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March 22, 2007

Sweet 16 scouting report: South Regional

In an effort to bring our readers the most in-depth analysis in college basketball, Rivals.com has gone behind the scenes to bring you scouting reports on all Sweet 16 teams from coaches and players who have faced those teams and in many cases beat them.

In return for their anonymity, we asked them to be frank about their assessments of the personnel and how to attack these teams.

Here is what we were told about the South Region semifinalists:

An opposing coach in the Big Ten gives a scouting report on the No. 1 seed in the South:

"From an offensive standpoint, you can't let them speed you up because they've got a huge eradicator back there (Greg Oden) who can cover up a lot of mistakes.

"You have got to try to contain (Mike) Conley. He does a great job of controlling tempo. He's so unselfish and gets the ball to the right people. And (Jamar) Butler is a great shooter. They bring guys at you in droves. They're very athletic. Everybody that comes on the floor has a specialty. (Ivan) Harris can shoot the 3. Butler was on of their best players last year and he's coming off the bench this year, to give you an idea of how talented they are.

"The kid that hit the 3 to send the game to overtime in the last game (Ron Lewis) can shoot from deep range. They can score points in bunches. They're able to utilize their defense to get steals. Oden blocking shoots forces transitional things. They can afford to gamble a little more. They get into lanes and anticipate passes because if they go back door, you've got a guy like Oden who can cover up mistakes.

"We cheated at him (Oden). We came from the weakside and that caused him a few problems. But when you cheat on him you also have to pick your poison. You have to hope those other guys aren't making shots. I feel the best method is to send people at him, to trap him. I don't know if anyone's figured out anything. When he's not in there obviously they're not the same. They become just a regular team.

"I think the thing that people forget is that Conley's assist-to-turnover ratio (2.83) is phenomenal for a freshman. He protects the ball. He gives it to right people. Oden is the sugar but he stirs it."

An opposing coach from Conference USA gives a scouting report on the No. 2 seed in the South:

"The thing I've been impressed with in the tournament is how they've shot free throws. That was definitely a weakness, but they stepped up and took on that challenge.

"Offensively, dribble penetration is what they live off. You have to guard them off the dribble and make them take tough shots, even though you have to realize they're very capable of making them. To give yourself a chance, you also have to box out, keep them off the boards, especially (Joey) Dorsey. They don't necessarily like someone being physical with them. You've got to step to them and make contact. If you allow them to hit you first, they're a borderline cocky group and they're confidence will grow.

"They have a good offensive scheme against man and zone. They have good players. Antonio Anderson is a driver. (Chris) Douglas-Roberts is a slasher. (Jeremy) Hunt and the freshman lefty kid (Doneal Mack) are good shooters. When they dribble drive and score, then they kick out to the shooters because you're sloughing off to stop the driving, now they've got you.

"Sometimes they give you an opportunity to stay in games because they'll take some ill-advised shots. They might be blowing you out, but you still have a chance if you're solid and sound and don't get rattled.

"On defense, they're a man-to-man team and an aggressive man team. They'll pressure you. You have to take care of the basketball, give yourself a chance to get up a shot. Once you're in the half court, you try to counter their strengths. Pick and pops are good. You have to try to pull Dorsey out and involve him in on-ball screens. Don't let him sit inside and dominate in the paint. You also need to try some backdoor cuts because they pressure the ball and pressure the passing lanes. If you can get Dorsey out of there, you free up the back door.

"You can frustrate them if you play a slow pace and take care of the basketball. If you turn it over and they get to running and hitting the boards they're awfully tough."

An opposing coach gives a scouting report on the No. 3 seed in the South:

"We felt you have to deliver the first blow. You have to pressure them as much as they pressure you defensively.

"Take Acie Law out of the game as much as possible. You have to try to score in transition because it's going to be a war to score in the half court.

"In the half court, you need to drive the ball to force them to foul. That way you can get some points at the free-throw line and get into their bench by getting their big guys in foul trouble."

An opposing coach gives a scouting report on the No. 5 seed in the South:

"You have to exploit their halfcourt defense because it's not nearly as solid as their fullcourt. You want to make at least two or three passes and you should get a good shot because they are not a patient team.

"You have got to stay under control because they try to get you to play at a frenetic pace and take shots that you're not used to taking. When that happens they kill you in transition because you don't do a good job of getting back on defense.

"We wanted to take shots where we knew we were going to get them.

"You have to faceguard Lofton. Don't switch on handoffs and screens because they want to get that mismatch. Get your best defender on Lofton and stick to him. If he needs help, double-team Lofton."

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