Montana against Sac State Preview
In our first pregame matchup, Big Sky Breakdown will take a look at two programs with two new coaches. Mark Campbell of the Sac State Hornets (who also interviewed for the Montana job) and Brian Holsinger of Montana. While Montana is off to its best start in quite some time (5-1) their strength of schedule is 286. Sac State on the other hand is still trying to figure out its new identity, and with a record of 3-4 has a strength of schedule of 256. Let’s take a look at some keys for this game. (This pregame & film breakdown are provided at our website www.bigskybreakdown.com).
Matchups To Watch:
Gfeller and Natabou: Gfeller, who quite possibly is the most efficient player in the Big Sky Conference minus her assist to turnover ratio (6:23) is a fantastic inside-outside threat. She is shooting a remarkable 64.7% from the floor and 54.5% on 6-11 3 point attempts this year. Natabou who averages 10.6 PPG, and 8.1 RPG (4.3 offensive rebounds a game) is a big, athletic rebounding machine. Her overall game is not as polished as Gfeller’s, but she is effective, strong, and provides a really large, high-energy presence in the paint. Will Gfeller be able to contain the Natabou in the paint and keep her off of the glass? Can Natabou slow down Gfeller on the offensive end?
Stiles and Tillman: Stiles is a stat stuffer. She is incredible at rebounding for a guard at only 5’9 averaging 6.2 RPG, and also adds 11 ppg and 4 assists. Any critiques of Stiles are her inconsistent 3 point shooting and her untimely turnovers (oftentimes 1 handed casual passes). Stiles is a fantastic defender and will have her hands full with a high-volume shooter in Tillman who averages 19.7 PPG on 20 shot attempts per game and 5.1 APG. Tillman a grad transfer from Pacific loves to get shots up and will get many of them off of DHO and P&R actions. Her pull-up game and ability to get to the basket will be a priority of the Lady Griz. Look for Sac St to play DROP coverage in any of these actions with their bigs and allow Tillman to go under the P&R/DHO actions. Stiles will have her hands full guarding Tillman. Look for Stiles or any guard to chase over the top of any P&R actions.
Menke and Who: Who guards Summer Menke? The Lady Griz deploy a traditional lineup with two bigs while the Hornets only play one big at a time with Natabou getting the bulk of the minutes. This matchup is going to be key for the Lady Griz and the Hornets. Menke who averages 14.1 ppg, 7 RPG, and who shots almost 40% from 3 has given the Lady Griz problems in the past. She is effective from the high post, off of the dribble in both isolation and P&R, and shooting the spot-up 3. Look for the Lady Griz to guard by committee. On the other hand who will Menke guard for the Lady Griz? Look for the Menke/Anderson matchup to start the game. Another potential player who could potentially guard Menke for the Lady Griz could be Dani Bartsch who has played very effectively off the bench for the Lady Griz to start the season (5.2 PPG, 5.5 RPG shooting 58.3% in 14 MPG).
Keys for the Lady Griz:
Montana who plays primarily man to man will have their hands full guarding the amount of DHO and P&R actions the Hornets love to run. Montana does not like to switch, but will on necessity. Sac State is primarily a 4 guard lineup which could present an issue for the Lady Griz who are only allowing 54.7 PPG. How will Montana decide to guard all of the P&R actions thrown at them?
Keep Natabou and the Hornets off the offensive glass. This was an issue against Gonzaga and Houston Baptist. While Natabou and Falkowska (both 6’5) provide the size the Lady Griz don’t have, they do split time with only one of them on the floor at a time. The Lady Griz will have to do a great job of blocking out Natabou and Falkowska and team rebound effectively on the defensive end.
The Lady Griz have only seen 12% of their offensive possession against the zone. If Sac St goes zone how will the Lady Griz attack both the 2-2-1 full-court pressure and 2-3 zones of the Hornets who are playing this close to 40% of the time. The Lady Griz struggled vs North Dakota State who played a lot of 2-2-1 back to 2-3. The Lady Griz only shoot 31.6% from 3 and a lot of times teams fall in love with the perimeter shot to beat the zone. Look for the Lady Griz to flash players into the soft spot of that zone just below the free-throw line. If they are successful at attacking the middle then it should allow for more driving lines, cutters from the backside, and open threes for the Lady Griz.
Keys for the Hornets:
Can the guard-heavy Hornets take advantage of mismatches and the traditional nonswitching defensive style of the Lady Griz? The Hornets love to create lots of movement and actions that pose issues for teams with their size and speed. There will be lots of false actions and tons of P&R actions for the Lady Griz to guard. This could put the Lady Griz in a lot of issues due to the quick guards of the Hornets and the Menke matchup.
Will there 2-2-1 full-court pressure and 2-3 Syracuse style zone slow down the Lady Griz? Lately, the Hornets have played a mix of man and zone trying to find the right defense to get stops and keep their opponent off balance. If they can limit paint touches by Gfeller, Anderson and effectively rebound out of the zone this could be the one area the Hornets have over the Lady Griz. Lady Griz struggled versus the same style of defense against NDSU and I am sure this is on the scout for the week. They will need to slow down the Lady Griz offense that is averaging 70.4 PPG. Will this effectively contain Fatkin, Stiles, and Gfeller?
Sac State must limit its turnovers if it expects to have a chance against the Lady Griz. The Hornets who average 13.6 turnovers per game need to take care of the ball. The Lady Griz are very good in offensive transition and average .972 PPP against their opponents. Other than scoring off of cutting (1.26 PPP) and offensive rebounding (1.46 PPP) offensive transition is the Lady Griz 3rd highest PPP category.