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Two reasons for Wake Forest’s poor defense in 2011

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Wake Forest had a historically bad defense last season, posting a 106.9 adjusted defensive efficiency which was ranked 256th in the nation and is by far the worst single season ACC defense posted in Ken Pomeroy’s database, which dates back to 2003. Many things went wrong on defense for Wake last season and we are going to look at two of the major ones today.

Not cutting off penetration

One of the biggest mistakes made by the Wake Forest defense last season was not moving their feet to cut of penetration and settling for a half hearted reach in as the offensive player drives to the rim.

In the first clip of the sequence below, Travis McKie nonchalantly reaches in on Jontel Evans while Evans is driving to the rim. Instead of moving his feet to get in front of Evans and cut him off, he is more concerned with preventing a three point shot from Sammy Zeglinski, a 39% 3 point shooter. McKie does little to slow down Evans, who can easily get to the rim for a layup.

The issue lies in the fact that McKie allows Evans to get to the rim for a layup while not allowing his man to get open for an outside shot. Although Zeglinski is a dangerous shooter, the right play for McKie is to get in front of Evans and force him to kick the ball out and take his chances with a lower percentage shot. However, McKie plays matador defense as he watches Evans dribble straight to the rim to get a simple layup.

We see a similar scenario unfold in the second play. Ari Stewart deserves some blame for staying under the rim and not challenging the shot but JT Terrell reached in at the top of the key instead of moving his feet to cut off the penetration. Again, Terrell does nothing to slow down the ball handler as he slashes to the rim.

This type of play is an example of poor, lazy and selfish defense. Defenders are too lazy to move in front of the driving player and are more concerned with not allowing their man to score. If the defense wants to improve this season, all members must buy into the team concept of defense and be committed to stopping easy penetration.

No Help on Screens

The second major mistake Wake continually made last season was not letting teammates through screens. Opponents shot 37% from the three point line last year against Wake Forest, which ranked 305th in the nation. The fact that this occurred over the course of an entire season and not a smaller sample size shows there may be a bigger issue here. Opponents shot so well as they kept getting open looks because defenders were not properly letting their teammates get through screens. This allowed the offensive players to get open easier as the player defending the screen would set almost a double screen since they were playing chest to chest on their defender and not giving room for their teammate to get through the screen.

In this first example, we see Ty Walker not letting Terrell through the screen set by Assane Sene. Terrell thinks that Walker is going to step a few steps into the paint and let him streak through Walker and Sene to close out on the shooter. However, Walker does not make any effort to let Terrell through and this gives Harris the time and space needed to shoot.

Terrell ran into Sene and then had to go around him to the right as Walker is cutting him off from taking the shortest path to Harris. Walker also does not hedge on the screen and Harris has plenty of time and space to hit the open jump shot.

Here is a second example of this and we see again how not letting teammates through screens gives the offense an open look at an outside shot. Again, we see the screener’s defender, Ari Stewart, not let his teammate through the screen which forces McKie to take a longer route around the screen giving the shooter enough time to release his jump shot.

As stated above, Wake played a very selfish defense last season. Many times, defenders were focused on stopping their man from scoring only while sacrificing fundamental team defense. This led to easy shots at the rim and open jump shots, partly showing how Wake Forest had one of the worst defenses in the nation last season.


Written by Joshua Riddell

September 8, 2011 at 1:22 am

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