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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Strong defense will lead Men’s team to a win

Published: March 7, 2008
Section: Sports

With the Men hosting the tournament after one of their best years in the program’s history, they come in as the presumptive favorites. In tournament time though, anything can happen; Cinderella teams grow from the patch while the favored princes turn into toads. Tonight’s match against Lasell could go either way for Brandeis if they are not careful. With that, here is my view on what needs to happen to ensure that the Judges advance to the next round.

1. Do not underestimate

The worst thing the Judges can do is underestimate the Lasers. They have shown that they are more than capable of taking it away from their opponents on the road; they took the GNAC title from Emerson, after all. And as the unranked underdogs, Lasell will be playing with instant motivation. Brandeis on the other hand has been known to play down to their opponents and have struggled at times against sharp shooting clubs. The good news that no one seems to be taking this lightly, judging from my conversations with the team, but come game time, the temptation to look ahead may prove too tempting.

2. Avoid foul trouble

Stephen Hill is going to have his hands full containing Guitian and they will be overloaded if Terrell Hollins and the other bigs like rookie Christian Yemga get into foul trouble. If Coach Meehan and his players don’t have to keep a wary eye on their personal foul count, that could make all the difference as Meehan can keep the rotation fresh and Guitian challenged. If Guitian is allowed to run wild due to Hill and Hollins getting in foul trouble and for that matter the Judges can’t get an inside game going, it could prove to be ghastly for the Judges.

3. Coppens and Olson need to find their shots.

The last two games, Joe Coppens and Kevin Olson haven’t been shooting very effectively the past two games, neither one converting more than three field goal attempts. Fortunately, the inside game has stepped up relieving the pressure on them somewhat but for the Judges to advance deep into the playoffs, Coppens and Olson need to regain their shooting touch and not lose confidence. When they both on mark, especially Coppens, there is no stopping Brandeis.

4. Defense! Defense!

Offense wins games, defense wins championships. In this one, Lasell has been plowing through on a potent offense so the burden rests on Brandeis to shut them down. Coppens and Olson will be counted on to clamp down Crawford while Stephen Hill and the rest of the big man rotation will likely be matched against Guitian. If one or both players can be kept from running wild or getting very hot, then the Brandeis crowd can breathe easier.

5. Depth

Coach Meehan has a lot of talent he can work with off the bench. Andre Roberson is a dynamic scorer and Rich Magee has carved a niche for himself as a defensive stopper while rookies like Christian Yemga have shown potential. Bench performance will almost certainly be a factor in the final outcome.

6. Home court pressure

This is the first NCAA tournament game the Brandeis has hosted. A strong turnout will provide a big boost for the squad. Will the Jury come into session? We shall see.