Beating Michigan starts outside
By John Helsley
Who’s your MVP today?
If you’re going with Blake Griffin, that’s understandable, considering he’s the most dominant player in the country — by far.
But if Griffin and the Sooners are to thrive and survive at the Sprint Center, success will start out front, putting Willie Warren, Austin Johnson and Tony Crocker in focus.
I wrote in Saturday’s paper about how OU’s guards are on the spot in the Sooners’ second-round game against Michigan.
The Wolverines are a scrappy undersized bunch who have bought into coach John Beilein’s zone principles. Michigan’s defense is built around switching between zones with some man-to-man, with about 75 percent of what they do coming in some sort of zone.
Today, when the Griffins are on the floor, expect little, if any man-to-man.
Simply put, it’s up to OU’s guards to shoot Michigan out of the zone, thus loosening things up inside for Blake and Taylor Griffin.
Therein lies the chess game taking place on the sidelines.
Beilein will mix and match strategies to try and guys from being exposed. The Wolverines start just one player taller than 6-5.
If the zone is effective, Capel must find a hot hand, whether one of the starters or Cade Davis or Omar Leary off the bench.
The Sooners are the better team with the best player.
They should win.
But it’s up to the Sooner guards to make sure the game’s best player gets off — and the team gets to the Sweet 16.
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