JEFF SCHORFHEIDE/Herald photoMichael Flowers, take a bow.Joe Krabbenhoft, you take one too.No individuals were more influential in Wisconsin?s 57-42 win over Michigan State than those two players. To judge their full effect, look no further than the stat sheet.But not at Flowers? nine points, three rebounds and three assists, or Krabbenhoft?s five points, six rebounds and three assists.Instead, look at the lines of the Michigan State players those two were responsible for covering.Flowers and Krabbenhoft held MSU?s Drew Neitzel and Raymar Morgan ? a duo that averages 29 points per game for the season ? to just 10 points combined.Neitzel: three points, one-of-10 shooting, two rebounds, three assists.Morgan: seven points, seven rebounds.?If you looked at everything else in this game plan, we did a pretty good job,? Michigan State head coach Tom Izzo said. ?Yet our two best scorers didn?t score, and that makes a big difference.?Morgan scored the Spartan?s first field goal of the game, a basket that would yield the pair?s only two points in the opening half.Neitzel was held scoreless for the first 30 minutes of the game, before notching his first points with 9:52 left in the game on a 3-point basket. That was the senior?s only made shot on 10 attempts, a statistic no doubt influenced by the fact he was relentlessly hounded by Flowers whenever the Spartans had the ball.?Flowers is a good defender. He was on me,? Neitzel said. ?When I did get some open looks, he kept me out of rhythm, running at me and things like that.?The Wisconsin senior was tireless in his pursuit of Neitzel, weaving in and out of screens set to free the Michigan State shooter and forcing him to catch the ball well away from hoop, in no position to attempt a shot.?It?s amazing ? he never stops,? UW guard Trevon Hughes said of his teammate. ?He?s got a motor. I think he feeds off of oil. He don?t eat regular food.?When Neitzel finally did free himself from Flowers, the Spartan was hesitant to shoot.The same player who nearly single-handedly beat the top-ranked Badgers a year ago with a 28-point outburst, making 6-of-11 threes, looked totally off his game. Numerous times Neitzel turned down good looks, instead opting for passes to less offensively-inclined teammates.?He did a good job of keeping me off balance,? Neitzel said. ?Sometimes coming off screens I was open, but I thought he would be right there on me, so I hesitated a little bit.?Trailing by 15 with 2:31 remaining and unable to spring his shooting guard for much-needed offense, Izzo pulled Neitzel, essentially waving a white flag on the game.Morgan didn?t fare much better.Krabbenhoft, Wisconsin?s ?glue guy,? according to Izzo, was tabbed by Ryan to match the physical Morgan and guarded the Michigan State sophomore for most the game.The two banged and fought for rebounds and position on the block throughout the contest, a matchup of two aggressive bodies determined not to give an inch.Morgan?s a very great player, a very physical and strong player, so we put Joe on him,? Wisconsin forward Marcus Landry said. ?Joe?s never going to give up. ? (Krabbenhoft) did a great job on [Morgan], and he?s just a great defender.?After that first Spartan field goal of the game, Morgan didn?t score again until making the second of two free throws with just over eight minutes left in the game. By the time he made his next field goal, a dunk with four-and-a-half minutes left, the game was already well out of hand.Morgan?s own ineffectiveness seemed to get to him as the game wore on. After a tie up with Brian Butch led to a timeout, Butch tried to give Morgan a pat on the back, but an irritated Morgan slapped Butch?s hand away.When he did have good looks, Morgan was unable to convert.?It was just us making shots and making plays,? Morgan said.That, and tremendous defensive efforts by two of Wisconsin?s toughest players.
Published on January 25, 2017 at 1:08 am Contact Paul: email@example.com | @pschweds Facebook Twitter Google+ Syracuse (12-9, 4-4 Atlantic Coast) picked up its fourth home ACC win of the season with an 81-76 victory over Wake Forest on Tuesday night in the Carrier Dome. The Orange leaned on 27 points from Andrew White and 18 from Taurean Thompson to sneak past the Demon Deacons (12-8, 3-5). The win also ended SU’s two-game losing skid.Here’s what we learned from the game.Syracuse is susceptible to big performances from opposing bigs, tooOften throughout this season, Syracuse has gotten burned by opposing guards or wings that score from both the inside and out. The Orange gave up 30 or more points to North Florida’s Dallas Moore, Boston University’s Cedric Hankerson, Boston College’s Ky Bowman and Notre Dame’s V.J. Beachem. All four scored often from outside.On Tuesday against Wake Forest, SU was exposed by a power forward. John Collins, who averaged 24 points and eight rebounds over the Demon Deacons’ last two games, finished with 23 points and 12 rebounds.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“We had a lot of trouble. Collins is really good inside. Just offensive rebounds, second chances in the paint. He killed us in there,” SU head coach Jim Boeheim said. “… He’s really good. He’s got great hands. He catches and finishes down there.”On Monday, Wake Forest head coach Danny Manning said one of the keys against SU would be paint touches. Collins often converted putbacks on his six offensive boards and did damage against the Orange’s zone defense.Syracuse can succeed when a defense clogs the middleMidway through the second half, Syracuse made a crucial adjustment in its offensive sets in order to free up Tyler Lydon on the perimeter. Boeheim told point guard John Gillon that Wake Forest was clogging the paint no matter what, which meant that players would be open on the perimeter. At first, Gillon said he didn’t exactly understand. But when Lydon hit his first 3 of the second half with under eight minutes to play to tie the game at 57, it began to click for the grad transfer.Wake Forest was “hedging hard” on ball screens, meaning the Demon Deacons were getting in front of the screens and eliminating their effectiveness. At the same time, a big was planted in the middle, so even after the screen, nothing seemed open. Boeheim recognized this and told Gillon to look to the perimeter for open players. Lydon, who hit two 3s in the final eight minutes, began playing more at the top of the key rather than inside to capitalize on this. In that span, Syracuse outscored Wake Forest by eight.“I was trying to figure it out throughout the game. … I was wondering like, ‘Wow, there’s no way they can guard us that well,’” Gillon said. “… It was a good adjustment from Coach, just another testament to how smart he is as a coach and how long he’s been doing this.”When Syracuse took the lead for good with a minute and 23 seconds left, Gillon penetrated, but kicked out to an open Lydon at the top of the key. That opened up two more passes and Andrew White hit a crucial 3-pointer.Syracuse can close out a game from the free-throw lineThe Orange hadn’t played in a single-digit game since Dec. 17 against Georgetown. The only other times that games were decided by single digits this season were against North Florida and Connecticut. SU lost all three.On Tuesday, Syracuse sealed the win at the free-throw line. The Orange entered Tuesday leading the ACC in free-throw percentage with a 79.8-percent clip since conference play began. Taurean Thompson missed two key free throws with under three minutes left but it didn’t cost SU. The Orange went 9-for-13 from the line in the final five minutes as Wake Forest often fouled to try and mount a comeback attempt that proved to be futile.“Andrew (White) is a real good free-throw shooter. Tyus is. Tyler Lydon, they’re good free-throw shooters,” Boeheim said. “Tyler got some bounces on his, fortunately, but they’re good free-throw shooters. … We made good plays. Not being in those situations, it’s easy to not make good plays. It’s something you got to be in them to get used to them.” Comments
For Lakers’ LeBron James, Jacob Blake’s shooting is bigger issue than a big Game 4 victory Chris Paul, Russell Westbrook and other NBA stars pay tribute to Kobe Bryant Another question for the high-energy Lakers, who are accustomed to feeling at home even when they’re away, feeding off fan support in every NBA city: How will they handle playing without spectators?“I don’t know how we can play a game without our fans,” Dwight Howard on a Zoom conference with reporters last month. “I don’t know how anybody could. I think it might be different for fighting, boxing and stuff like that. But for basketball, that’s like the energy. We feed off that. We feed off the crowd. Especially at home. But everywhere is at home for us. When we’re hearing ‘Ko-be! Ko-be!’ or whatever we’re hearing, it’s kind of like they give us more energy. It’s like no matter what’s going on, we have those people behind us. So to be playing games and stuff like that, it would be hard.” Video: What LeBron James said about Jacob Blake … ‘Black people in America are scared’ Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error As 22 NBA teams prepare to restart their engines July 31, L.A.’s two-pronged championship chase picks up anew — in accordance with a wildly unprecedented plan that’s being unfurled in the midst of the national uprising happening during a global pandemic.“Basketball offers no vaccine, no cure,” Paul George said as he narrated a video from the Clippers’ addressing all that’s happening in the United States. “Only an example of teamwork, of togetherness.”But Matt Barnes, a former Laker and Clipper turned prolific basketball commentator, suggested there are members of both L.A. squads who feel uncomfortable with the idea of playing while the nation is embroiled in protests over racism and police brutality. Barnes said in an interview with Yahoo Sports’ “Dunk Bait” that “there are some whispers about some teams not being comfortable. Some guys want to play and some don’t want to play.”Nonetheless, the NBA board of governors and the players association gave their approval last week to a return-to-play proposal that set in motion the resumption of the season at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando, Florida. SEEDINGWithout real home-court advantage to play for (save, possibly, for some creative incentives that could reproduce the advantage for teams “hosting” playoff series), the eight seeding games will be all about jockeying for matchups.But while New Orleans fights for the eighth and final seed and the Rockets try to avoid slipping into seventh and ending up with a first-round date with the Clippers, L.A.’s pair of contenders will play to maintain their position atop the heap.When the season was suspended, the 49-14 Lakers had won eight of 10 games and were the only team in the Western Conference to have clinched a postseason berth, ensuring the end of their six-season playoff drought on March 7 with a resounding 113-103 win over the Eastern Conference-leading Milwaukee Bucks.As the Clippers left things, they’d won seven of eight games and held the second seed, at 44-20 overall — 5 ½ games behind the Lakers in the standings and 1 ½ ahead of the Denver Nuggets.OPPONENTS REMAININGWho will the Clippers and Lakers play?For the eight games ahead of the playoffs, every team will pick up its schedule where they left off. When a game comes up against a team that isn’t one of the 22 invited to Orlando, or against a team that’s already played its final eight games, they’ll skip over that opponent and move on to the next.The Lakers are one of four teams — along with Miami, Orlando and Portland — whose remaining schedule won’t accommodate eight games by the conclusion of their schedule. The league conceivably will fill in those teams’ final games by pitting them against one another, although that’s not been determined officially.So the Lakers’ schedule will look like this: Rockets, Nuggets, Jazz, Jazz, Raptors, Pacers, (and possibly the Trail Blazers, Heat or Magic).The Clippers’ seeding schedule: Nets, Pelicans, Mavericks, Nuggets, Suns, Nets, Pacers, Thunder.PRESSING QUESTIONSFor the Clippers, it’s health, always health.They’d played only 11 games this season with a fully healthy lineup, and they lost only one of those contests — to the Lakers. The Clippers managed to stay successfully afloat despite using 29 starting lineups and the fact that neither Kawhi Leonard (knee) nor Paul George (shoulders) was totally healthy entering the season.The Clippers were making it a point to do everything possible to protect their stars’ health ahead of an anticipated playoff push, including keeping Leonard out of one game of every back-to-back set as part of his treatment for an ongoing injury to the patella tendon in his left knee. The long, unexpected layoff should should bolster the health of Leonard and George, although there’s risk in ramping up quickly after not having played a game in months.There’s also the matter or incorporating new addition Joakim Noah, who was acquired March 9 on what was to have been a 10-day contract: “There are certain individuals that this rest period, or whatever this is called, has been a benefit (for), and Jo is one of them for sure,” coach Doc Rivers said on a Zoom session with reporters during the hiatus. “He’s gotten a chance now to get healthy and to get in shape. That’ll be a factor for us.”For the Lakers, there’s the question about whether they might bring back DeMarcus Cousins, whom they signed last summer before he suffered a torn ACL in his left knee and later waived to make space for Markieff Morris.With the NBA reportedly working on plans that will permit teams to replace players in the event of positive coronavirus tests or serious injuries while they finish the season in the Orlando bubble, it’s likely that rosters will expand. With extra time off to rehab, could Cousins be available to give the Lakers the stretch 5 they’re otherwise missing?Related Articles Photos: Lakers defeat Trail Blazers in Game 4 of first-round playoff series On Mamba Night, the Lakers make short work of Blazers to take 3-1 series lead Starting with eight seeding games per team in Orlando, the first-place Lakers and second-place Clippers will try to recapture the momentum they’d built before March 11, when the league slammed on the brakes in an effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus.The seeding games will set up a play-in tournament set for Aug. 16 and 17, according to the Athletic’s Shams Charania, who also reported Monday that the first round will commence Aug. 18, followed by the second round Sept. 1, the conference finals Sept. 15 and then, with Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Sept. 30.