The Mikan Drill

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Pitt has no answer for Notre Dame’s pick and roll

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If you saw the big road win by Notre Dame at Pitt Monday night, you no doubt know a lot of the win was thanks to the three straight baskets by Ben Hansbrough off the pick and roll. Here they are broken down in order starting with the first basket.

On all three screens, we see Scott Martin setting the screen with Hansbrough using the screens. On the first two, you will see Pitt switch the screen, isolating Gary McGhee on Hansbrough.

With the open lane, Hansbrough could easily beat McGhee with the dribble and get a layup. He also knows that McGhee will be giving him space because McGhee is concerned about getting beat off the dribble.

Look at the space between McGhee and Hansbrough. Hansbrough sees this and with a quick release, gets a jump shot off before McGhee can react.

This jumper sets him up for the next play, where he takes McGhee off the dribble.

On the second play, Pitt again switches the screen, leaving McGhee on an island again. Look at the space between Martin and Hasbrough. It’s not a great use of the screen but it is effective in getting the right matchup for Notre Dame.

Look at the wide open lane for Hansbrough. Nasir Robinson is playing bad help defense by sticking tight to Tyrone Nash instead of jumping to the ball. Hansbrough sees this and decides to get to the rim this play.

If you compare this play to the prior one, you may notice McGhee playing a hair closer to Hansbrough before he starts his drive. By making the jumper last possession, it forces McGhee to step up, which sets Hansbrough up for the drive by.

As Nash goes under the basket, Robinson hugs him instead of cutting off the drive. He should have stepped to cut off Hansbrough and try to take a charge or alter the shot.

Wannamaker then needs to rotate to Nash to cut off the dump off pass that Hansbrough could use as an outlet. If he does this, he has time to close out on any kick out to the corner and the defense has a great chance of coming up with a stop.

The help defense fails to rotate and Hansbrough has a free layup. With a major mismatch as this, the help defense becomes even more crucial but it failed to rotate over and McGhee was beaten easily.

On the third play, Ptt finally wises up and has McGhee hedge the screen and Gibbs go over the screen to stick with Hansbrough.

However, we again see Pitt’s help defense fail, as both Robinson and Wannamaker fail to make any attempt to cut off Hansbrough. I can forgive Wannamaker, as Carleton Scott hit 5-6 threes on the night (and he may have been instructed to not help too much off of him) but Robinson again plays awful defense. He needs to be jumping to the ball, instead of playing chest to chest.

While Pitt had a better matchup on Hansbrough then the first two plays, the help defense left a lot to be desired and allowed Hansbrough his third bucket in a row.

These three pick and rolls were major factors in Notre Dame securing the road win. It was caused by a mixture of great recognition and play making by Hansbrough and atrocious help defense by the Panthers. Jamie Dixon is not going to be happy watching his defense make the same mistake down the stretch.


Written by Joshua Riddell

January 25, 2011 at 3:24 am

5 Responses

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  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Popespeed, JR. JR said: Pitt has no answer for ND's pick and roll late […]

  2. Fantastic breakdown. This is a major part of Mike Brey’s Burn Offense, as with enough time Defenses don’t want to fight through screen after screen and especially late in the game McGhee just rotates following the screen instead of fighting through it (which he finally does after being abused twice).

    If the defense has to only fight through one screen and play 10 secs on defense every possession, their fight will be stronger. Notre Dame beat a very good defensive team by making them defend 30 seconds on every possession, which took a toll on their team despite a deep bench.


    January 25, 2011 at 2:32 pm

  3. […] saw earlier this season the struggles Pitt had with the pick and roll defense (see here). I saw them throw in a new wrinkle with their pick and roll defense against Villanova, which […]

  4. […] just let the game come to me. For example, for this post about the Pitt – Notre Dame game, we saw Pitt struggle down the stretch with ND’s pick and roll. One of the topics I like to post on is plays that had an impact on the game, which we may not know […]

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