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Playbook: Wake Forest vs. Charlotte

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Pack line defense and Princeton offense help give Niners the win

NCAA Basketball: Columbia at Wake Forest Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

On Sunday night, Wake Forest lost to the Charlotte 49ers in overtime by a score of 65-67. On offense, the Niners used a Princeton style offense that utilized back door cuts and split screens to get the ball into the paint for easy layups. On the defensive side, they used a Tony Bennett-esque pack line defense to force the Deacs into taking 25 3-point attempts, and as a result, only 12 free throws. Let’s take a look.

This is what is commonly called the “point series” in the Princeton offense. The guard passes the ball to the center at the high post and then sets a “split screen” for either wing. It is called a split screen because the wing player can use the screen, or, if he sees that the defense is overplaying it, he can just reject it and cut backdoor. That’s exactly what happens above and the Niners get an easy layup. If the point guard sees the wing player refuse the screen, he simply pops out to the three point line.

This is literally right out of Pete Carril’s playbook.

Yes, that was just me trying to sneak in a clip of Princeton running the Princeton offense, I will apologize to no one (UCLA defended it a little better than we did). Anyways, back to a game that took place in this millennium.

They run the exact same action here, except with Jahmir Young screening on the strong side (aka the side with the ball) for Brice Williams. Williams refuses the split screen and cuts backdoor. Both Torry Johnson and Sharone Wright Jr. defend Williams on the cut and Young pops out for a wide open 3-pointer.

The Deacs did a pretty good job protecting the basket once the ball got into the paint, as Charlotte probably would have scored more points on this play if not for 10 Wake Forest blocks on the night.

The other classic Princeton action that hurt the Deacs was the use of a simple back screen.

I’m not sure what the plan against this was, but if the Deacs are going to go over that screen then they have to a better job defending the basket and not allowing that pass to occur. Charlotte would go back to this at the end of overtime when they needed a basket.

And once again, the pass inside is allowed and the Niners get a free layup. This was ultimately the basket that would be the difference in tying the game on Brandon Childress’s 3 on the next possession and losing by 2.

On the defensive side, the Niners used the pack line defense, which is not shocking as head coach Ron Sanchez spent 12 years on Tony Bennett’s coaching staff. Charlotte did a really good job not allowing the ball to get inside and forced the Deacs to take 25 3-pointers throughout the course of the game.

That may not seem like many, but Wake only took 25 or more 3-pointers 5 times last season, winning just 1 of those games (vs. Miami). Consequentially, the Deacs shot just 12 free throws against the Niners, and we all know by now how Danny Manning feels about getting to the free throw line. Wake was 0-5 last season when shooting 12 or fewer free throws.

And I’m not trying to say that a 3-pointer is a bad shot (trust me, I’ve never seen a 3-point shot I wasn’t prepared to let fly). The Deacs actually shot an impressive 40% from downtown in this one. But over the course of a season, you probably won’t win many games if the ball rarely gets closer than 25 feet from the basket

When the Deacs did get the ball inside, good things typically happened.

I know Wake fans are probably tired of hearing Manning talk about how we need to get more paint touches and free throws after literally every single game. But the worst part about it is that he is pretty much right about it every single game. And that is an even bigger problem.

Bonus Play: Take advantage of the pack line post double team by posting a guard and diving your center to the basket (and hopefully make the layup).

That’s all I have for this one. I’ll probably try to do a Playbook article once a week or until it drives me literally insane. Let’s see which one comes first shall we?