The Mikan Drill

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Defensive Strategies: Doug McDermott, Creighton

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This series will provide strategies on how defenses can best guard, or attempt to guard, some of the most dangerous offensive players and actions. Today’s post will try to show how collegiate defenses can slow down the offense of Doug McDermott from Creighton.

Doug McDermott returns for his senior season as the top returning scorer in collegiate basketball after averaging 23.1 points per game on 57% shooting from 2’s and 49% from 3’s. He is able to score in a variety of ways although he is first and foremost, a deadly accurate shooter. What can defenses do to try to stop him this year on the offensive end?

Post Doubles

Although McDermott is mainly known for his shooting, he is more often seen on the block for the Bluejays, where was he one of the best post players last season (as well as his sophomore season). If defenses let him work 1 on 1, they are going to be grabbing the ball out of the net more often than not.

Therefore, defenses need to send two defenders at McDermott and take away post moves as an option while turning him into a distributor. McDermott has decent vision and passing ability for a player of his size, so defenses need to be organized to pull this off or McDermott will be able to shred the defenses with easy passes to wide open teammates.

Here, Mason Plumlee rotates over to help on the post move, which leaves his man open for a dump off pass. Duke needs to rotate properly, which they do, as the opposite corner defender rotates down which leaves the only open pass a cross court skip pass. McDermott has no viable options and turns the ball over.


Without the double team, McDermott will be free to operate in the post, where his footwork is outstanding against collegiate defenders. If defenses try to double and don’t rotate properly, they will be exposed to open three point shots. Although Creighton was the #1 team in terms of 3 point field goal percentage last season at 41%, defenses would probably be happy with an outside shot from Grant Gibbs or Ethan Wragge rather than a McDermott attempt near the rim.

Make him dribble

As a perimeter player, McDermott is at his best when he is able to catch and shoot, either from a spot-up situation or coming off a screen. Defenses can mitigate his effectiveness by forcing him to put the ball on the floor after he catches, where he struggles to create his own offense off the dribble.

Look at how tight Duke played him on many possessions in their NCAA tournament win, clinging to him even before he made the catch and sticking to him after he caught the ball. Defenses should work to crowd McDermott, so he can’t catch and shoot but has to try to create.


This probably means that defenses should trail him off screens and stick as close as possible when he runs off screens. Off the dribble, they can shade him toward the baseline or the help defense, because he doesn’t seem to much better creating with his right hand versus his left.

It will be difficult for many defenses to find a player who can fulfill both of these strategies. The big man who is going to succeed against him in the post is going to be too slow to stick to him on the perimeter and force him into putting the ball on the floor. This is why McDermott will once again be in the race for leading scorer and why defenses can only hope to slow him down and not try to stop him completely.

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Written by Joshua Riddell

October 8, 2013 at 12:04 am

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