West Virginia Forwards Devin Williams and Esa Ahmad Discuss Challenges of Tournament Play, Countering SFA Tactics

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- West Virginia freshman forward Esa Ahmad has played in a number of big events during his young basketball career, so he's not going to be overwhelmed by his first appearance in the NCAA Tournament.

"I try to look at it as another game. I know it's the NCAA tournament, but I just try to look at it as another game," Ahmad said.

There's validity in his approach.Ahamd has played in Ohio state playoff games and numerous AAU events, giving him experience in compartmentalizing each one and learning to treat them as just more steps in his hoops journey. On the court in his usual starting role in Kansas City for the Big 12 Championship, he didn't find a great deal of difference in the atmosphere, and was able to block out any distractions from the crowd or the hoopla around the games. He believes it will be much the same story in Brooklyn for the NCAAs.

In the lead video above, Ahmad also discusses what he must do in order to stretch the flashes of brilliance he has shown over longer periods of play, and how the Mountaineers must protect the ball against Stephen F. Austin's harassing defense, which tries to take passing lanes away.


The Lumberjacks, in executing their defense, deny passes, play up the line on the perimeter and front post players with the intent of keeping the ball from going inside. Bigger teams might be expected to try to pass the ball over the top, but West Virginia's hasn't shown that ability. Although there aren't many teams that have tried to front Mountaineer post players this year, both Elijah Macon and Devin Williams believe that West Virginia will be able to do so if need be.  However, WVU's shakiness in passing the ball at times makes that less than a sure thing. Can West Virginia's post players seal fronting defenders and get the ball on lob passes? And can those be delivered with accuracy?

There are other ways to defeat this tactic, as Williams explains below. He also reiterates the importance of continuing to do the things that made him successful -- a reiteration of the Bob Huggins "Do what we do" mantra.


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