Snapshot: Defensive mistakes at Northwestern

There was no shortage of Indiana defensive errors from the game at Northwestern. Sometimes the problem was transition defense, sometimes halfcourt defense and sometimes simply not knowing what defense the Hoosiers were in. Let’s a look at some of each.

(1) Transition defense — Tom Crean’s mentioned it as lacking a few times this season, and this is a prime example. Northwestern’s Bryant McIntosh grabs the rebound off a missed James Blackmon 3, and IU is in good shape with Robert Johnson and Yogi Ferrell back. The Wildcats’ Vic Law is still in the corner after challenging Blackmon’s shot.
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Ferrell and Johnson are focused on Tre Demps on the left side of the floor, while Law is busting it past everybody on the right side, and McIntosh makes the crosscourt pass to find him.
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Law swoops in and scores as he takes a bump from Ferrell for a three-point play, having outrun the Hoosiers for the score.
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(2) Post defense and ball pressure go hand in hand, as this example proves. Law gets the ball on the right wing, and Hanner Mosquera-Perea immediately starts to front Alex Olah, despite being halfway up the lane. The rest of the Indiana defenders are spread around the 3-point line.
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While Perea is fronting Olah from 12 feet out, James Blackmon is playing off of Law with his hands down, providing no ball pressure and making the passing lane easily visible. And the help side defense is paying no attention whatsoever.
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The pass predictably goes over the top, and when Perea can’t deflect the pass, it’s an easy layup while the rest of the team observes with mild interest.
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(3) The initial set indicates that Indiana is playing zone, although it could be man-to-man with Emmitt Holt playing off Alex Olah in the lane. It turns out, the Hoosiers may not be sure themselves.
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As the ball moves, Zeisloft rotates up to cover Bryant McIntosh as Yogi scrambles back — as you would expect from a zone — which means Zeisloft should then drift back down to Vic Law in the corner.
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Instead, Troy Williams appears to be playing man, trailing Law to the corner, but Holt appears to be playing zone, fighting around Olah to get to Law in the corner as well. That leaves Olah uncovered for a layup.
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The end result is Williams holding up his hands in the corner and looking at Holt in frustration.
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(4) More transition defense and a textbook poor closeout here. Indiana has four men back, so there’s no number advantage for Northwestern initially, as Yogi Ferrell points out assignments.
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McIntosh drives to the middle of the floor, defended by Stan Robinson. Ferrell picks up Scottie Lindsey (20), and Zeisloft stops in the lane instead of matching up with Demps, who flares to the corner.
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Zeisloft realizes his mistake late, then compounds it by closing out with his hands down, likely the result of giving up a baseline drive to Demps the possession before. And Olah is flashing down the lane open in case Demps opts to pass.
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When the Big Ten Network went to commercial break, it showed this replay of just how good of a look Demps got at Zeisloft’s expense.
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(5) Last, a basic ballscreen after a baseline inbounds play causes issues for Indiana. Olah squares up on Ferrell, freeing Demps.
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Hanner Mosquera-Perea doesn’t hedge the screen, allowing Demps to turn the corner, putting Perea in the bind of staying home with Olah or challenging Demps.
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The end result is that Perea fades back, Ferrell can’t recover and Demps knocks home an uncontest elbow jumper, while other IU defenders Robert Johnson and Troy Williams aren’t offering much help as they hang out in the lane.
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2 comments

  1. This is so depressing. I’m not sure if this is Crean or the kids. The coach can’t execute for you. Do we lack the ability to create game like speed/situations in practice? Ugh.

  2. This is great analysis but as a fan shows that either the players are not getting coached up or that they do not comprehehend what they are being told. To me, the players look like they are giving effort but they look lost when a team plays any kind of zone. That has been pretty consistent since day one for Crean. Defense is so much about effort and communication and that is on the players. However, there should be some type of film study that shows the tendencies of what the opposing offense likes to run. I am just sad at this point because this team is just not that great.

    For Blackmon Jr., does the Tisdale award mean that they jack up shots and are a liability on defense. If yes, he is a guaranteed to win.

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