It has been no secret that guards with the ability to get into the lane have had their way with Washington's defense this season. Dylon Cormier scored 19 points in a loss for Loyola-Maryland. He had ten attempts from the free throw line. Mike Black had 22 points for Albany, including a driving layup with 3.7 seconds remaining to win the game.
Aaron Craft had 18 to Augment the 31 DeShaun Thomas scored. I don't put any of the blame on Washington's defense for the ridiculous numbers Thomas put up because nobody was stopping him. Dorian Green scored 14 for Colorado State in their thrashing -so glad I missed it- of Washington.
Jordair Jett got into the lane but did a lot of his damage passing, notching six assists to go along with his 11 points when Saint Louis lost to the Huskies. D.J. Seeley torched the defense for 24 points, although nine of them did come from beyond the arc. I only saw bits and pieces of Washington's matchup with Cal-State Fullerton, but he was a big part of why Washington nearly lost that game.
That brings us to the best performance to date of any non-DeShaun Thomas opponent Washington has faced: Deonte Burton. Burton scored 29 points, had two assists and six steals for the Nevada Wolf Pack. I wanted to take a deeper look into why Washington struggled so much to defend him. Maybe it will give a clearer picture as to what has been Washington's issue with guarding guards who excel at getting the ball into the colorful area on the floor.
Coming up is a breakdown of every Burton shot attempt and assist from the first half, and what went wrong.
18:23 Deonte Burton made layup
Burton takes an outlet pass on the offensive left and casually jogs up the floor, allowing his teammates to make it down the floor with him. Abdul Gaddy is directing the defense as he picks up Burton. Burton then pulls a left-to-right crossover that puts Gaddy on his back hip. Simmons helps defensively about a foot outside the restricted area, but Burton takes the contact and finishes a tough running right-hander.
Good help defense by Simmons, and Gaddy is caught backpedaling, lacking the lateral quickness to recover after being beaten badly by a Burton crossover.
17:20 Deonte Burton made layup
Burton gets a loose-ball rebound in the corner (offensive right) and takes it instead of making an outlet pass. Gaddy is again directing the transition defense. Burton switches the ball to his left hand and starts to dribble towards the middle of the floor. Gaddy switches his feet to shuffle with Burton, but right as Gaddy switches he crosses the ball back over to his right hand.
Gaddy has no chance to recover. This is wonderful timing by Burton that would have beaten most defenders. Usually the help defense is N'Diaye and Simmons, but both finished the previous play on the opposite baseline and had no chance to make it back in time. Wonderful timing by Burton. Gaddy was very, clumsy in switching his feet back after being crossed up, but that comes from just being fooled so badly, as offensive players such as Burton do with regularity.
Burton then finishes with Gaddy a full step behind him.
17:01 Deonte Burton draws shooting foul on Abdul Gaddy
Coming off of a layup by Gaddy, Burton again pushes the ball in transition, even off of a made basket. Burton pushes the ball to the right wing, and switches the ball to his left in a slight hesitation dribble. Gaddy isn't fooled (yet). Burton then does an in 'n' out dribble (fakes a crossover and keeps the ball in the starting hand, this time his left) and Gaddy falls for it hard. He switches his feet to defend a crossover, having already been burned by a left-to right crossover twice.
Burton then blows by Gaddy, who reaches for the ball as a desperation last-gasp effort to stop the drive. The reach fails and Gaddy is forced to foul to prevent the layup. Whether Gaddy intended to foul I am unsure of, but the foul prevented an easy layup for Burton. He made both free throws regardless
15:16 Deonte Burton misses three point jumper
C.J Wilcox is defending Burton in the halfcourt. Earlier in the possession, Wilcox stifled a driving attempt by Burton from the right wing.
Burton receives a pass (on the right wing again) from the top of the key. Wilcox is mere inches from tipping the pass on an overplay, and is out of position to stop a drive, as he is a full step behind Burton.
The overplay was actually a heads-up play by Wilcox. Despite the offensive play being drawn up to end up with a Burton isolation (if none of the other cuts/screens/drives worked, which they didn't) Wilcox realized (probably) that the shot clock was getting low. With it at eight seconds as Burton receives the pass. If Wilcox tips it, he either has an open layup or Nevada inbounds the ball from beyond midcourt with seven seconds or less left on the shot clock.
Gaddy and N'Diaye rotate over to help, and Burton is forced to pull-up from two feet beyond the three-point arc. Wilcox closes quickly and gets a strong late contest in, and Burton misses.
Over the next three minutes of gametime, Burton does not put up a shot. He is played very well defensively by Wilcox, and Scott Suggs switches him on screens set by Malik Story.
11:49 Jerry Evans Jr. made jumper assisted by Deonte Burton
Huskies in a 2-3 zone defensively. Gaddy and Wilcox up top, N'Diaye in the middle and Quinn Sterling and Jernard Jarreau playing the corners. Burton has the ball up top defended by Wilcox. A screen is set by Evans Jr. to Wilcox's left (Burton's right) and Wilcox fights through it well.
Wilcox now has Sterling to his left (Burton's right) and N'Diaye behind him.
Burton is now handling the ball on the right wing, and Evans Jr. is floating towards Wilcox's left to possibly set another screen. Burton then drives left towards the middle of the lane, but Wilcox doesn't allow Burton to get into the paint Burton doesn't even get a foot into the lane, and picks up his dribble a step outside and a step high of the left block.
Because Wilcox was forced to vacate his zone to defend the drive, Evans Jr. spots up behind the free throw line slightly off to the right. Burton swings the ball back over his head in a shot fake then passes the ball to Evans, who hits the shot over a contesting N'Diaye. good pass by Burton, good defense by Wilcox.
11:18 Devonte Elliot made jumper assisted by Makil Story
This was neither a shot attempt by Burton nor an assist, but a play that was important on the Burton defense front.
Burton steals an N'Diaye pass and takes the ball up the court to (where else?) the right wing. Burton is picked up by Wilcox, who as to fight through N'Diaye to get to Burton, who realizes this and drives right, where N'Diaye was essentially setting a screen on Wilcox.
N'Diaye had already gotten behind Wilcox, but there was still no chance for Wilcox to stop the drive of Burton due to the circumstances around the drive. Had Burton scored here, there would be no blame on Wilcox whatsoever.
N'Diaye turns around just in time to see the driving Burton. Burton sees the help defense and begins a spin jumper to his right. He gathers while spinning off of Wilcox, recovering to where Burton was driving. Wilcox turns around, actually putting his back to Burton for a split-second, and bodies up the shooting Burton who then passes out of the shot to Malik story on the perimeter.
Wilcox plays good defense and forces Burton out of a shot attempt. As to this point Wilcox and Suggs have not allowed Burton to do much damage while they are defending him.
8:52 Deonte Burton missed layup
Burton has the ball on the right wing yet again with Wilcox defending him. Evans Jr. sets a screen to Wilcox's left and Burton uses it. Suggs is guarding Evans Jr. and the screen is switched. Burton then handles the ball in the corner as Evans clears out to the short corner on the offensive left side of the floor.
Elliot sets a screen to Suggs's right and Kemp Jr. shows, but Suggs is unable to recover by the time Kemp leaves to recover to a rolling Elliot. Elliot's screen was very well-set, and stopped Suggs in his tracks. Burton drives left with Suggs trailing from his right hip.
Elliot attempts to seal off Kemp from helping Suggs from the right block, but Kemp gets around him. This ends up being of little consequence, as Hikeem Steward steps in to take a charge with his hands up. Burton glides around the strong help from Stewart, but is forced to put up a very difficult layup floating to his left. Burton misses. Great help defense from Hikeem Stewart to force the miss.
On the next play, Wilcox stopped another Burton drive. He kicked it outside then Stewart forced his man to step on the sideline.
7:03 Deonte Burton draws shooting foul on Scott Suggs
Suggs misses a wide-open three point attempt from the right corner, and Burton gets the rebound in the opposite corner.
Burton brings the ball up the court himself. He has Patrick Nyecko to his right. Stewart meets Burton at the free throw line and sets his feet to take a charge. This was a poor choice by Stewart as Burton easily slips by him to the right. Suggs hustled down the floor on the offensive left and gets in front of Burton just a half-second too late and picks up a blocking foul.
Suggs was in the restricted area and also didn't meet Burton head-on. It was good hustle but he just couldn't make it in time. This play was hustle by Burton to push the ball in transition and a poor choice by Stewart to attempt a charge at the free throw line.
Burton made both free throws.
With ~6:20 left in the half Wilcox stopped yet another Burton drive from the right wing. There were countless times Wilcox did this that I did not cover.
5:20 Deonte Burton made layup
C.J Wilcox attempted a pass to the right wing that was deflected by Story and stolen by Evans Jr. who leads the break.
Once Evans Jr. gets a giant step past midcourt he gives the ball to Burton. Before taking a dribble Burton hop steps to his right, causing Stewart to overrun the pass. Burton gets away with a travel on his hop step, then dribbles right to left and goes up against a leaping Wilcox who contests the shot.
Burton arcs the shot over Wilcox while taking the contact and Simmons misses getting a weak-side block by mere inches as the ball hits off the glass and in.
I give no blame to Stewart for over-running the pass, as the only way to change directions like Burton did was to travel, which he did. Wilcox bodied up Burton on the shot, but instead of sticking his hands straight-up, he put them in the "I didn't foul him" pose, allowing Burton to put the ball over Wilcox. Had Wilcox just shot his hands in the air the shot would have been missed, as the degree-of difficulty would have been nearly impossible.
1:39 Deonte Burton commits turnover
Wilcox defending Burton at the top of the key, slightly off to the right. Kevin Panzer sets screen to Wilcox's left (Burton's right) which allows Burton to get to his favorite spot to attack from: the right wing. N'Diaye switches for just long enough to let Wilcox to fight through the screen and get back to Burton.
Burton hesitates with a between the legs right-to-left dribble then crosses over to his right and drives. Wilcox cuts off his lane to the basket and Simmons steps up to stop Burton from going all the way underneath. At this point, Burton is behind the backboard with the lengthy Simmons in front of him and Wilcox behind him to his left. Wilcox saw Simmons helping and settled behind Burton to stop him from backing back out to the three.
If Burton stops where he is at, he is instantly double-teamed by the long Simmons and Wilcox. He can't shoot because he is behind the basket, can't dribble back out because Wilcox is preventing that, so he has only one option. Burton then leaps out of bounds and passes to the opposite corner where Evans Jr. is awaiting the pass.
Evans catches and shoots a heavily contested three defended by Stewart. The ball never touches the rim on the way down. The basket never counts because as Burton leaped out of bounds he stepped on the baseline. Had his foot never gone out of bounds it still would have been a well-defended play by the Washington defense, as it was a miraculous three by Evans that went in.
0:34 Malik Story made layup assisted by Deonte Burton
Burton deflects and steals a Stewart pass and leads a two-on-one fastbreak from the left wing. He hesitates then throws a bounce pass to Malik Story who lays the ball in off the glass. The hesitation freezes Stewart, who had no chance in defending the pass.
What can we determine from this? Most of the damage by Burton was done in transition. Wilcox defended many Burton drives in the half-court, and didn't allow any points outside of transition. Burton was held in check as soon as Gaddy was moved off of him. I have always considered Gaddy a good defender, but as Kevin Cacabelos mentioned to me on Twitter, "He has good size, but he's not especially quick laterally." This is very true.
Washington struggles against guards who get into the lane. If this half of basketball is any indication, C.J Wilcox needs to defend them more often.