Peter did a great job of previewing what the SMU Mustangs bring to the table. Since we've had this game circled on our calendars for awhile now, I thought I'd delve deeper into SMU's tape to highlight some of what we can expect to see tonight.
Larry Brown's offense is designed to play inside-out, generating action to the basket and only kicking out if the defense has collapsed.
SMU doesn't jack up a ton of threes (28% of FGA are 3-pointers, which is 320th in DI), but that doesn't mean they aren't deadly from deep. In fact, SMU boasts the second-best 3PT% in the country with a 42.4% conversion rate.
SMU's primary offensive action is to feed the ball into the high post, and have the high man drive or kick to the wing to set up a ball reversal.
The Mustangs are patient on offense, content to run through multiple actions and committed to ball movement in order to find a good look. I was very impressed by how well they share the ball.
SMU does an excellent job of enticing opposing teams to collapse on the ball and play recovery defense on the wings. Gonzaga would be best served to play a lot of man-to-man defense, as SMU has been very successful against zone defenses this year. But, the Zags must stay disciplined on defense and stay home on their man.
As Peter mentioned in his excellent preview, SMU is very adept at snagging offensive rebounds. Their offensive rebound rate of 42% is 2nd in the nation. The clip below shows the Mustangs starting their first possession of the game against Michigan with two offensive boards right off the bat. SMU isn't traditionally big inside, but they do a good job of using their length and guile (lots of self-tips) to generate multiple opportunities from each possession.
For all that they do well on offense, SMU does get careless with the ball at times.
The Zags will need to hope for some unforced turnovers from SMU, as Mark Few coaches the defense to maintain its integrity and stay within the scheme rather than gamble for turnovers.
On defense, SMU usually doesn't try apply a lot of on-ball pressure, but look for them to come out with more aggression on that end of the court after Larry Brown called out his players for a "lack of heart" on the defensive end following this week's loss to Tulsa. SMU mixes in man and zone looks, but will generally just play straight up and show an inclination to protect the paint over the 3-point line.
Domas will need to be the key player in this game for the Zags on both sides of the ball. He'll likely be tasked with defending SMU's high post big, and it is imperative that he stay out of foul trouble. He is our lone big that is capable of defending that spot on his own, which will allow everyone else to stay home on their assignments. SMU has good athletes, but the goal will be to force them to get out of their flow and play a lot of ISO on offense.
Don't be fooled by SMU's recent losses to Temple, Houston, and Tulsa. All three of those teams are ranked in KenPom's Top 100. This will be a tough game on the road, and the Mustangs will be looking to avenge last season's loss to the Zags in the Kennel.