Defensive Discipline Awaits Gamecocks

The Gamecocks will not be able to relax against this Ivy League opponent, that will apply the tradition of Princeton basketball with motion, curls, screens, v-cuts, backdoor cuts and passes. The Tigers (7-3) rely on controlling the game, burning clock, limiting possessions and lulling the defense to sleep, and scoring easy baskets inside.

Exams are over and the season now moves to a five-game home stand, beginning with the deliberate slow-down offense of the Princeton Tigers. This game will not be played above the rim by the Tigers, which are averaging only 21 rebounds a game.

But the Gamecocks will not be able to relax against this Ivy League opponent, that will apply the tradition of Princeton basketball with motion, curls, screens, v-cuts, backdoor cuts and passes. The Tigers (7-3) rely on controlling the game, burning clock, limiting possessions and lulling the defense to sleep, and scoring easy baskets inside. Their shooting percentage is not high, but these players can hit the open shot. The execution of the famed "Princeton Style" play will hinge around the ability of the three frequently used freshmen to maintain patience in the precision-mandated offense.

Either way, the discipline of the offense from this Ivy league school should place some challenge to the Gamecock defense. The discipline necessary to not get caught standing and looking, rotating from weak-side to help, and opening up and moving on the pass (while the ball is in flight) and not the catch, will be a much needed 40 minute drill for the Gamecocks.

USC has a decided athletic advantage and should be able to run against the Tigers with ease. To accomplish this, the Gamecocks will need to stay focused and deny uncontested back cuts, and the post players will have to aggressively attack the defensive glass. The Cocks should face an active series of match-up zones that will be designed to push the guards off the perimeter to set the half court offense. The post players can expect double teams immediately on entry passes, which should create open looks for the Gamecock shooters if they are set for "kick outs" from the interior.

Princeton only scores at a 57 point clip per game, with only one player, 6'7" Forward Kyle Koncz, averaging double figures with 12.4ppg. Koncz scorched the Thundering Herd of Marshall for 20 on Saturday, but Marshal is not USC. Two other post players, 6'6" Luke Owings and 6'4" Justin Conway (nursing a torn stomach muscle), average just over 9 points a contest. No player on the roster is averaging 4 rebounds per game.

Statistics are in the favor of the home town favorites, but the game must be played up-tempo for the Cocks to dominate and continue their success against non-conference schools, while developing the much needed interior consistency that will be a must for a respectable run in the SEC.

The Tigers will find it very difficult to establish an answer for Tre Kelly, whose 26 point and 3 assists game was the difference in stealing a 64-59 game from the Baylor Bears in Waco, TX . Brandon Wallace found 12 rebounds and 2 blocks in the same game. Look for a larger number of blocked shots by Brandon in this contest.

If Dave Odom gets his team in transition gear, this could be a crowd-pleasing blowout, enhanced by the prospect of having Chad Gray, South Carolina's 6'7" newcomer, provide a brief display of his athletic talents. Should Gray gain official eligibility, his defensive ability will be quickly challenged when his brief practice and crash course in "backside help" is tested in this contest. Princeton is a great defensive warm-up for any team based on their style of play. Princeton's ball movement would place a smile on the face of Dr. James Naismith, even today.

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