Arizona forces Valparaiso into contested 3’s
Of the 15 missed 3 point shots for Valparaiso in their opening night loss to Arizona, many of the shooters on the misses could be categorized as ‘open’ or ‘very open’. They bailed Arizona out by missing these wide open shots but the Wildcats did do a good job of forcing several other difficult shots due to their initial defense.
I have extracted four missed shots by the Crusaders. Arizona takes away the initial action, whether it be a player curling off a screen, an attempt at dribble penetration or a look into the post which pressures the offense into a tough shot.
Look at the eyes on Will Bogan as he curls off the screen in the first play. He has three defenders who are in position to stop him from scoring and Valparaiso is scrambling for a second option. This is great defense on the screen by Arizona, as the primary defender fights over the screen to recover to Bogan and has help from two teammates if he needs it.
With the shot clock at 10 and the initial action having been successfully defended, Jay Harris is forced to take a deep shot. On top of the fact that it is so deep, Nick Johnson is there to contest the shot. Arizona then finishes the play with a defensive rebound and doesn’t allow a second shot.
These characteristics are embedded throughout the four highlighted shots. Arizona defends the first part of the play well and Valparaiso does not stay poised and look for a better second option. Instead, they force an outside shot, contested by a defended, that ultimately misses the mark. Arizona finishes each play with a defensive rebound and comes away with a successful defensive possession.
Considering they shot only 32% from beyond the arc last season, it is not surprising that Valpo struggled again today, shooting 5-20 (38.5 3PT/FGA ratio). While it is not the sole reason they lost, their inability to convert on these possessions did put them in an early hole. They may want to look at running their offense more through Kevin Van Wijk, who did a great job on the interior. They will need to be more patient on offense and not jack up perimeter shots the moment the first option is defended.
Credit Arizona for their defense in this game, as they held Valpo to 89.4 offensive efficiency. Although they got a bit lucky Valpo could not convert the open looks, they did an excellent job of contesting shots when they could and securing the defensive rebound. That helped them walk away with a win in their opening game.