Random Thoughts: Here come the Zones

Penn State Coach Ed Dechellis said it all after beating Northwestern 83-57, "We decided to play them strictly 2-3 zone" and the Wildcat's bid for another Big 10 Opener was history.

You have to figure that the Wildcats had worked out a plan to slow down Geary Claxton...
after all, Claxton was on a tear since returning from an early season injury and given that he was averaging 23 points per game lately.

NU's matchup defenses slowed him up a bit, he only scored 15, but the effort was for naught - PSU's Danny Morrissey, a guard that shoots well, put in 24 for the Lions, negating the Cats #4 defense and allowing PSU to get up by as many as 26 poins.

But more disturbing this old coach, was Penn State's decision to go strictly with a 2-3 zone, even though Craig Moore [18 pts - 6 of 11 treys] was doing his part, he seemed to be able to put 3's in at will.

Long term Wildcat Watchers know that the Key to NU's game is the ability to run those back door cuts, and the zone takes away that part of the game.

You open the inside back up by making 3 pointers to force the other guys to come out of the zone, but if they don't bite, you better make every 3 then go for rebounds on misses, because they're going to come right back on you and add 2 [or 3] more points to their total on every play.

Penn State's rebounding was spectacular - 26 defensive boards to the Cat's 14. Overall the ratio was PSU 32, NU 18. They were grabbing balls off the glass and the Cats weren't.

I know this is frustrating for the fans, the coaches and the players. After a preconference season where NU was in almost every game, they allowed Penn State to dominate again - this was the 4th straight loss to DeChellis' Lions.

But does anyone think that there isn't a memo floating around every Big 10 team's coaches' office right now?

One that says, "Play Zone to beat NU?"
-- da Coach
[on the road in Ohio, where Odem's play is not the big story yet]

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