For a large portion of the Final Four game between the Louisville Cardinals and Wichita State Shockers, the Shockers did a great job of controlling the tempo and slowing down the game. Then, well, Rick Pitino had his boys use some full-court pressure which resulted in a slew of bad turnovers by Wichita State. Being that there National Title game is against a team who doesn’t mind speeding up the game, the Michigan Wolverines, Pitino has to decide if the pressure of the press is worth the risk of giving up easy baskets.
Pitino will probably use variations of different defenses throughout Monday night’s game. While there is no way he will use the press as much as he did in the Final Four, there is no doubt he will throw it at the Wolverines in spurts. This time, however, it won’t be to create turnovers but to just alter Michigan’s thinking from time to time.
Don’t be surprised if Louisville goes zone a little bit either. The Cardinals usually rely on man-to-man type of principles even while utilizing a zone. This will just be another way for Pitino to make Michigan have to rethink their offense from time to time.
Of course, you could expect the Cardinals to go man as well. Louisville loves to use their athletes to pressure opponents into making mistakes. Even though Michigan might match-up with them on physical talent, it hasn’t stopped Pitino from using this style while playing other teams with similar lineups.
The Cardinals are going to throw a slew of different defenses at Michigan, if only to make the Wolverines ponder what kind of set is out there each time down the court. Expect it to be a chess match between the two team’s coaches and one which neither team will rely on one specific type of play.
The future Hall of Fame coach, however, is not a guy who is usually outclassed in strategy-warfare.