ATHENS — Georgia basketball is two weeks into its offseason program, Coach Tom Crean putting an emphasis on finishing.
“This offseason is about getting stronger, and doing things that will engage not only physical strength, but our mental toughness,” Crean said on Saturday. “We will have a real toughness and finishing mindset, so everything we do, there’s a strenuous finish to it.”
Crean is on the verge of finishing off what could prove to be the best UGA basketball recruiting class in history.
The Bulldogs’ class, which features the top-ranked shooting guard in the nation in Anthony “Antman” Edwards, is currently ranked No. 7 according to the 247Sports composite.
College basketball ends its final weekend with four teams — and four coaches — Crean has coached against as a head coach or when they were assistants.
Crean, who led Marquette to the Final Four in 2003, provided three key for each of the Final Four games tonight in Minneapolis.
Auburn vs. Virginia
1. Pace of game
“The best thing for Bruce Pearl is not to change one thing he does: play fast, push the pace. That’s the most important thing, to do everything you can do to make the pace go. That’s especially true defensively — don’t allow Virginia to come down and run their half court offense, and their screening, which can wear you down.
“Bruce was masterful against North Carolina, they did a really good job of getting back in transition, but he didn’t try to run after (Carolina) made shots. He walked it up, they almost conserved energy. So be selective running.”
2. Rebounding Margin
“The bottom line is Auburn has to get offensive rebounds, which is easier said and done. The rebounding margin in this game will be key.
“Bruce’s team is making over 10 threes a game, if they can hit that number or higher, that will be very good for them. But Auburn is also very good at rebounding out of the corners, and that has been a key for them.
“Virginia is so good at blocking you out, though, and because of that compact, pack-line defense, rebounding will be more difficult for Auburn.”
3. Virginia backcourt
“Virginia’s guard, Kyle Guy (15.2 points per game) and Ty Jerome (13.3), are both very good players. One can have a good game, but Auburn can’t allow both of them to have good scoring games.”
Michigan State vs. Texas Tech
Style of officiating
“The biggest thing is who gets to the bonus first, and who controls the foul line. Texas Tech is very aggressive with their hands and going for steals and deflections, so how the game is officiated will have a lot to do with that.
“In a tournament setting like this where the officials aren’t used to how Texas Tech plays, how does it go? Texas Tech’s defense is awesome, we showed film of Texas Tech to our team this season of getting deflects and drawing charges, but those things can sometimes turn into fouls.
Michigan State vs. Switch
“The other part that’s huge is how will Michigan State deal with the switching that Texas Tech will do. When you have a lot of set plays like Michigan State has, it can go one of two ways: Will they handle the switching and continue to get the ball inside, or do they settle for jump shots?”
“The third thing, at the end of he day, the team that’s closest to 10 made threes — or makes the most threes — will win. You’ve going to have to make some jump shots in that dome, and that’s easier said than done for teams that aren’t used to that environment.”