Baylor Preview (a.k.a. “I suck at CHARTS!”)

Happy Thursday morning to you, Followers. Hope you had a nice post-MSU victory rest.

Don’t know about you all, but I am brimming with anticipation for tonight’s Nationally Televised showdown with the Baylor Bears!

Wanna see why I think the Cougs are in for a tough go tonight (along with some REALLY BAD charts)?

Well, read on.

Followers, as I watched the mighty Zags seemingly dismantle Baylor last weekend I thought to myself: Boy, I bet you everyone is going to use the transitive property and assume that we’re going to win cuz we beat Gonzaga and the Zags just beat Baylor on the road.

Ah, if it was so SIMPLE!!!

What is lost in that comparison is how and why Gonzaga beat Baylor–or more particularly–how Baylor ALLOWED Gonzaga to beat them.

In plain terms, Gonzaga had something to offer Baylor’s 1-3-1 zone that we don’t have–CONSISTENT post offense. Moreover, because the Zags played the entire second half without Steven Gray at their disposal, Baylor made the understandable, but fatal, decision to pack that zone in a bit and let the young and inexperienced Zag guards beat them.

Of course, those young Zag guards did just that.

That said, you can be alarmingly rest-assured, my followers, that Baylor will NOT sag that 1-3-1 against us. Instead, they will extend that bad boy outward to our shooters with the hope of luring us into the middle where an array of 7 foot and near 7 foot arms will collapse all over us.

So, with that in mind, here is crap-ass Figure 1, which shows a bit about the 1-3-1 and how it is that you can attack it (and man is it HARD!)

While I suspect this is all looks jumbled and confusing, the first thing to pay attention to in the chart are the X’s–those are the Baylor guys. The numbers in subscript refer to their position on the floor (1=Point Guard, 2=Shooting, etc). As you can see in this first figure, the two red boxes represent key trap areas of the zone. And yes, those are the driving lanes that Klay uses all the time to get to the rim. (YIKES!)

So, lets assume that O1 gets the ball and passes to O2. What the defense wants at that point is for O2 to step toward the basket, allowing x3, x4, and x1 to trap, while x2 patrols the passing lanes for any skip/releast passes to the weakside. You can also tell from this figure that x2 is hovering generally around the weakside wing (see arrow to O3) which makes it very hard to do a quick ball rotation to the weakside (like you can against a 2-3) for an easy look at a three.

Of course, that’s not to say that we can’t beat a 1-3-1. OF COURSE we can!

And really, the best recipe for beating the 1-3-1 is (a) Patience; (b) NEVER stand in place with your dribble; and (c) Have really active play from your 4 and 5 spot.

So, with that in mind, lets take a look at Figure 1 one more time.

This time, take a look at the bottom left.  As you can see, no one is guarding O4. So, if O4 gets the ball he HAS TO SHOOT it and shoot it well! If he does, then the zone starts to break down: x5 has to abandon the middle in order to cover O4 on the baseline or X3 has to leave O2, leaving Klay or Aden wide open for a three from the elbow.  Moreover, if X5 has to leave the basket to help guard the baseline, then X4 has to shuttle down to the basket, which opens the middle, and so forth.

Another option for breaking the 1-3-1 has to do with what O3 does on the weak side. Again, because X2 tends to play the high passing lanes, the backdoor is typically open for the weakside wing–particularly if O4 is a threat (which pulls X5 from the basket).  In this instance,  if O5 backscreens X4, then its dipsy-do-dunkaroo time for a guy like Capers.

From there, if the backdoor option fails, then the O3 can circle around the baseline to where the O4 stands in the chart by sending O4 to backscreen X5–which again creates an overload on the strong side.

PHEW!

So, with that gobbly gook in mind, here is crappy-ass chart #2 which shows the “good” places and the “bad” places for us to be on offense tonight:

Now, onto some equally obtuse key to the Game:

1) Stay Out-Da-Red-Zone. To be sure, there will be times where Klay, Reggie, or Faisel will drive into no mans land and find some amazing way to either score or kick it out to someone for a three. But, for the most part, if the ball hits the red, we can expect trouble. Moreover, with the sure length that is on Baylor’s interior, even if we get beyond the first layer of the D, there are TWO Casto-types in the waiting for us. So, lets hope we stay the hell out of there.

2) Four to Score. Like I noted yesterday, when Abe, Simon, and/or Motum are playing well, we become a nightmare. And per the chart, the baseline is key. So, if our fours are able to knock down shots, then their zone will collapse.

3) Play Klay at the Point. Wanna know the best way to beat the crap out of a 1-3-1? Shoot straight over the top of that sucker. So, whether it be Klay at the point, or Reggie being more aggressive with his shot, we’ve gotta be solid at the top of the key (and the deep elbow) if we want to win this game.

4) Zone Out. As we saw against MSU, that match-up zone is our best recipe for playing the type of trapping, help defense that turns other teams over. And based on their statistics, Baylor isn’t afraid to do so. If we can turn them over and get out in transition, then we will have them by the throat.

5) Start Motum. Balsy move, I know. But the same recipe that we used to lure Sacre away from the basket should be used tonight by starting Motum and letting him extend the defense along both baselines early. Moreover, given how darn excited DeAngelo is going to be about this game, I just assume he start at the 15:00 mark with NO STINKING FOULS.

In the end, I don’t want to make Baylor sound like World Beaters, but between their size, balance, quickness, and scheme, they pose a really, REALLY tough match-up for us.

BUT, if we can rule the baseline in this one AND turn them over, then we might not only win, we may break their spirit.

Unfortunately, until such time that I see this team crush a good 2-3 zone, I can’t imagine us beating a 1-3-1, especially against a team as good as Baylor.

So, lets call it 75-61 Baylor.

But, I’ll have a nice pot of crow ready to eat if I’m wrong.

See you after the game and Go Cougs.

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