A staple of VCU’s offense: Relocating off the ball screen
This ball screen by VCU was easily my favorite set of the season, helped by the fact that VCU ran it countless times in the CAA and NCAA tournament with great success. I wanted to highlight one part of this set that can be used in any dribble penetration set, which is having the shooter relocate to an open spot on the floor.
As you will see, when the off ball player relocates from his original position when the penetration started, he is able to lose his defender, who is in help position on the drive. By sliding just a few steps one way or the other (depending on floor position), the off ball player is able to find a ton of space which was vacated by the player penetrating to the basket.
This play starts with a ball screen from Jamie Skeen for Joey Rodriguez. Rodriguez really does not look for his own shot off this screen but is looking for the roll man or someone relocating off the ball (seen here). Here, the recipient will be Ed Nixon.
Nixon starts the play in the corner when Skeen sets the ball screen. Skeen is going to roll to the basket on this set and with Rodriguez penetrating the lane, the defense has to respect him and rotate. Even though he is not really looking for a shot, the defense still has to take away the easy layup.
With Skeen’s defender hedging on Rodriguez, Nixon’s defender, Jason Clark, has to rotate to the lane to defend the roll by Skeen. This leaves Nixon the chance to take advantage of the vacated space at the top of the key to get into Rodriguez’s passing lane.
Rodriguez sees the cut by Nixon and sets him up for the catch and shoot opportunity. It is just too far to close out for Clark, as he does not have enough time to get from the bottom of the lane to the top of the key before Nixon can get the shot off.
I like this overhead view of the replay, which shows the first step by Clark taken to the corner, where he thought Nixon was, instead of the top of the key, where Nixon now is catching the ball. Nixon’s simple relocation to the top of the key lost Clark and his wasted first step on the close out made a tough rotation impossible.
The relocation by Nixon did two things: it put him in the vision of Rodriguez so the pass could be made to him and it lost his defender for a split second, allowing him the time to get the shot off. Instead of standing and hiding in the corner, he made himself available and was able to knock down the shot.