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.
Sweeps in regular season home & home series have proven difficult for the Tigers over the past decade. In fact, since Frank Haith’s last season at Mizzou, the Tigers had only completed the feat once prior to this season. Add another tally in the column. Mizzou was able to do much of what made them successful in round 1 in Oxford in the re-match. That includes a potent paint attack on offense, handling Ole Miss’s varying defensive looks and making timely three point jumpers. Within you will find clips showing exactly how it transpired.
We’ll begin with some of the defensive sets that Ole Miss threw at the Tigers Saturday.
These two clips, which were the same possession late in the game, give you a feel for how Ole Miss adjusted their man-to-man defense throughout the game. Prior examples will be covered (heavily) below where Mizzou was successful. As the game neared it’s conclusion, Mississippi was extending their man pressure with an occasional double on ball screens. The adjustment was assuredly in response to Mizzou’s efficacy in getting to the painted area earlier in the contest.
Here we see Ole Miss in a 1-3-1 half court trap defense. The goal is to trap the ball in the corners, both near half court and along the baseline. The key to beating a 1-3-1 is...well, basically this. Quick reversals and diagonal passes. Move the defense and attack the vacated areas, especially when that’s the block.
Here’s the same defensive look. Here’s the same plan of attack. A late foul is the only thing that prevents this set from ending with a highlight reel play.
I do believe this was the only other occasion in which Ole Miss showed a zone defense. If you’ve noticed a theme, you’ll understand why. The Rebels love to switch defenses to confuse opponents. However, when you give up 2 layups and a trip to the line, maybe advisable to limit those zone possessions. Here, you’re seeing a simple 2-3. The method of attack? Get the ball to the free throw line and collapse the defense. Pickett does just that and lifts the middle bottom defender. The idea was for a quick high-low to Kobe, though the Rebel far-side bottom defender prevents that. Kobe, however, is able to pin him. This allows Pickett a 1 on 1 opportunity, and he doesn’t miss from close range.
Before getting into Mizzou’s half-court man offenses, we’ll take a look at a few possessions where they were able to attack in transition.
Ole Miss blows a golden opportunity at the rim and Mizzou is able to force an odd man break. Someone was open. It was Pickett. Again, he didn’t miss. A five point swing that ultimately loomed large in the game’s outcome.
Here, Ole Miss did get back...a little bit. They had five defenders to cover two. They just happened to cover neither. Gordon is now shooting above 40% from three point range in league play. Kick outs to the corner generally lead to the highest percentage looks. As is the case on this occasion.
Now, to the meat and potatoes. The half court offense.
This is a simple case of blown ball screen coverage. The Browns trigger the action. Ole Miss appears to be hedging the ball screen, but instead of switching, the recovery to Kobe is way too slow. He merely pops to the top of the key and attacks on the reversal. Mizzou was effectively able to creat a 2 on 0 in the half court. That’s not what you’re going for defensively.
This action starts with a nearside pin down screen from Pickett for DeGray. After DeGray receives the pass, Kobe set’s what appears to be a “slice screen,” which is effectively a weak side screen for the wing to make a basket cut. When that’s not open, DeGray proceeds to set an empty-side ball screen for Pickett who is doubled. He finds Davis on a flash cut which is curiously uncovered by the Rebel defense. Davis’s man was simply lost and his recovery efforts were, well...
This is not a true “transition,” opportunity since the Rebel defense was technically back, and set. However, sometimes the best opportunities come in early clock settings. This particular one was no different. Kobe as the trailer simply receives the reversal, probes to draw attention and kicks it out to Davis for what has become a high percentage opportunity.
(Matt Harris): Early on, MU tried to funnel offense through elbow, but the Rebels’ staff clearly dissected recent tape. On dribble-handoffs, defenders hedged hard. Or they trapped the entry pass. On this play, however, Ronnie DeGray III does a nice job hauling in the pass and making a decisive read, whipping the ball to Amari Davis, whose defender left to trap the pass.
(M.H.): Earlier in this season, I tossed out the notion that MU should run more drag screens. It’s hard to tell if that’s the intention here, but the Tigers do get into early-clock action. Javon Pickett chases his pass into a brush screen, which allows Trevon Brazile to turn the corner in the slot and get to the rack.
Here we see the makings of an early clock 5-out offense. A Brazile ball screen holds the attention of the nearest two defenders. Meanwhile, Kobe slips an off-ball screen which results in two Rebel defenders chasing the catch and neglecting him at the rim. The defense was able to recover on the catch, but superb ball movement once again locates a high percentage opportunity in the far-side corner.
(M.H.): Freelancing in five-out becomes potent here after MU recognizes it has a mismatch: Pickett on the wing against big man Nysier Brooks, who had scrambled on closeout during a secondary break. The Tigers just empty out that side and let the senior go to work – the byproduct of pushing the pacing and creating advantageous cross-matches.
Here we see the offense set up in a familiar Horns action. However, we see a new twist. (M.H.): The wrinkle is the zipper action, followed by a pin down away to let Kobe curl.
We haven’t talked about Gut yet?!?! Worry no longer as we see it here. Ole Miss jumps the re-screen action and Brazile rolls to the basket. Although the pass takes a little longer than desired to arrive, it arrives all the same. If I’m Kermit Davis, and I will tell you that, in fact, I am not, I will be having a discussion with Coleman’s defender after this clip. The back of his head is turned towards the ball/action for considerably too long and it cost them two points.
(M.H.): The weave action doesn’t generate offense, but DeGray’s savvy does. His defender, Nysier Brooks, has rotated so far over that he’s practically on the midline. So, the UMass transfer simply cuts to space, finding it near the slot. Pickett simply reverses the ball, and MU has an open 3.
Here Ole Miss effectively defends the Gut action. But wait, there’s a wrinkle! A reversal leads to a ball screen and slip to the block by DeGray. Ole Miss once again commits two men to the ball in this action. Coleman finds DeGray on the block for a post up conversion against the help side defense.
DeGray begins this set by slipping a side ball screen for Pickett. This was Mizzou’s frequent counter to Ole Miss’s desire to trap ball screens. Pickett finds him cutting to the block. A kick out back to Pickett catches the Rebel defense in recovery mode. Pickett attacks the over-rotated defense, finds a seam and attacks the rim. Gordon lifting to the top of the key takes his man out of the help-side equation. Coleman’s man, once again, offers no help.
As Ole Miss was mounting their comeback, their ball screen coverage had tightened. The doubles were becoming more effective and weakside help had strengthened. Mizzou had a counter for that. Here, a simple high ball screen leads to a pick and pop opportunity for DeGray at the top of the key. It’s hard to properly put in words how much more effective an offense can be with open three point shots can be converted. These looks are prevalent when the defense commits to keeping you out of the paint. If you can make them, the lanes to the rim open up. Mizzou has done a better job in conference play at knocking down these opportunities. To no one’s surprise, their offensive efficiency has risen in response.
Saving what was probably my favorite clip for last, Mizzou begins with a Gut action that yields no advantage. A reversal to the top of the key results in an odd 3 on 2 situation. Brooks was very late in recovering, and Ole Miss switches defenders on the ball which isn’t common. As the man newly assigned to Kobe is late recovering, both DeGray and Kobe diagnose the situation and convert a beautiful back door cut for a layup. Mizzou had transitioned from the gut into a modern 5-out look. When you have effective ballhandlers and passers at every position, your “4” and “5” men can create for themselves out of those looks.
We’ll wrap up with a few defensive possessions out of the Tigers.
While this could arguably go in the transition category, I want to highlight the defense. First notice Kobe protecting the paint cut at the 0:04 mark. Then, as his man sets the high ball screen both he and Kaleb just rush the ballhandler forcing him into a tight turn and coughing up the ball. The defense created an easy bucket here.
Once again, you’ll see that Kobe gives a hard hedge on the ball screen, forcing the ballhandler to retreat to mid-court. Meanwhile, Pickett is “tagging,” the roller to prevent a pass into the paint. Brazile then pitches in. That allows Kobe time enough to recover during the reversal. It does allow for a lightly contested corner three which Ole Miss is unable to convert. While the defense did not create a turnover and allowed a decent look, the clip really shows how in-tune the Mizzou help side defense was on Saturday night.
Thanks for reading!