KEYS TO THE NOTRE DAME GAME
Five Keys to the Game:
1. Transition Defense. Rutgers must stop Chris Thomas from killing them in transition. Giving up transition points off the press is the cost of doing business. But Rutgers gives up way too many easy points off of TOs and defensive rebounds. The Scarlet Knights must force Notre Dame to score from its halfcourt offense.
2. Deny Thomas Dribble Penetration. Much of Notre Dame's offense revolves around Thomas' ability to create off of dribble penetration. He can drive and dish to a big man on the baseline for an easy basket. Or he can drive and kick to a wing for an open 3-ball. Thomas dismantled Rutgers off the dribble in Notre Dame's victory last year in South Bend. Mike Sherrod defended Thomas much tighter in the rematch at Rutgers and Notre Dame struggled to score. Although Sherrod will be the primary defender, Rutgers must run fresh defenders at Thomas. Sherrod must deny dribble penetration without yielding open jump shots. A daunting task against a very good opponent.
3. Defending the 3-Point Arc. Notre Dame averages 21 3PAs per game. They make 38%. Or about 8 per game. Rutgers cannot allow Notre Dame to light it up from beyond the arc. The Scarlet Knights do not have the firepower to win a shootout in the 70s. The perimeter defenders must not slack off Matt Carroll and Danny Miller to help out inside. Rutgers must force Carroll and Miller to create their own shots.
4. Feed Herve. Notre Dame does not have a player to matchup with Herve Lamizana defensively. If Notre Dame plays zone defense, as I suspect, Rutgers must get Herve into the high post or down in the short corner. Attack the Notre Dame defense quickly from the interior. If Notre Dame plays man-to-man, which I doubt, then Rutgers must post up Herve and let him go to work with either a height or quickness advantage.
5. Free Throw Shooting. Rutgers can not leave freebies at the foul line. The Scarlet Knights will need every point they can get to win the game. Rutgers must get to get to the foul line and make 75% of their FTAs.