Dusting off the archives: Ball movement helps Brendan Haywood get open in the post
In their Sweet 16 victory over Tennessee in 2000 on their way to the Final Four, UNC made it a point of emphasis to get the ball to Brendan Haywood early and often. While he ended with only 11 points on 5 of 10 shooting, the Tar Heels were constantly looking for him in the post. The following set of plays shows how quick ball movement can help the post player get open on the block.
In the first set, UNC runs designed action to keep the ball moving and force the defense out of position. Haywood opens the set on the right block but is not looking to get open even though Cota has the ball on the same side of the floor. Haywood knows the play is designed to come to him later so he remains patient at the beginning of the play.
After handing the ball off to Kris Lang, Cota cuts through the lane as Lang swings the ball to Joseph Forte on the wing. Cota then rubs off Haywood in the post as he flashes to the corner. His defender goes above Haywood but this still gives Cota enough separation to receive the pass on the wing. The play is not designed to get Cota open for a shot, so Haywood is not concerned with setting a great screen. The play is set up to force the defense to move, as we will see.
The key element of this play is what the pass from Forte to Cota does to the post defender. With the ball above the free throw line, C.J. Black is playing above Haywood, denying him the ball. As the ball gets swung to Cota, Black moves around Haywood to get in front and deny him the ball from Cota. This allows Haywood to spin and seal Black and look for the lob pass.
The pass to Cota is key because it forces Black to adjust his defense and UNC takes advantage while he is moving. When the ball was at the top of the key, there was no place for the entry pass to be made. With the pass down to the corner, Black had to move to front Haywood, which allowed Haywood to seal him.
With the help defense being a few steps out of position, Cota is able to make the lob pass into the post as Haywood seals his man. This allows him to make the catch in the paint and go up for the easy dunk to complete the play.
Haywood is able to get open on this play thanks to the cut by Cota and the ball movement by the Tar Heels. With the pass from Forte to Cota, Black had to move as he tried to deny Haywood the ball but this caused him to get sealed and left vulnerable for the lob.
This second play shows another great example of how ball movement can help the player posting up create to receive the entry pass. By reversing the ball, the post player can switch the block he is posting on which can create an opening for the entry pass.
Jason Capel starts with the ball on the the left wing. Haywood is trying to post up but is fronted by Black, with the help defense behind him taking away the lob pass. With a simple reversal of the ball around the top of the key, Haywood will be able to move from the left block to the right block.
As Forte makes the pass to Cota, you can see Haywood coming across the lane to post up. Black is still trying to front Haywood, so he hustles to get in front of Haywood and try to deny the pass.
Black is able to front Haywood but Cota is still able to connect with Haywood via the lob. How? With the quick reversal of the ball, the help defense has not had enough time to drop back into the lane to take away the lob. This allows Haywood to catch and get fouled as he goes up for the finish.
No matter which way that Black choose to defend the post, he would have been exposed on the reversal. If he played on his back, Cota would have had an easy entry pass to put Haywood in a favorable position. As Black played it, Cota was able to connect on the lob as the help defense had not been able to get in proper position.
The key is the quick ball reversal around the three point line. This allows Haywood to change the block he is posting up on and get the entry pass by forcing the defense to move and exploit them before they can recover. Since Haywood was fronted at the start of the play, UNC reversed the ball around the perimeter and Haywood was able to get open as he moved from block to block.