Washington uses the same set two different ways
Washington’s offense is built on constant motion and ‘non-traditional screens’ to get open shots. I categorize staggered, double and fade screens as some of these ‘non-traditional’ screens, as they are less widely used than down screens and ball screens and are often only used when they are scripted in a set play. Washington has a set play they run that has a shooter come off a double screen for a three point shot. In the Pac-10 final against Arizona, they ran this play twice and got two different looks from this set.
Three point shot
Washington runs this set in the first half and gets a three point shot out of the set. What we see is Justin Holiday flashing to the high post to receive the ball while Scott Suggs uses the double screen to get the open shot on the perimeter.
The double screen does its job as it holds up the defender from challenging Suggs’ shot. Neither of the screener’s defenders hedge out to Suggs, so he has plenty of time to catch and shoot. This play works perfectly but for the fact that Suggs misses the shot.
Be sure to watch how Isaiah Thomas spaces the floor after making the pass to Holiday which give Suggs room when he comes off the double screen. He is on the opposite side of the floor, making sure his defender cannot help on the screen. This will be important when we look at the next play.
Washington comes back to this same set in the second half and instead of trying to get another jump shot, take advantage of the defense overplaying the original set and getting an alley-oop. The play is set up the exact same way and the play opens with Terrence Ross flashing to the high post.
Washington is assuming that Arizona will overplay this first pass and try to get an easy steal, as they know that it is coming. Solomon Hill does just that, as he tries to get the jump on Thomas’ pass and get a steal.
This gives Ross the open lane for the backcut to the rim for the lob pass. Hill tried too hard to intercept the pass and when he realizes Ross is cutting to the rim, he is unable to recover to challenge the lob. The double screen on the opposite side of the floor has drawn the defender’s attention and there is no help in the paint to defend the lob.
If you watch the double screen action, you see a stark contrast to the first play, showing that the backdoor alley-oop was the first option on this set. The offensive player using the screen jogs when he comes off the screen and is not looking for the ball. Thomas is on the same side of the floor as the double screen, making a pass by Ross to the player using the screen very difficult as Thomas and his defender will be in the passing lane.
The double screen is used to draw the attention of the defense and have them assume they know what Washington is going to run. This set was never designed to go to the player using the double screen but rather was designed to get an alley-oop if the defender overplayed the first cut. If this play didn’t work, Washington still had plenty of time to reset and run their offense.