Chaminade vs. McCluer North preview
Here is a look at what to watch for during the Missouri showdown between No. 13 St. Louis Chaminade and No. 40 Florissant McCluer North on Saturday (5 p.m. ET on ESPNU), which is part of the ESPN RISE High School Basketball Showcase Nike Extravaganza.
ChaminadeUndefeated Chaminade is by no means a one-man show, but not many teams rely on a single player's productivity as much as the Red Devils do with Florida signee Bradley Beal. The 6-foot-3 shooting guard leads his team in every major statistical category (points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks) and is fearless when the game is on the line. He's scoring 32.4 points per game and has the capability of dropping 40 in any game. Chaminade may need all of them in this one.
Chaminade's supporting cast is key because if Beal and McCluer North's B.J. Young have normal nights and cancel each other out, the difference could come down to which team's role players have good games. Look for seniors Luke Bumgarner and Tevin Evans to take on some of the scoring load for Chaminade, while sharp-shooting sophomore Andy Kleinlein stretches the defense.
In order to win
Chaminade must control the tempo. The Red Devils, who will put a premium on staying between Young and the basket, must be able to get back in transition and set up their defense. Chaminade has been able to win every game this season by understanding how to play to its strengths. Beal scores without forcing things and his supporting cast does not deviate from the plan. Look for coach Kelvin Lee to try to keep McCluer North off balance by playing zone as much as possible while also changing defenses.
McCluer NorthWhen you have a scoring machine like Young, who is bound for Arkansas and capable of putting up a big numbers every night, it is no secret who coach Randy Reed counts on when the game is on the line. Young, who loves the big stage, is averaging 30.5 points per game while shooting an outstanding 42 percent from behind the 3-point line and has led the Stars to a 20-2 record heading into the final run of the season. He is almost impossible to stop in the open court; if the game gets into a fast-paced, up-tempo affair, look for him to have a big night and McCluer North to have the advantage.
Chaminade does not have anyone to really counter 2012 power forward Jordon Granger. At 6-8 he provides the inside punch to Young's outside prowess and dominates the game in his own right, averaging 16 points and 12 rebounds a game. If Chaminade puts too much emphasis on stopping Young, watch for Granger to fill the void.
In order to win
McCluer North must attack the zone defense intelligently. If Chaminade is able to slow the pace and play a lot of defensive possessions in zone, McCluer North will need to be able to attack the zone inside/out. It will be imperative to get Granger touches in scoring position and to collapse the zone, freeing up outside shooters with rhythm jumpers. Pushing the pace will favor McCluer North, but shot selection will be key because Chaminade knows where its bread is buttered.
Paul Biancardi, who has been a head coach and assistant on NCAA tournament teams, is the national director of basketball recruiting. He is also one the voters for the McDonald's All-American Game and Gatorade Player of the Year. Don't forget to follow him on Twitter.