Season Leftovers: Alabama Pick and Roll
This play, from last season’s NIT Championship game, looks like a standard pick and roll which Alabama executes for a dunk. Looking closely, we see one slight wrinkle that we don’t see on many pick and rolls, which is why I decided to highlight this particular set. Let’s take a look.
Chris Hines starts with the ball at the top of the key and then passes the ball to Tony Mitchell on the wing. JaMychal Green had flashed to the high post as an outlet for Hines and when he doesn’t receive the ball, he turns and sets a ball screen for Mitchell.
After Hines passed the ball off to Mitchell, he dove to the rim to open up space for Mitchell to use the ball screen. While he is finishing his cut, Mitchell is simultaneously driving through the lane after using the ball screen. Since Hines’ defender had to be in proper help position when the ball is on the wing, he is then stuck behind Hines after Mitchell uses the ball screen.
Look at the following frame. Mitchell has beaten his man off the dribble and is heading toward the rim. If Hines was on the block when the screen and roll was initiated, his defender would be in proper help position from the onset and able to cut the drive off. Since Hines cut from the top of the key to the block, the defender is caught out of position, allowing Mitchell to get to the rim.
I am not sure the play was designed like this but it worked out for Alabama in the end. The confusion at the start of the play forced Hines’s cut to be late (which is designed to clear space for the pick and roll) but it forced his defender into a poor help position once Mitchell beat his man. Hines did a good job of screening his defender and keeping him out of the play.