As we prepare for the first exhibition game on Wednesday, I'd like to hearken back to the Blue-White scrimmage for a minute and point out a particular play the epitomized how the pick and roll can work really well with the dribble drive. The play I have in mind happened in the second half for the White team, and we'll go through it in some detail.
First off, after reviewing the game a couple of times, UK used the high screen and roll to get into the offense on a good number of plays. Some of them were really poorly executed, so poorly it was hard to really tell what was going on. Most of the "screens" that were set last week barely meet the definition of the term, and will get players yelled at if they don't improve pretty quick. But there were a couple that were really effective, and the play we'll be talking about here was one of them.
The high screen and roll is by far the most popular play run in the NBA, and for good reason. When run by the right personnel, namely a big man who can shoot and a guard who can finish at the rim, it is really tough to defend. In fact, if you don't practice pick and roll defense all the time, you can never get good enough at it to be effective. The screen and roll, when executed properly with the right people, is as close to an indefensible play as there is in basketball.
So let's get to the particular play. Here's the setup. The White has the ball.
Marquis Teague has the basketball on top. Now, you can see by the location of the 5 near the basket that this isn't the normal DDM configuration. Normally, the 5 sets up on the weak side block, not the strong side as we see here. This is a slight deviation from the Dribble Drive formation that opponents will be able to see to read the play as it happens, unless UK learns to disguise it a bit. More on that later.
Here is how the play begins., playing the post spot, comes out top to set a pick for Teague.
Davis sets a pick, and not a very good one, it could have been a foul because he extended his knee out to slow down Lamb. It isn't called, and Lamb gets hung just enough.
This is your pick and roll action, combined with the dribble drive. Teague attacks the rim off the pick by Davis, and Davis rolls straight to the basket area. Vargas, who is supposed to be guarding Davis, gets left out of position and winds up defending Teague. Teague has an option to hit Davis, or take the ball on to the hole, as he has Lamb beat. But Vargas is close enough to try to make a play on the ball at the basket.
But on this play, none of that happens.
Kidd-Gilchrist, the defending 4, is guarding Wiltjer, the offensive 4, on the wing. He sees Davis open up and gives help to prevent a Davis dunk, leaving Wiltjer.
Wiltjer does exactly what he's supposed to do. He rotates to the wide-open wing position 45 degrees from the basket.
Teague delivers the perfect pass and hit's Wiltjer right in the numbers. Note that this isn't the only option he had on the drive -- he could have taken it on to the rack. He had a very close call at this point, and though he probably could have finished, it would have been a contested shot.
He also could have hit Davis at the foul line, but he was well covered and it would have been a risky pass. Instead, he did the right thing and made the simple pass to the wide-open Wiltjer.
You all know what happens next. Wiljer buries the wide-open 3-point shot and John Calipari gets up off the bench and cheers, because this is exactly how you execute a P&R into a Dribble Drive attack.
There are a lot of variations that can happen on this depending on how the defenders play the pick and roll. If the defenders had switched, the play would have been to Davis, because it would have been 6'10" on 6'5". If Kidd-Glichrist had stayed home on Wiltjer, the play would have again been to Davis, or a layup by Teague if Vargas rolled with him.
It's fairly obvious the fun that UK is going to have with this set for the first part of the season. When we get to conference, teams are going to read this play quickly because of the unusual DDM setup, so UK is going to have to work to hide it with some strong-side plays like traditional post ups. Consider, if you will, the 5 getting posted up against his defender, getting the pass and Teague's defender goes down to help. The pass comes back to Teague and they run the set from there.
Also, there are other ways to run this. The screener can pop out to the 3-point line instead of rolling to the hoop when the defender fights over the pick. With all the good-shooting big me UK has, this play can be deadly in several ways.
So there you have it, ladies and gentlemen of the Big Blue Nation -- how the pick & roll fits naturally into the Dribble Drive Motion sets.
Isn't this year going to be fun?