Slowing the best
Tigers must limit Regis' Josh Perkins to advance in 5A playoffs
Analysis of the statistics leads to a statement of the obvious: To beat the Regis Jesuit High School boys basketball team, you must slow down Josh Perkins.
Every team that played the Raiders (20-4) this season knew that. Of course, no one stopped the 6-foot-2 junior guard who leads Regis in scoring, rebounding, assists and steals. Now, Grand Junction (18-5) will try.
Tigers head coach Dutch Johnson didn’t mince words about the one-man gang his team will face at 6 p.m. tonight at Regis Jesuit High School in the Sweet 16 of the Class 5A state playoffs.
“He’s the best player in Colorado,” Johnson said, adding Perkins “is being recruited by the world.
“He’s probably the best player we’ve ever played against and could be the best player we ever will play against.”
Aware of what awaited after Grand Junction’s victory Saturday over Fort Collins in the second round of the playoffs, Johnson bid his assistant coaches adieu that night with a joke: “From now until Monday, learn how to teach zone.”
Only he wasn’t really joking. Johnson believes playing any defense other than man-to-man is next to sacrilege, but Perkins appears to be the desperate time that requires a desperate measure. So, the Tigers included some work on zone defense during their practice Monday.
But Johnson won’t go overboard.
“The teams that have zoned Regis have slowed them down a little bit, slowed Josh down a little bit, and tried to keep him out of the open floor where he’s dangerous,” Johnson said. “I still hesitate to do it because they have such good shooters, and we’re going to have to get out on them, and we haven’t worked on it and played much zone this year. But it may be something after a timeout or a dead ball or coming out of a quarter where we go a possession or two in zone.”
The danger with Perkins is despite scoring 25 points per game, he also gets his teammates involved, evidenced in his nearly seven assists per game.
“That’s what people don’t realize, he’s such a good passer,” Johnson said. “He sees the floor. He’ll make full-length-of-the-court passes, so off the ball you have to be really good. If you fall asleep and your man back-cuts, your man’s open, he’s going to find him.”
And open Raiders are dangerous Raiders.
“The rest of the team is just real solid, real fundamentally sound,” Johnson said. “They don’t beat themselves. And Josh Perkins requires so much attention, and all of the other four guys on the floor are going to be able to shoot 3s, which makes it hard to guard.”
Grand Junction answers with a star guard of its own, junior Broderick Robinson, who plays summer basketball in Denver and is familiar with Perkins.
“I’ve seen him play a bunch,” Robinson said. “He’s a great player. He’s fun to watch. He’s going to be tough to guard, but I think we can do it. He likes to get to the basket, and he draws a lot of fouls. We’ve just got to play straight defense, play defense with our feet, not with our hands, help-side D, make them pass it.”
Robinson relishes the challenge that awaits and believes he and his teammates can meet it.
“It’s a winnable game, definitely, for us,” Robinson said. “Nobody thinks we can come out and win. The pressure’s on them because they’re the No. 1 seed, so we just have to come out and play.”