I solicited the opinions of three coaches -- Maryland's Gary Williams, Virginia Tech's Seth Greenberg and Washington State's Tony Bennett -- who have experience facing Gonzaga and North Carolina.
Read what they consider to be the key points in Friday's GU-UNC matchup below in an unedited article that will run in Wednesday's S-R.
“It’s no secret, everybody in the league tried to do the same thing,” said
“And with your offense, you try to get (
Williams quickly acknowledges that’s easier said than done. His Terrapins, who lost to Gonzaga 81-59 at the Old Spice Classic, are one of just four teams to knock off
Lawson, bothered by a jammed right big toe since March 6, said Tuesday he expects to play against Gonzaga. Tar Heels coach Roy Williams doesn’t expect Lawson to be at 100 percent, “but we’ll take whatever we can get, especially if it’s like that performance Saturday (21 second-half points in a comeback win over LSU). That’s about as good as I’ve had a point guard play in 21 years as a head coach.”
“The one thing that we struggled to do against
“You’ve got to be able to score the basketball against a team like
The three coaches emphasized many of the same themes.
“The first thing is getting back on defense, especially if Lawson is healthy,” Greenberg said. “Contain transition. Gonzaga has big wings and a physical point guard – those are two things you need to have a chance against
“He makes (
The 6-foot-9 Hansbrough, who broke J.J. Redick’s all-time ACC scoring record in UNC’s first-round win, creates another set of problems.
“I’ve never seen anybody play at that high level for that long,” Williams said. “He turns on a switch when the game starts.”
Hansbrough made 17 of 17 free throws and scored 50 points in two wins over Virginia Tech. Only
“Gonzaga better match his intensity because he literally waits for you to take a play off and that’s when he seizes the moment,” Greenberg said.
All five Tar Heels starters average in double figures, led by Hansbrough’s 21.2 and Lawson’s 16.1. Green (13.2 points) and Ellington (15.7) shoot 41 and 40.4 percent, respectively, on 3-pointers. Lawson hits 47.3 percent of his 3s.
“They can beat you inside and outside,” said Williams, whose team rode Greivis Vasquez’s triple-double (35 points, 11 rebounds, 10 assists) to an 88-85 win over UNC.
Williams and Bennett said Gonzaga has similar characteristics.
“With (Matt) Bouldin and (Jeremy) Pargo, they’re getting a nice lift from their guards and that will be important, but they are complete enough and big enough to match up with them,” Bennett said. “It won’t be an easy game, I’m sure coach (Mark) Few will you that first thing, that they’re playing an excellent team.
“But they certainly have some depth and completeness, size and skill to hopefully hold in there.”
Said Greenberg of UNC’s offense: “They score it about as easy as anyone. It’s almost sickening, it just comes easy to them.”
The flip side is that the Tar Heels “haven’t been totally committed on the defensive end,” Greenberg said. “At times they’ve been very good, at times they haven’t.”
Greenberg expects Gonzaga’s offense to “stretch
Williams said Gonzaga must deal with the fact that “
“I’ve known Mark (Few) a long time. Where they are with their program, they don’t have to change a lot of things,” Williams said. “In other words, play Gonzaga basketball. Just play their game, do what they did in the season and if they’re playing well, that’s good enough to win the game.”