Inside the play: Utah State executes a lob
In the biggest game of BracketBusters weekend, I came away impressed with Utah State’s execution in the halfcourt. This play came early in the game and was a well designed play to take advantage of the defense focusing in on Utah State’s best player, Tai Wesley.
Wesley comes off a down screen to receive the pass from teammate James Walker. As he catches the ball, we see a backscreen on the opposite wing, set for Pooh Williams by Nate Bendall. A backscreen is probably the best way to get an alley oop facing a half court man to man defense, since it is the most likely way to get an offensive player moving toward the basket unguarded. The key is a well executed back screen to free up the intended player.
Once Wesley catches the ball, Bendall’s man takes a step to his left to be in help position in the paint. With the ball in Wesley’s hand, Utah State is banking on the fact that the defense will focus in on him, as he is the most dangerous offensive player they have. This allows Bendall to free up Williams with a perfect backscreen.
The screen works for several reasons. First, Bendall goes right up to the back of Dellavadova, ensuring he sets a hard screen on him. Sometimes it is best not to set the screen so close to the defender and allow the teammate to use the screen but in this case, it is the proper screen. When Williams makes his backcut, Dellavadova does not see the screen and as he turns to follow Williams, he runs right into the screen of Bendall.
Also, it does not look like the help defender, Tim Williams, helps all that much on the screen. He is focused on help defense on the ball and neglects what his man is doing. It doesn’t look like he calls out the screen and is not in position to help on Pooh Williams as he cuts to the basket. He sees the screen but is late in reacting to it and cannot get over in time to break up the lob.
Its not terrible defense by Tim Williams, as he is proper help defense position on the ball. However, he needs to see the ball and his man and he loses track of what his man is doing in this play. He doesn’t provide help defense on the screen, and Pooh Williams is able to get free to the basket. Wesley delivers a pass on the money and the alley oop is completed.
Tim Williams was concerned with the danger posed by Wesley with the ball at the top of the key and lost track of the screen set by his man. This put him out of position to help on the screen and gave Pooh Williams a free run to the basket, thanks to the great screen by Bendall. Nice pay design by Utah State, as they take advantage of the attention drawn by Wesley to get Pooh Williams open.
The Mikan Drill can be found on Twitter @TheMikanDrill