March 8, 2014; Las Vegas, NV, USA; San Francisco Dons guard Avry Holmes (12) celebrates with guard/forward Tim Derksen (32) against the San Diego Toreros during the second half in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference tournament at Orleans Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

Dons Notes: NIT Opening Round – LSU


#5 Louisiana State University Tigers (19-13, 9-9 SEC) at #4 University of San Francisco Dons (21-11, 13-6 WCC)

Date: Tuesday, March 19, 2014 Location: War Memorial Gym, San Francisco, CA

Time: 7:00 PM PT

TV: ESPNU

 

PROJECTED STARTERS

SAN FRANCISCO

Kruize Pinkins

Avry Holmes

Mark Tollefsen

Cole Dickerson

Matt Glover

 

LSU

Johnny O’Bryant III

Shavon Coleman

Jarell Martin

Jordan Mickey

Anthony Hickey

 

San Francisco has always wanted to play a big team from a big conference. In the opening round of the 2014 NIT, the Dons will get their chance. Lousiana State University from the SEC travels to the West Coast to take on the Green & Gold Wednesday night. The LSU Tigers have the makeup of athletic teams that have defeated the Dons earlier this season. Squads like Oregon and St. John’s come to mind when you think of the Green & Gold playing a power conference team.

Both of these teams are currently in a similar position for their respective conferences. LSU is trying to get into the top half of the SEC, a spot they have failed to reach for the last four seasons. The Dons have slowly made progress and finally made it to the upper half of the WCC. USF is hoping to stake their claim for many seasons to come. This is why the NIT tournament is very appealing for both ball clubs – especially getting wins and valuable extra practice time during the tournament.

Keys to the Game

San Francisco Dons

Aggressive Shooting and Protect the Glass: The Dons will have a disadvantage in the paint against the Tigers. Louisiana State carries a slight height advantage over the Dons starting five and will use its SEC tenacity to keep things difficult for USF’s big men. In order to keep the Bayou Bengals on their toes, big men Cole Dickerson and Mark Tollefsen should also step out and take a few shots. The Green & Gold must come out swinging at tip-off and shoot the ball aggressively.

Further, the Dons need rebounds more than ever. LSU rebounds well and can turn those possessions into points. During the WCC Tournament, there was many lax rebounding attempts that ultimately led to Torrero and Cougar points. Ineffective rebounds could cost the Dons the game.

 

LSU Tigers

Physical Play and Work the Transition Offense: The Tigers can play their strengths and beat up USF’s post players in side. The Dons are an offensive minded team that will hit cold streaks during the course of a game. Using their raw athleticism, the Tigers can turn defensive rebounds into easy points could give the Fighting Tigers a comfortable lead. Act like the bigger team.

Key Matchup

Cole Dickerson vs. Shavon Coleman: This game should come down to the wire and may require intangible leadership from Senior leaders. Each squad has only one senior in their respective starting lineup. Shavon Coleman and Cole Dickerson understand that this is possibly the last game of their NCAA careers. However, these young men must play within their limits and enable their team members. Most importantly, they need to find a killer instinct but keep themselves in out of foul trouble.

Prediction

As mentioned before, these are two contrasting teams that are looking to gain momentum in the respective conferences and make strides towards a successful 2014-2015 season. LSU comes into a small unfamiliar WCC facility with a 3-8 road record.  The Bayou Bengals have size and athleticism on their side. However, on the other side of the ball, the Dons lost to Oregon and St. John’s in non-conference this season during the midst of locker room drama. Since those losses, San Francisco has redefined themselves and has played as a tight unit – ultimately taking the WCC by surprise. A well-oiled, rambunctious Dons take a 89-85 overtime win.

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