Friday, November 27, 2009

College Team vs. New Jersey Nets - Part 2

Could the best 12 players from Michigan St and North Carolina come together to beat the New Jersey Nets? 

Appropriateness of Basketball

Such a question could not even be considered in football because of the complexity of NFL schemes and how much more athletic the professionals are than college players. It would be incredibly difficult in baseball since the level of play is so significantly better in the MLB than that of college and high school games, so players go through at least a season of minor league baseball in order to prepare for the professional level. A similar situation occurs in hockey where players usually spend a season in a branch of minor league hockey. Basketball is the only sport where young players can come in and have an instantaneous impact. If it is possible, then is this the perfect situation?

Nets' Vulnerability

Just because the Nets are winless is not why I am making this point. There are other key factors which make the Nets the most vulnerable team to losing to a college team. First, the Nets and their key players are young. Seven of their fifteen roster players have completed two or less seasons in the NBA. Of their eight players who average at least 28 minutes per game, five are in their third season and Devin Harris is in his fifth. Boone, a starter who averages about 20 minutes per game, is in his fourth season. Second, the Nets roster has been recently resembled meaning that the team does not have the same chemistry level as a team which has been together for years allowing a unified team to compete even when the lag in talent. This is not to say that the Nets couldn't have developed any chemistry; it is just not significant enough to the point where it could pull in their favor. The Nets recently drafted Terrence Williams, the Vince Carter trade shook up 5 players, and the 2008 Summer was a big shake up between the picks and the Richard Jefferson trade. Third, the talent level is not impressive. Devin Harris and Brook Lopez are two great young players. They will be at the heart of this franchise for a long time. But after them two you are looking at a roster of journey men filling up a roster and young players who have not found their niches yet. Fourth, is the Net offense's vulnerability to a catastrophic game. The team has six players that shoot in the 30's from the field. The team is extremely susceptible to a night where shots are not falling with so many poor outside shooters on the roster.

Lineups

So what would the match up look like?

MSU / UNC
PG: Kalin Lucas /  Chris Allen
SG: Durrell Summers / Will Graves
SF: Marcus Ginyard / Draymond Green
PF: Deon Thompson / Raymar Morgan / Delvon Roe
C: Ed Davis / Tyler Zeller / John Henson

NJ
PG: Rafer Alston / Devin Harris
SG: Chris Douglas-Roberts / Courtney Lee
SF: Trenton Hassell / Terrence Williams
PF: Josh Boone / Bobby Simmons / Eduaro Najera
C: Brook Lopez / Sean Williams / Yi Jianlian

Strategy

There are three keys for MSU/UNC (the college team) in order to keep the game close and possibly come out victorious:

1) Contain Devin Harris. The largest gap between the College Team and New Jersey is in the skill, athleticism, and play-making ability at the point guard spot. Harris is several tiers better than any guard in college basketball right now; that is why Michigan St., Kansas, Villanova, and Kentucky with Kalin Lucas, Sherron Collins, Scottie Reynolds, and John Wall respectively were immediate favorites to be one of the two teams contributing to the College Team. Someone needs to keep up with Harris and at least limit him from being a one man show as well as keeping him modest on defense. Reynolds is not as defensively competent as Lucas or Collins, and Wall is eight years younger than Harris meaning experience, exposure, fitness, and athleticism will become immediate flaws with very little college time for Wall. Lucas will have to direct most of his energy and effort as minimizing the damage of Harris. He will also need help from Allen and Summers on the perimeter, but what is in the College Team's favor is that when Harris drives there will be a competent body (whether it is Davis, Morgan, Thompson, or Zeller) to meet him there in order to discourse his shot or judgment.

2) Challenge Brook Lopez. Brook Lopez made great strides in his rookie season. Yes, he would be a handful, but he is still young which would allow the big men of UNC to challenge him. The critical asset of UNC was having all of these near seven foot guys to give all Lopez he can handle. With so many bodies, the College Team could afford to play aggressive and put a wear on Lopez. If the College Team can anger Lopez, wear him out down low, and draw fouls off him, then this becomes a much closer matchup with a worn down or benched Lopez.

3) Maintain Matchups. In terms of size, the College Team can keep up with the versatility of the Nets. Summers, Graves, Ginyard, Green, and Thompson can matchup with the combo guard-forwards of Courtney Lee, Terrence Williams, and Chris Douglas-Roberts. All of the three of these guard-forwards are either rookies or in their sophomore years meaning that the youth of a college team will not be a straining burden. If the College Team can stay on their assigned opponents and not fall to mismatches due to screens and picks then their biggest, the 2/3, will not be exploited.

If the selected players from MSU and UNC can execute these three points, then an upset is definitely possible.

Verdict

The Nets would come up victorious. Devin Harris would be the X-factor in this game. He is an All-Star point guard and a load for any NBA point guard let alone a college one. His ability to drive would open up the game and his stingy defense would create havoc for the young guards on the College Team. Also, the wisdom and experience gained from an entire season in the NBA is priceless for Lopez, Douglas-Roberts, and Lee. Not only do they know dozens of more trick but their games have been fine tuned and they can play at a speed a college player cannot anticipate. The Nets are winless in the NBA, but wouldn't fall to a college opponent (even if you combine two teams with key components to beat the Nets).

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