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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Judges’ bench could decide outcome against Plattsburgh

Published: March 14, 2008
Section: Sports

On the banks of Lake Champlain rests a small Upstate New York town known as Plattsburgh. This lovely home to approximately 19,000 residents plays hosts to the Sweet 16 today, as Brandeis takes on Plattsburgh State and the winner gets to take on the victor of the Richard Stockton (New Jersey) – Amherst matchup. And after Plattsburgh, the last team standing makes it to the Final Four in Salem, Virginia. Before we get too far ahead of ourselves, let’s take a look at the SUNY Plattsburgh Cardinals.

The Cardinals gained entrance to the NCAA’s with a dominating 27-2 overall record, and finished with a perfect record in conference play. After a first round bye, Plattsburgh took on King’s College in the second round at home. Trailing by seven after the first half, Plattsburgh rebounded to force overtime, where the Cardinals ran away with 14 points for an 83-77 victory.

Plattsburgh State is lead by senior Anthony Williams. The SUNYAC Tournament MVP averaged a league leading 24.1 points per game at a 41 percent clip. Providing help is junior forward Travis Gorham, who led the SUNYAC in rebounding, pulling down 11.2 while also putting in 12.4 points.

With this in mind, here is what the Judges need to do if they want to punch their ticket to Salem.

1. Stop Anthony Williams

I make this comparison with apprehension, but I would say just by looking over the stats, Plattsburgh is very similar to the Lasers in that they have a very prolific guard on offense and a guy down low pulling down a double-double. I use “apprehension” because while Lasell was good, they were undisciplined and did not have the depth to keep up, as our Judges coasted to a blowout last Friday. Nonetheless, the number one priority on defense will be to keep Williams contained. As King’s College showed, when Williams is contained, the Cardinals struggle, but when he gets hot, they follow his lead. Once again, it will be up to the team – mostly Joe Coppens ’08 and Kevin Olson ’09 to provide the clampdown.

2. Bench Play

Strong play from the reserves has been a major component to Brandeis’s success on the court. The ability to rotate Kwame Graves-Fulgham ’08, Andre Roberson ’10 and Rexhepi at the guard positions while Magee, and rookie Christian Yemga ’11 can come in at forward for Terrell Hollins ’10 and Stephen Hill ’08 has been critical to the Judge’s success. The skill of the bench allows Coach Brian Meehan to either trot out a big line up or as seen last Friday, consisting of four guards at once.

3. Stay out of foul trouble

The bench rotation only works best if the players keep out of foul trouble. When their players, especially bigs like Hollins and Hill, don’t have the danger of a number of fouls looming over their heads, it allows them to be more assertive down low while at the same time, allowing Meehan to keep the flow going.

4. Keep the inside

This will fall on Hollins, Hill and Magee. While the number of rebounds is not indicative of success, but rather more about number of shots, it is especially on the offensive end as offensive rebounds means second, third and maybe even fourth chances. By controlling the inside and patrolling the paint, the Judges make life easier for their outside shooters and against like Plattsburgh, that could be vital.

5. Beat the crowd

Plattsburgh’s gym is small and will be packed with enthusiastic supporters. Brandeis showed they could dominate at home last weekend, but have struggled at times on the road. They need to stay sharp and not let the crowd get to them. Meehan isn’t too worried, but you never know come game time. This will be the time for the Judges to step up and prove they belong with the big boys and show that they, not the Cardinals, are the ones who will take on Richard Stockton or Amherst.