The Redick Rules

The biggest task facing Michigan State defense Friday night in their game versus the Duke Blue Devils is how to stop, or at least slow down, their All-American sharpshooter J.J. Redick. How do the Spartans stop him? SpartansInsider basketball beat writer Doug Warren thinks Tom Izzo's troops should use some old school tactics that the NBA's legendary Bad Boys used to utilize on a former North Carolina Tar Heel. <I>Get Inside</I> to read more about the Redick Rules.

The biggest task facing Michigan State defense Friday night in their game versus the Duke Blue Devils is how to stop, or at least slow down, their All-American sharpshooter J.J. Redick. Redick has been doing a very good impression of Jerry West this season in leading an abnormally undermanned Blue Devil team to the ACC Tournament Championship and their 8th consecutive trip to the Sweet 16. Duke's leading returning scorer from a year ago (15.9 ppg), Redick is averaging an ACC-best 22.1 points-per-game this season overall.

More impressively, he has averaged 26.8 points per game in six games vs. ranked opponents this season while shooting .455 from three-point range (30-of-66) and .935 (43-of-46) from the foul line while played 238 out of a possible 240 minutes in those games.

How do the Spartans go about slowing him down? Here are a few strategies to watch for Friday night in Austin:

1. Pressure Him All Over the Court: When I was a pickup baller back in the day, I had a friend whose favorite way of telling his teammates to play tough defense was simple and graphic:

"Stick to them like moldy underwear."

This is essentially the first step in stopping Redick. Make him work for everything by hounding him at every turn. The Spartans must get in his face and stay there for forty minutes.

When he shoots – a hand must be in his face.

When he makes a cut – you must meet beat him to his intended destination.

When he handles the basketball – you must become "moldy underwear."

There can be no open looks, no uncontested drives to the basket, and especially no easy baskets.

If there is a current college player worthy of the legendary "Jordan Rules" strategy that the Detroit Pistons used to employ on the Chicago Bulls' Michael Jordan, it is Redick.

Redick will score his points; the key will be to make him pay – one way or another – for every point he makes.

2. Make Him Work on the Defensive End: Another tactic that can be used to wear down Redick is to run him through as many picks and screens as possible when the Spartans' have the basketball.

Now this is tricky, because the Spartans are a little light in the front court scoring department behind Center Paul Davis and Forward Alan Anderson. If either of those two players happens to pick up any sloppy or questionable foul calls on screen plays; Michigan State could be in real trouble up front.

However, there is nothing to stop the Spartans from using reserves like 6'10" Drew Naymick and the tough Flintstone II trio of Matt Trannon, Kelvin Torbert and Tim Bograkos to rough up Redick a little bit while he chases Maurice Ager and Shannon Brown around the court.

Hard screens and plenty of them, on the Spartans' offensive end could go a long way toward sapping the strength of Redick down the stretch.

3. Kelvin Torbert and Shannon Brown Must Step Up: These two Spartans have the size, quickness, strength and athletic ability to matchup with Redick. Torbert and Brown must be able to hang with J.J. one-on-one to make the Spartans' defense truly effective.

In the second half of last Sunday's game versus Vermont, Torbert and Brown both did a fine job of slowing down the Catamounts' underrated guard T.J. Sorrentine after he had abused Drew Neitzel, Chris Hill and Mo Ager at various points for 16 points in the game's first 20 minutes. With Torbert and Brown shadowing the 5'11" Sorrentine all over the court in the second half, he finished with 26 points, on 9-of-23 shooting.

Redick, at 6'4", is bigger and maybe quicker than Sorrentine, so it will be imperative that the 6'4" Torbert and Brown be able to slow him down individually so that the other Spartan perimeter defenders can concentrate on Daniel Ewing, Sean Dockery and freshman reserve DeMarcus Nelson.

SUMMARY: Redick is in the middle of the one of the most dominant seasons in Blue Devil history. The 22.1 scoring average is the 10th-best single-season total in Duke history. He has reached double digits in 85 of 102 career games, including a team-best 42 20-point outings (21 of 32 games this season). Redick's 42 games with 20 or more points are the fifth-most in the Coach K era, trailing only Johnny Dawkins (58), Christian Laettner (49), Jason Williams (47) and Danny Ferry (44).

While Redick isn't in the Michael Jordan stratosphere of point producers, the above names suggest he is certainly is in some select company. However, no player, not even Jordan (just ask Joe Dumars) was unstoppable every night.

With that in mind, using a little bit of the Chuck Daly Bad Boys' "Jordan Rules" strategy on J.J. Redick could go a long way toward the Spartans finally being able to end their Blue Devil jinx.

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