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Jeff Eisenberg

Know thy enemy: Opposing coaches size up Purdue vs. Duke

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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The Dagger asked an assistant coach whose team faced Purdue and one whose team faced Duke to assess the strengths and weaknesses of their former opponent. The coaches were granted anonymity to assure honesty.

An opposing coach on Purdue:

"They're a completely different team without Robbie [Hummel]. Before most of their sets were distributed between E'Twaun Moore, JaJuan Johnson and Robbie and the other guys filled in where they could. Now it's two-dimensional instead of three and you become a lot easier to guard ... It's no secret in our league how to guard them. You try to get Johnson away from the basket in a situation where he's not catching the ball on the low block. And then put your best guy on E'Twaun Moore. That's the best way to defend them is to zero in on those guys ... They get up into you on defense for 40 minutes. It's the first thing on the scouting report for every team that plays Purdue: Handle the pressure. You want to have multiple guys who can bring the ball up the court. Duke should be OK because of the way [Jon] Scheyer and [Nolan] Smith can bring up the ball ... What you've seen from Purdue is what we see in league: A team that competes hard all the time. They certainly seem to be meeting their match with Duke, but I'd love to have seen that game with Robbie."

An opposing coach on Duke:

"The reason they're better this year is their shot selection. They can get any shot they want, but they're taking the best shots possible. Last year in the NCAA tournament, they took the shots Villanova wanted them to take. ... They are susceptible to guards like Villanova's who can beat them off the bounce, but in the past, their offense led to easy buckets for the defense, too. This year, they take better shots and they're tougher and stronger with the ball than they usually are ... [Brian] Zoubek really gives them a physical presence. He does not allow any easy baskets when he's in. His physicality really has helped Duke ... [Jon] Scheyer has the ability to get in the lane better than people give him credit for. He gets to anywhere he wants on the floor and has great body control. [Nolan] Smith, you don't notice him, and then after the game he has 15. He had games where people concentrate on Scheyer and he makes a couple big plays ... I love [Kyle Singler]. If he's plateauing, I don't see it. I think he's gotten better with the ball. When I watch him up close, I was really impressed with his skill level, his shot selection and his toughness. He's tougher than people give him credit for."

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