Welcome to The Film Room
In this series we’re going to cut up recent game film to take a look at what the Tigers were doing, and at times, what they weren’t. Film study is in important aspect of basketball. It’s not a matter of simply looking at film and seeing what sets produced baskets (or stops on defense), but rather, what the offense produced in terms of quality of opportunity and what the defense prevented. While most of the commentary will focus on the offensive end, the defensive end is just as important and will get some attention as well.
At the outset, I see film and statistical analysis as effectively a four step process. First, you want to look at what actions/plays a team runs. Styles and systems vary wildly in the college game. How are teams trying to generate looks? Who are the looks generated for? Second, you want to look at the efficiency of those actions/plays that are run, determining how many points per possession are gained (or prevented). Third, you look at whether the scheme, or game plan, is optimizing the actions/plays that are most efficient in a matchup. Is the offense creating looks for the right guys, shooting the right shots in the right quantity? Finally, it’s a matter of execution. Getting the shots you want on offense still requires those looks to be converted. Nothing can paper over bad offense better than elite shot-making, after all.
This series will primarily look at the first and third points. What plays are Mizzou running? What is the opponent doing on the defensive end to counter those actions? What about when Mizzou is on defense? I would suggest that while viewing offensive sets, look at what the defense is doing, no matter who has the ball. Are the defenders being forced to make decisions in leaving shooters open? Are cuts, screens, etc. causing defenders to be out of position? Are ball screens covered effectively? Those are generally hallmarks of effective offense.
Pull up a seat and let’s get started.
A strong case could be made that after Mizzou’s trip to Fayetteville in January that the Tigers had turned a corner. Sure, the record lagged a bit, but the quality of play had markedly improved. Close losses to Florida, Texas A&M and Auburn lingered as hope that maybe things were getting close. After Tuesday’s affair, the questions circling around the squad in December have resurfaced. Though it wasn’t a 40-piece like the road tilt between these two, it was the very definition of a comfortable victory for the road team. Within we’ll take a look at how that came about.
The real difference-maker in my view of both Arkansas games has been the Hogs defense. That’s where we start.
I did not observe Arkansas play any zone Tuesday. It’s possible I missed it, but their primary set was a man defense. Here, we’ll take a look at a few concepts. When the ball goes to the nearside wing (Gordon) and is swung back to the point (Brazile), notice where Brazile’s defender is. He never fully leaves the paint. DeGray and Pickett work a handoff and the Arkansas defenders simply switch. Gordon’s man then walls off the paint forcing another kick out. Then the same with Coleman. DeGray ultimately ghosts a ball screen and Arkansas traps Pickett at the top of the key. At that point, the shot clock was under 5 forcing Brazile to create off the dribble. The takeaway: Keep the ball out of the paint.
Here we see a much more aggressive ball denial version of the man defense. Coleman is picked up immediately upon crossing half court. As soon as he picks up his dribble, the defense clings to their man denying easy exit passes. A DeGray/Pickett ball screen and roll leads to a switch. The help side defense has all feet in the paint. Pickett sees this and finds the wide open Brazile for a catch and shoot. Arkansas was willing to allow this shot. Takeaway: Keep the ball out of the paint.
Same concepts here. Immediate ball pressure. Play up on exit passes. When the action begins, get physical with cutters/rollers in the paint. Arkansas got a little too physical on this one, drawing a Flagrant 1. Takeaway: Keep the ball out of the paint.
Similar concepts here, just that Arkansas’s pressure forces the turnover. Their keys were to pressure the ball high and then to...say it with me...protect the paint.
Now for a few examples of how Mizzou successfully attacked that defense.
The Tigers start this set with a flex cut into a UCLA screen for Kobe. Arkansas, predictably is physical with both cutters. Mizzou reverses into a high ball screen which Gordon rejects and Brazile pops. A small ball fake gets Williams to bite defensively and a crevice is found in Arkansas’s paint defense. Kobe once again drew a lot of defensive attention and Mizzou used that to their advantage here. His man does not help off on the dribble drive.
Mizzou starts this set with a side ball screen which nets no advantage. Around the 0:07 mark notice Pickett. He cuts to the paint which occupies both his and Coleman’s defender. This allows an easy reversal to Coleman. Also notice that Pickett pins his man high side which enables Coleman to make the entry pass. The quick reversal is enough to make the help side defense arrive a second too late.
To counter some of the difficulties Mizzou encountered in the half court, they were able to take advantage of some opportunities in the open court.
Push the pace off of a miss. Have wings run the sides of the floor. Find a guy beyond the arc who is shooting 40%+ from 3 in SEC play. Profit.
Active hands lead to tipped passes. Tipped passes lead to turnovers. Turnovers lead to transition. Transition leads to...
Kobe didn’t stuff the box score Tuesday. But he showed up in other ways. Here he’s guarding Notae, one of the SEC’s leading scorers. He does a nice job keeping him in front and then making the strip. Even more impressive? The home run pass immediately thereafter.
Turning our attention to a few clips of what Arkansas was running offensively.
A super simple concept executed perfectly. Arkansas starts in the “Horns” set, with two men at the elbows. The two remaining players are spaced in the corners to occupy defenders, and with the way Arkansas was uncharacteristically bombing 3’s...it was effective. Williams goes to set a ball screen for Notae but slips to the paint. Kobe hedges, Davis follows the ball, Brazile is late to tag and Coleman is late on a rotation.
A similar concept here, just a different set up. Instead of a Horns set, it’s merely a high ball screen by Williams for Notae which he slips again. Upon receiving the pass, Mizzou helps with 3 defenders. He’s unable to complete the pass cleanly for the spot up. After a missed layup and an offensive rebound, Umude hits his 364th three point attempt of the night.*
We’ll end with a solid defensive set by the Tigers.
Mizzou does a nice job of fighting through all screening and hand off actions on the perimeter as well as helping the on ball defenders recover. The set finishes with a really nice help-side clean up on the post up by DeGray.
Thanks for reading!