Archive for the ‘Keys to the game’ Category
While Michigan State couldn’t join Iowa and become the second team to crack 1 point per possession against Wisconsin, they did manage to escape with a win in Madison in a game that featured an exciting ending, to say the least. Few teams have had prolonged success against the defense of the Badgers this year but Michigan State managed to find some in the pick and roll game.
They did not run ball screens much during the first half but it became a staple of the offense later in the game and it led to several positive possessions for the Spartans. Let’s look at how they exploited the defense of the Badgers.
Wisconsin chose not to hedge at all on these screens and straight switched on many of the pick and rolls. Their goal was to keep Michigan State’s guards, specifically Keith Appling, out of the lane. This didn’t work for several reasons, one being that Appling could blow by the big men of Wisconsin when he wanted to get to the rim and that he was knocking down jump shots when presented with that option.
Appling made great decisions coming off the pick and roll in this game, wisely choosing when he could take it to the rim and when the defense gave him room to pull up. First, let’s look at his ability to take the defense off the dribble. Look at how closely the defense is playing him in the first frame, off the pick and roll switch. There is little more than an arm’s length between Appling and the defender and Appling recognizes he can take him to the rim.
Vanderbilt relied on a part of their game that has struggled so far in the early part of their season, their defense. They held Marquette to 0.83 points per possession, their second best defensive efficiency of the season (behind December 21st’s 0.82 PPP by Lafayette) and Marquette’s worst offensive output by far. Much of this can be attributed to the presence of Festus Ezeli guarding the rim but the performance against Marquette was a total team effort.
The defense of Vanderbilt was designed to give up three point shots to the Golden Eagles while taking away dribble penetration. They showed some pack line defense principles throughout the game as they sagged off the three point line while closing any lanes to the rim. This caused Marquette to settle for many three point shots, as they were not aggressive in trying to create lanes for penetration.
In the championship game of the Old Spice Classic, Dayton was able to exploit the poor pick and roll defense of Minnesota to get several easy baskets on their way to a convincing sixteen point win. Ralph Sampson III played some great defense early in the game but with his availability limited due to an injury, the rest of the defense was not able to replicate his success.
With the exception of one or two plays, Sampson did an excellent job of hedging hard on the ball screens and blowing up the pick and roll or defending the ball handler and altering his shot. With Matt Kavanaugh setting the ball screen, look at how high Sampson gets on his hedge. By getting above the left shoulder of the ball handler, he takes away any chance to use the screen effectively.
Butler chose to hedge hard on every pick and roll by Louisville in their matchup, so Louisville was content to find the roll man on the screen which gave them several easy baskets inside. With Louisville’s big men not seen as offensive threats and their guards depleted by injuries, Butler thought this would be the best way to slow down the pick and roll. However, the Cardinal guards did a great job of locating the roll man and feeding them the ball for several baskets throughout the game.
While Butler did a great job of stringing out the pick and roll and not allowing dribble penetration, they did a poor job of rotating back to the roll man. You can see in the following frames how they hedged on the ball screens but left the roll man open.
Of the 15 missed 3 point shots for Valparaiso in their opening night loss to Arizona, many of the shooters on the misses could be categorized as ‘open’ or ‘very open’. They bailed Arizona out by missing these wide open shots but the Wildcats did do a good job of forcing several other difficult shots due to their initial defense.
I have extracted four missed shots by the Crusaders. Arizona takes away the initial action, whether it be a player curling off a screen, an attempt at dribble penetration or a look into the post which pressures the offense into a tough shot.
Look at the eyes on Will Bogan as he curls off the screen in the first play. He has three defenders who are in position to stop him from scoring and Valparaiso is scrambling for a second option. This is great defense on the screen by Arizona, as the primary defender fights over the screen to recover to Bogan and has help from two teammates if he needs it.
With VCU shocking almost all of us to go from the First Four to the Final Four, I wanted to highlight how they utilize ball screens to get Jamie Skeen open for three point shots. Let’s look at two different sets, one with Skeen not setting the ball screen and one with him as the screener.
Off the ball
I actually highlighted this type of set in VCU’s opening round win against USC (read here), so I won’t spend too much time on it again. This play is going to work if teams hedge on ball screens, with the help defender rotating over to take away the roll man. We saw Pitt use this type of defense in a Big East game earlier in the season (read here).
Virginia held Minnesota to 9 offensive rebounds for an offensive rebound rate of 28.6%, below their season average of 38.1% (good enough for 55th in the nation). Minnesota dominated the glass early in getting out to an early lead but this faded away as the game went on and Virginia took advantage (along with their 3 point percentage) in a big comeback win.
Let’s take a look at how Virginia got out to an early lead.
With 1:11 left in their battle with UConn, MSU foulded Kemba Walker sending him to the line for a 1 and 1. Walker missed the front end but MSU was unable to secure the rebound.
After getting the ball back, Walker sunk a jump shot that turned out to be the game winner. What happened on the box out?
With the game tight midway through the second half, OSU went on a big run to pull away from the Gators. They did this by easily handling the full court pressure and giving Jared Sullinger dunk after dunk.
They broke the press both by the dribble and with the pass. Let’s take a look at how it all happened.
Not the prettiest game to open the college basketball season but to me, it was clear what won the game for the Pitt: the lack of transition defense by the Rams, especially in the second half.
Doris Burke blamed it on fatigue of the Rams. While this may be a part of it, a lack of awareness by the guards plays a big part in transition defense. When a shot goes up, at least two players on the perimeter need to be floating back to their end of the court to deter easy transition opportunities.
What we saw several times were Rhode Island players standing in place when an outside shot went up, instead of getting back on defense. This led to several easy opportunities for the Panthers, helping them get easy buckets.
Here, Pitt grabs the defensive rebound and you can see 4 Ram defenders inside the paint. With one Ram defender back, this leads to a three on one for Pitt. Delroy James (#21) needs to realize his position on the court and get back on defense.
James is caught flat footed and is easily beat down the court.
Although Pitt did not convert the break, it illustrates the opportunities they had in transition. With Rhode Island shooting 3′s on a regular basis, they need to have balance with the long rebounds that are bound to happen.
This shot shows how the perimeter players were drifting toward the basket, hoping for an offensive rebound, instead of getting back for defensive balance.
Watch as Nikola Malesevic drifts toward the basket and gets caught in no mans land after Pitt secures the rebound. He needs to be moving toward his own basket (green arrow) instead of fighting for an offensive rebound (red arrow) which he has little hope of corralling.
Considering Pitt was strong on the glass (Rhode Island only got 27% of offensive rebounds), they should have been focusing more on transition defense. They did not and Pitt took advantage of it, getting out and running numerous times.
I think the exploitation of the poor transition defense by Pitt was the key to this game and the only thing that prevented it from being a double digit win was Pitt missing the easy layups in transition.
Rhode Island was successful playing their style and almost knocked off #4 Pitt. To be a legitimate contender in the A-10, they need to shore up their transition defense.