It was a great day to be an Aztec! SDSU got it done even when it looked bleak after being down 9 early. Throughout the entire 1st half, it was a back and forth game. Exchanging buckets with a few small runs here and there. But early in the second half, SDSU got settled and started hitting their mark. The Aztecs practically owned the second half which included a long Oklahoma drought that virtually sealed their fate. Before I start my game review, I would also like to say the following.
During the times where SDSU lost–more often than not–people blamed rebounding. I myself, faulted lack of 3 point shooting and kept saying. “If State can connect from 3, they can beat anyone.” Here is a quote I used in a argument after SDSU’s loss to Boise State on March 9th.
“The team is fine, we just take too many dumb shots. Rebounding is a problem, but hasn’t lost SDSU many games. It’s nothing skill wise, it’s all mental. The Aztecs lose games when they can’t hit 3’s. 6 of the 9 games they have lost, they shot under .200 from 3 point land. Those games they did score above that mark? Arizona (68-67), Colorado St (66-60) and @ UNLV (72-70) All close games. The cause of those losses? Arizona, turnovers were 15-8 with SDSU having 7 more. They out-rebounded the better team. CSU, aside from the bad calls, they were out-rebounded by 10 and left 6 points at the free throw line. UNLV, though they were out-rebounded by 3, the Rebels got to the line 25 times, getting 19 points, SDSU got to the line 12 times, scoring on 8 of those. A 2 point loss and the opposing team got to the line more than twice than you did? To me, rebounding the ball has been an over worked excuse, it’s lack of scoring that’s killing them.”
So I would like to ask my readers a question. How well did the Aztecs shoot from the arc tonight? The answer to that question is .400, 6 for 15. Nonetheless, here are some notes about the game and my game review:
#1: The Aztecs got to the line more, and took advantage of it.
The Aztecs got to the line 17 times, connecting on 16 of them. On the contrary, OU got to the line just 8 times, scoring just 4. This is some what inflated due to late game fouling, but nevertheless. The Aztecs took advantage of those “free points”.
#2: The Aztecs out-rebounded the Sooners.
36-28, 10-7. Those are rebounding numbers in terms of total and offensive, respectively. Even though both teams were evenly matched height wise. Rebounding the ball has always been an issue for the Aztecs, but when the Aztecs score like they did in the game? The effort often gets over looked.
#3: The bench effort played a huge role.
The Aztecs don’t use that many subs and usually have a 8-9 man rotation while the Sooners tend to always have fresh bodies out there. However bench scoring was in the Aztecs favor tonight outscoring the Sooners bench 21-14. Largely thanks to James Rahon who shot well from beyond the arc and picked his spots on offense. A good inside presence from Skylar Spencer which toughens up the inside with a few good minutes from Shepard.
#4: The team that wanted it more did it.
After losing to in the Sweet 16 in a game they could have easily won, the Aztecs lost 4 seniors and went home with a bittersweet feeling. Last year, the Aztec exited early after being upset by N.C. State. The Aztecs were hungry to go out and prove some things out there vs. Oklahoma and that they did. The Aztecs didn’t lose their composer and stayed calm and you can see that by how confident they were in shooting the ball and ball handling.
The biggest take away from the game:
The Sooners switch from man to man, to zone defense.
When I coached basketball, I always ran a zone defense. It makes it difficult to shoot the ball and hurts teams that are post teams. However, one thing that hurts zone defenses is rebounding. Rebounding match-ups don’t exist and therefore there’s no assignment which leads to more chances for rebounds. And that’s what DeShawn took advantage of getting 11 rebounds and was a work horse on the boards. The Aztecs also penetrated the zone wonderfully by doing what hurts a zone defense the most. In a typical 2-3, 3-2 zone defense. Players are at the wings and/or the top of the key and the rest are on the blocks or near them. All eyes are facing away from inside and in the 2-3 zone (which is what I used and love the most) there is one guy who is in the middle who always has an eye out for the ball. The way to attack is to get to the free throw line. This forces them (the defense) to account for the extra person who is inside their zone and gets the defense moving around. This is what you saw J.J. doing a lot in this past game. Attacking inside, and kicking out to shooters.