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Sunday, April 14
The Indiana Daily Student

sports men's basketball

Column: Breakdown of IU - James Madison

Head Coach

Matt Brady is 88-81 overall in his five seasons as the coach of James Madison. With a win against LIU Brooklyn Wednesday, Brady led the Dukes to their first NCAA tournament victory since 1983.

Leading scorers

JMU’s offense is led by the tandem of senior forward Rayshawn Goins and senior guard A.J. Davis, who are both averaging 12.4 points per game entering Friday’s contest.

Goins, a third team All-Colonial Athletic Association member, is known for his versatility.

Not only is he the Dukes’ leading scorer, but he is also the team’s leading rebounder with twice as many rebounds per game (7.4) than his next closest teammate (Davis and senior guard Devon Moore are both averaging 3.7 rebounds per game).

While Goins has flourished on the floor his senior year, he has had some trouble with the law off the court.

Goins was benched for the first half of JMU’s first round game against LIU Brooklyn after being arrested for obstruction of justice and disorderly conduct late Sunday night.

Despite missing the first half, the senior still managed to grab eight rebounds and four points in 13 minutes to help the Dukes advance.

As for Davis, a 6-foot-6 guard from Columbus, Ohio, the senior has been JMU’s hottest player since the beginning of February.

In the last 11 games, Davis has led JMU, scoring nine times and averaging 20.5 points per game, including 38 3-pointers in that stretch.

Davis was named the CAA tournament’s most valuable player for his performance in the conference tourney that was highlighted by his 26-point night in the title game against Northeastern.

What they do well

Despite being undersized against the Hoosiers, the Dukes still pose a threat to IU’s offensive efficiency because of their defensive quickness.

Led by their best defender, freshman guard Andre Nation, the Dukes record 7.7 steals per game and force opponents into 13.7 turnovers per game.

Brady said he expects Nation to be the primary match up against IU’s junior guard Victor Oladipo in what will shape up to be battle between two of the best on-ball defenders in the tournament.

Offensively, Goins and Davis provide a good inside-outside game that forces teams to stay committed to defending down-low and around the perimeter.

Experience-wise, the Dukes are driven by seniors, but they also have a nice mixture of impact freshmen.

JMU’s top-four scorers are seniors, while three freshmen guards (Nation, Ron Curry and Charles Cooke) play at least 22.5 minutes per game.

When talking to the media Thursday afternoon, IU Coach Tom Crean said one of the most valuable traits that the Dukes possess is the experience they have gained through this season.

“When you’re looking at James Madison, you’re looking at a battle-tested team,” Crean said. “You’re looking at a team that can score inside and outside, certainly with great experience, and freshmen that are getting better inside of their group.
“They know how they want to play. They know how to win.”

My Take

Brady hit the nail on the head when he said the key to this game will be how JMU handles the size advantage IU has against them.

“Whether or not we’re able to execute a game plan on a one-game prep for one of the most efficient low-post players in college basketball is a challenge for our team,” Brady said. “And that for me will be the story for the game, if we can negate the size, not just (sophomore forward Cody) Zeller, but the other guys they have, and still not give up too many free shots on the perimeter.”

Shutting down the Hoosiers’ big men will be easier said than done for the Dukes, considering that out of the nine players that have played at least 24 games for JMU, the average height is 6-foot-6 and the tallest usual starter, Goins, is only 6-foot-6 himself.

On Wednesday against LIU Brooklyn, Brady utilized a five-guard lineup to help stifle the Blackbirds to only 35.6 percent shooting from the field.

Don’t expect the same strategy from the fifth-year coach against the Hoosiers.

“It’s important that we’re able to keep (Goins) in the game, either at 4 or at 5, but we will not be five guards,” Brady said.  “If we do, that’s not a good sign for my team.”

That being said, look for IU and Zeller to attack Goins from the opening tip-off.

It’s no secret that the Hoosiers’ tournament success will be tied to how well Zeller plays, but that’s nothing new for the 7-footer — it’s been the game plan all season.

“Every game that we go out to, we want to get inside to me and (senior forward) Christian (Watford), and our offense flows well after that,” Zeller said. “Even if me and Christian aren’t the ones that score it.” 

As of Thursday evening, No. 1 seeds have never lost to a No. 16 (114-0) since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1985 and there have only been thirteen instances in which a No. 16 seed has lost by less than double digits.

Numbers like these might give a No. 1 seed reason to over-look their No. 16 opponent, but the Hoosiers are nowhere close to the mindset of taking JMU lightly.

Nation said he would not want it to be any other way.

“I hope they know all about us, man, so that way they know they’ve got to play their best,” Nation said. “We wouldn’t want to play an Indiana team that’s going to come out and think they can run all over us. We want them to be the best.

“Like I said yesterday, in order to be the best, you’ve got to beat the best.”

Be careful what you wish for, Andre.

Prediction: Hoosiers win big, 83-60, to advance to the next round.


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