The Mikan Drill

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A breakdown of how Memphis attacks the rim

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Memphis is built to attack the rim and create off the dribble to get easy shots at the rim and draw fouls. While they rely heavily on isolations, they also have certain rules ingrained into their offense to create space for the guards. Let’s look at a couple of them and how they open the floor.

Without a strong back to the basket post player, Memphis often goes five around zero to open up the middle of the floor. This puts gaps in the defense that the guards can attack. In the following frame, look how spread out the defense is as Memphis puts all five guys around the perimeter. This gives Chris Crawford space to slice through the lane for the floater.

Memphis is not great at shooting the three point shot but defenses are still respecting their shooters. With proper spacing around the three point line, this puts the help defenders in a tough position to slide over to the driving man and it leaves wide open lanes to penetrate to the rim. If the help defense is a step late, they will like foul the Memphis player, sending them to the line for free throws.

Memphis also likes to clear the baseline to give their players room to get to the rim. In this play, Memphis lines up in a 4 line set and the strong side wing player clears out to the left side of the floor, opening up the right side.

With the baseline clear, Joe Jackson drives to the vacated area and converts the layup. Looking below, all the Memphis players are to the left of the red of the line, except for Jackson. This gives him a clear path to the basket, which he takes advantage of to convert the layup.

Again, the lack of a strong post player allows Memphis to leave the baseline open for dribble penetration. The guards take advantage of this to get to the rim and score or draw a foul.

Memphis’ guards have explosive first steps that can often get them to the rim on its own. However, by spacing the floor as they do, it makes it easier for them to attack the rim. They space the floor well, which gives them lanes to drive, either down the middle of the floor or baseline to the rim.


Written by Joshua Riddell

November 22, 2011 at 2:09 am

One Response

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  1. […] Memphis loves to get the ball to the rim for easy buckets and was using this gameplan to hang with Michigan for most of the first half of their opening round game of the Maui Invitational. Memphis’ explosiveness of the dribble was trouble for the Michigan guards, so John Beilein went to a zone for the last few minutes of the first half and the majority of the second half. Their zone was effective in slowing the tempo of Memphis and limiting their ability to drive. […]

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