Inside the play: Syracuse inbounds play
We are going to look at an inbounds play Syracuse ran last season against Butler in their Sweet 16 loss. First, go ahead and take a look at it in real time:
The question is, why was the middle so open for Wesley Johnson to have an easy dunk? Let’s look at the action before that which led to the successful execution.
It starts with 2 players on each side of the key. With the way the players are aligned, it appears as though Kris Joseph or Andy Rautins is going to run off the double screen on the other side of the key.
Joseph is the player that runs off the screen and the defense has to respect him using the double screen and getting the open 3 in the corner. Willie Veasley (#21) who is guarding Wes Johnson, hedges hard on Joseph with his original man, Gordon Hayward, trailing Joseph.
In the below shot, notice how Veasley is not between Johnson and the basket but is already preparing to hedge on Joseph. My guess is that Butler scouted this play and it went to Joseph in the corner earlier in the season (or possibly even the tournament).Veasley was intent on not letting Joseph get the ball.
Johnson read Veasley well, though, and immediately cut toward the basket. With Matt Howard concerned about his own man getting the easy pass for a layup, he has to play tight to his man. This keeps Howard from being in the middle of the pain and cutting off Johnson’s lane.
Johnson recognizes that his man has slipped and dives right to the basket and is the recipient of a perfect pass for the alley-oop. Slipping the screen can be effective in many different situations but I think it is most effective on inbounds plays. The primary action is off the screen and is usually effective the first time the play is run or if the opponent has not scouted it correctly.
If the play has been ran before in the game or has been properly scouted, the opponent often has a beat on the primary action. They will attempt to take this away but this is often what the offense wants. This allows the screener to slip the screen toward the basket once the hedge is made.
Johnson read this perfectly and made the right call to slip the screen. The result was an easy two buckets. The key was that Johnson knew how Veasley was playing him and that he was trying to take Joseph’s action away and disrupt the play. By reading the play and seeing the open lane in front of him, Johnson made the right read to slip the screen and call for the lob.