Tramel: Oklahoma State basketball's counter is speedy centers, Kalib Boone & Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe
Kalib Boone and Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe are slender centers. Not slender as in 7-foot slender. Slender as in 6-foot-8 slender.
Athletic. Fast, even. But not bulky. Not overly physical, though Moncrieffe can stand his ground to some degree.
A college basketball team can win with post men like that. But they’ve got to play a certain way. For example, the way Boone and Moncrieffe played in OSU’s 76-58 victory over Iowa State on Tuesday.
Moncrieffe had 19 points and eight rebounds. He made eight of 14 shots, to go with three steals and a blocked shot.
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Boone had 15 points and five rebounds. He made seven of eight shots, to go with two steals and a blocked shot.
Impressive duo against Iowa State’s bigger centers. Solomon Young is 6-8, 255 pounds. George Conditt IV is 6-10, 245.
Young, particularly, has hurt the Cowboys in the past. His career high 27 points came in a January 2020 game against OSU.
But Boone and Moncrieffe made Iowa State pay deploying bigger big men. They ran the court and found easy baskets in transition. The Cyclones failed to keep up.
“We’re probably not like the strongest, but we are quicker,” Boone said. “Everybody (center) in this league weighs 230 to 245. I’m 210-215, he (Moncrieffe) is like 215. We just run. Just get out and run. And running the floor really helps me because it makes the guy I’m guarding tired. Easier to guard on the offensive end.”
On the offensive end, the running made things easy and fun. Boone finished with six dunks, Moncrieffe with two. They combined for five fast-break baskets. OSU outscored ISU 19-4 in transition.
Mike Boynton can be pragmatic about his team. He knows its limitations.
“Yeah, there’s one thing that I think is kind of a unanimous acceptance of what our team is,” Boynton said. “We’re long, and we’re really athletic. And we’re fast.
“When we do get defensive stops, we’re really electric in transition. We can really get down court quickly. We can get to the rim with multiple guys that can finish down there. No question.”
Most teams have athletic players on the perimeter. But not every team has athletic centers. Some go with size. West Virginia’s Derrick Culver. Kansas’ David McCormack TCU’s Kevin Samuell. Young.
“These guys have to, at this point, because of their lack of girth, use their quickness and speed as an advantage and try to counter what they don’t have against brute-force guys,” Boynton said..
“Then in the off-season, you know what, gotta put more weight on ‘em so they can do both. That’s part of the process of getting better.”
And it’s not like Boone and Moncrieffe were trading baskets with the Iowa State big men. OSU held Young and Conditt to eight points on 2-of-8 shooting combined.
“We tried to make his touches a little more difficult,” Boynton said of Young. “We did try to double him a little bit more, and we played zone to keep multiple bodies around. He’s certainly a guy that’s really given us problems. To see us respond the way we did, good vibes, I guess, that we can do this against big guys.”
Good vibes that Boone and Moncrieffe continue to develop, in different ways. OSU’s potential NCAA Tournament pitfall is drawing a matchup that becomes a physical impossibility. If Boone and Moncrieffe can counter with more speed in transition, that matchup becomes a little less imposing.