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NCAA Tournament | All 65 Team Capsules | Win Your Pool

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 Year.


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 nerves.  




Ohio State

Southern Illinois



Secrets For NCAA Tournament Success:


  1. Talent - NBA potential is no joke.

  2. Post Defense - The bigger, the better.

  3. Sharp Shooting - Simple math: three is better than two.

  4. Experience - Who has nerves of steel?

  5. Star Power - Winning is the All-American way.

  6. Guard Play - Little guys point the way.

  7. X-Factor - Fear of the unknown.


The March Manifesto is the secret to filling out your NCAA Tournament bracket.



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