Slide over diehards, it's time to let a few more fans onto this bus. The Noles are playing for the first time on national television, and are up against a name opponent. This is the semifinals of the Coaches vs Cancer Classic, and it's being held at the swaggiest new arena in the land - the Barclay's Center in Brooklyn, New York.
BYU is going to be a very difficult challenge for the young Noles. The Cougars will try and run the Noles out of the gym, capitalizing on defensive miscues which will be caused by their uptempo offense. Last year they ran the 5th fastest tempo in the nation, and this year is no different.
They're led by 6-9 senior Brandon Davies, a long-armed post player who is exceptional at playing help defense. He'll fill the statsheet, and through their first two games he's averaging 22 points, 8 boards, 3.5 blocks, 3 assists and 2 steals. They've also added 6-5 sophomore Tyler Haws, back from a 2-year mission, and he's a serious 3-point threat. He made 37% as a freshman, and two years later has made 4-8 to kick off his sophomore year. Like Davies, he's also averaging 22 points a game. The third player to keep an eye on is 6-2 sophomore (and UCLA transfer) point guard Matt Carlino.
This team presents an offensive threat which the Noles haven't seen this year. And they'll be able to exploit the defensive errors we've seen in the first two games. Coach Hamilton's defense is built around the premise that the perimeter ball-handlers will be under duress, and that they won't have an easy outlet. But the young guards have yet to grasp the execution, and so the entire defense breaks down. When you always front the post and you overplay the passing lanes, failure to pressure the ball leads to layups. And Nole fans aren't used to seeing the opponents getting layups. So if this is the first game you've seen this season, expect the defense to look very different.
When they Noles have the ball they'll also be facing the best defense they've seen this season. Dave Rose consistently has a top-30 defense, and this year is no different. They focus on pressuring the three and try to funnel teams into no-man's land, daring teams to beat them with long twos. The Noles will need to run with BYU to beat them. FSU has to be able to capitalize on long rebounds and live ball turnovers to get into transition. The Noles most dangerous shooters (Terry Whisnant, Michael Snaer and Okaro White) are all spot-up guys, and the easiest way to get open looks is with quick hitters. Otherwise, look for FSU to run lots of double-screens down low to free guys up.
The game tips at 7:00 and will be broadcast on Tru TV. Pomeroy has the Noles as a one point underdog, while Vegas has the Noles down two.
And since this is the Coaches v Cancer, let's not forget where it began. And with this speech - like seeing your child walk for the first time, or watching Band of Brothers - it's alright if you need a hanky.