Official Husker Locker Blog
2011 Mar 16
MEN'S HOOPS: Five Keys to Wichita State
Take the crowd out of it: The Shockers have the best home court advantage in the Missouri Valley with the 10,000-seat-and-they're-all-on-top-of-you Koch Arena. It's a passionate fan base that feels like WSU played its way out of the NCAA Tournament over the last several weeks – a controversial one-point loss to VCU was a big part of it – and can legitimately win the NIT with a break or two. Nebraska must cool their jets early. Two years ago, the Huskers failed to do that in a NIT road game at New Mexico's Pit, and they never recovered from the Lobos' hot start.
Find the shooters: The Shockers have three of them: Guards Ben Smith and David Kyles; and forward Graham Hatch. Here's the thing: They've all been pretty quiet from the field in the last two weeks. With Nebraska's aggressive post defense, they'll get some open looks – unless the Huskers work hard and smart around screens to take those jumpers away. WSU will take bad 3-point attempts over working for a better shot.
Point guard duel: NU senior Lance Jeter has the rare assignment of facing off against a guy bigger than he is in WSU's 6-5 point guard Toure' Murray. Murray isn't as bullish or quick in the open court as Jeter, but he can get his shot in the paint and rebounds well for a guard. He, too, has stunk in the last month, just as Jeter was playing his very best basketball. There's a sense that Shocker fans are ready to turn a bit on the kid. Jeter has to win this matchup.
Go right at Durley: Shocker forward J.T. Durley has a perfect-sounding name for his physical, no-nonsense game. The 6-foot-8, 250-pounder averages 11 points and 5 rebounds and often plays better than those numbers. Against the Shockers' toughest opponents, he typically plays 30-plus minutes. He also struggles with foul trouble. Jorge Brian Diaz needs to shake whatever funk he fell into during the Big 12 Tournament and play his most physical game of the year. Durley wants to bull his way around, but if Diaz holds his ground, refs will blow their whistles.
Keep the game in half-court mode: The Shockers aren't a classic “running” team, but they want to stay out of half-court sets. Only Durley is truly effective in that mode, and teams can scheme to take him away. WSU prefers transition 3-pointers and quick run-outs, which in turns helps set up their man-to-man, slight-pressure defense. The Huskers may have to sacrifice an offensive rebound or two to get back on defense and make the Shockers grind for points.
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