Inside the play: Wichita State’s double screen
In one of the last games of the year, Wichita State executed a set that is near the top of my favorite ones on the year. It wasn’t overly complicated but it is very difficult to defend.
JT Durley and Aaron Ellis are the screeners on this play. They set the first screen, a flare screen, for Ben Smith who flares to the wing. While it looks like the play is designed for him, I think he is instructed to let the play develop before he tries to make a play. This is mainly designed to get him open and the defense focused on this screen, while the play is actually designed to get Toure’ Murray the shot.
After Smith gets the pass on the wing, Murray closely follows his path up through the key. Instead of going to the right of Durley though, he goes between the two screeners to lose his man. Notice in this frame how the two screeners are a few steps apart. This gives Murray space to run between his two teammates.
Immediately after Murray runs through, the two screeners converge, setting a very effective double screen for Murray. With both defenders having to play between their man and the rim, there is nobody able to hedge on the screen and Murray has all day to get the shot off.
This play works because of the effective double screen, timed perfectly by the two screeners but also because the play is designed to not allow the defense to react to Murray using the screen. With Smith running off the screen first, the two defenders on the screeners have to stay in help position in case of a drive by Smith. They must also stay between their man and the rim so that one of the screeners cannot slip the screen and have a free pass to the rim.
One of the two defenders could have seen the Murray coming and gotten out to contest the shot after the pass was made but I don’t believe they would have gotten there in time. With the screeners set up at the elbow and Murray catching just inside the NBA 3 point line, there was just too great of a distance to cover before he got the shot off, so that defense would not have worked either to prevent an open look.
This combination of a great screen and well-designed play helped Wichita State get an easy look at a three point shot. The play was nicely designed by Gregg Marshall and the execution was just as good.