Inside the play: Wisconsin’s skip pass
Wisconsin ran a nice play that involves a skip pass from the post to the opposite wing player. It is a simple play but highlights some interesting techniques. The play is often open for a post player but it requires good vision and precision passing to be effective. Wisconsin did a good job of this in their Sweet 16 game versus Davidson in 2008, so let’s take a look at the play.
As the ball gets entered into the post, notice how Brian Butch takes a few steps to his left from the corner to the wing. This is key, as it puts him in the view of the post player and in an open passing lane. The post player, Marcus Landry, is not really even looking to make a move toward the basket but his eyes immediatly go to the skip pass.
*Quick aside: It is called a skip pass because it ‘skips’ the closest one or two teammates to pass to a teammate across the court. Simple, I know, but felt it had to be said in case someone did not know.
With the defense sagging to help in the post, the defender can not close in time, thanks to the pass that allowed Butch to catch and shoot quickly, as he did not have to move his feet to corral the pass. This allowed him to get the shot off in time before the close out from the defender.
Extra pass variation
The second time Wisconsin executed the swing pass, Jason Richards of Davidson saw it coming and closed out quicker on Butch and prevented him from getting a shot off. However, Wisconsin had more options, as Jason Bohannon (#12) was positioned in the corner for the extra pass.
If you watch closely, Richards was initally guarding Bohannon, but read that the skip pass was coming from Landry was going to Butch and jumped the action. However, this left nobody to guard Bohannon and Butch made the extra pass to the corner for the wide open 3.
The skip pass is effective because it gets the defense moving, providing the offense with options: they can shoot before the defense closes, swing the ball to the open man or drive past the defense that is running at you. It also works because it gets the ball quickly to the opposite side of the floor and if the defense is in proper help position, they will have to scramble to recover, which the offense can take advantage of and get an open look.
Wisconsin did a good job here of running a play and then coming back to the well later but having a wrinkle lined up to make the second run as effective as the first. I did not have any games from this season to watch so be sure to look out for it in 2010-11 to see if they are still running this set.