Dayton takes advantage of Minnesota’s poor pick and roll defense
In the championship game of the Old Spice Classic, Dayton was able to exploit the poor pick and roll defense of Minnesota to get several easy baskets on their way to a convincing sixteen point win. Ralph Sampson III played some great defense early in the game but with his availability limited due to an injury, the rest of the defense was not able to replicate his success.
With the exception of one or two plays, Sampson did an excellent job of hedging hard on the ball screens and blowing up the pick and roll or defending the ball handler and altering his shot. With Matt Kavanaugh setting the ball screen, look at how high Sampson gets on his hedge. By getting above the left shoulder of the ball handler, he takes away any chance to use the screen effectively.
Sampson did a great job of taking away the pick and roll by hedging on the screen and cutting off the dribble or forcing the guard to extend his penetration toward the sideline, allowing Sampson to stay with him on his drive to the rim and contest the shot. When he was able to be on the floor, Sampson did a nice job on pick and roll defense.
However, with Sampson limited, the rest of the screener’s defenders did a poor job of defending the pick and roll. While Sampson did a superb job against the dribbler, other Gophers were not able to copy his defense and made it too easy on the offense as they ran the pick and roll. Contrast Sampson’s hedge above with the ones of Trevor Mbakwe and Elliot Eliason below.
While Sampson hedged hard and high on the ball screen, Mbakwe and Eliason did not get as high on their hedge, allowing the ball handler to turn the corner easily off the screen. This put the Gopher big man in tough matchups with a quick guard and Dayton was able to exploit this mismatch to get into the lane and create, as the Minnesota forwards could not stay in front of the quicker Dayton guards.
The Gopher defenders, other than Sampson, showed they are unable to hedge properly on the pick and roll to slow the offensive player coming off the ball screen.While Sampson was able to defend the pick and roll, when he was not on the court, Dayton exploited the defense of the other defenders as they did not do as good of a job at cutting off the dribbler. This allowed Dayton to penetrate into the lane and create easy shots for their team.
Sampson’s absence is not the sole reason Minnesota lost this game, however, his presence likely would have helped immensely as Dayton continuously ran a pick and roll offense. Sampson was the only player in this game for the Gophers who was able to limit the effectiveness of Dayton’s pick and roll.