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  1. #1
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    A look at Iowa State's Ballscreen Defense Problem

    Iowa State was quite good on offense this year. KenPom's adjusted offensive efficiency ranked them 6th. Defensively the Cyclones weren't as good, ranking 72nd. That number is too low for a team that has Final Four aspirations. It is also particularly troubling because of that high offense number-good offense typically leads to better defense, since high percentage transition opportunities are limited by made shots and free throws.
    As you can see from these Synergy stats, Iowa State really, really struggles to guard balls screens.Click image for larger version. 

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    A few minutes of clicking through Iowa State's possessions where they have to guard Ball Screen's (Or "OB's", short for "On-Ball Defense") and a problem shows up immediately.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    In an effort to avoid the scrambling backside ball screen rotations that characterize Tony Bennett's Virginia teams, Rick Majerus' SLU teams, or the Bulls, the team often tries to either "whip" (Go under a screen then jump back on top) at the top of the key, or down/ice (Push away from the screen) on the sideline. The icing strategy is a good one, when the execution is there.
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    And going under a screen is fine on someone that can't shoot, like JP Tokoto.
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    Poor technique and personnel choices limits the effectiveness of the strategy. Here, Monte Morris is trying to ice a side ballscreen, when Marcus Paige, a a fantastic shooter, takes one dribble to his (non dominant) right hand, Morris jumps too far below the ballscreen. Paige comes back off, gets an open look with a late contest from Morris, but can't knock it down.
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    Morris goes under a middle OB against Marcus Paige. Bad idea. While hedging, flat hedging, trapping, or another strategy may force the defense into scramble mode, a wide open pull up jumper from Paige at the top of they in rhythm is probably the best shot this UNC team as currently constituted can get.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    And switching against a guy like Markel Brown who is a capable shooter but prefers to go right to left cross is fine. But you have to switch "up." By staying so flat, Kane gave an NBA player like Brown all the momentum he needed to attack a backpedaling Kane.
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    And on this possession, Matt Thomas doesn't even bother to try to ice or whip the screen. Against Marcus Paige, not knowing how you're guarding him on ball screens is not preferable.
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    But all is not lost. When Iowa State iced properly, they were able to force tough shots outside of the restricted area. With Iowa State's mobile bigs, there's no reason this shouldn't happen every time.
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    And this is what a proper defensive rotation out of ice looks like.
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    To improve their defensive efficiency, Iowa State has to improve their ability to guard OB's. If they tweak technique on ice-ing, and find an alternative to whipping OB's at the top of the key against two of the five best PG's in the country, they can have as good of a chance as anyone at finding their way to a Final Four.


    Last edited by cyismydog; 07-14-2014 at 11:38 AM.

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    Re: A look at Iowa State's Ballscreen Defense Problem

    That is why we told old Doc Sadler to find a job.

    EDIT DISCLAIMER. Some people took this as a serious post. It is not. We all know Doc moved on for a head coaching job.

    Now, for serious discussion, some of our guards were weak guarding against the screens and would go underneath and get burned. Matt. 3sus. Monte. All were guilty. I do not remember Kane as taking it easy when it came to screens.


    Last edited by Wesley; 07-14-2014 at 01:00 PM.
    Let my Fred's Posse Ride: Georges, Naz, Hogue, Bryce, Nader, Monte, Matt, and McKay.

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    Re: A look at Iowa State's Ballscreen Defense Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Wesley View Post
    That is why we told old Doc Sadler to find a job.
    block


    While on live TV, Ford used a vulgar term to describe a private part of the female anatomy, adding that he was “happily married” and “got more than enough to eat at home.”

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    Re: A look at Iowa State's Ballscreen Defense Problem

    I think Niang got tired on defense last year at times - he said so himself in some recent interviews about his weight loss. Also, foul trouble played a part in our bigs being too passive on the defensive end. On top of those problems being fixed - this year we will have a shot blocker down low to hopefully clean up on some of our breakdowns.


    Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. Proverbs 3:5

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    Re: A look at Iowa State's Ballscreen Defense Problem

    Good stuff! The work filter isn't loading up the images for me so I'll have to check this out in greater detail tonight.

    I have done some preliminary research in the past on your first point about strong offenses and defenses and a correlation but I've never actually compiled any of those numbers. I may do that... I'm not saying your premise is incorrect but I'd want to investigate further, your reasoning is obviously sound but there are other factors. Worth looking in to!

    Defending ball screens is really hard. Icing is my preferred method when possible, but that gets trickier at the top of the key. The thing is that not every ball screen will be/can be iced correctly. In those cases the hedging/help and recover have to be on point. Which is difficult and you obviously can't win them all there...but I think you bring up some really good points.

    The other option, which also can work more "easily" is switching and with the way our lineups are formed offensively (a positionless/interchangeable scenario of 6'6" versatile guys) you'd think that could be a viable option as well. Monte wouldn't switch to a big and there would be some other particulars but it could certainly be used as Hogue/McKay/BDJ/Nader and sort of Niang have the physical ability to guard most positions reasonably well.




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    Re: A look at Iowa State's Ballscreen Defense Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Wesley View Post
    That is why we told old Doc Sadler to find a job.
    Dumb post of the year.



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    Re: A look at Iowa State's Ballscreen Defense Problem

    This is what I love about Fred's coaching philosophy. He goes after versatile players (bigs who can score from the perimeter, guards who can post up, and players who can defend both on the perimeter and down low). When your defense is switching on every screen and you're still avoiding mismatches, it's extremely difficult for the offense to get a quality shot.



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    Re: A look at Iowa State's Ballscreen Defense Problem

    Our D has been mostly below average under Fred. That's of course offset by the fact that we're usually as potent as it comes offensively.

    Until this year, we haven't had the depth to play D aggressively. We also have usually had holes in post D.

    I think you'll see our D improve this year with McKay and some more depth.



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    Re: A look at Iowa State's Ballscreen Defense Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Cydkar View Post
    Dumb post of the year.
    It was a joke. Lighten up.


    Let my Fred's Posse Ride: Georges, Naz, Hogue, Bryce, Nader, Monte, Matt, and McKay.

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    Re: A look at Iowa State's Ballscreen Defense Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Architect View Post
    block
    We could use a few more ball blocks.


    Let my Fred's Posse Ride: Georges, Naz, Hogue, Bryce, Nader, Monte, Matt, and McKay.

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    Re: A look at Iowa State's Ballscreen Defense Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by Wesley View Post
    It was a joke. Lighten up.
    The amount of stupid on this board makes a jimlad a requirement. While you were joking (thanks for the clarification) there are plenty of posts that I've assumed had to be joking that weren't. My sarcasm meter is all out of whack due to this place.



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    Re: A look at Iowa State's Ballscreen Defense Problem

    Great analysis! I griped during the season about how some of our guys really struggled coming over ball screens slowly, and I chalk a lot of it up to the off-ball defender not hedging very well; they're positioned squarely with the ball-screener rather than perpendicular to him, and they get caught in the screen more often as a result. I noticed it a lot with Morris and especially Thomas, and given that they were both freshman, I'm optimistic they'll get better at that.

    Maybe I'm not thinking the Xs and Os through fully, but with that UNC game in particular, I also wonder if Fred's strategy was to not down the ball screen as a way to minimize McAdoo's scoring opportunities? As fast as our bigs are, I think McAdoo's even faster (and bigger) and maybe Fred was especially concerned about this with a short bench due to Niang's injury?



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    Re: A look at Iowa State's Ballscreen Defense Problem

    Switching when you have similar guys 1-5 does leave you vulnerable to slips. It also allows good players to shoot behind screens, and can really hurt you if guys reject on balls.



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    Re: A look at Iowa State's Ballscreen Defense Problem

    Quote Originally Posted by roundball View Post
    Great analysis! I griped during the season about how some of our guys really struggled coming over ball screens slowly, and I chalk a lot of it up to the off-ball defender not hedging very well; they're positioned squarely with the ball-screener rather than perpendicular to him, and they get caught in the screen more often as a result. I noticed it a lot with Morris and especially Thomas, and given that they were both freshman, I'm optimistic they'll get better at that.

    Maybe I'm not thinking the Xs and Os through fully, but with that UNC game in particular, I also wonder if Fred's strategy was to not down the ball screen as a way to minimize McAdoo's scoring opportunities? As fast as our bigs are, I think McAdoo's even faster (and bigger) and maybe Fred was especially concerned about this with a short bench due to Niang's injury?
    McAdoo can't shoot, pass, or dribble, so I wouldn't be too worried about him. They did try to down on the sideline, just not super successfully.



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    Re: A look at Iowa State's Ballscreen Defense Problem

    Holy crap CIMD is back!



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