Eric Williams: Wake Forest- Saint Joe’s Sweet 16
The key matchup going into the Sweet 16 game in 2004 between #1 seed Saint Joe’s and #4 seed Wake Forest was how the Hawks could handle Eric Williams. The guard heavy school from Philadelphia was thin inside and Wake looked to exploit the advantage. The first play was proof of this, as they dumped it into Williams right away.
With the help of a screen from Chris Paul, Williams gets open in the post. Levy dumps the ball in and Bryant immediately doubles down on Williams. Levy makes the correct cut and gets a shot in the lane and converts.
Wake did not go inside very often in the first half after this, as he only took 4 shots in the first half.
The first play in the second half sees Wake go back inside to Williams again where he draws a foul. The double comes a little late and Williams was smart enough to make a quick move before it came. Even though he was 5-6 from the line in this game, he was 49% from the line for the season, so it was not a poor defensive play.
Saint Joe’s did have an effective game plan for Williams, which was to give a quick double and recover on shooters. In the following play, you can see an initial double before he catches and a double down from the guard as Williams begins to make a move. It results in a missed shot (his only of the game).
The last clip shows the final piece of the defensive strategy: Ball pressure. Saint Joe’s focused on delaying the entry pass by playing chest to chest and being active with hands. By forcing a tough entry pass, it then allowed for the double to come from the top of the key. Although Williams drew a foul, the defense prevented an easy layup.
When Williams got the ball in the post, he was effective. He was 7-8 from the field and 5-6 from the line for 19 points. What the Hawks did was mitigate the damage by making him work hard in the post and doubling when he did get the ball. Williams only picked up 2 fouls but was only able to play 28 minutes.
Saint Joe’s knew how to effectively defend the post and the executed their game plan well in this game. By limiting Williams, they helped themselves move on to the Elite 8.