By Adam Stanco
7 Secrets to NCAA Tournament
Success: Post Defense
The headlines appeared to
fall affectionately for four of the Wildcat starters during the 2000-2001
season. Jason Gardner was a tiny lead guard with pinball moves. Michael
Wright was a 3rd Team All-American. Richard Jefferson and Gilbert
Arenas exploded past defenders and would soon explode towards NBA stardom.
But the fifth starter – a quiet, frail center who was once thought to be Tim
Duncan’s successor – was the one most responsible for the Arizona’s eventual
spot in the finals.
Loren Woods began his
career at Wake Forest and, after two seasons of failing to live up to the
Duncan comparisons, transferred to Arizona. Constantly criticized for
playing soft, Woods muscled through the 2001 NCAA Tournament as if he were
channeling the grit of Bill Russell. He averaged four blocks per game in
March, swatting everything coming his way. Everything, that is, except for
All-Midwest Regional and All-Final Four honors, which he happily seized.
Tournament teams force feed
their low post players hoping to establish an offensive rhythm and collapse
the opposing defense. Scoring easy buckets on the low blocks is the best way
to calm nerves and instill confidence. Since a proficient low post scorer
can blow up an opponent’s opportunity for advancement, a talented defensive
big man is a necessity for defusing the situation.
Woods played the part
perfectly and came within moments of winning a championship. Of course, his
quest failed when the Wildcats faced an even better defensive stopper in the
title game, Duke’s Shane Battier, the 2001 national Defensive Player of the
Low post defenders win
games. They allow perimeter defenders to play aggressively and cheat without
a care. If a guard does penetrate into the lane, the mere presence of an
intimidator is enough to alter shots. Those missed shots result in easy
transition baskets at the other end of the floor.
This talent is never more
valuable than in the NCAA Tournament, when jittery play often defines long
stretches of games. Shot blockers essentially steal lay-ups and dunks from
the competition, forcing them to shoot from long range. And no coach wants
the fate of his team’s survival decided by deep jumpers in a game of bouncy
Secrets For NCAA Tournament
- NBA potential is no joke.
- The bigger, the better.
- Simple math: three is better than two.
- Who has nerves of steel?
- Winning is the All-American way.
- Little guys point the way.
- Fear of the unknown.
The March Manifesto is the secret
to filling out your NCAA Tournament bracket.