Saturday, March 27, 2010
Live from Salt Lake City: West Regional final preview
By Mark Schlabach
SALT LAKE CITY -- Kansas State and Butler just headed to the locker room, about 10 minutes before today's tip-off at the West Regional finals at EnergySolutions Arena.
The winner goes to next week's Final Four in Indianapolis.
A few thoughts heading into the game:
Butler will obviously have a lot of motivation with a chance to go to the Final Four in its hometown of Indy. But Kansas State guard Jacob Pullen isn't buying it. "BYU wanted to get here last week," Pullen said. "We were in the same situation last week. We want to get to Indy. We don't want to go back to school. They want to go home and we don't want to go home."
A key matchup today is Butler guard Ronald Nored against Kansas State guard Denis Clemente. Nored hounded Syracuse's Andy Rautins in the Bulldogs' 63-59 victory over the No. 1-seeded Orange on Thursday night. Nored needs to do a similar job on Kansas State guard Denis Clemente, who has been red-hot throughout the NCAA tournament.
Pullen knows Butler will try to slow down the pace of the game, but he believes that might be advantageous for the Wildcats. "With the bigs we have, we can walk the ball up the court and make them foul us or make them let us shoot layups," Pullen said. "We don't want to play that game the whole time. We want to run and force the ball up the court."
A big storyline will be Kansas State's conditioning and fatigue after its 101-96 double-overtime victory over No. 6-seeded Xavier on Thursday night. Kansas State coach Frank Martin believes his team's deep bench will help it overcome tired legs. "Depth is a big part of what we do," Martin said. "Game experience, best preparing our kids to succeed, those are all the reasons why we try to coach that way and we try to play so many people, to best prepare us for this time of year."