Get inside March Madness with SI.com's Luke Winn in the Tourney Blog, a daily journal of college basketball commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
3/14/2008 10:43:00 AM
Xs And Os: Breaking Down the Lopez Twins
There are things that this blog is good at (or at least I'd like to think so): on-site reporting, posting amateurish photos from my Canon Elph, doing light statistical analysis, begging you to join the Facebook pool. I am not, however, entirely qualified to provide you with a thorough breakdown of a team's offensive sets.
That's why the blog has turned to an expert -- coach Bruno Chu of The X's and O's of Basketball -- to give us a few guest posts during the dance. The first: a look at how Stanford manages to get the ball to the Lopez twins despite double-teams in the post. Arizona used this tactic on Thursday in the Pac-10 tournament. Bruno takes it over from here:
The maturity that Brook and Robin Lopez have gained as sophomores has allowed Stanford coach Trent Johnson to move them around as defenses attempt to adjust to their low-post presence. Thursday's win over Arizona was a perfect example of how a team can utilize all the skills of its big men and keep them involved in the offense despite fronting defenses and swarming double-teams. These five sequences from the game show various ways Stanford moved around the Lopezes to get them open looks:
When you have two 7-footers, there are plenty of things you can do on offense. I like the way Stanford adjusts within the game to stay focused on pounding the ball down low. Just because the defense is trying to take away your best offensive option doesn't mean you should go away from it. You should counter-attack and beat the defense while still accomplishing your goal.
To start the game, Arizona decided to double the Lopez twins on the dribble. This proved futile: the Lopez twins are fast enough to catch the ball, make a move and score before the double-team could affect them. Here are four ways in which Stanford was able to continue to feed the Lopezes:
Pick-and-Roll: This is one of the most potent offenses to use with a dynamic big man, because it provides you with so many options. Almost every NBA team uses it.
Give-and-Go: Most people think this is only for guards, but it can be just as effective for forwards. The key here is that once you get your big man moving in space, it's very difficult to defend -- especially when the defender sags to help in the low post.
High-Post Dive: In the Hi-Lo offense, forwards are taught that when the ball is entered in the low post, and they are in the high post, they should dive to the low post. That's essentially what happens here: Robin gets the ball, Brook dives to the low post, and he catches a pass for the easy lay-in.
Lob Over Fronting Defense: This is the simplest strategy. If the defense decides to front, Stanford can make a well-timed lob pass to one of the Lopezes, who catches, keeps the ball above his head, and shoots.
Friday's meeting between Stanford and Washington State is going to be quite a treat. The key for the Cougars will be how they choose to defend the Lopez twins. They play the pack-line D, which should give them advantages automatically in help-side defense, but they lack solid shot-blockers that can challenge the Lopez twins. Even so, the last two times these teams met, the Cardinal won by single-digits, so it should be a great game.