News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Sycamores 2011

March 17, 2011

Syracuse zone will change the way Odum, Sycamores attack

TERRE HAUTE — Indiana State fans undoubtedly have their own vision of what they feel is the image that best captures ISU’s 2011 season.

Among mental snapshots that will come immediately to mind — ISU point guard Jake Odum driving baseline, or driving at the baseline, jumping out of bounds, and finding an open Sycamore on the perimeter. Oftentimes, Odum has pulled off this move spectacularly, waiting until he’s in the descent of his leap to pull off an acrobatic but accurate pass.

Odum changes the geometry of the game when he does this — it’s hard to defend someone when they’re two feet off the baseline, leaping out of bounds.

However, one of the things the Syracuse 2-3 matchup zone does is take away the baseline. The Orange will unmercifully trap anyone in the corner or who is on the baseline or who tries to force their way there.

Odum knows this and knows he’s going to have to alter his game to make the Sycamores’ offense effective.

“We drive a lot baseline, especially me with those jump passes, but against this type of team, one that’s so athletic, stuff like that isn’t going to work,” Odum said. “If we go baseline, they’re going to want to get the ball back in the middle, because it’s a trap if you’re down there too long.”

The middle is going to be a key for the Sycamores. The Orange version of the zone is a Venus flytrap of sorts. Syracuse’s long and athletic guards will jump out of the shape of the traditional 2-3 and trap wayward ball-handlers who get too close to it, or who dribble into a spot on the floor — corner or baseline — where they can be trapped.

Spacing will be a key for ISU. The Sycamores are going to have to spread out to counteract the length the Orange have. Then, ISU will need to use the gaps it creates with its spacing to find open driving lanes. Those drivers should then be able to draw defenders and kick it out to the perimeter.

“They play a really good zone. They’re big, athletic and cover a lot of ground. We have to attack the middle and make them collapse and kick out. We have to attack the middle where the zone is weak. We have to find those weaknesses and exploit them,” ISU swingman Aaron Carter said.

Since Odum will likely have the baseline taken away from him, he will have to approach how he attacks the defense differently.

“The key is to not turn the ball over and to swing the ball and find the open guy. It starts with getting the ball in the middle of the floor, inside their zone, and finding shooters,” Odum explained.

It means everyone else has to adjust, too … including shooters like Carter and Jordan Printy, who might get their service from Odum (and Jake Kelly) in a slightly different way than what they’re accustomed to.

“It’s something we don’t see every day in the Valley. It’s unique and they’re athletic. They really extend,” Printy said. “Odum knows the game so well, he’ll be fine adjusting to it. He does a great job of finding guys right when they’re open and always delivers it at the right time. Him flashing in the middle and making plays will be big for us.”

It doesn’t stop there. Syracuse will obviously be ready for ISU’s shooters. They will recover quickly off help defense and attempt to block 3-point shots. Its been a point of emphasis for ISU’s coaches to deal with that potential problem this week.

“There’s going to be opportunities for us, but they’re long. The coaches have told us how many threes they block because they’re so long. They might force us out a little deeper than normal, but if we drive-and-kick and attack the zone, we should be open through that,” Carter said.

Carter, who has a line-drive trajectory on his shot, might have to slightly adjust the way he shoots over Syracuse’s tall guards, but he doesn’t want to go too far with it.

“I just have to be conscious of where they’re at. Maybe I need get [his shot] off quicker, maybe get it off deeper, but that’s about it. I don’t want to change my shot too much,” Carter said.

Printy said that ISU can’t become too dependent on the three-point shot anyway. If they do, Syracuse will adjust and it will make the Sycamores predictable.

“They’ll trap short corner, so that’s going to make it hard. But it’s going to be important not to settle for three after three. We need to attack the gaps and create the plays for others,” Printy said

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