IUPUI has put several different starting lineups on the floor already this year, but the combinations they run out have several things in common. While not being overly tall, they are quick, mobile and strong, with the top players in the rotation all weighing 200 pounds or more.
Forward Odell Bradley (6-6, 240) leads a short, but quick, strong and springy, front line. Bradley averages 22 points and 10.2 rebounds per game, and manufactures many of his points in the lane and on the free throw line. He's joined up front by Brandon Cole (6-6, 200) and Drew Conner (6-5, 240). Cole is a scary inside/outside threat who must be defended all over the floor.
In the backcourt, Akeem Clark,(6-2, 210), Johnny Miller (6-2, 215) and Matt Crenshaw (6-2, 200) are all strong, physical players who team up to provide a variety of skills. Clark averages 13.3 points per game on the strength of solid outside shooting, while Crenshaw chips in with 9.7 points per game and almost six assists per outing. Miller is a shaky shooter, but still manages 11.2 points per game as well as 5.8 rebounds.
Overall, the Jaguars are a solid team who can shoot the ball from just about anywhere on the floor, and who make up for their lack of height by playing tenacious zone defense and contesting every rebound. Just because fans don't know them or see them on TV doesn't mean they can't play, as they proved last year with a conference title and a trip to the NCAA tournament.
West Virginia forward Tyrone Sally vs. IUPUI forward Brandon Cole
While both teams will employ zone defenses a good deal of the time, Sally will often have to match up with Cole, who is a dual threat both shooting and rebounding the ball.
|Wed 12/17 7:00 p.m.|
WVU 4-2, 0-0
IUPUI 4-2, 0-0
WVU - 55
IUPUI - 71
|Margin: WVU +2|
Sally, who has fouled out of his last three games, must keep Cole off the boards, as WVU has been struggling to find a rebounder to help center D'or Fischer.
Sally also has to avoid committing silly fouls, because he's going to pick up enough honest calls as he plays in the lane on defense and battles bigger and stronger opponents. If Sally can limit Cole's production, WVU will have a chance of recording another solid win.
WVU: Nick Patella (Concussion) Out
It figures to be bombs away at the Coliseum, as both teams base their offense on the three point shot. One side effect of this style of play is the number of long rebounds that are created, as well as the availability of paths to the backboards against spread out defenses.
IUPUI has taken advantage of those items by hitting the boards hard from all angles. The Jaguars are led on the boards by Bradley, but rebound well as a team, with just about everyone in the rotation capable of getting key rebounds on both ends of the floor.
This seems like a classic mismatch, with West Virginia on the short end of the stick. The Mountaineers are neither strong enough nor quick enough to match up with the Jaguars on an individual basis, so they must rebound and defend well as a team in order to come away with a win. That's difficult to do in a zone defense, where quick recognition and on-the-fly adjustments are necessary to rebound effectively as a unit.
Other battles to watch include WVU's centers against Bradley. If the Mountaineers play man to man, Bradley will likely move away from the basket on occasion to draw them out of the lane. That could force West Virginia into zone defenses, which opens up outside shooting spots for other Jaguars. Don't be surprised to see a lot of 1-3-1 from WVU in this contest, as the Mountaineers search for the best combination to contain the Jags' outside shooting and keep them contained on the boards.
D'or Fischer needs to shoot the ball more. The accurate center has twice gone 5-5 from the field in a game, and is shooting 80% from the field. Obviously, Fischer shouldn't shoot the ball just to be shooting it, but if he were to take a few more shots per game, it could open up more opportunities for other players as well.
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IUPUI forwards Bradley and Cole shoot higher percentages from the free throw line than any guard on the team. Bradley (80.4%) and Cole (a perfect 100%) have combined for 42 points from the line this year in six games.
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WVU's back to back overtime wins over Maryland and Duquesne marked the first time the Mountianeers have acocmplished that feat since the 1985-86 season, when they downed George Washington and Temple in extra minutes.
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WVU has moved to the top of the Big East in three point shooing percentage. The Mountaineers are 50-120 (41.7%) from beyond the arc.