Defensive Strategies Against Key Players:
-Branden Frazier (#1): Fordham’s starting PG and leading scorer. Powell will have his hands full with this guy. He has 3in. and 10lbs. on Powell. I would like to think that Hurley would play Buchanan more than his usual amount of minutes (14 mpg). Perhaps take a page out of the Jim Baron play book and play a little offense/defense substitution with Powell and Buchanan where he can to get Powell on offense and Buchanan on defense. TJ is more equipped to handle Frazier. TJ has a reputation of being an above average defender and he has 1in. and 10lbs on Frazier. Frazier has a very good, very well-rounded, game. Shoots 38% from the field, 31% from 3. He also hits 84% of his FTs so fouling him will result in a higher chance of him putting up points. To exploit any weakness of his, force him to shoot as many 3’s as possible. The sample size is large enough that 31% is what we can expect him to make. Buchanan/Powell can’t allow him to get towards to basket.
-Chris Gaston (#33): A 6’7” 231lb Forward. This guy has got some size to him. He is only Fordham’s 4th heaviest player and he still outweighs URI’s heaviest player (Ryan Brooks) by 10 lbs. He puts up 14 points per game and likes to score from down in the low post. He has zero 3-point attempts on the season which explains why he is shooting 46% from the field. His game is either going up and laying it in/dunking or take short-to-mid-range jumpers…often termed as “high percentage shots.” He is, however, less than stellar from the FT line. He is shooting 66% from the line. While the hack-a-Shaq approach won’t be as effective, I think it still should be followed. As an example, if he gets the ball down low three times and isn’t fouled and can get up to the rim, that is 6 points…now say he gets fouled those 3 times (by different people – to avoid any foul trouble), the numbers say that he will only hit 4 of the 6 shots resulting in 4 points instead of the 6. And as URI fans learned from Wednesday night, those 2 points can sometimes make all the difference.
-Bryan Smith (#24): 6’2” 200lb Guard. This guy’s game is almost identical to Branden Frazier (see above). The numbers are basically the same but he takes far fewer shots per game and is not as much of a focus of the Fordham game plan. He will likely be guarded by Munford who is the same height but 20lbs. lighter. Now, this may seem counterintuitive, but Munford will actually have the advantage because of the weight discrepancy. In guard play, speed/quickness and length (height/wing span) are the key factor after having a high shooting percentage. Down low, size matters because of blocking out for rebounds and trying to back another guy down to the basket. With guards, the lighter you are the better because the lighter guard is quicker and can gain separation more easily for open shots. Munford will be able to handle Smith on his own and will be able to keep up with him to the point where Smith will get frustrated that he can’t penetrate the defense and will jack up 3’s and long 2’s.
Even though Fordham has a good number of players with size, they are all (with the exception of Gaston) ineffective and not a focal point of the game plan and only play 15-18 minutes per game. Fordham plays with a lot of guards on the floor. Out of the only 5 players Fordham has that play over 20 minutes per game, 4 of them are guards. This should help URI overcome their lack of size.
-This will be the game to really let Malone and Malesevic loose. They will be guarded by players smaller than them and will be able to get going early by driving to the basket for a few easy buckets and then as the players guarding them start giving them some space (as they don’t want to get beat again for another lay-up) those 2 can start shooting 3’s.
-I am not concerned about getting Munford going like the other 2. Munford is a lethal scorer and can certainly be counted on to get his points.
-If Munford can get his 18 points that he’s averaging and Malone and Malesevic can each score 11 or 12, URI should be able to continue their hot shooting.
-URI should be able to continue their hot shooting and go for 3 games in a row of shooting 50%. Fordham is giving up 83.4 points per game over their last 5 overall and 71.6 points per game over their last 5 home games.
-URI is one of the top defensive teams in the A-10. If URI can put up 72 points, they win and they win easily.
-This will be the first game in a while where size will not be a huge disadvantage for URI. Outside of Gaston, the other 4 big men on the Fordham roster average 0.28 points per minute played.