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Dusting off the Archives: Utah flex screen takes advantage of the help defense

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In this 2005 Sweet Sixteen matchup between Utah and Kentucky, the Utes ran and executed a play that took advantage of how the help defense was positioned. The set was designed so that the initial action forced the help defense to be in a position that Utah exploited with their screening action.

Utah starts with a ball screen at the top of the key but as you will see, this is not designed to go to the basket but to draw the attention of the help defense. Watch the angle that Tim Drisdom, the ballhandler, takes off the ball screen. He does not come hard off the screen and attempt to get into the lane. Instead, when he comes off the screen, he dribbles around the three point line and lets the rest of the play develop. If he was trying to get to the rim, he would have rubbed off the screen and taken a more direct angle to get to the rim.

The help defender, Lukasz Obrzut, has to respect what he thinks is going to be a pick and roll designed to score. With his head turned, Andrew Bogut sets a flex screen for Bryant Markson to curl into the lane. Obrzut is occupied by the action at the top of the key, which allows Markson to use the screen freely.

Normally, a flex offense starts with a pass but this set starts with a ball screen. The screening action is the same, with the screen set on the opposite side of the ball for the offensive player to cut to the lane. If the flex screen was set with the ball stationary, it would be much easier to defend. With pick and roll action happening at the same time, the defense struggles to see all the action.

With Obrzut occupied, Markson is free to curl to the middle of the lane with no resistance. Obrzut should have either switched onto Markson or bumped him so that his defender, based on the defensive strategy of the team.

The screen is not timed properly, though, and Drisdom has to wait to make the entry pass. Since Markson was able to come off the screen freely, he is able to establish position in the post and receives the ball from Drisdom, allowing him to make a move in the post.

A flex screen is rather easy to defend if the ball is stagnant on the opposite wing. By incorporating this ball screen into the play, Utah draws the attention of the defense, allowing the flex screen to be successful.


Written by Joshua Riddell

July 11, 2011 at 5:25 pm

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