Monday, April 05, 2010

The Monk's big a-- theory of basketball success

Nineteen years ago, The Monk formulated his big a-- theory of college basketball. The theory is basically, if a skinny forward/center matches up with a heavy forward/center of equal or near-equal basketball ability (shooting, post moves, ability to create a shot), take the beef over the string bean.

The Monk formulated his theory while watching the Burge twins in the 1991 national title game have their hats handed to them by the shorter but wider frontcourt players on Tennessee. The Burges were a media sensation in Virginia because they were 6-5 and one was a legitimately good player (Heather) while the other was a decent rebounder who could use her height to advantage (Heidi). With their height, shot blocking and rebounding, Virginia now had inside players who caused matchup trouble for opponents in addition to the great Dawn Staley and her backcourt partner Tammi Reiss. The Tennessee women beat the Burges to a pulp and dominated inside to key the UT 70-67 win.

That theory works in men's college basketball too -- Len Elmore always says he hated playing against the bulky forwards who pushed into his chest to get their shots. Elmore was a beanpole power forward for Maryland in the '70s, a top shot blocker, and one of the best players in the country. More proof: watch the 2003 NCAA title game as Hakim Warrick gets pummeled by Nick Collison and Jeff Graves; watch the 2009 battles between Pitt and UConn as 6-foot-7 DeJuan Blair beats on 7-foot-2 Hasheem Thabeet. The theory does not work in the NBA because defenses are not allowed to collapse on the ball as much as in college so the skinny guy has room to maneuver in the post.

The theory proved out last night once again as Tina Charles completely outclassed 6-foot-8 twig Britney Griner in UConn's win over Baylor. Charles scored 21 points, hit 9 of 17 shots, pulled 13 rebounds and showed why she and forward Maya Moore (14-26, 34 points, 12 reb), her teammate, are sharing player of the year awards. Griner (5-13, 13 points, 6 rebounds) had no answer.

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