Time after time they brought it up, burned eight seconds off the shot clock against the press, and then went about trying to figure out whether Maryland was in a zone or man-to-man defense.
After some standing around at the top of the key to complete the diagnosis, and a few passes around the perimeter, Indiana’s offense had been stagnated. Time to simply get up a shot.
Rinse and repeat.
IU came into its Tuesday night tilt in Maryland on a 5-game winning streak, in no small part because the Hoosiers had moved into the national top-40 in offensive tempo. If you’ve been following these film studies, we’ve brought you several examples of baskets the Hoosiers generated just seconds into the shot clock. It was the first time since the 2013-14 season IU had an average possession length short enough to be even inside the top-100.
But on this night, Maryland set all the rules, and by and large, Indiana obediently followed.
Now to be sure, what the Terrapins accomplished was significantly aided by the fact that IU has a depleted back court.
Maryland picked up full court on every made basket — and even after some misses — and without Xavier Johnson, IU seemed reluctant to attack that pressure. Johnson’s skill with the ball and speed no doubt would have proven valuable.
But even without him, Indiana could have been much more aggressive against the full court press.
The first photo below was what Indiana did all too often — Maryland sent two defenders to the ball, and Jalen Hood-Schifino stayed back. Indiana sent no one from its second line to the middle of the floor to flash open, and set no screens, so retreat is the only option. This was Indiana’s press break on the majority of its possessions. It’s a conscious decision to play on your heels and concede eight to ten seconds of shot clock.
Now compare this to the next two screen shots.
Below IU did appear to make the adjustment at least this one time, and rather than lay back, Tamar Bates cut in front of the trap, creating an immediate 4-on-3 situation with the ball optimally situated in the middle of the floor.
Bates was able to get all the way to the top of the restricted arc for a clean floater that he missed. Still, it was one of Indiana’s better looks on the night, and Bates had better options, including a lob to Trayce Jackson-Davis and a kick-out to Miller Kopp.
Below is another adjustment IU used, but not nearly often enough. The Hoosiers brought a man to the middle of the floor to pass over the front line.
But the problem here is the ball is thrown to Race Thompson. For most of the game IU had two guards and three forwards on the floor, meaning they had no real threat to exert pressure on the press even if they beat the first wave.
A skilled guard could exploit this well spaced 3-on-3 situation, but Thompson turned it over.
Below is one of the rare, perhaps the only example of one of Indiana’s guards simply deciding to win a one-on-one matchup in space. It wasn’t like Maryland had great one-on-one defenders, and almost no one can stay in front of the ball in a full court situation. There is simply too much space.
Here Bates beat his man off the dribble before the half court line and got all the way to the paint with a numbers advantage. A simple cut the rim by Miller Kopp gave IU a layup.
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