Examining Minnesota’s defense of Jon Leuer
Although Jon Leuer ended with 16 points in an eight point home victory, he shot only 4-13 from the field, thanks to good defense by the Gophers, led by Ralph Sampson III, flanked by fellow big men Trevor Mbakwe and Colton Iverson.
The first step to defending Leuer tonight was to bother him with Sampson’s length. First, look where Sampson forces Leuer to catch the ball. He pushes him off the block, which makes him take a tough jumper.
Leuer pivots and faces the basket in a one on one situation against Sampson. After taking a hard dribble to his right, he goes up for a shot but Sampson is there to deflect the attempt. Sampson used his height and length advantage to hinder the shot opportunity.
Leuer ventures down to the block again in this clip and Sampson once again bothers him with his size. Even though Leuer tries a fadeaway jump shot, Sampson manages to bother Leuer and force a missed shot.
Pick and roll defense
We will see later how Minnesota defended the pick and roll with Leuer and a guard. In this play, Leuer handles the ball with a screen set by Jared Berrgren. With Colton Iverson guarding Berrgren, they simply switch the pick and roll to not allow Leuer any space.
This is a smart play since Leuer is such a threat from beyond the arc. By switching the pick and roll when another big men sets the screen, it gives Leuer no space to shoot and does not leave Minnesota with any defensive mismatches.
Great team effort
There are several things to discuss with this play. Here we see how Minnesota defended a typical pick and roll with Leuer. They hedged hard quick and scrambled to get back to Leuer.
Here is the hedge by Mbakwe, cutting off Jordan Taylor from getting to the lane.
Mbakwe then scrambles to get back to Leuer to cut off the passing lane. With Leuer popping to the three point line after setting the screen, this is crucial in not allowing Leuer to have an open look.
What else I love about this defensive effort is how fluidly Mbakwe switches to Leuer. With Sampson caught in the paint on help defense and Leuer curling around unguarded, Mbakwe steps away from his man to guard Leuer.
Sampson recognizes this and takes Mbakwe’s man without pause. This is great recognition by both players, as Mbakwe recognizes the offensive threat and steps up to neutralize Leuer.
The Gophers could not come away with a win but they had a great gameplan to defend Leuer.