MBB : Q&A with Keith Jarrett, Asheville Citizen-Times

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Comments Published on March 12, 2012 at 12:00 pm Contact Mark: [email protected] | @mark_cooperjrcenter_img As a No. 1 seed, it is expected that Syracuse’s opening game in the NCAA Tournament would be a ‘David versus Goliath’ situation. With 16th-seeded UNC Asheville, that is the case — both figuratively and literally.The tallest player the Bulldogs play in their main rotation is 6-foot-5 Quinard Jackson. Meanwhile, Syracuse will be going to battle with 7-foot Fab Melo, 6-foot-8 C.J. Fair and 6-foot-7 Kris Joseph in its starting lineup. UNC Asheville outrebounded its opponents on the season as a whole, but such a performance against Syracuse seems like a monumental task.Syracuse (31-2) and UNC Asheville (24-9) play on Thursday at 3:10 p.m. in Pittsburgh in the second round of the NCAA Tournament. The Daily Orange spoke to Keith Jarrett, a senior writer for the Asheville (N.C.) Citizen-Times who covers the Bulldogs, about SU’s first opponent and what the Orange should expect.The Daily Orange: I’ve looked at their roster and their schedule and results. The biggest problem, I think, for them going against Syracuse is their lack of size. How did they make it through this season without having much size?Keith Jarrett: You’re absolutely right about the lack of size. They have pretty much a seven- or eight-man rotation and the tallest guy is (6 feet 5 inches). And obviously their starting front line and their sixth man, who’s a small forward/power forward, is also (6 feet 4 inches). The way to combat that is they really — it’s almost a four-guard offense and so all the guys come out and shoot 3s and they really are good at flashing to the basket.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textObviously that’s good at their level. Whether they can do that against Syracuse is probably the ultimate question. But they take advantage of their quickness against bigger teams, but rebounding and trying to play interior defense against Fab Melo and guys like that is going to be a real challenge for them.So do you think the focus for them offensively is going to be trying to get hot from 3-point range?KJ: I think that will have to be a big component. And they can shoot the 3, they have two really good guards, J.P. Primm and Matt Dickey, who are both pretty good 3-point shooters. A couple of their forwards, Chris Stephenson and Jeremy Atkinson, will also go out and shoot the 3 and they’re going to have to do that.Syracuse’s zone is so long and so effective, that’s going to be more of a challenge than normal, but like I said a lot of that slashing to the basket, when Melo’s at the other end, a lot of that, they’re not going to be able to finish like they do against the High Points and the Radfords that they play in their league. So I think undoubtedly they’re going to have to hit probably 15 3s or more to really have a chance to be competitive.They played Pittsburgh tough last year for a while. How much do they think last year’s experience helps them?KJ: I think it will help tremendously, because they’re a veteran team. The top six that play a lot are four seniors and two juniors. And only one of those juniors is a transfer, it’s just his first year, so these other five guys have played together three or four years. So they’re going to be over that deer in the headlights, this is the first time thing because they played last year.They’ve played, Coach (Eddie) Biedenbach’s schedule, he’s been at UNCA for 16 years now, they have played four or five defending national champions. They play North Carolina, Duke, Tennessee, Connecticut on a regular basis. That’s their nonconference schedule. So they are more tested than most 16-seeds to playing big games, big arenas, in front of very hostile crowds. So that gives them a little bit of an edge. I think that, and being a veteran team, that gives them an edge over most 16-seeds that are probably a lot more scared.What player do you think is going to be most important for them in this game. Is it going to be Dickey or Primm?KJ: I think definitely those two because they’re the leading scorers, they’re the leaders of the team, and they’re the guys that really have to play well for them to succeed. They’re going to have to be hitting their 3s, they’re pretty good defensively in making steals, they have a lot of assists, they’re really important to the team.I think the other guy is Chris Stephenson. To attack that 2-3 zone they’re going to have to get the ball in the middle, and that’s going to be Stephenson and he’s going to have to make good passes or kick it out or take it to the basket. So I think if he plays well they’ve got a much better chance to at least stay competitive.Does UNC Asheville typically play man-to-man defensively? What type of defense do they play?KJ: They normally do but I don’t think they can do that a lot against Syracuse. I think they’re going to have to go zone. Just the sheer size mismatch, they’ll probably play a whole lot more zone than they normally do because otherwise (Syracuse is) just going to be pounding it inside and they’ll just out-athlete them if they don’t play a lot of zone I think.Finally, what is the team’s confidence level like going to Pittsburgh this week?KJ: I think as confident as you can be. I talked to a couple of the guys before the announcement and they were pretty much like ‘Well, nobody wants to see Kentucky the way they’re playing.’ And Kentucky did lose. ‘And nobody wants to see Syracuse because of that athleticism and the bad mismatch.’ So that certainly wouldn’t have been their preference, but this is a veteran team that feels like they’re ready to make some noise and I think they are confident.It’s not an arrogance, even the coach is saying things like ‘We have to play our best, and we have to get Syracuse on an off night.’ So they know the monumental task ahead of them but they’re a pretty confident bunch just because this is their last run, they’re going to lose four starting seniors off this year’s team. So I think they’re going to be proud to do what they can to pull what would be an incredible [email protected] last_img read more