Let me start with a shoutout to Ted for crafting a weekly strategy for getting readers a good amount of basketball.
My aim for this weekly bit is NOT to preach my infinite wisdom of basketball to you guys. I know a good amount, but definitely not everything. If you see something in a game that I blatantly missed, got wrong, or that you just find interesting, please drop me a line on Twitter or in the comments. I will include it and give you many internet points.
This week will be a tad more abbreviated than I would have hoped, but let's roll.
I had a couple of burning questions going into this game against Kentucky:
2. How well would we be able to neutralize the height and athleticism of Cauley-Stein as a shot blocker?
DISCLAIMER: For some reason, I am having to click on the timeline of the TubeChop videos for it to accurately show what I wanted it to show. Try clicking in the middle of the timeline, then clicking back to the beginning.
Coach Drew started the game with what, for me, was a nice wrinkle. Baylor has used the staple 2-3 zone with a good amount of success, but we struggled with balanced teams that could attack 1-on-1 in the post as well as shoot a high percentage from 3.
With Kentucky being a team that can hurt you from multiple areas on the floor, CSD changed it up a bit.
Baylor often started defensive possessions in a 1/2 court pressure (shortens the shot clock) in what appears to be a 1-3-1 setup. You can see that our emphasis from the start was to limit the effectiveness of Julius Randle, make Kentucky move the ball around the perimeter, work hard to find open 3's, and then make a high enough percentage to win.
James Young hits the 3 here, but our rotation was a tad late. Don't worry, it gets better.
At about the 3-point line, Baylor morphs the 1-1-3 into a more traditional 1-3-1 zone. Our 3 guard-setup gives us the speed to move from wing, to corner, and back. Pending good closeouts, we can keep clean, open perimeter shots to a minimum. Here, we force a baseline drive right into the teeth of Cory Jefferson and Uncle Rico. Would YOU want to do that?
Throughout the game, it was more of a designed 1-3-1, still with a lot of focus on Randle and the middle of the floor. Deep 3's were allowed. The Harrison twins knocked down a good percentage in the first half, but Baylor was happy with the results in the second.
We picked our poison, and ended up picking the right one.
On a personal note, I am not impressed with the Harrison twins. Often settle for too many jumpshots and can be lax on the defensive side of the ball. We'll take it though!
Willie Cauley-Stein can block shots. He has good timing and better athleticism. I was worried that we would have trouble getting good looks at the rim.
Uh, Kenny Chery had some other ideas.
Standard motion passing (pass and cut) brings Cauley-Stein's attention to the perimeter. Cory Jefferson sets a solid screen. Chery is aggressive enough to command respect, and it's all over.
This next play shows the instincts and read-ability of Chery. Motion. Screen from the Baylor big defended by WCS. Pass isn't there due to a sagging Cauley-Stein (remember, he just got his highlights burned off on the pass previous). Kenny like.
Textbook. (By the way, Willie challenged Chery on the next play, and the same pass was open again. Pick your poison.)
Ooo. This is a fun wrinkle.
Very much so concerned with the pick and roll that has burned him numerous times already, Brady Heslip gives him just enough of a delay for Two Sleeves to break free for the lob. Great stuff. I love this game.
I'M SORRY! I CAN'T HELP MYSELF. The pick and roll is so much fun.
With this high-motion offense, Cauley-Stein was always off balance and too far away from the basket to make a significant impact.
Overall, this looks like a very disciplined and powerful offensive team when Kenny Chery is out there. I would like to see a little more aggression from Gary Franklin and Ish Wainwright to see what they can do. When defenses as a whole start to collapse towards the middle of the floor, you will start to see more wide open wing and corner-threes that develop off that ball screen.
Unmentioned: Rebounding. The whole team did a great job, but Royce O'Neale and Rico Gathers need a lot of credit here. Royce was in the perfect position to get a clutch bucket off an airball... and Rico...well... if Rico wants the ball... Rico will go get the ball. Gathers finished with 13 boards.
I have about 15 more plays I wanted to share with you guys, but I am going to have to cut it here.
Good win, gentlemen.