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The Film Room: Kentucky

NCAA Basketball: Missouri at Kentucky Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

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? 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.

In the first set of clips, we’ll look at actions that produced high quality looks for Mizzou.

In this set you’ll see the Tigers align early in a Horns formation. Put simply, this formation is where the ball handler is aligned at the top of the key and is flanked by two potential ball screeners at the elbows. Here, DeGray vacates his position at the elbow and Davis drives to his strong side for a pull up jumper, which is actually his sweet spot (optimization!). Davis misses the shot, but Mizzou will take that look. After securing the offensive board, and a short game of hot potato, Durugordon cuts through the paint using a soft off-ball screen to catch on the wing and gain a step for a baseline drive conversion.

Another simple set. Mizzou spreads the floor with Brookshire on the ball. Gordon is stationed at the weakside block. After getting a step on the perimeter, Brookshire adeptly attacks the heart of the paint and forces Gordon’s man to make a choice. Stopping the ball or sticking to his man. He chooses the ball and a quick dump off allows for an easy lay up.

Before starting this clip, get eyes on Durogordon (#2). Watch him work off the ball. He’s not incorporated into any of the early eye candy Mizzou is displaying. But he’s finding the prime spots in the perimeter-based offense, the corners. At the 0:13 mark of the video, his defender has lost him. He creeps back door and is missed. His defender realizes the backdoor cut only for Durugordon to cut back out to the line for an uncontested jumper. Even if the defender doesn’t lose his footing, that’s going to be a great look. Off ball movement is key, even if not the focus of the primary action.

In this set, Mizzou once again sets up in a Horns alignment (0:11 mark). Following an entry to Gordon at the elbow, Coleman cuts to the basket and then out to the corner. At the same time Kobe flashes across the lane, Coleman receives a pin down (down screen) from Gordon and receives a hand-off from Brazile. This “Zoom Action,” allows him to turn the corner and get downhill. Oscar Tshiebwe, not knowing that Brazile (who’s rolling) is covered by help defense, can’t commit fully to the driver. That hesitancy allows Coleman to get a high percentage look at the rim.

This set is more about individually playmaking, which is a large component of the ball screen offense. Gordon receives an initial side ball screen from Brazile. Once stopped in the paint the ball is kicked out before Kobe Brown attacks off the bounce. When the help side defense arrives to stop the ball, Brown finds Gordon who has lost his man off a baseline basket cut. A perfect pass results in 2 easy points.

This is a very simple baseline out of bounds play. Three of Mizzou’s players “lift” the defense away from the basket. Gordon walks his defender towards the free throw line before executing a quick spin and cut to the basket for an easy layup.

Mizzou is aligned in a “4-out” set. Kobe first receives the ball on the block. When nothing materializes, a kick out followed by a series of quick ball reversals creates a good angle for an entry to DeGray on the opposite block. Despite the size mismatch, DeGray is able to walk his defender up the lane before he’s able to turn and seal for a great look.

The next series of clips will show how Kentucky was defending Mizzou. As you’ll see, they were selling out to stop dribble penetration and protect the paint while conceding outside jump shots. While causing decisions to be made is the very essence of offense, if the offense can’t punish those decisions, it’s a winning defensive game plan. Spoiler alert: It was.

At the 0:13 mark, Mizzou has five players outside of the 3 point arc. At the 0:21 mark, during a DeGray dribble drive, Kentucky has 4 players in the paint, completely abandoning 2 Mizzou players. A forced pass leads to a turnover.

Watch how Kentucky reacts to Durugordon’s baseline drive (0:13-0:16). Five defenders below the free throw line, in the paint.

At the 0:08 mark, Mizzou once again runs a ball screen with 5 men beyond the arc. Coleman drives the left side and before getting the the block, he has four Kentucky defenders closer than any teammate. A ball fake allows him a kick out. Unfortunately no one had filled to the top of the key (at 0:11) to allow for a good look on the kick out. Another forced drive leads to a turnover.

At the 0:13 second mark you’ll see that Pickett’s dribble drive will result in meeting numerous Kentucky defenders. All five white jersies...in the paint again. He makes the right read to find Brazile for a corner jumper. Exactly the shot that this offense can create, but also the one Kentucky was willing to give up.

The book is out among opponents on who can do damage for Mizzou in the restricted arc. Kobe still manages to draw a trip to the line despite a simple dribble drive collapsing the entire defense into paint protection mode.

Mizzou self-inflicted spacing wounds on this particular instance. See the 0:10 mark. After triggering out of the Horns formation, Mizzou finds itself with four players in close proximity at the elbow extended.

Isolations that lead in pull-up dribble jumpers with double digits left on the shot clock are generally not the goal of offensive sets. Those troubles were compounded by a foul on the offensive glass.

The clips above are merely a sampling of my choice. They represent just 14 possessions out of the ~150 total possessions that occurred in the game. Needless to say, it’s not a comprehensive look of everything that occurred. It does, however, allow for some insight on strategical components that were occurring within the game on both sides. If you have any requests going forward, let us know in the comments or on twitter @DataMizzou.

Thanks for reading!