Augustana basketball players are receiving an education this week about the Vikings’ opponent in the NCAA Division III Final Four.
The teams share a 23-8 record as they work toward Friday’s 6:30 p.m. national semifinal game in Salem, Virginia, but Augustana coach Grey Giovanine said the Ephs present the Vikings with a different look from teams they have seen this season.
“They have great size and great skill and will present us with a unique challenge,’’ Giovanine said Tuesday before putting his team through its final workout before leaving the Quad-Cities today following a 10:15 a.m. public sendoff from the Carver Center today.
“They are the probably the tallest overall team we have seen this season and they shoot an average 28 threes a game, so those big guys can move a bit. They’re a national program, bringing in guys from all over, so we have a lot to prepare for this week.’’
The Williams roster includes players from nine states and the Ephs reached the Final Four by beating New England Small College Athletic Association rival Middlebury in the Elite Eight, avenging a 22-point loss two weeks earlier in the title game of the conference tourney.
Both teams are accustomed to playing on the national stage.
One year before Augustana played in the Division III national title game in 2015, Williams lost to Wisconsin-Whitewater in the 2014 final at the Salem Civic Center. That Ephs team was led by eventual Michigan transfer Duncan Robinson, a three-game starter for the Wolverines this season as a senior.
The Williams roster includes players from nine states, including Ohio native Daniel Arnowitz, a 6-foot-5 guard who leads the team in scoring at 16.9 points per game.
Kyle Scadlock, a 6-7 forward, is the only other double-digit scorer at 12.8 points per game and leads the Ephs in rebounding at 6.4 per game.
The rest of the lineup includes 6-8 forward Marcos Soto, 6-4 guard Cole Teal and 5-8 guard Mike Greenman.
“We know they’re tall, athletic and like to shoot the three,’’ Augustana senior Jacob Johnston said. “The coaches always do a great job of getting us ready. They are preparing us to face a good team, which is what you would expect.’’
The introduction will include about 15 minutes of tape, essentially the cliff notes version of the hours of video Vikings coaches are watching this week.
With small-college basketball games being live streamed from coast to coast, the business of scouting future opponents has evolved over the past decade.
“There was a time not that long ago that you might have one or two tapes to look at,’’ Giovanine said. “Now, we’ve got every single game and every single play and we’ll watch every possession. Of course, they’re probably looking at everything we’ve done, too.’’
The Synergy Sports Technology system the Vikings utilize to study opponents is the industry standard, used throughout college basketball and the NBA. It creates web-based, video-supported analytics that assist in the scouting process.
“The value and volume of the information that we have at our hands has changed dramatically,’’ Giovanine said. “It impacts the way you prepare.’’
Assistant coaches at Augustana are tasked with breaking all that down and typically for each game, one assistant becomes “an expert’’ on the opponent while Giovanine’s focus remains on his own team.
Vikings players will watch about 15 minutes of video as they prepare for an opponent, detailing what coaches are seeing with their more exhaustive studies.
“You have to be careful not to overload the guys with too much,’’ Giovanine said. “Ideally, you want them to know what they need to know and put them in a position to just go play.’’