CSU’s expected No. 1 problem
Michigan’s 7-foot-1 center Hunter Dickinson averaged 18.3 points, 8.3 rebounds and 1.4 blocks. The left-hander is a massive presence on both ends of the court for the Wolverines.
CSU coach Niko Medved said this week they would have a Plan A and a Plan B to limit Dickinson.
“He’s 7-1. He’s got great hands. Can really, really score. He’s a terrific passer,” Medved said. “There’s a reason why he’s one of the leading scorers in the Big Ten. He’s one of the best bigs in the country. It’s difficult to keep him off his spots in the post and he’s very tough to stop when he catches it.”
CSU’s tallest players know they will have to take turns trying to tame Dickinson, who was a top 10 finalist for the Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Award.
“I’ve got something to do with it,” chuckled Dischon Thomas, CSU’s 6-foot-8 forward. “I’ve got to guard him (at times), so that’s definitely going to take a lot of energy. He’s huge, 7-1 about 260. So, he’s definitely a load down there. He’s really skilled, so it’s going to be a great matchup.”
James Moors, who is 6-foot-10, gave a more exact answer: “We have to really lock into our ball-screen defense and just post defense in general.”
CSU’s Adam Thistlewood said Dickinson’s game is a bit like that of Wyoming center Graham Ike (19.5 points, 9.6 rebounds) and Fresno State’ 7-footer Orlando Robinson, who averaged 19.7 points, 8.2 rebounds and 2.8 assists.
“They’re both terrific bigs,” Thistlewood said. “Being able to play against them during the year is definitely going to help us in this game. Everyone’s got to show up. Everyone’s got to live in the moment and play their hearts out. And I think we will do that.”
Medved, who had 7-1, 240-pound Jacob Jennison emulate Dickinson in practice, accepts that Michigan’s big man will get his points.
“You’ve got to do your best to try to take away his real estate and not let him catch it on the spots that he wants to catch it on,” Medved said. “With great players, they’re going to make shots no matter what you do; they’re going to score. And we’ve got some players like that, too.”
Fab Five perspective
While Medved remembers being a student manager when Minnesota beat the Wolverines, CSU and Michigan players are less familiar with Howard and Michigan’s Fab Five, but they have caught up by watching ESPN’s 30 for 30. “I’ve definitely seen all the documentaries,” Thomas said.
Talk around CSU’s informal gathering inside the team hotel Wednesday included that the New York Knicks have scouted Roddy a dozen times. During the Border War home game against Wyoming, the Denver Nuggets had four representatives, and four other NBA teams sent scouts.
Medved said the days of the grizzled scout sneaking in is over. “I think they know. I know they know,” he said. “The world’s different today. People know. It’s wired differently with the way social media is. They all know these things.”
Howard on CSU
“The first thing I would point out is they are a well-coached team. They do a good job offensively moving the ball, moving people from side-to-side, which means your defense, whoever they face will have a tough job defensively of making sure you keep guys in front.” – Michigan coach Juwan Howard
Medved on taking it all in
“I want these guys to take moments to say hey, to look around, to enjoy it, to appreciate the fact that they’re here. This is a huge moment in these young people’s lives. This is what they dreamed of growing up as a kid watching college basketball, and I think to rob them of that is a huge mistake.” – CSU coach Niko Medved