Film review: Finding the vulnerabilities in Baylor’s morphing defense

first_imgIf 2019’s NCAA Tournament is anything like last year’s, Syracuse’s (20-13, 10-8 Atlantic Coast) defense will show up. But the Orange’s first round opponent, Baylor (19-13, 10-8 Big 12), uses both man-to-man and the zone defense to get stops, too. In the Bears’ most-recent game, a Big 12 tournament loss to Iowa State, they showed some weaknesses in both their defensive varieties.Here’s a look at different opportunities the Orange might have to exploit vulnerabilities in Baylor’s defense. All embeds are via WatchESPN.Baylor’s zoneThe offensive overloadOverloading one side of a zone defense is a common tactic to beating the formation, and it’s a concept that opponents use against Syracuse frequently. Here, Iowa State gets itself two chances at deep shots by overloading the left side of the floor.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textBaylor aligns point guard Makai Mason alone at the top, but on the first pass, the Bears’ defense becomes obvious when the second guard pops out to the first pass receiver. Then, the pass to the offensive wing occupies the defensive wing. Marial Shayok (ISU No. 3) moves along the baseline unimpeded, because ISU’s center occupies the Baylor middle-man.On the wing, Iowa State has two options: Make one more pass or fake it. Shayok is open because all the defenders on the left side are occupied, but a fake pass creates enough space for his own shot instead. If Syracuse were to overload one side of the floor with Elijah Hughes, Tyus Battle and Frank Howard, it’d force Baylor to give at least one of the shooters room to shoot.Creating a free-throw line distractionAnother way to beat the zone is to pack in the paint. A few Iowa State ball reversals eventually end with one player flashing to the foul line. Baylor’s center is occupied by the ISU big man when the flash occurs. That’s when Mason helps on the cutter, dropping from the left wing toward the open man.At the moment Mason doubles, Iowa State sends a cutter baseline. Baylor leaves a man open because Mario Kegler (Baylor No. 4) has no choice but to defend Shayok on the offensive right wing.The Cyclones could’ve used two passes to reach the desired result, but a skip pass resulted in even more open space for the shooter. It’s a baseline-cutter role that either Buddy Boeheim or Hughes could fill to similar effect.More distractions at the foul lineThis plays out a bit differently than the one above. An Iowa State player occupies the foul line area for most of the possession, and the baseline cutter just follows the ball.When the ball swings back to Shayok on the left wing, Mason focuses on guarding the foul line. The centers are tied up in the middle, so another open 3 comes from the corner for Iowa State.The key to recreating this play would be Syracuse’s center holding off Baylor’s middle man. Paschal Chukwu won’t have to make plays. Instead, he’ll just have to hold post position long enough for a baseline shooter to get free.Man-to-manFinding a roll-man mismatchAs Baylor fell behind in the second half, the Bears mostly utilized a traditional man-to-man defense. Syracuse runs a lot of pick-and-rolls, and Baylor tended to hedge hard with its big guy against Iowa State.Here, Freddie Gillespie (Baylor No. 33) is guarding the screener, but he stays to guard the dribbler for a few seconds. The rolling big man gets a mismatch in the post against a guard, and an easy feed and simple hook shot result in two points for the Cyclones.Chukwu is often neglected when he rolls after setting a screen. If Baylor defends the pick-and-roll as it did last week, Chukwu will have opportunities against smaller players inside, and he’ll get close looks.Motion offenseWhen Syracuse strays away from the pick-and-rolls, it uses a motion offense to run players off screens and around the baseline for wing catches. Iowa State did that to great effect against the Bears.The Cyclones combine a motion offense, with the off-ball screen at the elbow, together with a pick-and-roll on the left wing. The action creates defensive confusion for Baylor and eventually sets up an open shooter in the corner to the player who initially used the off-ball screen in the motion set.Howard has struggled at getting to the rim off the bounce, but he can make passes like the one above if a pick-and-roll is combined with off-ball movement.Baseline screensSyracuse often runs Buddy and Hughes off baseline screens like the one Shayok cuts around above.Baylor’s defense is susceptible to this action for two reasons. The Bears’ defenders trail after cuts instead of trying to meet shooters up top, something they did consistently. And Baylor players defending screeners don’t look to hedge and slow Shayok’s movement at all. A little extra space is all he needs, and the same can be said of Buddy and Hughes.Ball watchingSyracuse has taken advantage of backdoor cuts all season, especially when Marek Dolezaj possesses the ball near an elbow. Offensive teammates need to have their timing down, but the defense also has to be caught ball-watching for the play to lead to points.This play is the only time it worked for ISU, but it’s not the only time a Baylor defender was caught too high above his man and lost track. The high pick-and-roll drew the Baylor center out of the paint to hedge against the drive, and that cleared the baseline for a backdoor connection.The Bears will certainly see how Dolezaj passes on film, but if Howard or Battle keep their head up on stifled drives, they might see this opening, too. Facebook Twitter Google+ Commentscenter_img Published on March 18, 2019 at 11:52 pm Contact Billy: [email protected] | @Wheyen3last_img

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