No. 1 overall seed Duke took care of business on Friday against 16-seeded North Dakota State; they will look to make quick work of UCF on Sunday but it will be no easy task. One of those main reason will be UCF’s inside presence on defense as well as offense, mostly comprised of a growingly famous name in college basketball: Tacko Fall.
Fall, as I’ve mentioned before, is a 7-6 (not a typo) center with mobility. He’s something few have seen in this game before. Not only that, he’s also one of the tallest living people on the planet. Try to wrap your head around that. He racks up the rebounds and blocks for the Golden Knights, as well as dunks (pretty much his only offensive weapon). Again, few even in the NBA have faced this kind of player before. It’s not only his height; Fall is mobile unlike most players of heights even somewhat smaller than his. He’s going to make Duke’s inside game much less straightforward.
Well, luckily for us, Fall won’t be the only player on the court of the likes rarely seen before; in fact, this one is most likely more uncommon. You’ve probably never heard his name before. Oh, wait. Zion Williamson. If you think Tacko Fall is mobile, Zion will blow your mind. That may just be the key to getting around Fall in the paint: ball movement, quick footwork. Nobody does that better than Zion and RJ Barrett, so hopefully they can put it to work and not allow Fall to clog the paint.
Fall is an excellent shot blocker and surprisingly only averages 2.8 personal fouls per game. If you can get fouls on him, though, you take out a major part of the Knights’ defense. That’s certainly something that RJ Barrett can do as well as Zion Williamson. If Cam Reddish does not lower the shoulder, he is also capable of forcing fouls on big men. We’ll need to adjust shots to get around him, as he’s an excellent shot blocker. Fall averages 2.6 blocks per game.
Another solution could be outside shooting, but that isn’t exactly our strength. This year’s Blue Devils are shooting barely over 30% from beyond the arc, good enough for 340th in Division I. Jack White (hamstring), one of the shooters, is likely out tomorrow so he will not be an option, though Cam Reddish is reliable if he can get hot, as well as RJ Barrett. Zion can also shoot from deep, but doesn’t do so as commonly as the previous. Could Joey Baker see some action? It’s a possibility, as Joey got his first points as a Blue Devil last night with a three.
The key to controlling him offensively would surely be to not let him get too close to the basket where he can just catch the ball over the head of his defender and slam it. Additionally, Fall shoots a dismal 36 percent from the charity stripe, which would be something to watch. He averages 11 points per game.