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Film Room: Mississippi

Contrary to what one might think when seeing a 25 point victory, there were A LOT of intriguing things to break down on film

COLLEGE BASKETBALL: JAN 18 Missouri at Ole Miss Photo by Kevin Langley/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

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

Contrary to what one might think when seeing a 25 point victory, there were A LOT of intriguing things to break down on film this week. Ole Miss threw the proverbial kitchen sink at Mizzou’s offense, and with devastating precision, Mizzou handled the constant shifting with ease. Let’s first take a look at some of the different looks the Rebels offered up defensively:

Here, Ole Miss offered up a very extended and active version of a man defense. Switches were plentiful and the pressure often extended out past the three point arc. Compare with say, Arkansas’s strategy of packing bodies in the paint. Different strokes for different folks. This method of man defense is often more effective at creating turnovers. However, it also can leave the paint vulnerable. The latter is not something that’s advisable against this Tiger squad.

Here’s another instance of man to man defense. First before even starting the video, note the defensive positioning. Ole Miss was given consideration to both Pickett and Gordon in the corners. There was some “help” positioning, but this is very different from what we saw a week ago in Fayetteville. After rejecting the initial ballscreen, a rescreen results in a jump trap which causes Coleman to pick up the ball. Pickett rejects the ball screen before driving to the logo. Ole Miss initially had four men bracketing the ball but they recover to their assignments leaving only Pickett’s man and Gordon’s man protecting the lane. Gordon’s defender makes a nice recovery to deflect what would’ve been an easy two points.

As promised on Twitter, here we see one of my favorite defenses. An extended 1-3-1 half court, trapping defense. This defense had Mizzou ALL out of sorts for the first 22 seconds of the shot clock. However, #11 was slow to cover his assignment in the paint when Kobe was trapped on the far side wing. Brazile makes a savvy cut and Kobe finds him with an exceptional pass.

Ole Miss also gave some looks out of the 2-3 zone. Why a separate section? Well, we’re transitioning to what Mizzou was doing on offense. And what they did when they faced the Rebels 2-3 zone was to summarily blow it to pieces.

The best 2-3 zone offenses move the middle man on the bottom row AWAY from the basket. That can be achieved in many ways. Having a player like Kobe roaming the free throw line is certainly a quality option. With 12 seconds left on the shot clock, Kobe is at the free throw line. The rim protector has nearly went to a man-to-man defense against him. Naturally, when you have 4 men on one side of the floor and only 3 defenders, someone is going to be open. With the rim protector occupied, Brazile settles into the soft spot and hits a nice mid range jumper.

The commentators noted how effective Mizzou has been against a zone this year, certainly speaking in particular about facing a 2-3 zone. The notorious weak spot for that defense that causes it all sorts of problems is having a playmaker in the middle of it. Enter: Kobe. When you have a guy who can do this against a slow recovering defense, or drive an aggressive close out, good looks are going to follow.

Let’s transition now to a few things Mizzou did on offense against Ole Miss’s man-to-man defense.

The beauty is in its simplicity. Mizzou runs a middle ball screen with Kobe and Coleman, and Mizzou spaces Pickett and Brazile on the strong side wing and corner, respectively. Gordon is roaming the weak side wing/corner. Coleman is able to make the turn and go down hill. Pause the video at the 0:03 mark. Look where the defense is. Coleman has collapsed it, kicks it to the corner and Brazile knocks down an open catch and shoot. This is the very essence of modern basketball offense.

Here we have another simple modern concept. Once again a middle ball screen by Kobe for Davis triggers the offense. Instead of rolling, Kobe pops to the top of the key. The “Pick and Pop.” This is a frequent weapon to counter defenses who double the ball, which Ole Miss did here. Kobe, knowing where his strengths lie, rejects the open jumper and drives the middle of the lane. The defense is slow to rotate and he narrowly misses a bucket and a trip to the line. Again, simple stuff that looks radically different when executed effectively.

When your coach signals for his THIRD timeout in a half after a defensive stand, something generally went wrong. Spoiler Alert. It did. Here, Mizzou runs the “Gut” action which our readers are now certainly familiar with. Davis shoots from the baseline to the wing off a pin down screen by Kobe, followed by a rescreen. Davis once again attracts two defenders coming off this action. However, Kobe’s man doesn’t hold the hedge through Davis’s hesitation dribble. And what do you know, Davis became Moses. The seas parted en route to the promised land.

Here, Mizzou first attempts a side ball screen on the far side of the court. Seeing nothing there, they reverse into an empty side ball screen. What that means is that, in theory, Kobe sets the screen and rolls to where no other player (for either team) is in the short corner. Here, however, Coleman catches his defender asleep, rejects the ball screen and drives baseline where the help side defense is once again, out of position and late to recover. Another excellent piece of recognition by the Mizzou offense.

You want more stuff that is relatively simply, yet incredibly effective? Enter the high-weave series. Mizzou simply runs a three man weave up top until they get their desired matchup on a switch. Davis receives the ball, dribbles of a Kobe rub screen and gets downhill to one of his spots. If you watched the game, or saw Davis’s box score, you know what happens next.

Here, Mizzou’s ball screen offense isn’t as effective at generating a look off the primary action. Doing what good wings should do, once Coleman is forced to pick up his dribble at the elbow, Pickett executes a savvy cut and Coleman finds him with an exceptional pass to convert the backdoor play. Only a potentially missed goaltend prevented 2 easy points from going on the board.

Moving on to some special teams and instances where the defense created offense.

Faced with a baseline out of bounds, Mizzou goes to the easiest trick in the book. Isolate a mismatch defensively, clear out, and let your man go to work. And friends, let me tell you, that’s what Amari did ALL NIGHT LONG.

This clip shows how valuable of a player Kobe is on both ends of the court. Strips the layup attempt as a help defender, gathers the loose ball, heads up floor and finds Pickett running the wing for a transition bucket.

Unlike the game Saturday against Texas A&M, Mizzou wasn’t pushing as much in the open court. Some of that probably had to do with their efficiency in the half court. No matter, when the chances presented themselves, they took advantage.

As has become routine, we save the last section for Brazile block highlights. However, he has some company this week.

After being just a hair late on the roller coverage, Brazile recovers with emphasis. There aren’t a whole lot of players in D-I who can make this sequence look so routine. Ole Miss learned that lesson the hard way.


I’m excited to bring you some Keita film. Just watch him through this entire sequence. “Multiple efforts” all over the place! Let’s break this down:

0:02 — Proper help side positioning.

0:06 — Hedges the hand off and continues the help all the way to the rim.

0:10 — Recovers to his man.

0:13 — Helps off his man to draw a charge (that wasn’t called, of course).

0:17 — Gets off his backside, and comes from the help side to reject a layup attempt.

Just an incredible individual defensive effort. Give that man a helmet sticker.

Thanks again for reading.