WBB : Orange shreds USF zone defense in blowout victory

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first_img Published on January 28, 2011 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: [email protected] | @mark_cooperjr Comments Get the ball to the high post and reap the rewards. The key to victory for Syracuse on Saturday was that simple.The high post has been the trademark of the Orange offense all season long. It’s the central position of its half-court offense. And against undersized teams like South Florida, going to the high post is nearly impossible to stop.‘It’s just so hard to know who guards who and who guards what,’ SU guard Erica Morrow said. ‘It just makes you make a decision, and whatever decision you make most of the time is wrong.’Most of South Florida’s decisions Saturday were wrong, as the Orange shredded USF’s zone defense in a 78-57 win in front of 1,170 at the Carrier Dome. By getting the ball to the high post — to Iasia Hemingway or Carmen Tyson-Thomas most of the time — Syracuse (16-4, 4-3 Big East) created an inside-outside game that proved to be too much for a struggling USF (10-12, 1-7) team. The Orange shot 59 percent from the field in the first half and was led by the big games of frontcourt players Kayla Alexander (17 points) and Hemingway (12 points, nine rebounds).The Orange scored 36 points in the paint to just 18 for the Bulls.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text‘They just have better interior players than we do,’ USF head coach Jose Fernandez said. ‘We’re defending Alexander and Hemingway with a 6-foot-1 kid. That’s being brutally honest.’Fernandez tried switching up the defense from a straight zone to a combination of matchup zone and man-to-man defense, putting his team’s off-guard on the high post. But though it stifled SU’s interior game, it opened up opportunities for Morrow.With the defensive switch, Morrow was able to go up against her defender one on one. She could use screens to create her own shot or lob the ball inside. The senior finished with 13 points, one of five Syracuse players in double figures.Fifteen of SU’s first 18 points were scored by Alexander or Hemingway. And the three that weren’t came off of a Hemingway pass out of the high post, leading to a Tyson-Thomas 3-pointer.‘I thought that we did a very good job of throwing the ball inside, and when they collapsed, getting the ball out to the perimeter,’ SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said. ‘We made some wide open (shots) because they collapsed in our post.’Syracuse went on a 21-2 run early in the first half, spurred by the play of Hemingway at the high post. By the time it was over, USF burned two timeouts and SU was up 23-5.‘We just continued to do our thing,’ Hillsman said. ‘Throw the ball into the high post, get inside.’The win is Syracuse’s third straight in the conference after a 1-3 start to Big East play. The difference in the three wins has been Alexander’s play. The sophomore center has averaged 16 points and 7.3 rebounds during the win streak. Saturday, she was efficient again, making 6-of-9 from the field.Going up primarily against USF’s 6-foot-2 center, Porche Grant, the 6-foot-4 Alexander was the focal point of the Orange offense.‘We were working it in, we were pounding it in,’ Tyson-Thomas said.In Syracuse’s win against Pittsburgh on Wednesday, the Panthers played zone for only three possessions. But those three possessions ended in eight points for SU — two 3-pointers and an inside bucket.The story was the same against a Bulls defense that gives up the second-most points per game in the Big East in conference play. Syracuse’s inside trio of Alexander, Hemingway and Shakeya Leary combined to shoot 70 percent from the field (14-of-20).The high percentage was a result of finding Alexander or Leary down low for layups. If USF decided to focus on the SU player in the low post, Hemingway was able to drive to the hoop from the high post for an easy layup.The plan worked to perfection against a USF team lacking the personnel to combat it, leading to what Hillsman said is one of his team’s most complete performances of the season.And Morrow agreed.‘Once you get into the flow of your offense, move the ball around, (the defense) gets caught out of position sometimes,’ Morrow said. ‘Because we emphasize so much every day to go to the high post, we know when teams are out of position and how to work it into the high post.’[email protected]center_img Facebook Twitter Google+last_img

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