab offensive boards over smaller guards. He should be considered
a serious scoring threat in this game.
Seymour: Quannas White hasn’t been mentioned a lot, but he’s coming into his own as a point guard and can also hit some big shots when called on.
Shandler: When you have a guy like Hollis starting at the point, it’s okay if your backup is “good enough”. Well, Qannas earned Kelvin Sampson’s respect on Sunday against Mizzou. He had 12 points, 7 assists.
Gonzalez: A.J. Moye. The Sooners will be tough on the perimeter, so IU will need guys to step up and force their way inside. Moye is the type of player who can get past the Oklahoma pressure and find his way to the hoop. Moye has the chance to give the Hoosiers much needed points off penetration.
Ermitage: Every championship team has an A.J. Moye. Not much he does shows up in the final box, but his energy often changes the complexion of games. Much like Quannas White, Moye will annoy and harass the IU perimeter, potentially shutting down a lethal IU long-range attack.
Shandler: Moye is the reason IU beat Duke. Did you see that block he put on Boozer? He’s everywhere. You may even see him guarding Hollis Price on an occasion or two.
Players on the Decline
Kasiecki: If anyone on this deep Sooners team could hurt them by himself, it might be Jason Detrick. In the NCAA Tournament, he has scored just 14 points on 4 of 19 shooting and has also been in foul trouble, thus limiting his minutes.
Reich: If Tom Coverdale plays Saturday, he will be playing on a very sore ankle.
He didn’t shoot the ball well against Duke, and with the lightning quick
Price hounding him don’t expect his shooting to get any better. His ankle
will be tested and don’t be surprised if he fails this test.
Shandler: Which Tom will we see? The Duke Tom or the Kent St. Tom? He can’t have a soft day on Saturday. Defensively, he’ll have to have his best game.
Seymour: Dane Fife played really well against Kent, but if Coverdale can’t go, he’s going to be called upon to do a lot more scoring than he’s accustomed to against a tough defensive team. I don’t think he’s up to it.
Gonzalez: Fife has been great of late, but is vulnerable. OU’s Hollis will make Fife work for everything and force Fife into mistakes. Fife has to be very careful with the ball and hold his turnovers to a minimum.
Ermitage: Jared Jeffries – when you are the star who has tossed around NBA talk, you better show up in big games. For Oklahoma, much has been made of the Sooners’ “d” but if IU connects on enough three-pointers, all fingers will be pointed at the Oklahoma bench.
Seymour: And, for Oklahoma, it could be anyone who goes to the foul line. OU shot a nauseating 44% from the stripe against Missouri. Hollis Price went 6 for 13, Ere, 6 for 11.
Gonzalez: Indiana will come out and initiate a presence inside. Jeffries, Hornsby, Odle and Newton will all get touches as IU will try to put its stamp on the paint. In playing tough on the blocks, IU will hopefully open up some outside looks. While the Hooisers may have early success, the Sooners will wear down the IU big men and turn the Hoosiers into a one-dimensional, three point shooting team. The Hoosiers will make their fair share, but also miss a bunch, thanks in part to the Sooner pressure D.
Kasiecki: Look for Oklahoma to go with what got them here: good defense, hustle plays, athleticism, and good balance and depth. The Hoosiers will need to play their usual good defense, but more importantly play good ball control offense and make shots. Turnovers could kill them in this game, and they can’t let Oklahoma get second shots because the Sooners rebound well and likely won’t let the Hoosiers get second shots of their own. They won’t have another game like the regional final from three-point range (where they made 15 of 18), but they will have to shoot the ball well and make the Sooners work on defense.
Seymour: I think Kelvin Sampson is going to pound the ball down low for the first 10 minutes to try and get Jeffries in foul trouble. With Jeffries out, Oklahoma would walk all over the Hoosiers.
Ermitage: Will Sampson double-down on Jeffries and open up IU’s perimeter game? The ability to shut down Jeffries one-on-one will go a long way in sending the Sooners to Monday’s game.
Reich: A key decision in this game will be whether coach Mike Davis is willing
to put the ball in the hands of freshman point guard Donald Perry. With
Coverdale suffering from the ankle sprain, Perry may need to see significant
minutes. Perry has been shaky at times, and playing a freshman point guard
in the Final Four could be risky.
Mosse: Look for Indiana coach Mike Davis to entrust Dane Fife, the Hoosiers best defender, with the responsibility of shadowing Hollis Price. The Oklahoma’s point guard’s scorching play has been the catalyst for the Sooner run to the final four. Expect a slower paced game than the other semifinal.
What to Watch For
Ermitage: This will be a physical game won in the paint. IU has yet to see a team that defends like Oklahoma and will be pushed around, both inside and out. It is exactly the kind of team that IU struggles against. Oh, and another thing: Mike Davis – Coach of the Year.
Reich: Will the Hoosiers be able to keep up their remarkable three-point
shooting? After hitting 15 of 19 treys against Kent State, Indiana will be
looking forward to hoisting them up against the Sooners. But will they be
falling in Atlanta is the question. Oklahoma will be fired up for this game. The Sooners are playing for Kelvin Sampson’s father who was hospitalized because of a brain aneurysm.
Kasiecki: If Jeffries can get McGhee in foul trouble, some things could open up since McGhee is important to the Sooners at both ends, as illustrated by the way he almost single-handedly put away Missouri in the regional final when he came off the bench after sitting with foul trouble for most of the second half.
Gonzalez: Basically, OU will squeeze the life out of Indiana and put an end to the Hoosier’s dream season. In the process, Hollis Price will shoot the lights out, and Ebi Ere and Aaron McGhee will get theirs too as the Sooners also lay into Indiana’s defense, rendering the Hoosiers useless in all facets of the game.
Mosse: The Hoosiers are unlikely to drain their three’s in the same manner they did against Kent State and their rugged Big Ten brand of basketball should slow down the Sooners. Foul trouble could play a factor in deciding the winner. Oklahoma continues to receive very little respect nationally. Despite having already defeated both Kansas and Maryland this season, some “experts” have seen fit to call the Jayhawks-Terrapins match-up the real national championship game. Look for Kelvin Sampson to use this as a motivating force for his team in Atlanta. The Sooner are a talented team, with a chip on their shoulder. A combination that will make them difficult to beat.
Seymour: I expect Oklahoma to change strategies and defenses on a dime to keep Indiana on their toes. The Sooners are a small team, but much more athletic than Indiana. If they try to turn the game into a track meet, it’ll be hard for Indiana to keep up, if they don’t, it’ll be hard for Indiana to pound Oklahoma down low. Indiana should be happy it got a favorable draw to get this far. The Hoosiers played a heck of a game against Duke (which choked repeatedly to give Indiana a chance), but the ride ends here.
Michael Ermitage: Oklahoma 67, Indiana 61
Jon Gonzalez: Boomer Sooner, Oklahoma 91 Indiana 69
Phil Kasiecki: It’s been a great run for Mike Davis and Indiana, but the Sooners will end it here with too much athleticism, hustle and depth. Oklahoma 75, Indiana 60
David Mosse: Oklahoma 78, Indiana 65
Adam Reich: Oklahoma 80, Indiana 70
Brian Seymour: Oklahoma is going to nuke the Hoosiers back to 1987. Oklahoma 87, Indiana 59
Adam Shandler: klahoma has earned my respect. They ripped through the toughest bracket in the tourney with only 7 players making substantial contributions. The run is over for the Hoosiers, but I’m sure most of America is thanking them for beating Duke. I just don’t think Mike Davis’s club will have a full tank of gas for OU. Give me the Sooners, 79-61