Inside the play: Xavier alley-oop
This is the first post in a continuing series where we will take a look at what makes a set play work or fail. Today, we will look at a set play I saw while watching the thrilling Xavier-Kansas State game from last season. It was a perfectly timed play that Xavier ran to get an alley-oop to Jamal Crawford.
Xavier showed that they have this play down pat, as there was perfect timing multiple times throughout the play, which made it succesful. First, take a look at how Xavier sets up. They are in a 4 high set and can run numerous sets out of this formation.
The first piece of good timing is how Xavier gets into the set and runs the play nearly instantaneously. This means that Kansas State has little time to recognize the set and adjust their defense based on their scouting.
With Crawford on the left side of the court, he runs off of two screens from the forwards, who are planted at the elbow. Meanwhile, the KSU forwards are playing level or above the Xavier forwards, instead of dropping into the paint. They are concerned with bumping any screens and hedging on any pick and roll action. Both of the defenders do a poor job, as they neither bump Crawford across the foul line or sag down into the paint to take away the back cut.
Meanwhile, Dante Jackson, the guard on the right side of the court, clears out the area by cutting along the baseline. Notice how his defender respects him (and his 40% 3 point shooting) and hedges on his cut instead of dropping into the paint, which further opens up the area.
Crawford reads the defense excellently. He notices that the defender is trailing him, so he can’t pop out for a 3 pointer. He cuts hard off of the second pick, right to the basket. Dennis Clemente is caught in the screen and Crawford flies in for the perfectly timed, well placed alley oop.