Monday, January 5

Follow up to Anatomy of an Upset

Ryan's excellent post gave a number of good reasons why we lost. The Ken Pomeroy stats reveal our porous defense combined with poor free throw shooting and rebounding equals a loss. By looking at different games, Ryan shows how we're underperforming.

I wanted to poing out some of the x's and o's reasons we lost. Strategically, BC held us out of the break in the first half and most of the second by sending as many guys as possible for offensive rebounds. By pulling down lots of first half offensive rebounds (I believe we were outrebounded but I'll have to verify) and battling for rebounds every other time, we couldn't get into our secondary break. Previously, we saw that sending a safety or two back on defense was the best way to slow our break as Kansas and Valparaiso have shown. This time, we were undone by poor defensive rebounding, leading to few opportunities for run-outs.

Next, BC's flex set offense flummoxed our defense. A basic flex set employs lots of screens, movement and passing to lose defenders or create mismatches. This is used almost exclusively against man-to-man defenses and often means medium-to-long possessions on offense. Other characteristics of the flex set are: it's easy to learn, everyone knows that they should do next, and you don't need to create your own shot to be successful (although nobody told Tyrese Rice).

If you recall BC's offensive sets, they would line up 4 men parallel to the backboard, in between the FT line and 3 pt line. Rice is the odd man out, bringing the ball up the right side of the floor. The flex set would then spring to life as O2 and O4 would set screens for each other and O3 or O5 would stay in the lane while the other drifted closer to the basket. In short, this means a lot of action taking place around the free throw line, where a player can pass off to a 3 pt shooter with relative ease or look for a man posting up down low. Mid-range shots can also open up easily as a player whose defender is tired or confused can be lost in the myriad of screens and end up taking the wrong man.

I've certainly complained about our guards' abilities to communicate and get around screens quicker. Last night, there were missed assignments galore as Rice and Sanders got good mid and long range looks through the flex set. Also, Rice hit some extremely difficult shots that were close to indefensible. Credit him for having the soft touch to hit some step back jumpers and circus shots.

My next bone to pick is with our half court trap. I may never understand why Roy didn't put his foot down at halftime (or sooner) and tell everyone to quit trapping. It felt like the BC-UNC football game, where BC curiously decided to leave Hakim Nicks in single coverage. I wondered why they would risk getting burned over and over and over and over again. Well, Roy returned the favor by allowing us to keep gambling on the half court trap. We got burned over and over and over and over again.

BC got lots of open shots because Al Skinner and Tyrese Rice did their homework. Rice knew where the help would be each time. As a consequence, our defense had to shift and recover, leaving Reggie Jackson open. Since we're known to trap after timeouts, some FTs or out of bounds plays, BC had a fair idea of when the trap was coming. We continued to gamble after halftime to much the same result.

On defense, Boston College did a good job of pulling 4 or 5 men into the lane to force bad shots and turnovers. We shot 9-25 for 2 pt FGs in the 2nd half, a testament to the strong BC defense. The Eagles were physical. Hansbrough was well covered, being forced off the block or doubled to prevent a good entry pass. Although Hansbrough made his shots, Deon Thompson and Danny Green struggled.

If you watched Deon's body language when he shot FT's, it was clear he was winded. Pushing and being pushed often tends to leave one's arms tired. His 1-6 shooting hurt our comeback chances.

Since we were behind for most of the game and didn't have our inside shots falling, we started hoisting 3's with about 7 minutes left. Wayne's 3 pt shot is still MIA. Ty, Danny and Will Graves shot 33% individually and as a whole. Roy may or may not have addressed the eagarness of our 3 pt shooting, but the Heels kept shooting away.

Finally, we didn't try to foul like a team that's trailing should. No one other than Rice was a remarkable free throw shooter, why did we not try fouling earlier? Why not send Larry Drew, Will Graves or Marcus Ginyard to foul the poorer shooters, let the crowd yell during FT attempts, and grab the rebounds? At 78-71, would it have killed us to start fouling to save time and make them earn their points? It's not like we would run out of bench players. This is my boldest assertion of this post, but I'm a bit perplexed as to why we wouldn't make them get their points 1 or 2 at a time instead of 2 or 3 at a time. With guards doing so much shooting, it's less likely to have continuation fouls where the shot counts and a FT is awarded.

In summation, BC's stratetic moves and our un-strategic moves fueled a significant defeat. I hope that our players and our coaches will realize the mistakes that were made. As a consqequence of this game, we'll see more teams following Boston College's formula for beating us. Hopefully we'll be better prepared to stop beating ourselves and resume beaing our opponents.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Adam Lucas feels differently about your analysis on the half-court tract. Care to elaborate?