Friday, March 19, 1999

Scouting report: Wally can't do it alone

Miami must hit boards, contain Turner

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Ray Martin looks at Southwest Missouri State out East and Gonzaga out West, but he is convinced no Sweet 16 surprise has charmed the basketball public like the Miami RedHawks.

        Of course, he's biased. Martin, coach at Long Island University, until this season sat next to Charlie Coles as his assistant and took over as acting head coach when Coles had heart trouble during last spring's Mid-American Conference tournament.

        “I think everybody is captivated by Wally World, everybody is impressed by the effort and the heart,” Martin said. “Obviously, Kentucky is going to have a lot of people following them, with the great program and tradition, but I think a lot of people are going to be rooting for Miami, also.”

        The RedHawks (24-7) will take what help they can get in their Midwest Regional semifinal tonight against Kentucky (27-8).

        Defeating the defending national champions will require another superlative effort, their third in a row, but this will be more demanding because of Kentucky's depth and ability to increase the pace of games.

        Tennessee coach Jerry Green is the only guy who has faced both teams this season. He defeated the favorite twice and lost to the underdog.

        “Kentucky shows so much composure in everything they do, and the tremendous size they have is tough to overcome,” Green said. “The question with Miami would be, can they score points?”

        Miami has kept both its NCAA opponents under 70 points. Kentucky has been held under 70 only four times in the past 10 games, but the Wildcats were 1-3 in those games.

        An upset of Kentucky will require this from Miami:

        • Control the speed of the game. Because Miami is so reliant on Wally Szczerbiak, Damon Frierson, Rob Mestas and John Estick, the RedHawks must defeat Kentucky's pressure defense and still have time on the shot clock to develop quality opportunities.

        Miami had only 11 turnovers combined in the victories over Washington and Utah and cannot afford to wander too far into double digits in this game.

        “(Kentucky) will double you, and if you push the dribble really hard, they'll double-team that guy,” Green said. “And if you get by that, they've got Jamal Magliore back there, and he blocks a lot of shots.”

        • Don't get blown out on the boards. Miami played both Utah and Washington to a relative draw on the boards. UK will be a more difficult challenge because it has more dynamic athletes in the frontcourt and is deep enough to afford more physical play. A couple of over-the-back calls will not damage the Wildcats.

        “I think it's going to boil down to the boards,” Martin said. “It's the fundamentals: boxing out, which was so important against Washington and Utah.”

        It can be difficult to control the offensive glass against a team that shoots often from the outside. The RedHawks have to be aware, as Mestas was in the Utah game.

        Green also is concerned about Miami's ability to get offensive rebounds.

        • Don't leave it all up to Wally. “Other guys have to step up, because everybody is going to be keying on Wally,” Martin said.

        Coach Tubby Smith has said he'll rotate players to keep a fresh man in Szczerbiak's face. The Wildcats have at least three people who can present different looks to Szczerbiak: 6-5 Heshimu Evans, 6-9 Scott Padgett and 6-11 Jules Camara.

        Green said Frierson is a key. Although he scored only eight points in Miami's win over Tennessee, he left an impression. “I was just a really great fan of his, because he does so many things that make it tough on you,” Green said.

        • Get as much from Wally as possible. The RedHawks cannot allow Szczerbiak to be taken out of the game.

        “Their offense is set up for him to do so many things with it,” Green said. “He certainly can give them a chance to win.”

        • Force Turner to the outside. It may seem dangerous to allow UK point guard Wayne Turner room to shoot, but he's making most of his three-pointers out of scramble situations, not by shooting over sagging defenders. Whether Frierson or Mestas guards Turner, the key is preventing his penetration.

        “I don't know if there's a super magical game plan,” Martin said of Miami. “It's more a matter of, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it.'”


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