The guard movement of Louisville against the zone
If you saw the Louisville – Syracuse game today, you saw a clinic put on by Louisville on offense for the first 25 minutes or so. I thought Doris Burke did a great job of breaking down why they were having success, including showing the patience by the team and getting the ball to the middle of the zone.
One thing I want to focus on is the movement by the perimeter players. Sometimes I will see an offense space the three guards well around the three point line but they will simply pass the ball around, while at a stand still. This makes them easy to guard and renders the offense less effective as the defense does not have to move far to guard the offense.
Louisville did an excellent job of moving their guards around and it got them plenty of open looks from beyond the arc. I wanted to highlight a few possessions where they did this exceptionally well.
The first thing you notice is how the guards cut through the lane after they make a pass. This play ends in a turnover but watch Peyton Siva cut through and briefly flash in the high post after making the pass.
Siva briefly flashes to the high post but is covered. This can be effective because usually the middle player in the zone is responsible for covering the flasher, who is cutting from the baseline. When the cutter comes from the top, he may be able to get the ball before the defense adapts.
However, Triche is putting good pressure on the ball and CJ Fair collapses on Siva, so he is not open. Siva continues his cut after briefly seeing if the high post was open.
Siva continues moving without the ball and goes to the far wing. Instead of staying at the top of the key after making the pass, he keeps moving and relocates to a new spot which changes the look of the offense, making them more difficult to cover.
This next play is the one Burke broke down after halftime but I wanted to point out the great movement by the guards. Keep an eye on the guards off the ball. Watch their cuts through the middle and the relocating to different spots on the floor.
Let’s start with Kyle Kuric. Like Siva above, he makes a pass and cuts through to the baseline.
He hides behind the defense, who doesn’t recognize where he is on the court. Preston Knowles finds him but not in a good position to score the ball.
By cutting through, Kuric was able to find the open area in the zone. Instead of being predictable on offense, Louisville kept moving without the ball, making them very hard to guard.
Now watch the relocations by the guards. By continually moving without the ball, they make it difficult for the defense to find them after receiving a pass.
At this point in the play, watch Knowles fade to his right when Siva drives, putting some space between himself and the defender responsible for the close out while giving Siva space to operate.
Later in the play, Knowles relocates to the corner to spot up for the three. Instead of staying on the wing where Triche could close out in time, he moves to the corner and Triche is unable to strongly challenge the shot.
This movement by the offense keeps the defense scrambling and they eventually find the opening. Again, they are not predictable in the zone offense and they are extremely hard to cover when they continuously move like this possession.
In this final play, we see alot of the same movements as I posted above. Watch for the guards cutting through and flashing after a pass and off ball relocating after a drive.
I want to focus on Kuric in this play. At the end of the play, he passes and cuts through. The defense does not pick him up and he is able to run baseline for an open three. Like above, Kuric does a good job of hiding himself behind the defense after making his cut.
You can see that the back line never really recognizes that he is behind them. This cut overloads the side of the zone and Southerland cannot close out in time to challenge the shot. It does not go in but it’s a great look.
Again, the movement by the guards forces the defense to work at all times on the possession and gets the guards to the open spots on the floor. Instead of trying to force the ball somewhere, they create open spaces on the floor to beat the zone.
The guards played exceptionally well today against Syracuse, as they were always moving without the ball to make it difficult on the defense. If the offense stands still, they are easier to guard but Louisville made smart cuts to find the open spots in the zone.
The Mikan Drill can be found on Twitter: @TheMikanDrill