Zeller and Oladipo
Your job, Syracuse Orange, is to slow down the Indiana Hoosiers and stars Cody Zeller and Victor Oladipo. Your chances of advancing to the East Regional Final depend on you succeeding.
No easy task.
Zeller and Oladipo are the two biggest cogs in the Hoosier machine that began the season atop the AP rankings and spent a total of 10 weeks as the No. 1 team in the nation.
While there's no stopping Zeller and Oladipo, the Orange won't win the game if they allow those two to run roughshod over them. It's easy to recognize that, it's quite another to pull it off.
Can the Orange slow down the Hoosier stars?
If they pay attention to the following slides, of course they can.
Zeller is a big man who runs the floor well. He averaged 16.8 points and eight rebounds this year, leading Indiana in both.
It seems strange to say about someone who is 7' and 240-pounds, but the key to slowing Zeller down is to be physical with him. Basketball may not be a violent sport, but it certainly is a contact sport. It's also a sport that relies heavily on rhythm and a key to dealing with Zeller is to disrupt his by bumping him and pushing him away from his favorite spots on the floor.
Zeller shot a nice 57.1 percent from the floor by getting shots close to the basket, mostly dunks. The Orange will have to push him further than he likes from the hoop and play him physically.
One of the ways to disrupt him is to give him different looks defensively. Rakeem Christmas is a bit more physical than Baye Moussa Keita. Each is a great shot blocker and should be able to make Zeller think just enough about his shot to disrupt it a bit.
This will be a game that the Orange will need DaJuan Coleman to contribute some minutes also. He brings more bulk than either Christmas or Keita and will not only give them some rest, he brings five more fouls to use. He gives the Orange a third way to play Zeller.
Obviously, the three centers won't be alone in defending Zeller. The wings in the back of the zone will also pitch in with double-teams. Switching up which forward comes and when will also disrupt Zeller.
Slowing down Victor Oladipo seems like quite a daunting task. It only seems that way—because it is.
It was said of the great Jim Brown, that God decided he was going to make a football player and chiseled Jim Brown.
Victor Oladipo is evidence of God making a shooting guard. He has size and great shooting touch. Oladipo shot 59.4 percent from the field, including 43.3 percent from three-point range.
Seems impossible to slow him down you say?
Not impossible, just tough.
The key to slowing Oladipo down is to keep him from penetrating as much as possible. The reason his field-goal percentage is so high is because he tends to get to the rim and limit his outside shots. While 43.3 percent from beyond the arc is obviously outstanding, he's only taken 67 shots from there.
The key will be for the Orange guards, 6'6" Michael Carter-Williams and 6'4" Brandon Triche, to keep Oladipo in front of them and force him to shoot from long distance. He's not used to shooting over their length.
As far as his physicality is concerned, Syracuse happens to have a 2-guard that can match him in the 6'4" and 210-pound Triche.
It will also be important for the Orange to rebound well defensively and limit the Hoosiers transition game, keeping Oladipo from getting tons of dunks and layups.