Late defensive rotations give VCU the open shot for the dagger
VCU will have some trouble replacing their lost pieces, mainly Joey Rodriguez and Jamie Skeen. This showed in their opening game struggle, a narrow 63-57 win over St. Francis (PA). After the Red Flash hit a 3 point shot to pull within 3, they elected to play defense with under a minute left on the game clock. VCU ran the shot clock down and a poor defensive rotation gave them an open three point shot to seal the game.
With the shot clock down to 6, VCU ran a pick and roll with the remaining three players on the baseline. The ideal situation for St. Francis was a turnover, so they doubled the ball handler off the ball screen. However, none of the help defenders rotated over to the screener, which ultimately killed their chances of a win.
Coming off the ball screen, Darius Theus finds himself doubled and nearly turns the ball. He manages to scrape a pass to Bradford Burgess, who is left open. One of the help defenders should have been rotating toward Burgess when he saw the trap on Theus. My pick would be for the corner defender to start rotating toward the middle. This will help the team better defend the play if Burgess receives the pass.
Theus does get the ball to Burgess and the late rotation means Burgess can make an undefended pass to Troy Daniels, who is also wide open. If the defender from the corner would have rotated faster, he could have played better defense on the pass and put Burgess in a tough spot. He is not the only defender at fault for a poor rotation though. Once Burgess gets the ball, the defender in the paint needs to start rotating to the corner, as Daniels’ defender is now at the top of the key.
However, his rotation is late as well, as his closeout begins once the ball is in the air to Daniels. This rotation needs to start faster and the defender must rely on his teammates to rotate to his man. The rotation to Daniels starts too late and Daniels ends any chance St. Francis has of winning the game.
St. Francis had two late rotations on this play and it the defensive lapse cost them a shot to tie the game. Quicker rotations would have put them in a better position to defend Burgess and Daniels but the late rotations made it possible to swing the ball to Daniels and take the open jump shot. By reacting to what happened instead of anticipating what was going to happen after the initial trap, St. Francis gave away any chance to come back in their opening game.