Elite Eight Preivew: Keys for Chico State

photo courtesy of Chico State Athletics ChicoWildcats.com @ChicoWildcats on twitter and Luke Reid

Its game day for the Chico State men’s basketball team as they take on South Carolina-Aiken in the Elite Eight. We are done talking about the game, it’s time to play the game. Here are some keys for the Chico State Wildcats if they want to advance to tomorrow’s National Semifinal…..

1. NO SLOW START

The Wildcats just can’t afford a slow start. South Carolina-Aiken is just too good. With all of the great success the Cats have had this year they have had a tendency to get off to slow starts and have to battle back just minutes into the game. Coach Greg Clink has said his teams’ intensity needs to be ratcheted up from the get-go. From the opening tip, the Wildcats need to play with the urgency they showed against Cal State Stanislaus 9 days ago. Anything less and they could find themselves in a hole. They can’t afford that here.

2. REBOUND REBOUND AND THEN…..REBOUND SOME MORE

When the Wildcats are dialed in, they not only defend, but they hold their opponents to one shot. That is imperative against a team in Aiken that out-rebounds their opponents by eight. The Cats don’t need to be dominant on the boards, but if they are giving up second-and-third opportunities against the Pacers it will make for a long day.

Chico needs to show that tough-hard nosed defense that has been a hallmark all season long. And, when you get that stop you MUST grab the rebound. 2nd chance points could very well determine this game. Chico needs to crash the boards with reckless abandon. Get a body on your man, block him out, and attack the glass.

3. KNOCKING DOWN THREES

The Chico State Wildcats love to shoot and knock down the three. The South Carolina-Aiken Pacers are the best in the country at defending the three. Yes, no joke. The Pacers have held opponents to 24.7 percent shooting from three-point range. Visiting their shoot-around yesterday I noticed them specifically working on defending the three-point shot. Their close-outs on shooters are well-positioned and disciplined. The Pacers coaches were emphasizing close-outs, uttering the words, “gentleman, we have to defend the three-point line against these guys. They can shoot it. We must be perfect on this.”

One strength the Wildcats have in this regard is something Pacers Head Coach Vince Alexander told me yesterday, “I am really impressed with the way Chico moves the ball to get their teammates open, that is one of their great strengths is their trust in their teammates.” Despite South Carolina potency on the defensive end, Chico has always found ways to get open shots through trust and great ball movement. Today the ball movement needs to be good. The Cats need to be patient and make the Pacers play defense, showing that tremendous team concept that opens lanes and gets shooters open looks.

Enjoy the game everyone !!

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