The Euroleague 2009-10 regular season hasn’t even begun yet and Entente Orleanaise is just one game – even a respectable loss – away from becoming the first headline story of the basketball year. Heck, the team’s advancement past Spirou Basket was newsworthy in and of itself but the nine-point victory over big-named Benetton Treviso on Tuesday nearly puts Orleans on the international basketball map. This game, whichever way it goes, will define Orleans’ identity for the remainder of this season.
So how can plucky Entente catch lightning in a bottle twice? A few key elements might include:
• DEE-fense. Whoa, did Austin Nichols and Tony Dobbins impress in game one, constantly keeping Treviso’s guards on guard, but to no avail. The frazzled Italian side panicked early and often enough in the second quarter to build an insurmountable lead for Orleanaise. Clearly, Treviso will wilt under this kind of pressure.
• Improve the free-throw shooting. How often does a team that shoots 59 percent from the charity stripe win the game by nine points? Though Treviso barely shot better, going 10-for-16 against Orleans’ 13-for-22, there’s no way Entente can count on a win with this kind of shooting tonight: Here’s to thinking Benetton will be taking a few more and making a few more this evening.
• Continue to rely on the outside game. Sure, Ludovic Vaty held his own for Orleans – at least on defense – underneath, but the truth is Treviso’s still throwing big bodies Davor Kus, Sandro Nicevic and Donatas Motiejunas out there; Orleanaise ain’t going to win the battle underneath and should continue to rely attacking from the perimeter.
• Somebody get on Cartier Martin! Had anyone other than sixth man Motiejunas played their game for Benetton on Tuesday, sports columns would’ve read a whole lot differently on Wednesday and Martin would have been the toast of Treviso. Even with 18 turnovers, Benetton still managed to put the ball in Martin’s hands 16 times. Beyond the arc, Martin was 5-for-10 while rarely facing stiff competition out there. You now know he can make that shot, Orleanaise, don’t let him have it anymore; ‘cause if Martin’s launching like that with a Nicevic in position under the rim, Orleans’ Cinderella story turns into a pumpkin real quick…