The Deacs went up against a pretty bad Charlotte team on Thursday night and finally did exactly what they are supposed to do against bad teams—blew them out. And while Charlotte certainly looked like one of the worst teams in the nation, there were some solid things to take away from this game. To me, one of the best things the Deacs did in this game was keep Jon Davis from getting in a rhythm.
Davis was clearly the focus on defense for the Deacs in this one, and for obvious reasons.
He’s the only Niner player averaging double digits points, and without him, I honestly don’t know if Charlotte would win a game this year. So clearly the best thing to do against a team with 1 player is, you guessed it, stop that 1 player.
One way to disrupt a player on offense is to simply keep him from getting the ball. Now obviously it’s impossible to go a whole game and keep a guy from touching the ball, but the goal is to make the player, in this case Davis, work hard and expend a lot energy just to get a touch, thereby keeping him from getting in a groove offensively. The Deacs did this all night with a basic full court press.
There’s nothing special about this press. Whoever is guarding the player inbouding the ball simply cuts off the passing lane between Davis and the inbounder. The Deacs are basically saying “you can throw it in to anyone, as long as it’s not Davis.”
Here’s another good example. Chaundee Brown cuts off any chance of an inbound to Davis, and Charlotte seems to have no idea what to do. If not for the 5 second violation, Brandon Childress would have gotten an easy 2 points.
Another example: Childress leaves his man open for the pass, because we don’t care if he gets the ball — the only goal is to keep it away from Davis. Chaundee cuts off the passing lane to Davis and Torry Johnson denies him from getting a pass once the ball is inbounded.
Here’s a final example, where Charlotte decides to have Davis throw the ball in. Johnson shows a little pressure and then turns right back around, allowing Davis to inbound the ball in order to focus on keeping him from getting the ball back.
Now that he’s not bringing the ball up the court, the goal is to continue to try and deny him the ball, so that when he does eventually get it, he’s 40 feet from the goal, where it is typically difficult to score, and the shot clock is down to around 15 seconds.
So how successful were our efforts? After all, Davis did finish the game with 21 points on 6-13 shooting. That being said, in the first 3/4 of the game, he made just 2 field goals. 12 of his 21 points came in the final 11 minutes of the game, when the Deacs were up by 20 and had stopped pressing. So in my opinion, our defensive strategy was very successful.
I would definitely like to see us try something like this in ACC play against teams that are heavily reliant on the point guard to make the offense go (BC and UNC come to mind). This type of strategy will, of course, not work on a team with multiple ball handlers and several play makers (say Duke, for example).