Wednesday, March 07, 2007

The beginning of a special run?

Can KB and the Dogs pull off the unthinkable?

The 3 seeded Fresno State Bulldogs are in Las Cruces for the WAC tournament to take on the 6 seed Boise State Broncos. The two teams split the season series with each home team coming away victorious, the Broncos 65-61 in Boise and the Bulldogs 78-77 in Fresno on Kevin Bells last second jumper.

Who does it for Boise:

Coby Karl- Karl is the leading scorer for the Broncos at 14.8 ppg and averages 4 rebounds and 4 assists per game. He is capable of leading his team and if he catches fire look out. The Bulldogs have contained and frustrated Karl in both meetings this season.

Matt Nelson- Second on the team in scoring at 13.9 ppg and leads the team in rebounding at 9 per contest. Plays well with his back to the basket but does not shoot outside of 12 feet and shoots nearly 59% from the field. Must keep Nelson from getting deep post position or it could be a long night.

Reggie Larry- Tied with Nelson at 13.9 ppg and second in rebounds at 8.1 per game. Plays well with his back to the basket and has a decent midrange jumper. Scored 19 against the Bulldogs in Fresno. Only threat to block shots for the Broncos at around 2 per game.

Eric Lane- Can shoot the three well when his feet are set and he is in rhythm. Second on the Broncos in 3 pointers made. Made 7 threes in two games against the Bulldogs. Must limit his open looks and be aware of his court location.

Who will do it for the Bulldogs:

Kevin Bell- Bell has been playing extremely welland has scoring the ball at a high rate of late. He has directed his team well, distributed, and penetrated and finished through the 6 game winning streak. The Bulldogs need his toughness and playmaking to continue.

Quinton Hosley- Heart and soul of the team and he is a key rebounder and playmaker. Will be asked to chase Koby Karl around and frustrate him with his length and quick jumping ability. Must avoid foul trouble and must get to the rim and finish. Free throws must go down.

Dominic McGuire- Must provide a post up game and take it strong to the rim. Must help keep the Broncos off the offensive glass and change shots with his shot blocking ability but avoid the silly fouls. If he can get a midrange game going he could be lethal. Free throws have been a real issue must improve or success will be hindered.

Eddie Miller- Needs to find open spots and pull the trigger. Has to use screens effectively and be willing to step back and shoot the 25 footer. Also must help on the boards and play solid defense. Must be confident and let it fly from three.

The rest:

Bulldogs must slow the Boise transition game that they held in check in Boise but had some issues with in Fresno. Finding shooters and closing out hard is critical.

Must front the post and fight hard over the top on ball reversal. Cannot let Matt Nelson and Reggie Larry get deep post position or they could be in for a long night.

Coach Steve Cleveland needs to use his timeouts wisely to try to get his high minute starters a breather, yet have some in his pocket for setting up a play or late in the game to comeback from deficit.

The free throw shooting has to be 65% or better. Cannot win games shooting 40%.

Show patience offensively, no quick jumpers in transition when the Broncos on a run. Need to minimize the size of Bronco runs, need answers and cannot get out to an early deficit.

Lastly, the Bulldogs must keep themselves in the game and keep it close throughout. If they can get to the final 4 minutes tied or with a small lead they have the confidence and recent game experience to pull out the victory.

MBs take:

This is not going to be an easy go of it for the Bulldogs. The Dogs need timely shooting, more of the great defensive effort, and to avoid foul issues and make free throw shots to get this thing done Thursday night.

It is going to take a huge effort from all 5 starters and hopefully the 3 bench players can combine to make any sort of impact to help alleviate the starters load just a bit.

If they can stay close and keep Boise from making any large, demoralizing runs then they will be in it and have a shot. If they come out and struggle early, Cleveland cannot hesitate to call the quick timeout.

It will take a great defensive effort, timely shooting, poise at the free throw line, competitiveness on the boards, and good coaching decisions to get this thing done.

In the end of it all I cannot go against the Bulldogs momentum and do not forsee Quinton Hosley going out against BSU so Q and the boys will pull out a nailbiter 73-70.

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