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Kennesaw State vs USC Upstate Preview: Stopping Buchanan

By Phil Oscarson, for Owl Radio Sports

Two great programs of the ASUN take the court in a game that promises to have its fair share of fireworks coming from both squads. You have USC Upstate who is coming off a hard-fought win against Florida Gulf Coast, and you have Kennesaw State who is starting to really bring their A game.

While these teams may not be going stride for stride in the rankings, there’s more than enough reason for fans of both teams to expect this to be rather contentious. Both squads have talent, but we’d be remiss if we didn’t give Mike Buchanan the attention he deserves. If KSU hopes to walk off the court with a W, they’ll have to center their game plan around stopping the Spartans’ leader.

Rundown of Buchanan

First and foremost, the first thing you realize about Buchanan is his size. He will be the largest player on the court at all times, as he is a legitimate seven feet while the tallest person that KSU will trot out will be at least two inches shorter. What’s more is that he will have the most experience against the big men of Kennesaw State. More often than not, his opposite position will be freshmen.

This will allow him to deploy a fair amount of his arsenal against less experienced underclassmen. What Kennesaw State needs to realize is that he will be fed early and often throughout the game. He’s the driving force behind this team, averaging just over 18 points per game, 10 rebounds, as well as shooting at a 62 percent clip.

In short, they’ll have their hands full.

From the Post

When handling someone as talented and as important as Mike Buchanan is for USC, there are two things that you can do to minimize his impact on the game. The first is double teaming from the post. In using this method, the Owls would want to bring a big man over across the key and set a trap while not giving up the baseline. From there, they’ll want to make sure that their trappers clog up the passing lanes with their hands. If successful, the Spartans won’t be able to deliver the cross-court pass.

Lastly, the guy covering the opposite wing should drop down into the key to cover the opposite position of Buchanan. This lessens the chance for another easy bucket, especially for the less dangerous Ramel Thompkins.

Doubling the Passer

The other school of thought requires doubling the passer, though this is sometimes considered to be a more reactionary strategy. As such, this can be considered a bit more dangerous, but an effective strategy worth employing for the Owls. In any event, what they’ll want to do is to wait for the entry pass to be made and quickly have the man covering the passer to double down. The point for Kennesaw State would then have to cover this man, leaving the next available defender to take over the point guard’s assignment.

Obviously, this will leave a wing player open. However, it would be tough for the post player to make a pass here. If the Owls are on their spots and have the awareness to anticipate the pass, there is a great option for a steal and for Kennesaw to take the ball back down the court for an easy two.

All in all, this is a tough task that’s a lot easier said than done. There’s a reason why Mike Buchanan is considered to be one of the best players in college basketball despite not being in a Power Five conference. However, there is a blueprint to keep the ball out of his hands. If KSU can do that, they will pull off the upset and make a lot of people on betting sites extremely happy.

–  Phil Oscarson, for Owl Radio Sports