UNC cannot take advantage of the switched screen
It’s no secret that Harrison Barnes is finally living up to his preseason hype and becoming the dominant offensive player everyone thought he could be before the season started. UNC is starting to make him a focal point of the offense and run him off of multiple screens to try to get him open. In this play, we see him come off a staggered screen, which Duke chooses to switch. Seth Curry ends up on Barnes, which is clearly a mismatch but UNC cannot take advantage of this switch.
Kyle Singler starts on Barnes, which was a really fun matchup to watch the last two times these teams have played on both ends of the court. Even though Singler has done a fine job defending Barnes, Duke chooses to switch this screen to not allow Barnes an open look at a jumper from the top of the key.
The old Barnes may have chosen to float around the perimeter and not try to command the ball. Lately, he is becoming more assertive and when he sees he has the smaller Curry on him, he immediately takes him into the post to try to take advantage of the mismatch.
However, UNC cannot get the ball into Barnes in the post. We will see it is partly because of the entry passers and partly because Barnes gives up at the end. Let’s start with the passers.
Kendall Marshall was just taken out of the game, leaving Leslie McDonald and Dexter Strickland to handle the ball. Strickland has the first crack to make the entry pass, yet can’t. You can see below that the bigger Ryan Kelly is guarding him now because of the switch.
He doesn’t look comfortable making the entry pass as he looks into Barnes. Kelly is not putting hard pressure on the ball and while he could take away the high pass, Strickland could easily get a bounce pass under his hands into the post. Kelly is taking away the baseline, which is fine because Strickland could make a ball fake and an entry pass to Barnes’ left hand and let him go to work.
I believe that if Marshall were in the game, he would have easily made the entry pass to Barnes. Strickland looked tentative in making the pass to Barnes and barely looks at him before reversing the ball to Henson.
With the ball reversed to Henson, Curry fronts Barnes in the post but gives up the lob. Nolan Smith is putting literally no pressure on the ball and Henson should be able to make the lob pass. He also looks tentative and doesn’t make the pass into Barnes.
After failing twice to receive the entry pass, Barnes ends up giving up on posting up. I can’t say I blame him, since both players had a chance to make the entry pass but didn’t but he is actually in really good position after Strickland gets the ball back. With Curry fronting him, as the ball gets reversed, Barnes can pin him on his back.
I don’t really have confidence that Strickland would make the entry pass based on the beginning of the play but if he takes one dribble to his left, he would have a great passing angle into the post. Barnes has given up on posting up Curry, however, so the option is not there.
Barnes did a great job of recognizing the mismatch and working hard initially to get the ball. The entry passers fail to do their jobs, which forces Barnes to give up on the play. UNC could have gotten the position in a great position to score but they end up turning the ball over. I think this is an underrated aspect of Marshall’s game and shows with the strength of UNC being their interior players, they can’t afford to have him on the bench for very long.