Does that name McDermott ring a bell? It should if you have been following Alabama basketball since Sunday. Alabama’s first round opponent, Creighton, has one of the best players in the nation. Not to mention his father is the coach. The Crimson Tide will take on the Bluejays in an 8 vs. 9-seed matchup in Greensboro on Friday afternoon.
Doug McDermott is one of the nation’s best college basketball players. He has already been named to many All-American teams, led the nation in scoring at one point, and was up for National Player of the Year. The Crimson Tide have seen their share of star players, but how does Doug McDermott compare? McDermott is the heart of the nation’s 7th best scoring offense. He averages 23.2 points and 8.2 rebounds per game. Simply put, he does it all for the Creighton Bluejays.
McDermott possess a rare combination of size and the ability to score. Listed at 6-foot-7, the forward has shown all season he can score under pressure from any position on the floor. Alabama’s best option for Friday afternoon is to contain Doug McDermott.
First in scoring, McDermott can finish around the rim and drain jumpers from 15+ feet. He is dangerous from almost any point on the floor. Here’s the problem: McDermott is too physical for a guard, but too good from outside for a low-post style forward. This is where the Tide will have some matchup issues. Alabama will have to have a hand in McDermott’s face at all times, no matter where he is on the floor.
In rebounding, he is a force on the inside. Averaging 8.2 rebounds a game is pretty impressive, especially at his height. Boxing out and competing on every rebound against McDermott will be another key point for the Tide. Alabama’s larger forwards are used to this, but will someone like Rodney Cooper be able to compete with the Creighton forward?
The Tide can’t afford to allow any second chances. Alabama did a great job defensively in the SEC Tournament against Florida’s high-scoring offense. but allowed way too many long rebounds and second opportunities. Creighton is a team you can’t afford to give second chances. Stopping the Bluejays once on offense should be hard enough.
Levi Randolph’s rebounding game could be huge for the Crimson Tide. He has demonstrated all year that he can rebound from the guard position. Alabama’s ability to control the rebounding game might determine the Tide’s fate. If Randolph can add five or more rebounds – especially on the offense side of the ball – Alabama will be in very good shape.
So what does the Tide have to do to win? First, close out. Creighton is a high-scoring team and has a couple players that can make outside jumpers. It is always important to get a hand in the shooters face, no matter where they are shooting from.
The Tide creates a good bit of turnovers with their pressure defense. They will have to capitalize on turnovers by converting them into easy fast-break points. Although Creighton’s defense is lacking, Alabama still isn’t a high-scoring team. Easy layups in transition will keep Creighton’s defensive attack uneasy and on their toes.
Alabama’s guards need to setup against the Bluejays. The Tide is a much better team when Trevor Releford, Trevor Lacey, and others are on their game. Especially from outside the arc, look for Charles Hankerson Jr. and Rodney Cooper to add some scoring from outside. With McDermott on the low block, guard play could separate the Crimson Tide.
Finally, pressure the passing lanes. Even if Creighton controls the ball well, pressuring passes can really disrupt an offensive attack. The Bluejays will be looking down low to McDermott for most of their offensive production. Limiting his scoring starts with denying him the ball. But, Alabama will be walking a very fine line. Put too much emphasis on McDermott and one of Creighton’s support players will walk all over you.
Doug McDermott vs. Nick Jacobs. It is really unclear who Anthony Grant will matchup against Creighton’s leading scorer, but he will create some major matchup problems no matter what.
McDermott is a very versatile player who can beat you on the low block, but if you deny him the post, he will spot up on you. McDermott is a very dangerous player to defend. If you shut him down one way, he will beat you with another part of his game.
If Jacobs draws the matchup, he will have to be strong on the low block. Jacobs demonstrated his strength in Alabama’s last game against Florida. Jacobs has grown a lot since the beginning of the season as a player. His low post skills have really shined over the past several games.
Jacobs can’t have a passive approach on offense. McDermott’s weakest link might be as a defender. His defensive skills are no where near his offensive skills and Jacobs has to actively attack McDermott in the paint. Challenging McDermott on defense will hopefully slow him down, taking his focus away from the offensive side of the ball.
March 16, 2012 – 12:40pm CDT
Greensboro Coliseum (Greensboro, North Carolina)
TBS, streaming on NCAA March Madness Live