Red Star hopes to regain its form as it faces off with one of the hottest teams in the competition in Benetton Tamoil. Head coach Stevan Karadzic's Red Star started the season at 4-1 but struggled down the stretch to finish at 6-4. The Serbian team shot a solid 52% from inside the arc and an excellent 38% from outside the stripe. But Karadzic's men lost too many games because they did not handle the ball well enough - committing 16 turnovers per contest. The key to any success for Red Star is the performance of its dynamic duo - power forward Tadija Dragicevic (18.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg) and playmaker Omar Cook (15.9 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 6.3 apg, 2.5 spg). If those two are slowed down, there is not a lot of production coming from the rest of the team. Look for Karadzic to demand that at least one of the following guys really step up his game: center Miroslav Raicevic (8.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg), guard Steven Markovic (8.1 ppg, 2.1 apg), center Elmedin Kikanovic (6.8 ppg, 2.2 rpg off the bench) or forward Mirko Kovac (7.3 ppg). One or more of them will need a big game for Red Star to grab a victory. Benetton Tamoil meanwhile started the regular season slow at 1-3 but blazed to six straight victories to finish at 7-3. Unlike Red Star, head coach Oktay Mahmudi's Treviso did an excellent job taking care of the ball, committing a fourth-fewest 12.3 turnovers per game. And while the Italian club shot just 49% from inside the arc, Mahmudi's bombers were on target 44% of the time - second-best in the ULEB Cup. And Treviso proved to be a solid rebounding side as well. The leader for Mahmudi has been point guard Lionel Chalmers (17.6 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 2.9 apg, 40% of threes) while center Mario Austin (13.6 ppg, 7 rgp), shooting guard Reece Gaines (12.9 ppg, 2.9 apg, 46% of threes) and small forward Matteo Soragna (10.9 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 2.8 apg, 50% of threes) all contributed in double figures as well. Center Angelo Gigli averaged 7.5 points and 5.8 rebounds but did not play in the last three games. But power forward Nana Mensah-Bonsu collected 8.7 points, 7.4 rebounds and 1 blocked shot. Whether or not Red Star can cut down on its turnovers and stop the Treviso sharp-shooters should decide this contest.
Monday, February 18, 2008