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Chris Chiozza stole the ball and the show with his defense in the second half

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It wasn’t just one play, overall the Gators had a good defensive plan that was nearly blown up by Jordan Barnett.

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Missouri Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

What’s funny about how I view games is I spent most of my basketball playing career wanting to shoot the ball and score, and all of my coaching career harping about defense.

So when it comes to offense, I tend to be a ball watcher (like most people I’m sure). But when it comes to defense, I see things differently. I watch rotations, placement and can often see exactly what the defense is trying to accomplish.

I noticed something on Saturday late in the second half. It had seemed for much of the second half Gators guard Chris Chiozza was sitting underneath Jordan Barnett every time he touched the ball.

Let’s do some of this X’s and O’s stuff...

x&os cuonzo

For most of the game, the Gators were playing a switching man to man defense. But something was happening during the first 30 minutes of play, namely Jordan Barnett was torching the Gators to the tune of 28 points on just 13 shots. Barnett was bombing.

The Gators defensive game plan was a pretty good one, aside for their basic disregard for Barnett’s ability to shoot. They seemed to be more concerned with the pick and pops from Jontay and Kevin Puryear, and were weak-side doubling the post at nearly every opportunity. They likely figured Mizzou’s young bigs would struggle to read a double coming from the weak side. Instead Jeremiah TIlmon got into foul trouble and Jontay Porter torched the double teams with four first half assists.

Giving Florida’s Defense some real credit

One of my favorite wrinkles in the Gator defense was their approach to defending Jontay on the pick and pop. Watch what Chiozza does here on this gif.

pick and pop defense florida chiozza

They are clearly worried about the impact of Jontay’s shooting on the pick and pop. The Gators did this move several times, and it happened 90% of the time when Jontay was setting the screen. So Chiozza waits for Jordan Geist to pick up his dribble and jumps to force Geist to hold onto the ball for just a beat, giving Kevarrius Hayes enough time to recover and prevent an open shot.

I mean, just look at how open Jontay would’ve been had the pass been quicker.

chiozza jump florida defense spacing

That spacing though.

Seriously, this is beautiful offense facing fantastic defense. Mizzou has a guy with the ball, and four players around the 3-point line who can hit a 3-point shot. If Geist can deliver the ball on time, he forces Jalen Hudson to make a decision to rotate to Jontay Porter or leave the guy who’s already hit five three’s to that point of the game. The offense is designed to put defenders in difficult positions and Chiozza making one move changes so much.

But what I’m really here to talk about is as good as Florida’s defense is...

Chris Chiozza is a damn wizard

Jordan Barnett is torching nets and putting College Basketball on notice. He’s been unreal, as evidenced by Bill’s Study Hall and Matt’s post game thoughts.

Just look at Jordan go:

Ok, Jordan

Time FGA Defender Action Result Total Points
Time FGA Defender Action Result Total Points
1st half
16:34 1 Chiozza UF weakside double post, Chiozza rotated to cover weakside -- Jontay kick out Make 3
15:29 1 Koulachov UF weakside double post, Koulachov sinks, Jontay kick out Make 6
14:30 0 Chiozza Fouled on 3FGA on Jontay kickout after rotation Fouled 8
12:29 1 Allen UF sinks to help Chiozza switched onto Jontay, opposite wing kick out Make 11
10:58 1 Ballard Missed shot by Puryear, putback by Barnett Make 13
9:15 1 Koulachov ISO right baseline, no dribble pull up Miss 13
8:43 1 Koulachov Porter dribble drive, Koulachov helps, Barnett back cut Make 15
5:42 1 Hudson Robertson dribble handoff to Barnett on wing Miss 15
3:30 1 Koulachov Missed switch on BLOB Miss 15
2:59 1 Koulachov Swing pass from Robertson to Geist to Barnett Miss 15
2nd half
18:33 1 Koulachov UF weakside double post, Koulachov sinks, Jontay kick out Make 18
15:55 1 Koulachov Fast break, wing three pass from Jontay Make 21
14:48 0 Koulachov Pin down screen, pass from PG Fouled 23
14:09 1 Koulachov Cross screen, pin down pass from PG Miss 23
11:16 1 Ballard Inbounds from BLOB, deep 3 Make 26
10:32 0 Ballard Offensive Rebound - putback Fouled 28

For roughly 27 minutes Jordan Barnett owned the Gators. They started with Egor Koulechov on him for long stretches, but their defensive switching meant he punished a lot of guys. Just mostly Koulechov. Jordan benefitted from the Gators strategy of the weak side double, and because I love you guys, here’s what I mean.

weak side double gif barnett

Word of advice, don’t double Jontay.

Word of advice, don’t leave Jordan Barnett.

Mike White listened to this advice because here are the possessions following Jordan Barnett’s 27th and 28th points:

Ok, Chris Chiozza

Time FGA Defender Action
Time FGA Defender Action
10:02 0 Chiozza Geist made FGA
9:17 0 Chiozza Robertson TO
8:32 0 Okauru Geist made FGA
8:01 0 Chiozza Nikko putback dunk
7:28 0 ZONE Tilmon fouled FTA
6:36 0 Chiozza Tilmon made FGA
5:50 0 Chiozza Tilmon FTA
5:11 0 Chiozza Geist missed FGA
4:49 0 Chiozza Geist fould FTA
4:11 0 Chiozza KP FGA blocked
3:05 0 Chiozza Robertson fouled FTA
2:21 0 Chiozza Robertson missed FGA
1:32 0 Chiozza Porter made FGA
0:40 0 Chiozza Puryear missed FGA
0:03 0 Chiozza Geist TO

I rewatched each of these possessions. The Gators switched a little bit down the stretch, but Chiozza did not leave Barnett for very long. And as a tall guy who liked to shoot three’s, having a smaller fast guy underneath you with every catch gets frustrating in a hurry. As your jump shot always starts with your legs it’s hard to get your legs and balance when there’s this little guard hovering around.

Chris Chiozza simply put on a clinic.

The Final Play

Let’s be honest, nobody really wants to relive the final play over and over and over again. It wasn’t fun to watch. But I think it’s important to talk about what happened. And in doing so we have to watch it.

last play florida mizzou basketball

Yeah I don’t need to see the rest. But I think it’s important to point out a few things here.

  1. Chris Chiozza is a damn wizard
  2. The play design was fine

I saw on twitter after the game some former basketball player turned wannabe coach named Tug Blottsmeeb or something, called the play design poor simply because there was no weak side action.

Let’s ignore the fact that there are maybe 5 players in all of college basketball who can make this play above. Chiozza has to get from his spot to steal the ball in a second and a half. He’s circled below and the ‘X’ marks the spot where he steals the ball.

chiozza wizard steal last play

Couple all this with the fact he’s leaving a guy who’s made 6-9 3FG on the day, it’s a big risk. If he misses this pass he’s left Jordan Barnett and Kevin Puryear in a two on one situation with three seconds on the clock.

It’s not a “good scout” or a poorly designed play, it’s one dude, the guy on the floor who’s played more division one games than anyone else on the floor, a senior point guard who makes a great play.

Tip your cap.

NCAA Basketball: Florida at Missouri Amy Kontras-USA TODAY Sports

If there was anything I’d have done different was to try to get the ball into Jontay’s hands sooner. He’s going to be a big playmaker for this team this year and next so get him the ball and see if he can pull it off. From that standpoint I liked the action I just think Geist should’ve gotten the ball to Porter.

In the screen shot above, he’s open with 5.6 on the clock. The play was designed to get to the ball to one of two of your best playmakers. Jontay and Kassius are the guys you want making those decisions most of the time. Geist didn’t even make the wrong play, he was just a half second too slow on the pass. If you watch the gif again (and again and again as I have), you see Robertson is set by the time the pass is stolen.

I won’t harp on it anymore. I just had to say Smug Blartgreef was wrong (what else is new?). The play design wasn’t the problem. It was a poor read and enough hesitation it allowed a great player to make a great play.

Time to move on.