Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Can Oklahoma or North Carolina Stop A Talented Two-Guard?

Tyler Hansbrough of '08-'09 is not the same Psycho T that won player of the year in '07-'08. UNC has a ton of injuries and suspensions that have cut into their depth. Deon Thompson is not the same player that was he three months ago.

The Heels have a multitude of worries right now, but none of them should be Roy Williams' most pressing concern.

Blake Griffin is out with a concussion, and he may be out for a while longer. The Sooners offense is reduced the Willie Warren without the big fella roaming the paint. Austin Johnson and Tony Crocker are rendered almost useless without Griffin's interior presence to play off of.

But like the Heels, none of those should be Jeff Capel's biggest worry.

There is no arguing that these two teams are supremely talented. One is leading the ACC with four guys that could end up all-league, including possibly the player of the year in Ty Lawson. The other was leading the Big XII until the Griffin injury and has the favorite for national player of the year and a candidate for national freshman of the year. Both are considered near locks for a #1 seed come Selection Sunday.

But both teams face a serious obstacle in their quest to make a trip to Detroit for the Final Four: stopping a scoring point guard.

Take a look at some of these performances.

Jeff Teague torched Wayne Ellington and the Heels for 34 points
back in January.
(photo credit: Bruce Chapman/Winston-Salem Journal)
Against Oklahoma:

- Steph Curry had 44 in a 72-68 Oklahoma win (but if you remember Curry single-handedly brought Davidson back from 20 down in the last ten minutes).

- AJ Abrams scored 23 points, but more importantly had 18 of the 'Horn's last 20 as they came back to beat the Sooners 73-68.

- Sherron Collins had 26, including three huge three's down the stretch to help hold off a furious OU comeback.

- While he didn't put up the scoring numbers, Courtney Fortson had 12 points, 10 assists, and 8 boards as Arkansas upset the Sooners 96-88.

Against UNC:

- Jeff Teague went for 34 points in 92-89 Wake Forest win.

- Jack McClinton went for 35 in a 69-65 UNC win.

- Tyrese Rice went for 25 and 8 dimes in a 85-78 BC win.

- Toney Douglas went for 32 in a 80-77 UNC win.

- The most impressive of them all, Greivis Vazquez had 35, 10 boards, 11 assists, 3 steals, and 2 blocks in an 88-85 Maryland win in OT.

The question becomes why?

Why can't the Sooners or the Tar Heels stop a talented lead guard?

The answer is simple - neither team has a defensive stopper in their back court. Danny Green and Tony Crocker are both good defensively, but you can't put them on the opposing team's point guard when it would mean Warren/Johnson would have to match-up with the likes of Damion James, or Lawson/Ellington would have to guard a James Johnson.

So what is the answer? Personally, I would face guard the opposing player for 94 feet, doing everything I could to keep the ball out of his hands.

But that's just me.

Keep this in mind when you are filling out your brackets. If Oklahoma draws, say, Boston College in the second round, you may want to be on upset alert.

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