How to defend Oregon’s pick and roll and how Oregon can counter the defense
Oregon struggled with the pick and roll last season, which hurt them from increasing their 105.6 offensive rating. As you will see, the way to defend Oregon is to hedge strongly on the pick and roll, allowing the screener to get open.
The majority of pick and roll screens were set by either Joevan Catron or Tyrone Nared. Although Catron graduated and will not be returning to the Ducks this year, we are going to look at how they both handled the roll off the ball screen, as they had two different go-to moves and the defense was able to handle both of them rather easily. The defense hedged hard (or even switched) on the ball handler, which took away dribble penetration from the guard. They allowed the roll man to roam free and took their chances that they would not hurt them before their defender could recover from hedging the screen.
After Catron set the ball screen, he liked to pop out to the perimeter instead of rolling to the basket. This is a questionable strategy, as Catron was a 29% 3 point field goal shooter last season and was no threat to create off the dribble. He had an above average post game and should have been rolling to the rim to post up. Instead, he floated to the three point line and was no threat to score when he received the ball.
This allowed his defender to hedge hard on the ball handler, as they knew that they could allow Catron to catch the ball on the perimeter and not be worried he will score from that position. It allowed the defense to take away penetration from the ball handler and preventing the pick and roll from being successful. As you will see, Catron either missed his long distance shot or struggled to create when he caught the ball at the three point line.
While Catron chose to pick and pop on ball screens, Nared rolled to the rim after setting the ball screen. Unfortunately for Oregon, Nared was not a strong offensive player in the post. His offensive rating was only 98.7 and he posted a 48.5% field goal percentage on two point shots. He does not show the ability to gain favorable post position and when he does get the ball, he struggles to finish. Again, this allows the defense to completely take away the ball handler on the pick and roll, while they allow the roll man to make his cut and gamble that Nared would not be able to exploit his advantage. More often than not, he could not.
There are several ways I believe that Oregon can counter the way most teams defend their pick and roll. The first is to coach their roll man to play to their strengths. Catron is gone but if they find a player with a strong post game, they need to have him roll to the post instead of popping to the perimeter, as Catron often chose to after setting a screen. They could also have stronger offensive players set the screen, forcing the defense to pay attention to them after the screen, such as E.J. Singler.
Another way to counter this strong hedge by the defense is for the screener to slip the screen and immediately cut to the rim. When the screener feels his defender starting to hedge, they should immediately slip the screen and roll to the open spot on the floor. Oregon did does this well last season, as we will see in the video below. While they did not always finish the shot, this slip gave the screener the ball in a great position to score.
Oregon’s pick and roll was below average last season and we saw how teams defended it to take away the dangerous action. If Oregon can use stronger offensive players in the screen or coach their players to play to their strengths off of the roll, they can improve on their pick and roll offensive efficiency in the upcoming season.