Season Leftovers: West Virginia Set
In the last set play from the 2011 season, we will see West Virginia run a set for Dalton Pepper, which ends in a semi-contested jump shot by Pepper but one that he is able to knock down. Let’s take a look at the build up to the play that got Pepper the jump shot.
Pepper gets the backscreen from Cam Thoroughman set on Kemba Walker. Pepper was not a major offensive threat for WVU last season, averaging only 3.9 points per game with a 103.4 offensive rating, so it looks like a major part of this play is to get Walker working on the defensive end and hoping to tire him out.
John Flowers looks in to Pepper on the block but the passing lane is congested, so he swings the ball to Thoroughman, who opens up to the top of the key after setting a second screen for Joe Mazzulla to use.
Mazzulla then sets the first of a staggered screen for Pepper, with Kevin Jones walking in from the wing to set the second screen on the far block. West Virginia wants to make Walker chase Pepper around the court but Shabazz Napier switches onto Pepper on the first screen.
Pepper continues along the baseline and uses the second screen from Jones and pops out to the corner. Napier chooses to go above the screen and Jones moves slightly out toward him, making him go a bit farther than he wanted to go around the screen.
UConn switched with Napier on the first screen, but Roscoe Smith does not switch out to Pepper on the second screen. He doesn’t seem to see Pepper running baseline, as he makes no attempt to bump him to slow him down. This allows Pepper to get to the corner unabated and get the shot off.
Napier does recover well and is able to challenge the shot of Pepper but it is not quite enough and Pepper is able to knock down the jump shot. That extra bit of distance he was forced to cover because of Jones forcing him to take a wide angle to the corner instead of being able to run there on a line. Jones did not set a great screen but he did enough to allow Pepper to get the shot off.
A major reason this play works is due to Smith not seeing Pepper running behind him, therefore making no effort to slow him down. With Pepper able to freely run off of both screens, he is able to catch and shoot in the corner before Napier can recover and alter the shot.
Another reason is that if UConn chose to switch this screen as well, Jones would have had a mismatch in the post by sealing Napier with Smith closing out on Pepper in the corner. Smith would likely have prevented a jump shot but it would have given Jones the opening in the post.
It is up to Smith to see Pepper running baseline and briefly hedge to slow him down, giving Napier time to recover. Smith cannot give too much attention to Pepper, as Jones will duck into the post and seal him in a favorable position. He needs to just step off of Jones for a split second and force Pepper to alter his route. This would have given Napier enough time to get to the corner and better challenge the shot attempt.