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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.
3/23/2008 02:45:00 PM

Xs and Os: West Virginia's "Hybrid Open-Post Princeton" Offense

(Ed.'s note: In the interest of giving you a coach's angle on the NCAA tournament, we've enlisted Bruno Chu of the blog The X's and O's of Basketball to provide a series of guest posts during the dance. Today's topic is an interesting offensive development out of Morgantown. Bruno takes it over from here.)

What happens when a John Beilein-coached team falls into the hands of Bob Huggins? At West Virginia, the result was a truly unique hybrid offense, combining Beilein's Princeton-styled five-out scheme with Huggins' Open Post Motion. This system, which I've marveled at all season, is similar to Duke's in that the Mountaineers also shoot a lot of three-pointers. But WVU has an increased number of backdoor options and is more motion-based than the Blue Devils. Here are a few ways WVU scored on Duke in its second-round upset:

Off-ball Screening Options: In this series of two plays, West Virginia runs the same action. It gets to a four-out situation and an off-ball screen is set for star forward Joe Alexander. Depending on how the defense plays the screen, Alexander will either curl off shoulder-to-shoulder all the way to the rim, or V-cut back to the ball for the three-pointer.

In the first diagram, the defense tries to trail over the top of the screen with no switch, allowing Alexander to get all the way to the basket and finishes while being fouled:



In the second diagram, the defense decides to go underneath the screen; Alexander sees this and V-cuts to get an open look from beyond the arc:



Shuffle Cut: With the shot clock winding down, Mountaineers guard Alex Ruoff reads a defensive overplay by the Blue Devils' Jon Scheyer. Ruoff fakes coming to the ball, then shuffle-cuts to the corner to receive the pass for the catch-and-shoot three:



West Virginia's motion may have been the perfect antidote for Duke's overly aggressive D. When the Mountaineers meet Xavier in Phoenix on Thursday, they'll see a more traditional, keep-in-front man-to-man, but Huggins' hybrid offense is good enough to continue generating open looks for the likes of Ruoff and Alexander.

Previous Xs-and-Os Breakdowns:
Washington State's Pack-line Defense
Arkansas' Crunch-Time Plays
How Stanford Feeds the Lopez Twins

(Read more from Bruno Chu, a high-school coach in Vancouver, B.C., on his excellent blog: The X's and O's of Basketball.)

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