Saturday, March 5, 2011

Five pregame thoughts: College of Bill Lawrence

Hey it worked the last time I posted this with the William & Mary pregame thoughts!

1.) Stop Quinn McDowell. See? This stuff is easy sometimes. McDowell was unconscious last night, when he set a CAA Tournament record with 35 points on 10-of-12 shooting from the field, including 5-of-6 from 3-point land, and 10-of-11 from the free throw line. Insane. He probably won’t be that hot tonight, but the Tribe is a team that thrives on outside shooting so don’t expect to see much zone from the Flying Dutchmen tonight.

2.) As Mo Cassara said in our Q&A this morning, Greg Washington is the X factor for the Dutchmen. If he plays as well as he did in his last seven games—when he shot 50 percent from the field (23-of-46) and pulled down an average of six rebounds per game—the Dutchmen will have a pretty good duo in the front court against the undermanned Tribe (one starter taller than 6-foot-6) with Washington and David Imes, who had two double-doubles, three double-digit rebound games and averaged 8.7 rebounds in the final seven games.

3.) Don’t be surprised if the Dutchmen get off to a slow start. The Dutchmen will have been off for more than a week by the time 8:30 finally arrives, and there will be more teams eliminated (seven) than still alive in the tournament. William & Mary, meanwhile, has plenty of momentum and energy after its exciting win last night, and Georgia State proved earlier this afternoon how that type of energy can carry a team in the first half. Plus, the Richmond Coliseum rings are famously unfriendly and the Dutchmen can’t get too intimidated if the shots aren’t falling initially.

4.) Don’t be surprised, either, if the Tribe starts fading in the second half. We wouldn’t expect a beatdown like the one George Mason gave Georgia State this afternoon—unofficially, the Patriots outscored the Panthers 872,281-6 after we got into the Coliseum, no, really, it was only a 22-2 second half run and 52-15 (?!) between Georgia State taking its biggest lead (27-16) and Mason taking its biggest lead (68-42)—but at some point the Tribe should begin to feel the effects of playing 40 pressure-packed minutes last night. That’s when Washington and Imes have to be factors on the defensive boards.

5.) Familiarity should be an advantage for the Dutchmen, who know how dangerous William & Mary is and what does and doesn’t work against the Tribe. The Dutchmen also know how they win games: Get a third player in double figures (18-1) and a couple 3-pointers from someone other than Charles Jenkins or Mike Moore (8-0 when Brad Kelleher hits multiple threes, 6-0 when Shemiye McLendon does and 2-0 when Yves Jules does it).

Most importantly, the Dutchmen also have Charles Jenkins, who knows how it feels to lose here, and how long a bus ride it is back to Long Island. Jenkins is 2-3 all-time in the CAA Tournament and missed game-winning shots at the buzzer in the quarterfinals each of the last two years. The preference, of course, is for the Dutchmen to author a relatively stress-free victory, but if the Dutchmen need him to go into Wolf/Beast/Takeover mode, he’ll do it. I keep thinking of Matt Janning 52 weeks ago today, willing Northeastern into overtime and eventually past the Dutchmen in double overtime. Jenkins is going to have at least one game like that this weekend. Here’s hoping it’s not needed until Monday.

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