Digital Chalkboard: Arizona Dribble Handoff Variation
In their first game, Arizona ran a perfectly executed dribble handoff set to get an open jump shot. In their second game, they again attempted the dribble handoff but the defense of Duquesne saw it coming. Nick Johnson recognized what the defense was trying to do to break up the play and found a second option.
Josiah Turner comes off a ball screen from Angelo Chol and dribbles toward the left wing, where Nick Johnson is waiting. Turner is dribbling around the three point line, instead of cutting hard off the ball screen to the basket, which shows he is setting up for a dribble handoff. Johnson’s defender attempts to jump the handoff, as you can see from his position in the below frame.
Duquesne’s steal percentage of 13.7% was 4th in the nation last season and their propensity to gamble, as seen here, is a big reason why. The defender attempts to jump the handoff before it is made, as he assumes Johnson is going to go toward the middle of the floor (as shown in yellow). He hopes to either get a steal or fight over the top of the handoff and stay in front of Johnson.
Johnson sees what the defender is doing and cuts backdoor behind the defender. The help defender, initially in the paint, makes a poor decision to take a step toward Jesse Perry in the corner and cannot recover in time to stop Johnson. This allows him a free path to the rim, where he draws a foul on the dunk attempt.
Johnson shows great awareness for a freshman, as he recognizes the overplay by the defender and immediately goes backdoor. While Duquesne will get plenty of steals by gambling like this, they will also lose that gamble sometimes and give up easy attempts.
I have a feeling we are going to see this dribble handoff all season from Arizona. Keep watching at the different ways the defense tries to defend the action and how Arizona counters the defense.