Can GW's 1-3-1 zone bust Memphis?

Can GW's 1-3-1 zone bust Memphis?
March 20, 2014, 9:15 pm
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(Anthony Gruppuso/USA TODAY Sports)

Matchup: No. 9 George Washington (24-8, 11-5 Atlantic 10) vs. No. 8 Memphis (23-9, 12-6 AAC)

When: Friday, 6:55 p.m.

Where: Raleigh

What: NCAA Tournament, East Region, Round of 64

Broadcast: TV - TBS

What's new: Tied for third place in the A-10, GW lost 74-55 to VCU in the A-10 semifinals, ending a four-game winning streak. Memphis fell 72-53 to Connecticut in the semifinals of the American Athletic Conference Tournament, extending a six-game of alternating losses and wins.

History: The Colonials and Tigers have only one prior meeting. GW downed Memphis 69-60 in the 1994 Preseason NIT consolation game at Madison Square Garden.

KenPom: George Washington 41 Memphis 42

RPI: George Washington 29 Memphis 33

Coaches: George Washington - Mike Lonergan; Memphis - Josh Pastner

Leaders: GW - Scoring (Maurice Creek, 14.3), Rebounding (Isaiah Armwood, 8.5), Assists (Joe McDonald, 4.1); Memphis - Scoring (Joe Jackson, 14.3), Rebounding (Shaq Goodwin, 6.6), Assists (Jackson,4.5)

Links: George Washington NCAA Tournament preview

Foggy Bottom 411: Lonergan uses Cal Ripken Jr. for motivation, loves Go-go 

Savage: During his press conference on Thursday, Lonergan repeated his recent statements that he's not counting on sophomore Kethan Savage to play in Raleigh. The sophomore guard returned against VCU after sitting out since Jan. 18 with a fractured foot. However, GW's second-leading scorer came out after one minute last Saturday due to soreness.

Key player stat: Over the last eight games, the Colonials are 5-0 when Creek, GW's top 3-point shooter, makes at least three 3's. They're 0-3 when he sinks two or less.

Key team stat: Per KenPom, GW ranks 64th nationally with 34.7 offensive rebounding percentage (a measure of the possible rebounds that are gathered by the offense). Memphis, which doesn't have much of beef inside outside of 6-foot-9 sophomore Shaq Goodwin, struggles to keep teams off the glass.

Tigers: The preview posted just above serves as GW primer, so the goal here is to focus on Memphis, a squad that defeated Louisville twice this season, but can play a maddening brand of basketball for stretches. I caught up with Rob Dauster from NBC Sports' College Basketball Talk website this to talk about the teams facing out local programs in the NCAA's, including Memphis

Attacking the Tigers on defense: "They don't run a ton of offensive sets. Joe Jackson, Mike Dixon (11.8 ppg)and Geron Johnson (8.9) can beat guys off the dribble and Pastner kind of lets them go. It doesn't always work because they don't always make the best decisions. [CSN - Though GW can get a little wild with turnovers, the team's collective smarts and instincts have been key to their success]

"What will throw [Memphis] off is that 1-3-1 zone that GW plays. That gets to everybody. Remember the VCU game [at Smith Center*]. They completely shut down what VCU wanted to do offensively. That's the same kind of team on the offensive end, lots of guards, lots of guys driving to the basket. I think that will work. That's why I'm picking GW to win, because of the 1-3-1. [CSN - Lonergan turned to the "gimmic" defense earlier in the season as a way to keep his starters somewhat rested and out of foul trouble. As Rob said, often teams struggle against the odd formation especially with All-10 defensive performers Armwood and Patricio Garino on the court. However UMass, George Mason and others found openings as those games progressed. Some made shots, some didn't. Memphis struggles from beyond the arc outside of guards Michael Dixon Jr. and Chris Crawford.]

(*) GW won 76-66, but lost the next two games to VCU

GW's depth concerns: "With a healthy Kethan Savage, that top six is good. They can compete with anybody. You were tweeting this out the other day: Whey they're getting shooting from [wing forward] Nemanja Mikic and some kind of rebounding or even five fouls from [power forward] John Kopriva, that's really all they need. Get 10 minutes out of those two guys, make sure people get some rest, stretch the floor, commit some fouls. [CSN - Lonergan will often sub in five reserves early in the game to give them a feel for the action, but overall the group watches most of all. Mikic struggled over the second half of the season, but made 7 of 12 3's in two A-10 Tournament games]

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