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.
3/16/2008 03:31:00 PM
Xs and Os: Arkansas' Late-Game Plays
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 latest: A look at the crunch-time prowess of Arkansas' post players. Bruno takes it over from here:
How did Arkansas pull out its nail-biting, 92-91 win over Tennessee in Saturday's SEC tournament semifinal? While the Razorbacks have a game-changing guard in Patrick Beverley, the result was decided by bigger boys down low. Here are three key, late-game plays that sealed the victory for Arkansas and set up Sunday's SEC finale against Georgia:
There's nothing crazy about the plays you saw above, but what they do show is that you don't have to run a 1-4 low or side isolation play for your best guard to win a game. Running an off-ball pick-and-roll or a back-screen to free up a big man can work just as well. Here are the sets that coach John Pelphrey utilized:
The UCLA Screen: It's amazing how, after so many decades of use, this play can still work to perfection. Almost every team in the world has a UCLA backdoor screen somewhere in its playbook. The play the Hogs run here is a give-and-go with a UCLA screen that sets up a nice alley-oop for Sonny Weems.
Off-ball Screen-and-Slip: When you run screens for guards in crunch-time situations, most people assume that the ball is going to the guard. But because most coaches instruct their players to switch off of all picks in these moments, it's easy for the screener to slip the screen and go right to the basket. That's what Charles Thomas does here -- and even though he blows the layup, Darian Townes comes to the rescue with the tip-in.
It's been an up-and-down season for the Razorbacks, but as these plays prove, they'll be a difficult team to defend in the final minutes of NCAA tournament games. Stopping them isn't as simple as shutting down Beverley on the perimeter -- do only that, and you're liable to get burned on the inside.