Second Basketball Scouting Report: Holy Cross
Math can be cold and unforgiving. When Navy allows more than 70 points, the Midshipmen are 2-6 this season. Navy isn't built to win games with a roster that has been thinned by suspensions. As the Patriot League Tournament approaches, Navy has to find a comfort zone on defense, because that's the only way it can win a bunch of games in a few days, thereby creating a little bracket mischief during Championship Fortnight. (It's really not "Championship Week," but a two-week period.)
HOLY CROSS AT-A-GLANCE
The Crusaders had won nine of ten games to threaten American University for second place in the conference, but a loss to Lafayette – a team that's much better than it was a month ago thanks to the return of star scorer Seth Hinrichs – kept Holy Cross in third place. The Crusaders allowed more than 70 points for the first time since Jan. 15. Expect Holy Cross to hold down Navy on Sunday; the Midshipmen will simply have to defend at a higher level, winning a game that will probably be played in the 60s.
Forward – Dave Dudzinski – Senior, 6-9, 227; 2013-14: 15.2 points per game, 7.6 rebounds per game
Dudzinski is the centerpiece of this team. His scoring average is 4.8 points per game higher than the second-best scorer on the roster. Navy's ability to contain Dudzinski without paying a price on the perimeter will naturally become a major tension point in this contest.
Forward – Malcolm Miller – Juinior, 6-6, 190; 2013-14: 10.4 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 2.1 assists per game, 1 steal per game, 1.8 blocks per game
Navy's attention will naturally focus on Dudzinski in the paint, but Miller is the secondary rebounder the Midshipmen can't ignore. Let's see if Miller is able to make greater use of the fact that Dudzinski is Holy Cross's main scoring threat; Holy Cross will need Miller to become a more central factor on this team when the Patriot League Tournament rolls around.
Guard – Anthony Thompson – Freshman, 5-10, 150; 2013-14: 8.8 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.3 apg
Thompson's season-high scoring total in a Patriot League game is 13 points, a figure he set on Jan. 15 and has matched in each of his past two outings. Navy has to cool off Thompson if it's going to win this game.
Guard – Justin Burrell – Junior, 5-9, 165; 2013-14: 9.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 2.5 apg
Burell scored 17 points in the previous meeting between these two teams. Can the Midshipmen adjust and keep him out of a groove?
Guard – Eric Green – Sophomore, 6-4, 180; 2013-14: 7.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.1 apg, 1.7 steals per game
Green's defensive prowess remains his best attribute as a player. Navy can't allow him to collect steals that lead to runouts and easy baskets for the Crusaders.
Keys to the Game
1) Watch Thompson. Dudzinski is naturally the go-to guy for the Crusaders, but Thompson is gaining confidence as a freshman. Navy's ability to contain Holy Cross's young point guard will enable the Midshipmen to control the Crusaders' offense.
2) Weakside rebounding and help defense. When Dudzinski draws a crowd on one side of the basket, rebounds could become an issue on the other side. Navy's ability to cover the full court – especially the full baseline – will be very important in this contest.
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