The Mikan Drill

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How the extended pressure works for Belmont

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In the second half of their game against Duke, Belmont began to put extended pressure on Duke, which helped keep them in the game, as the pressure helped force turnovers and bad shots by Duke. This is only one game, so we can’t no for certain whether Belmont will continue to use this pressure but the fact that it worked well against Duke made me think they will show it in spurts the whole season.

When Belmont brings the extended pressure after a made basket or a dead ball situation, they like to double team the ball handler and force him to do one of two things. The first one is obvious. By putting two defenders on the ball, they hope to force a turnover to lead to an easy basket. They don’t put both defenders right in the ball handler’s face as they want to keep the offensive player in front when a guard has the ball.

Although they did not get a turnover on this play, it is a good illustration of how Belmont likes to pressure a guard. By having two defenders on the ball, they can force the offensive player (Tyler Thornton in this play) to cross over multiple times in the backcourt. Each time they force him to cross over, there is a teammate there to continue applying pressure.

This allows the defenders to overrun the ball handler to force him to cut back into their help defender. On this play, after forcing Thornton to cross over into a second defender, Belmont gets a tip on the pass. They don’t get a turnover but you can see how difficult they make it for the guards and how they can force turnovers, whether it be an interception, a ten second violation or a charge.

The other thing that Belmont wants to force a guard to do by double teaming him is to give the ball up to a forward who is not used to bringing the ball up. Again, we see Belmont doubling the ball handler but in these cases, the ball is passed to Mason Plumlee and Ryan Kelly in the backcourt. With open court ahead, they are tasked with bringing the ball up.

Since these players are not used to having to do this, they get a little out of control when they pick up the pace while dribbling. Plumlee gets called for a clear offensive foul and Kelly misses an easy layup, both mistakes which came after they dribbled the ball almost two-thirds of the way down the court. In both these scenarios, Plumlee and Kelly saw an opening and tried to exploit it. However, they are not used to dribbling the ball at that pace and they were unable to convert the opportunity.

By putting pressure on the ball handler, the defense forces the ball into the hands of someone who is not comfortable leading the offense. This leads to two empty possessions for the offense, mainly due to the extended pressure put on the guard in the backcourt.

In this scenario, when the guard gives the ball to a forward, the forward’s only goal should be getting the ball over the half court line to avoid a ten second violation. They are not used to initiating the offense and more often than not will turn the ball over or make a mistake, as seen above, rather than make the great play. Especially for a great offense like Duke, use the open man to get the ball over the timeline but get it back into the hands of a guard to initiate the offense.

When Belmont doubles the ball in the backcourt, they are looking for a mistake by the guard or for the guard to give it to the open big man. They are fine with a forward bringing the ball up against no pressure, as they are not used to this position and can be forced into mistakes.


Written by Joshua Riddell

November 12, 2011 at 4:43 pm

3 Responses

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  1. Couldn’t you defuse the pressure by just having a 2 or 3 take the ball out of bounds, rather than a forward?

    Dan Renaud (@FnDan)

    November 14, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    • Yeah. But I think most teams are having a big man take the ball out because 1) this way there are more guards on the floor to catch the inbounds pass against pressure, 2) the big man is usually under the rim and can get the ball out the fastest and 3) set up the secondary break for the forward to trail the play

      Against this pressure, the secondary break is likely not possible, so it may make sense to have a guard inbound the ball. Only problem is, they are ingrained to do certain things off a made basket (Plumlee gets the ball out of the net, guard runs to the corner, etc), so it may be difficult to change that in game.

      The way to diffuse this is that when a forward needs to bring the ball up, have them do so slowly, get a few steps over the halfcourt line and wait for the guard to come get the ball.


      November 14, 2011 at 4:17 pm

  2. […] who is not comfortable bringing the ball up be responsible for getting the ball over half court (similar to Belmont). Iona forced the young guards of Maryland into a 35.7% turnover percentage, mainly through their […]

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