The pick and roll defense of Deniz Kilicli
One of the staples of the Villanova offense is the pick and roll, which they run with several of their guards. West Virginia is a team set up well to defend the pick and roll, as their big men are athletic enough to switch the screen. Here is a clip from early in the game that shows Cam Thoroughman switching the pick and roll and picking up Corey Fisher as he drives to the basket. Thoroughman can move his feet and stay with Fisher and not allow him to get a shot off.
However, Deniz Kilicli is not quite on the same level as Thoroughman or John Flowers in terms of perimeter defense. He makes an early mistake on the pick and roll but makes a nice adjustment later in the game.
This clip is one of the first possessions that Kilicli was on the floor. Villanova recognized him as a weak perimeter defender and immediately worked to exploit him. On the first possession, Kilicli hedged on Fisher to try to slow him down.
Since he can’t stick with Fisher on penetration, he has to hedge and recover while Mazzulla fights through the screen instead of switching as Thoroughman was able to do earlier in the game. What makes this play successful is Yarou setting a great screen on Mazzulla, forcing him to be late on the recovery.
The hedge by Kilicli is not bad but it allows Yarou to freely set a screen on Mazzulla before he rolls to the basket. Kilicli leaves Fisher to cover Yarou but Mazzulla has not had enough time to recover to guard Fisher after fighting through the screen. Fisher sees this, steps to the three point line and buries the shot.
Villanova rightfully goes back to this well a few minutes later since it worked this time. Kilicli defends the pick and roll with a different strategy this time, choosing to focus on not letting Yarou set the screen instead of trying to hedge on the ball. By using his strength to muscle Yarou, he does not let him set the ball screen.
This allows John Flowers to go under the screen instead of getting screened. Kilicli pushes Yarou out past the NBA 3 point line and Flowers can go under the screen and recover before Fisher gets into shooting range.
Kilicli does a great job of taking advantage of his strength instead of relying on his weak perimeter defense to stop the lethal pick and roll. By not allowing his teammate to get screened, he allows them to go under the screen and recover to contest a three point shot.
Here is a second example of Kilicli using his strength to push Yarou out of position to set the screen and break up the pick and roll. He beats Yarou to the spot where he wants to set the screen, which allows Mazzulla to go over the screen and stick with Fisher.
After getting beat on the initial pick and roll, Kilicli quickly abandoned trying to hedge and recover. Yarou set a really nice screen on the initial play and by taking away the screening action, he was able to disrupt the pick and roll.
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