first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Related Stories Build up: McGary develops from raw talent into focal point of Michigan offenseLong and winding road: Beilein arriving at Final Four stage with decades of help, friendship from BoeheimQ&A with ESPN analyst Jay BilasRobinson III, Burke in for test against Syracuse’s lengthy zoneNot just yet: Boeheim reiterates he doesn’t plan on retiring Published on April 5, 2013 at 5:13 pm Contact Michael: [email protected] | @Michael_Cohen13center_img ATLANTA — What launched Syracuse into the NCAA Tournament, acting as jumper cables for an offense whose engine had stalled, was the shooting stroke of a 6-foot-8-inch swingman back from a slump, a suspension and facing the reality that his college career was winding down.What carried Michigan to the Final Four, a place it had not been since 1993, was the shooting stroke of a 6-foot-6 Canadian back from a slump, that filled up Cowboys Stadium along with the stat sheet.Both James Southerland and Nik Stauskas, a senior and freshman, respectively, can explode from beyond the arc. They’re known for their 3-point prowess, a skill that can change the game in an instant, and when they meet on Saturday night in the Georgia Dome the shooter whose streak continues might just lead his team to victory. A matchup that appears even on paper could hinge on the shooters.“They’re a team that can spread the floor shooting 3s,” Syracuse guard Brandon Triche said. “One thing our zone has been able to do, especially in the Tournament, is stopping guys from shooting 3s.”Michigan’s most recent opponent, third-seeded Florida, failed to contain Stauskas in the Elite Eight last weekend. He swished his way out of a cold stretch he had suffered through the opening three games of the tournament by making all six of his 3-point attempts en route to a blowout win.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textThough just a freshman, Stauskas averages 31.2 minutes per game this season for head coach John Beilein, and that is largely due to his shooting stroke. He shoots 44.9 percent from beyond the 3-point line, which is among the best in the country.It’s caught the eye of the Syracuse players, even though they have yet to watch film on Michigan. Triche, Southerland and forward C.J. Fair all noted Stauskas’ preference to shoot from the corners, and priority No. 1 when he’s on the court has become preventing the ball from getting there.“Our first goal is not letting him get to the corner,” Fair said. “Because he will rarely miss.”That involves picking Stauskas up in transition, which is where SU assistant coach Gerry McNamara said Michigan thrives. He beelines for the corners on fast break opportunities, slinking out of sight while the defense focuses on ball handlers like Tim Hardaway Jr. and Trey Burke, the Associated Press Player of the Year.So finding him early, before the attention turns to the guards, is imperative.“They’re a scary transition team,” McNamara said. “They get up the court so fast, and Stauskas does a great job of locating. The biggest thing is that when you have multiple players that can dribble-penetrate, it’s a little bit easier to find guys for open shots.“Trey Burke and Tim Hardaway are as good as you can ask for in terms of creating shots for guys.”Stauskas’ counterpart, and the player that most closely matches his skill set, is Southerland. He came to life in the Big East tournament, setting a tournament record for most 3-pointers made, while guiding the Orange all the way to the championship game. His rhythm went with him out to San Jose, Calif., where he hit three more triples, and on to Washington, D.C., where he knocked in four more.What Stauskas did for Michigan in the Elite Eight, Southerland did for Syracuse in a mind-blowing stretch from March 13 to the present.“He’s a real good player, and he’s got a little bit of size to him,” Stauskas said. “I might be matched up a little bit on him for the game, so I just have to make sure he doesn’t get any open shots.”But with these players, who shoot, shoot and shoot some more, being open is sometimes an afterthought. Southerland routinely buried shots with a hand — or two — in his face during the Big East tournament, and Stauskas will have to shoot against the 2-3 zone.And when they do, when they rise up and a crowd of 70,000-plus holds its collective breath, they may decide the outcome of the game without even needing to dribble.Said McNamara: “Once a shooter gets his touch going it’s tough to slow him down.” Commentslast_img

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