Getting A SLOB Off The Couch...
There are moments in a game that get you out of your seat. A terrible call by an official is something we all share, but for all the other moments we have a certain predilection, that thing that get us up and pumping our fist at the air, shout an obscenity, yell to your wife to "get in here honey, you have to see this!"
A friend texted me during the James Madison game that Ace Baldwin's passes get him out of his seat. That's his thing. For me, because I'm a tad geeky, I love to see a well-executed play bomb-dropped with precision on the opponent. It happened yesterday in the Saint Joseph's game, and I was so jacked up that not only did I call my wife in to see it, I talked about it last night and cancelled a work meeting today so I could show it to you.
Let's set the scene: VCU leads 64-50 as we head to the under eight media timeout of the second half. A fairly safe lead, but you never know. The Hawks come out and snap off an 8-2 mini-run and we've got a game. So while it isn't a crucial possession, it's pretty important to the momentum.
VCU ball, sideline out-of-bounds in the frontcourt. Here we go. KeShawn Curry triggering. As the play begins Vince Williams and Tre Clark clear the passing lane for Corey Douglas. Williams (short corner) and Clark (back court) begin the play as safety valves in case the play breaks down. Similarly, Jamir Watkins heads to the weak side corner to balance the floor. Make no mistake, the ball is designed to go to Douglas:
As the play develops Williams, Clark, and Watkins find their mark, away from the point of attack. Each of their defenders are in the proper place--guarding their man but hedging toward the ball in a help-defense position.
Curry inbounds to Douglas and darts for a handoff. The dribble-handoff is the first place VCU is forcing St. Joseph's to make a decision. Curry's man is going to have to read a pick-and-roll. Ditto the guy covering Douglas.
Curry is going to have to do the same thing in this game of bumper cars, but he is at the advantage of being the offensive player. He knows where his guys are and where they are going. Williams and Clark are not pictured, occupying the strong side corner (Williams) and the halfcourt release (Clark). Watkins is shot-ready in the weakside corner:
This is where the fun begins. Curry has options based on his read. Douglas' man is hedging to slow Curry, who used the screen wonderfully to create a seam. The big man had little choice. However Curry's man stays with him, fighting through Douglas and chasing the play.
Douglas reads this and rolls to the hoop, keeping his eyes up for the lob pass. As Curry attacks, he now has three options within a secondary read: Watkins in the short corner, Williams in the deep corner, and Douglas rolling to the basket.
The guy in the most trouble is Williams' man. He sees Douglas breaking free but he knows Williams is nearly a 50% three-point shooter. He has to make a split-second decision and that's really all it takes. He is truly in no man's land:
And it's that split-second that gives Douglas the room he needs. Curry reads it and throws the lob. Note: Curry also drew Watkins' man as he's turned the corner. Even if Williams' man is on-time, Watkins has a naked three in the corner. Meanwhile, Tre Clark is eating popcorn at midcourt:
Ultimately Douglas draws a foul, however the perfection of this play--from the call to the situation to the read to the execution had me off my couch. Love. This. Stuff.
Happy New Year!