Breaking Down Several Plays Versus the Duckies

After the game against the Duckies I wanted to look at a few plays and see how Oregon scored at will in the first half. I found a four-possession streak in the first half by the Ducks that all ended in either threes by E.J. Singler or free throws for Olu Ashaolou. Unfortunately I cannot post screenshots for the game so instead you get a J.R.R. Tolkien-esque description of plays and positioning! Maybe not that detailed but I will try to get a clear description.

First play begins at 13:22 remaining in the first quarter. Full shot clock (hint, they don't need it)

Garrett Sim is inbounding from the the baseline, viewpoint of opposite basket. Huskies defensively in a two-three zone. C.J Wilcox and Abdul Gaddy up top left to right, Darnell Gant, Austin Seferian-Jenkins and Terrence Ross left to right on the bottom of the zone. Ducks overload –putting four players (or five) on one side of the floor, a common attack against zone defenses and used against some man defenses as well– the right side of the floor, leaving only Devoe Joseph (left side of top of the key) as the only player on the left side of the floor.

A screen is set by Singler for Carlos Emory on the right wing, who flashes to the ball in the right corner. Emory is immediately doubled by Gaddy and Ross (who was guarding the inbounder). Emory then passes quickly to Sim, who stepped onto the court immediately after passing the ball in to Emory. Sim then is doubled by ASJ and Gant underneath the basket. Gant has the freedom to do so thanks to the overload, there is nobody that he would have to close out on should there be a pass made to his side of the floor, which is empty.

Before the double team reaches Sim however, he kicks the ball out to Singler, wide open on the right win, only a step behind the three-point line. Gaddy has had no time to recover from double-teaming Emory in the corner, Ross is still on Emory, and Wilcox is defending the other side of the floor. This leaves a wide-open E.J. Singler. Gaddy makes a futile attempt to force an altered shot by closing out from Singler's right, but he is way too late and Singler buries the three.

From the time the ball left Sim's hand on the inbound to the time the ball left SIngler's hand, the total time off the clock was about three seconds. That is a quick set and great execution.

Next time down the floor the broadcast cut part of the play off, but what is seen is all that needs to be seen. Defense is still in a 2-3 zone with players in the same places. Singler takes a pass from Devoe Joseph while sitting near the top of the key and buries another open three. Wilcox is seemingly lost down below the free throw line. If you are in a zone, the op players very rarely go below the free throw line, even rarer below the free throw line into the paint. This is why: SIngler buries another three. Poor rotation by Wilcox who sagged off of Singler way too far and his closeout was much too late.

More plays after the Jump.

Next possession the Duckies had a fastbreak lob opportunity that Ashaolou could not convert, but got their own rebound. Huskies in a man defense, but there are exploitable matchups due to players scrambling just to get back on defense and grabbing the nearest man.

Oregon resets their offense, Sim with the ball up top a step to the left of the top of the key. He is guarded by Gant, whom has his heels setting on the three-point line. Singler is on the right wing guarded by Terrence Ross. Ashaolou is at the free throw line bodied up by Seferian-Jenkins.

Singler sets a screen on Gant's left side, and a very effective screen at that. Ross is directly to SIngler's right, between him and the basket. Sim uses the pick and goes right. Ross misreads the play by Sim and jumps out to defend the three-point line. The screen and Gant working to get around the screen cover to see if Sim fooled Ross with a hesitation or if Ross just guessed and guessed wrong, but nonetheless Sim easily passes by Ross in his way towards the hoop.

During this entire process, Ashaolou stayed around the free throw line. this allows Seferian-Jenkins, who stayed on the ball-side of Ashaolou in order to help against the drive, to help out and stop the drive of Garrett Sim. Sim is effectively stopped in his tracks from a driving standpoint. This leaves a bounce pass open to Ashaolou who is rolling to the basket. Sim takes the opportunity and Ashaolou is open to the hoop. Gant does his best to try and help after the pass, but he had to stay with Singler, who "popped" out to the three point line after the screen. Gant and Seferian-Jenkins hustle to try and contest the lay-up but one of them fouls (unsure who) and Ashaolou is shooting two.

The final play of this breakdown begins with Ashaolou receiving a pass from a mystery player, as the broadcast does not show the lead-up to the play, too busy showing a replay of Gant scoring from an offensive miss. This play goes to show more of the PAC-12 officials and their difficulty discerning blocks from charges.

Ashaolou is isolated on Seferian-Jenkins just a shade inside the three-point line on the right wing. There is no help defense that factors into this play. Seferian-Jenkins gives Ashaolou several feet of space.

Ashaolou shows his quickness by facing up and immediately driving right along the baseline. Seferian-Jenkins forces the drive to stay along the baseline, as he is incapable of stopping the drive completely. This should work to the advantage of the defender, as Ashaolou is too deep and ends up behind the backboard before he even reaches the paint. Seferian Jenkins is in good position, cutting Ashaolou off from the rest of the court.

Ashaolou counters this by muscling through Seferian-Jenkins, lowing his shoulder into the defender. Now, if a defender is staying with an offensive player step-for-step, or is defending a post-up then the offensive player initiates contact and lowers his shoulder into the chest of the defender, it is a charge.

Checklist!

  • Was the defender step-for-step with the offensive player? Seferian-Jenkins was in perfect defensive position to cut Ashaolou off from the rest of the court, and was sticking with him. So check ✓
  • Did the offensive player initiate contact? Ashaolou jumped directly into the chest of Austin Seferian-Jenkins. Check
  • Did the offensive player lower their shoulder into the offensive player? Well this is debatable. For one reason: Ashaolou did lower his shouler, but what impacted the chest of Seferian-Jenkins first was not his shoulder, it was his head. Ashaolou lowered his shoulder so low into Seferian Jenkins that his head made contact before his shoulder. Let's mark this as a check
Charge. No zebra says? Instead of a charge, Ashaolou was awarded two free throws and Seferian-Jenkins a blocking foul. Ashaolou went up with a shot at the same time he made an illegal NFL tackle on Seferian-Jenkins. Leading with the head is a no-no in the NFL, and it is also frowned upon in basketball.

The Dawgs had their hands full with Ashaolou, who used his strength and quickness to eat up the Huskies inside all night. He had the strength advantage over Gant, the speed edge on Seferian-Jenkins and both over Aziz N´Diaye. Gant effectively shut down Singler in the second half.

There have been better defensive performances by the Huskies, but this effort was enough to get them the win.
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