Jared Wickerham/Getty Images
I watched Florida State suffocate Notre Dame yesterday on the defensive end in a Round of 32 NCAA tournament matchup. The Seminoles have one of the best defenses in all of college basketball.
Aside from excellent strategy (the 'Noles employed this odd kind of help defense where they played man-to-man, but a second man would swarm the ball-handler at times, too), Florida State's players exuded tremendous hustle, energy and grit en route to a dominating performance.
Oh, yeah, and FSU's best player, Chris Singleton, sat for almost the entire game.
Meanwhile, the Knicks give up more points per game than any NBA team aside from the Minnesota Timberwolves. They also have a defensive efficiency rating in the lower third of the league. The Knicks may not have the best individual players suited to play defense, but they had some good ones in Wilson Chandler and Ray Felton. Yet, the Knicks defense was still porous, and the 'Noles defense is incredible.
(Ironically, Toney Douglas used to play for Florida State and was the ACC Defensive Player of the Year in 2009.)
Do the 'Noles have the best athletes in college basketball? No. Do the Knicks have the worst athletes in the NBA? No. Ultimately, it comes from the top.
Ultimately, it comes down to simple science. If five players are running hard down the court on offense, it's only natural for them to try and catch their collective breath and slow down a bit on defense so that their bodies can recover. FSU doesn't run on offense, so the 'Noles can go all-out on defense.
The Knicks under D'Antoni will never be a good defensive unit. The best they can go hope for is to get a rebounding machine at power forward to prevent second chances for the opposition and for the team to stay intact long enough to at least gain some modicum of defensive chemistry in order to become average.