Montana to mix zone, man-to-man against Syracuse

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first_img Published on March 21, 2013 at 12:15 pm Contact Michael: [email protected] | @Michael_Cohen13 Facebook Twitter Google+ SAN JOSE, Calif. — A few weeks ago, Jim Boeheim opined on the increased amounts of zone defense his team had faced. Seemingly every team in the Big East, from Georgetown to Providence and all schools in between, now played zone against Syracuse — the king of the zone.“That’s cheating,” joked Boeheim, who built his reputation on playing nothing but 2-3 zone and perfecting it unlike any other coach in the country.It appears that Thursday will be no different.Syracuse faces Montana on Thursday night in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Grizzlies of the Big Sky conference wasted no time in tipping their hat and announcing that they too will zone the zoners.“I’m pretty sure we’re going to start off with the zone,” Kareem Jamar said. “We’ve seen the way we play zone and that might play in our favor.”AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThough the Orange plays exclusively zone defense itself, it has struggled attacking that same defense on the other end of the floor. This was due, in large part, to February shooting slumps by both Brandon Triche and James Southerland, which allowed the defense to sag off the perimeter and collapse inside.Another reason why Syracuse struggles against the zone — see regular-season losses to Georgetown and Louisville — is because it lacks an inside presence. Centers Rakeem Christmas and Baye Moussa Keita provide little to nothing offensively, so opposing teams can essentially use five players to guard SU’s big four of Triche, Southerland, Michael Carter-Williams and C.J. Fair.The added dimension of having someone who can score down low forces the zone to hang back to defend the baseline, thus opening up the paint.Syracuse, though, does not have that option. Its best hope inside is that Keita continues his strong play from the Big East tournament, where he emerged with a different level of tenacity.“We’re going to do what we do, we mix it up,” Montana head coach Wayne Tinkle said. “We’ll play man, we’ll play a couple of different kinds of zone, extend it to three-quarter court.“I think a team as talented as Syracuse, we’re going to have to try — and that’s a tough word or tough challenge — try to keep them from getting into a rhythm offensively.” Commentslast_img

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