Dusting off the Archives: Wake Forest runs a set for Tim Duncan
Over the next month or two, we are going to look at some set plays from some archived games thanks to the ACC and NCAA Vault. We are going to try to highlight several different teams and show why the play was successful.
Our first play comes from a 1995 ACC Tournament game featuring Wake Forest against Duke. On the first offensive series for Wake Forest, the Demon Deacons run a set that gets a three point shot for Tim Duncan. Predictably, this shot is missed by Duncan, but the play ran by the Deacs works in getting Duncan the open look.
With Randolph Childress handling the ball, Wake Forest opens in box set, with Duncan on the right block. Since this is the first set, this play was likely drawn up by Dave Odom pre-game. Why he choose to open with a jumper for Duncan is a discussion for a different day but the fact is, the play Odom designed was effective in getting what he wanted.
Duncan is going to set a cross screen for his teammate on the block. This is mainly dummy action, as Jason Capel goes above the screen and takes away the option rather easily. Childress is not seriously looking to make the pass to the corner but dribbles to the wing to give space for Duncan. Duncan then flashes to the top of the key and will use a double screen, set at the foul line, to get his open look.
This next frame shows the double screen coming together at the foul line and how Duke is choosing to defend the screen. Duke can see it coming and is prepared for it, they just don’t choose to respect Duncan. Cherokee Parks is sagging off the screen and is anchoring the paint. If any of the screeners try to slip the screen, Parks will be there to cut them off from getting to the rim.
Duncan’s defender is not showing much urgency is sticking with Duncan and fighting with the screen. He is slow in reacting to Duncan’s movement and is a step or two behind him the whole way. This will lead to him getting caught in the screen.
If he wanted, Trajan Langdon could have stepped above the screen and cut off the passing lane to Duncan. Instead, he chooses to stay at the foul line and not offer much in the way of defense. As described above, Parks is able to take away the slip if Langdon wants to hedge on the screen. With Langdon not working hard to get in the passing lane and Duncan’s defender not able to get through the screen, Duncan is free for the open jumper.
Wake Forest could not make Duke pay for their poor defense as Duncan is not able to knock down the open look. If Wake Forest had put a different player in that position, one who is a better shooter, they could have taken advantage of this lackadaisical defense by the Blue Devils.
What should Duke have done differently though? They have the basic principles of defending this play down but are unable to execute it fully. I like what Cherokee Parks did at the start of this play: He sees the double screen coming and immediately drops off the screen to give his teammate space to get through and take away any slip of the screen.
Duncan’s defender gets caught in the screen but that would be okay if Langdon played this differently. If Langdon cut around the screen to either get in the passing lane or challenge the shot, Duncan’s jump shot would have been more difficult than it actually was as it played it. With the way Langdon played it, he offered nothing to the Blue Devils on defense. He is lucky Duncan did not make him pay.
Duke may have played with a little less urgency on defense here because they knew that Duncan was not a threat to score from beyond the arc. The double screen set by Wake was effective but could have been mitigated if Trajan Langdon had played better defense.
In the end, it was solid execution on the screen by Wake Forest and a slight defensive breakdown that gave Duncan the jump shot.