Robert Morris gets a good look at the buzzer
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With just under one second left, Robert Morris needed a 3 to tie the game and send it into a second overtime. With the officials at the monitor to determine the amount of time left on the clock, coach Andrew Toole quickly drew up a play that got them an open look, yet fell short.
With this much time on the clock, fouling is a dicey strategy because the offense is going to catch and shoot and a foul could result in 3 free throws. However, the offense has to be cognizant of the fact that the defense might foul and design a play to work around this.
Many plays in this situation are designed to get the shooter coming toward the ball but these plays are often the easiest to defend. The defense is designed to stop the action coming toward the ball but are susceptible to being beaten on the weak side of the court (illustrated by Depaul here). It’s why this play was so successful and nearly gave us a second overtime.
The play is designed for Russell Johnson (green square). Robert Morris starts with some dummy action toward the ball to get the defense shading that way, before setting a fade screen for Johnson to the far side of the court. The offensive player coming up from the block is designed to get several of the defenders focused on him, taking their eyes off of Johnson.
You can see that all three defenders are shaded toward Gary Wallace, which lets Johnson get open on the far side of the court. Johnson’s defender switched the screen but Wallace’s defender was a step behind by the time he realized where Johnson was heading.
The defender closes on Johnson but he has made the catch and gets a pretty good look at the basket based on the situation. You can’t really ask for much more than that considering the amount of time left on the clock.
The key is the flash by Wallace, who draws the attention of three defenders as he comes to the top of the key. The defense has to respect players coming to the ball and it leaves them vulnerable for players fading to the far side. This allowed Johnson to get open and get a solid look at a look that would have tied the game. Very nice play drawn up in a short amount of time by Coach Toole.
I really like using the misdirection and sending a player away from the ball to try to get open in these situations. The defense is usually crowded on the ball side and it can be tough to find an open space. This requires a much tougher pass but it results in a higher probability of an open look.