Sunday, December 15, 2013

Badgers' Ball Screen Defense

Eastern Kentucky's coach had an interesting comment after his team got blown out by Wisconsin yesterday:
Coach Ryan is obviously incredibly well respected for a great reason. His ball-screen defense is so unique and it caused us to try some different things. And they weren’t very effective.
What is unique about Wisconsin's ball screen defense? It's a little beyond my ken, frankly. But I know this is a special interest of yours, Chorlton, so I thought I'd ask.

1 comment:

  1. I'm not sure unique is the word I would use to describe it. I guess I don't watch enough college basketball anymore to know how many other teams play the screen the same way. Perhaps it is more the execution that is what he was speaking about. My guess is EKU doesn't see to many teams that play defense as hard as UW does. To expand on the UW defense though, UW played EKU mostly with a combination of going over the screen and sinking off the screener, with some straight switches mixed in now and then. This seems to be the way UW is going to play screens this season.

    The straight switches are what we have seen a lot of the last couple years when Bo had a bunch of good defenders of similar size (Evans, Bruiser, Gasser, Jackson). The switch takes away the ability of the dribbler to get off a wide open 3, as the defenders just stay on their man. This also takes away the screeners ability to roll or pop, as their man stays with them. The problem with the switch is mismatches, as the screener is usually the 4 or 5 and the dribbler the 1 or 2. Once the switch happens the big can get a post up against a guard, or the guard will get a chance to beat the big off the dribble. This season UW has rarely done straight switches when Kaminsky is guarding the screener, but when teams run a weave or something at the top of the circle with their guards, the UW guards usually switch and stay.

    Taking away the wide open 3 has become a main part of Bo's defensive scheme. Bo does this by having his guard fight over the top of the screen so the dribbler can't get an open perimeter shot. The alternative is to go under the screen and have the defender guarding the screener hedge, so that the dribbler has to go around them, giving the defending guard time to get around to the dribbler. The problem with this is that it takes both defenders away from the basket and leaves the screener wide open to roll or pop. You also need a pretty nimble person to hedge and not foul. UW almost never goes under screens. When the guard fights over a screen and there is no hedge, this leaves the dribbler free to drive to the hoop. UW usually has Kaminsky/Hayes sink off the screen and hover in the lane to try and take away a drive, or a pass to a rolling screener going to the hoop. This should leave the dribbler with an open 2 point shot off the dribble (exactly what Bo wants teams to shoot). The rest of the team also tends to give help inside, so Kaminsky/Hayes is not on their own trying to stop the drive. This gives Bo's man defense a bit of a zone feel.

    It will be interesting to see how teams try to attack this defense as the year goes on.