K-State’s plan against Fredette in NCAA tourney worked well enough for winby Javier Morales on Dec. 10, 2010, under Sports
Over at our partner site WILDABOUTAZCATS.com: YouTube videos of Jimmer Fredette‘s 49-point performance against Arizona last year at McKale Center
Arizona coach Sean Miller has a keen idea about what not to do against Brigham Young All-American guard Jimmer Fredette.
The Wildcats better leave the milk and cookies home when they play the Cougars and Fredette at the EnergySolutions Arena in Salt Lake City on Saturday at 4 p.m. Translation: Arizona’s defenders must play with a bit of an edge against the dangerous Fredette, who can score at the same rate Oregon’s offense in football can lay points on the opposition.
Just ask Miller, who is still smarting from Fredette’s 49-point performance that eclipsed BYU and McKale Center records against the bewildered Wildcats last season.
Although unprovoked from the media, Miller indirectly referenced Fredette during a press gathering after Arizona defeated Northern Colorado 93-70 on Nov. 21. He was discussing Arizona limiting Northern Colorado leading scorer Devon Beitzel to two points, 16 under his average, when he raised some eyebrows with this comment:
“A year ago when the best perimeter player came into McKale we gave him some milk and cookies. We rubbed his belly and made sure he had wide open shots. If he missed, heck, we even passed it back to him to see if he could break scoring records. That was the identity of last year’s defense.”
Instead of rubbing Fredette’s belly, the best way to contain the 6-foot-2-inch, 195-pound senior guard, is for a defender to stick his own belly — and especially his chest — between Fredette and the basket.
That was one of the defensive methods Kansas State coach Frank Martin preached to his team during the second round of the NCAA tournament in March. K-State eliminated BYU in that game 84-72 limiting Fredette to 21 points in the process. He was 5-of-13 from the field and had five turnovers.
“You’ve got to be disciplined enough to stay down, to not give into the fakes and make him score the ball,” Martin said in a press conference the day before his team played Fredette and the Cougars in Oklahoma City.
“We have a saying, ‘Score the ball through your chest.’ We’ve got to make him shoot the basketball through our chest. That means our guy’s chest has to be between the ball and the rim. If it’s not, that means he’s got an angle, then he’s going to win that battle nine times out of ten.”
In BYU’s 99-92 double-overtime win over Florida in the first round, Fredette scored 37 points, tying Danny Ainge‘s school record for most points in an NCAA tournament game. Kansas State guard Jacob Pullen, assigned to defend Fredette the most in the second-round game, said Martin and his staff called the team into a film session not once or twice, but three times to learn more about defending Fredette and the Cougars.
“We had two, three meetings, you know, just watching film, and when you watch personnel, you just really get a feel for what people like to do,” said Pullen, a 6-foot guard who outplayed Fredette with 34 points despite giving up some size to the BYU guard.
“I just tried to focus in on his crossovers and on what side of the screens he went.”
Martin, who used the word “discipline” in almost every comment regarding defensing Fredette, made it clear to his team which direction was most comfortable for the BYU guard coming off those screens.
“From watching them on tape and a little bit live (against Florida), he does as good a job as anybody attacking you off the dribble to the middle of the floor,” Martin said. “When the ball gets in the middle of floor, it’s hard to help. Regardless of where you get help from, you’re going to open up shooters.
“That’s what makes him so difficult to guard because then you can’t help and he scores and gets fouled. If you do help, he pitches it and they all make threes. He’s a hard matchup, as hard as we’ve had this year.”
According to media reports, K-State also played a physical brand of basketball, mirroring the fiery Martin.
Fredette took shots to his face and head at least three times, including a midcourt run-in with K-State guard Denis Clemente that left him grabbing at his nose to check for blood. Fredette also was smacked in the face in transition after a K-State steal in the first half and had his head dinged under the basket just after halftime.
Miller will look for a similar aggressive style from his team, unlike last year in the massacre at McKale, in which BYU won 99-69. Fredette knew from the tipoff against Kansas State that Martin’s team came ready to play.
“We knew they were going to get up in us, and they started doubleteaming me even in the backcourt,” Fredette said during the postgame interview session. “And as soon as I got over half court, I was just trying to give it up to the teammates and trying to have them be aggressive as well.”
Martin’s team often changed Fredette’s course by extending another defender to help Pullen on top of the key. The objective: Let somebody other than Fredette try to beat his team once Fredette was forced to roam from his comfort zone in the middle.
If Fredette managed to get to his spots close to the basket, Kansas State’s defenders were disciplined enough to not give in to his pump fakes.
“One thing I noticed about him from the tape, he kind of ball-fakes a lot and he likes to get into the big guy’s body when he gets to the basket,” K-State forward Curtis Kelly said before the game. “So what I’m going to try to do is let Jake or whoever guards him, lead him my way, and try to smack it as far as I can, smack it out of there.”
“It gets down to executing routes,” Martin added. “Once (Fredette) gets the ball in a certain areas understand what your matchup does, and what he’s trying to do with the basketball in his hands.
“We saw on tape that he likes to drive the ball to the middle of the floor. He likes to attack the middle from either wing. And I thought for the most part we did a decent job of staying between him and the rim and not giving him those middle drivers.”
Pullen’s teammates noticed a very driven player who took the meeting with Fredette as a personal challenge.
“I sat next to Jacob during the film session,” forward Wally Judge told the media in Oklahoma City. “I’ve seen the way he broke down everything and watched (Fredette’s) moves and what he does to get open.
“He really became a student of the game.”
It will take that kind of attention to detail from players like Kevin Parrom, Kyle Fogg and Brendon Lavender to prevent Fredette from penetrating the middle of the lane and getting his teammates more involved.
Parrom, Fogg and Lavender might need a belly rub after experiencing their most significant gut check Saturday night in Salt Lake City.