Wake’s poor defensive rotation
Wake Forest has struggled with rotating on defense this season. I wanted to highlight one play that epitomizes their struggles, which led to a three point opportunity for Duke.
When a team sets up in a four high set like Duke does here, the initial action is the same nearly every time, no matter what happens at the end of the play: the point guard passes the ball to the wing or elbow and cuts to the basket.
Teams should know how to defend the initial action at least but you will see Wake make a mistake on the defensive rotation.
What happens is that Tony Chennault runs into the screen and receives no help from his teammates, which gives Smith a free lane to the basket. Simply poor defensive help from his teammates.
There is no weakside rotation either and Smith has time to catch, take a dribble and finish the layup. But who was at fault?
I have highlighted the two players I think played poor help defense for Wake in this play. First, we need to look at Ty Walker. Miles Plumlee is not a threat to be dangerous if he catches the ball at the high post, so there is no need to be guarding him that close.
He needs to be sagging off of Plumlee to cut off Smith from getting a free lane to the basket. This will also allow Chennault to recover after being screened by Plumlee.
Second, Seth Curry is an excellent shooter but JT Terrell needs to have a foot in the paint when Curry is in that position on the court. He should be more concerned with protecting the basket than taking away Curry. If Smith does get the ball and kick out to Curry, Terrell will have time to recover (or Tabb will rotate over).
Instead, the help defenders are more concerned with their own men, instead of rotating to help on Smith and protect the basket. This results in a wide open layup for Smith, with Chennault fouling him as a result of getting beat off the screen.
This is a great example of why Wake is struggling on defense this season (106.s efficiency). They don’t know how to rotate properly and give up open shots on a regular basis, such as this one.