So, SC will meet Arkansas on Friday night in the opening round of the NCAA Tournament. Coming off that terrible loss last weekend in the Pac 10 Tourney SC needs to refocus and put that game behind them.
Coach Tim Floyd reversed course and decided to show some snippets of that disaster. I think that's a good move and it should have been done right out of the gate. Sometimes you have to relive the experience in order to learn from embarrassing mistakes. There didn't seem to any defense in that game and the film showed it.
Hopefully that provided a little spark on this team and got the players to refocus they have their work cut out for them.
Arkansas has had an interesting run on its way to the tournament. Many experts did not think that they deserved to be in. They finished with a losing record in the SEC but played well in the Tournament, but that is not an issue now, the field set so we play who we play. Arkansas needs to be given credit for having the hot hand in the SEC Tourney though they looked way over matched against Florida. Arkansas has some players that could give SC some trouble in G Patrick Beverly and C Steven Hill.
After the Trojans watched film of Arkansas on Monday, USC sophomore forward Keith Wilkinson said Razorbacks freshman guard Patrick Beverly reminded him of Oregon's Aaron Brooks, who averaged 20.6 points against USC this season.
"He can slash, he can shoot," Wilkinson said of Beverly, who averages a team-leading 13.8 points. "He got freshman of the year in the SEC, so that tells a lot about him."
Wilkinson said 7-foot junior center Steven Hill was comparable to Stanford's Brook and Robin Lopez.
Well, if that's dead-on accurate yeah it could be a long night but I'm not so sure, Arkansas can score with Sonny Weems and Charles Thomas in the front court, though Thomas is possibly out for this game due to an ankle injury so expect Michael Washington to get some major playing time as he can score both in the paint and from the outside. Thomas being out could affect Arkansas ability grab a lot of rebounds as Thomas was Arkansas' leading rebounder, and that could be tough to handle when it comes to SC's big three. Hill is a pretty good defender, he was defensive player-of-the-year in the SEC, and he could give SC fits when it comes to shot blocking but some consider his average offensive skills to be a bit of a hindrance.
In the backcourt are Gary Ervin and the above-mentioned Patrick Beverly, who led the Hogs in scoring, three- point percentage, free-throw percentage and steals so he is a real threat to do some damage if SC doesn't play him close Ervin can also be a problem.
From Kredell's blog on Ervin:
Checking out the statistics, Arkansas is 11-2 when Ervin scores 12 or more points and 10-11 when he scores less.
Ervin can be turnover prone and it cost him his starting role earlier in the season so the question is which Ervin will show up? SC's defense really needs to play a complete game in order to keep these guys pinned down. This game is obviously winnable if SC plays their aggressive style of defense. Which SC team will come out to play is the obvious question. Will they put Saturday's nightmare behind them and get it back on track? We are now in a series of one-game seasons lets hope all the work that SC has put into this season brings some positive results.