The coach responsible for helping Michigan’s big men slow down Ridley knows that will be no small undertaking. Bacari Alexander is very impressed with what the Longhorns’ sophomore can do on the hardwood.
“This young man is very nimble he runs the floor uncharacteristically well,” Alexander said. “I think where people get surprised by is his ability to create his own leverage in the post. What I am most impressed with him is his ability to offensive rebound. This young man does a great job of weak side wedging, following his own misses, and does a great job of understanding where shots are coming from. His teammates which puts him in a formidable position on the glass.”
Slowing Ridley’s momentum down low is going to be a collective task. It’s one similar to a few that the Wolverines were faced with in recent years Big Ten play.
“He reminds me of a young Derrick Nix” said Horford. “In his high school days he might have been around 330 pounds. I went up against Derrick in high school and did pretty well. I was playing mostly on the perimeter in high school I was shooting and running him in circles. Nix was not as quick as these guys. You have to work early. If he gets position on you there is nothing that you can do really because he is so big. So he can get on that block and get that good position unless you force back or force him out. That close to the basket it is pretty much a basket”.
“I think of Derrick Nix he had a lot of size and strength down there but I also think of Jared Sullinger,” Jordan Morgan added. “He was very skilled in the post. (Ohio State) I am not sure of the type of strength that (Ridley) has. I am sure it will be a task for guys like that you do not want them catching it near the basket. That is just too easy. Playing against Cameron Ridley you just want to try and use your power by staying active denying him easy touches. Keeping him off the glass will be very important as well.”
Sometimes the best thing you can do against a powerful big man is to run as many bodies at him as possible. For that reason look for Max Bielfeldt to be inserted into the game at some point to play against Ridley also.
“I was told to be ready for (Saturday),” Bielfeldt said. “I feel like you always have to be ready as I am sitting there watching making sure what is going on. However we decided to play him whether it is we are doubling him or staying in single coverage whatever we are doing I can always go in there and be confident”.
Michigan’s color analyst and former Michigan standout Terry Mills knows about guarding big guys from his days playing in the Big Ten and the NBA. Mills feels there are things the Wolverines must do to make Ridley feel uncomfortable.
”When you’re playing a big guy like that you have to start playing defense early,” said Mills. “When he is coming down the court you have to start playing him at the free throw line. You can’t allow him to get down on the block and decide to start play defense. Also this is going to be a team effort. They are going to have to put pressure on the ball. You can’t let them pick and choose when they want to give him the ball. That will be the key to slowing him down. I feel like the Big Ten conference alone has prepared Michigan for this. You look at Hammonds from Purdue and Kaminsky from Wisconsin. They have faced some big guys throughout the season. They are just going to have to bang they are coming from a physical conference so they should be alright”.
Alexander is very anxious to have his big man contingent employ many of the aforementioned strategies in today’s game.
“I think what you have to do is choose your battles in the midst of the war,” said Alexander. “There are going to be several possessions in the course of a forty minute game where he will get the best of you. You cannot allow that to lead to fouls. You have to say I live to fight another possession. The second part of it is you have to test his stamina. That is to run the floor and engage in a lot of ball screen action to see if he can do that over the course of his minutes. The last part is you have