Snider beat Northrop 75-68 last Friday in the semi finals of the SAC Holiday Tournament. It was a power play by the Panthers, but it mattered mostly only in the fishbowl of the SAC Tournament. Tonight’s battle at Northrop exists in its own world, almost as if last Friday didn’t happen.
But it did happen. And how it happened spurns a lot of the information that you should know going into tonight’s rematch.
Snider enters the game 8-2 and Northrop is 7-2. Neither have losses in the Summit Athletic Conference.
1. A TALE OF REVENGE MEANS DEPTH
Northrop had an 11 point lead over Snider last Friday before succumbing to the Panthers’ depth. They are going to want that one back in the worst of ways. They can’t have it, but they can cast a big win in what is and will be a close SAC regular season battle. Depth matters and it will matter in this game. Northrop’s revenge will have to come, if it comes, by matching up with Snider player for player. Can they do that? Every time you’d think they had an answer, Snider would change the questions.
The ultimate turn at the end of the meeting last Friday was when Snider went ahead on Jon Barnes Jr.’s calm, timely three pointer and game clinching free throws. Northrop will need to account for Barnes, for example, if they want to score a victory.
2. DUFF VERSUS CURRY
Power versus power comes when these two meet. While Curry is your more typical power player, Duff is powerful too and mentally he seemed up for the challenge last Friday. Late in the game, with Curry on the block and Duff on the perimeter, the Snider junior motioned for Curry to come on out and play him one on one. Curry didn’t oblige. Here is to hoping he takes Duff up on the offer this time.
3. THE POINT GUARD BATTLE
There may be no better tic-for-tack point guard battle in the SAC or area than Jayshawn Underwood versus Isaac Anderson. Defensively, they are both huge pace setters that will determine possessions long before the ball can reach the interior. How many times can one take the ball from each other? Value your possessions because these two are going to try and take as many away as possible.
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
1. ISSAC FARNWORTH, SNIDER
Farnsworth thrives in chaotic pace. That could be a detriment some days, but against Northrop last week, it was the most important part of the game. Farnsworth wasn’t the guy lighting up the scoreboard, but his pace, effort, energy and general enthusiasm was the catalyst in Snider’s win. He was full of big moments and knows how to pull his weight in fast paced, loose games.
2. ISAAC ANDERSON, NORTHROP
Anderson came up huge all SAC Tournament long. His is a high level scorer in this year’s SAC and never gives up on either end of the court, flying in for rebounds when you long think the play is over.
3. MICHAEL ELEY, SNIDER
There is no easy way to put it: Eley disappeared in Snider’s SAC Tournament title game against Homestead. It was one of the things the Panthers couldn’t afford last Friday night. Eley has to be a premiere impact player if the Panthers want to beat the Bruins again. Whatever happened between last Friday morning and last Friday night needs to be remedied.
4. KHAMANI SMITH, NORTHROP
Smith’s length can be a problem for a lot of teams. There were moments where his rebounding was crucial in the Bruins’ pair of SAC Tournament games and he will be needed in this one. Snider is going to adjust themselves to try and better keep Sydney Curry from being an impact player, so Smith should pick up the work load as best possible.
KEYS TO VICTORY — SNIDER
1. GO AT THE BIG FELLA
Save for Dillon Duff calling Sydney Curry out to the perimeter late in the game, the Panthers didn’t look like they wanted to attack Curry at times in last Friday’s game. This doesn’t mean take the ball at Curry in the paint every trip down the court, but there were chunks last week where Curry didn’t really have to do anything defensively. Take it at him, make him work.
2. PATIENCE DEFENSIVELY
Snider knows what all spectators know: the Bruins are going to try and make things frantic. Getting out into their transition is something the Bruins are good at, but Snider should make sure they don’t get lost in the dribble penetration because Northrop has quality shooters. Try to extend your defensive trips and make Northrop work in a half court offense.
KEYS TO VICTORY — NORTHROP
1. PUSH THE PACE
As noted before, Northrop wants to go fast. So go fast. Play with reckless abandon. Create chaos, risk turning the ball over 20 times if you can force 25-30 turnovers. If Snider slows it down, take risks to make it move again. Qualen Pettus is your ideal guy for this. His motor doesn’t slow, let him go to town.
2. STAMINA, STAMINA AND STAMINA
For a team who chooses to go fast, Northrop has run out of steam down the stretch of big games. At South Side, the Archers were able to battle better at the end and, of course, they lost an 11 point lead last Friday against Snider. There is a sweet spot somewhere in how much energy you expend at the rapid pace Northrop plays. They have to have something left for the final eight minutes.
Either of these teams beating each other more than once was always going to be hard. They may meet again come Sectional title time for a third round. For this round, it all depends on what the short week of practice has meant. The New Year meant some time off practice and neither of these teams are in school so that could play a role in how they are physically and mentally. I’m looking forward to a Sectional rubber match.
Bounce picks Northrop