If you would have asked me this question before and during the Battle 4 Atlantis tournament, my answer would be quite different.
The Memphis Tigers are a different team right now. As it has been much publicized, they are playing with much energy and purpose. I’m kind of sick of hearing and talking about the energy aspect of the team. Even Josh Pastner’s wife is tired of hearing it.
However, as I mention to my players when I’m coaching, the most aggressive team has an advantage. The aggressive team gets to loose balls. They get rebounds. They get steals. They aggravate the other team.
The Tigers are also an improved rebounding team which has been the focus early for the them.
It has been reported that Pastner’s focus for the game against No. 6 Louisville Cardinals has been on communication. Based on a recommendation from Boston Celtics assistant coach Kevin Eastman, improving communication among the players helps the defense.
“Kevin Eastman told me, ‘Josh, you’re a better defensive team when you talk, even if it’s just idle chatter,’” Pastner said to the Commercial Appeal. “It makes you alert, because you can’t talk and not be alert. You’re being proactive instead of reacting. If you’re not talking, then you’re reacting. And it’s not just defensively. It’s offensively, too.”
Communicating will be very important this Saturday because the Tigers will be forced to do a lot on defense. Louisville guards Peyton Siva and Russ Smith scores off screens and pick and rolls.
To defend that, players will be required to be ready to move and look out for screens, to talk to each other on whether to switch defensive assignments, and to rotate on defense and help out if someone loses a man. This is something the Tigers did not do very well against Virginia Commonwealth Rams.
Another very important defensive assignment the Tigers will need to master is defending the three point shooters. Both Smith and Siva are shooting over 30% behind the arch with Smith at almost 40%.
Memphis is known to let three point shooters have their way against them. For Memphis to have a chance, shutting down the three point line will be a must.
Another thing the Tigers have to do is NOT start off slow. Every game this season, the Tigers have started off slow. Then a substitution is needed to kick start a run. It cannot happen against the No. 6 team in the nation.