Syracuse tries to replicate game plan for lethal Washington scorer Kelsey Plum

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on April 2, 2016 at 9:15 pm Contact Paul: pmschwed@syr.edu | @pschweds INDIANAPOLIS — Before Syracuse’s first-round game against Army, the Orange used its prior experience against Washington to prep for the Black Knights point guard. The Black Knights’ Kelsey Minato, the seventh-leading scorer in the country, was a dynamic scorer just like UW’s Kelsey Plum, the third-leading scorer in the nation.Two weeks after beating Army by 17, Syracuse will face Plum and Washington again. Except this time, it’s in the Final Four with a trip to each teams’ first-ever title game on the line.And defending an evolved Plum, who is averaging 25 points in seven postseason games, is right at the top of the Orange’s game plan.“You can say, ‘Hey it’s nothing new,’ but players get better throughout the season,” SU guard Brittney Sykes said. “She has been coming in really really clutch for her team, as she should being the player that she is.”No. 4 seed SU (29-7, 13-3 Atlantic Coast) faces No. 7 seed Washington (26-10, 11-7 Pac-12) on Sunday at 8:30 p.m. in Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Plum scored 19 in the first meeting between these teams, but the rematch comes as both teams are playing their best basketball of the season. The Orange’s full-court press and half-court zone defensive combination has flustered opponents throughout the first four games of the tournament while Plum has capitalized on teammates spacing the floor better.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWhile Cornelia Fondren said the game plan to defend her is still the same as it was for the first game, which the Orange won by four, SU head coach Quentin Hillsman said he would consider going to a box-and-one or even a triangle-and-two to defend Plum if her shooting stroke heats up.“Defending Kelsey Plum, that’s it,” Hillsman said of the biggest challenge defending Plum. “She’s an amazing scorer. You have to find her early in transition and you have to really stay in front of her. She’s a really crafty guard.”Similar to Minato, who SU held scoreless in the first half, Plum can be deceptive. The point guard can score from anywhere on the court, Fondren said, and being a lefty, too, adds in another wrinkle to remember on defense.Despite her impressive scoring ability, the 5-foot-8 Plum doesn’t stand out much.“That kid looks like 90 percent of the other kids walking down the mall,” UW head coach Mike Neighbors said. “If you saw her shopping, you wouldn’t know she was Kelsey Plum. … She just looks like every kid else that’s out there.”Plum said playing teams later on in the season that use their athleticism to pressure ball-handlers like Arizona State and UCLA has given the Huskies some prep for Syracuse. But this week, UW hasn’t been able to use the men’s practice players it uses when practicing at home.Since the Orange’s defense is different than most teams and it can’t be simulated in practice, it’ll come down to in-game adjustments, an area Neighbors said he lost to Hillsman the last time they played.And Hillsman knows how much that coaching matchup could come down to Plum.“She’s just a really good player and you have to make sure you have someone guarding her at all times,” Hillsman said. “When she’s in the shooting area, she’s a threat.” Commentslast_img

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