Oregon Basketball: Breaking Down The Pick And Roll

Alex Nordstrand Analysis

The pick-and-roll is one of the most frequently utilized offensive plays in all of basketball. In order to generate good shots out of the pick-and-roll, a team needs to execute three elements–adequate floor spacing, good screens, and adept ball-handling–and it needs to do so aggressively.

While the men’s basketball team consistently struggles with their pick-and-rolls, often not even leading to a shot attempt, the women have mastered the play, consistently scoring or at least creating a good shot.

Let’s take a look at why that is.

Oregon Men Leaving Points On The Floor

First, lets start with the men and why they struggle to get points with their pick-and-rolls.

The first clip above shows a lack of the first element of the pick-and-roll, adequate floor spacing. Will Richardson runs through the driving lane, allowing his defender to linger near the screener, Chandler Lawson. As a result, there’s not enough space for Chris Duarte to get the ball to the Lawson slipping toward the basket as his defender hedges hard on the screen. The Ducks end up scoring on the possession because of a deep Duarte three, but the designed pick-and-roll was a failure due to lack of adequate spacing.

In the next clip, we see the Ducks not using adept ball-handling to take advantage of what the defense is giving them.

In the clip above, the pick-and-roll produces a switch, leaving a guard on Francis Okoro. Even though Duarte was able to drive and get a decent shot, the correct play would be to get the ball to the big where there is a mismatch in the post. The failure of this pick-and-roll to generate a good shot can be chalked up to lack of adept ball-handling.

In this last clip for the men’s team, we see the Ducks unable to aggressively attack the defenders and break down the defense.

In the clip above, the Ducks run three on-ball screens with Payton Pritchard, and there are a few problems with execution. First, the bigs don’t set very strong screens, allowing the on-ball defender to stay with the dribbler. Second, Pritchard fails to aggressively attack the screeners’ defenders. Both passes off the screens were correct, but because Pritchard was unable to make the defender engage, they were able to quickly recover back to their man. Unaggressive screens and unaggressive ball-handling are to blame for the failure of this set of pick-and-rolls.

Lady Ducks Put On Pick-And-Roll Clinic

Let’s jump into why the Oregon women are so successful with their on-ball screens.

In the video above, we see Satou Sabally and Ruthy Hebard run a pick-and-roll, with U Conn switching defenders. The Ducks have great spacing, with Sabrina Ioenscu, Erin Boley and Minyon Moore extended out beyond the three point line. Hebard sets an effective screen, causing the post defender to switch onto Sabally. Sabally exploits the mismatch with adept ball-handling, causing the defense to collapse and leading to a wide open three by Boley.

This next possession we see Oregon attacking a sagging defense.

In the clip above, we again see excellent floor spacing, leaving the lane wide open for driving opportunities. Hebard again sets an effective screen, and Moore adeptly attacks the back-peddling defenders before dishing to Hebard for the easy lay-up.

Finally on this last play, we see how aggressiveness in the pick-and-roll pays off.

Hebard’s screen isn’t ideal in the clip above, but it doesn’t have to be. Ionescu brings her defender into the screen, and the defender fails to fight aggressively through the screen. Hebard’s defender back-pedals to protect the basket and Ionescu gets her defender on her hip, creating space to pull up for a mid range jumper, a staple of Ionescu’s game. The effectiveness of this pick-and-roll is the result of an aggressive attach by Ionescu and lack of aggressiveness by her defender.

The pick-and-roll is one of the simplest yet most effective plays in basketball when run correctly. The Oregon women do an excellent job of getting the most out of this play, while the Oregon men have struggled with it. As we forge ahead into the second half of Pac-12 play, keep your eyes on floor spacing, effective screens, and adept ball-handling and see how aggressive execution of these elements leads to success in getting good shots out of the pick-and-roll.

Go Ducks!

Coach Alex Nordstrand
Eugene, OregonTop Photo from Twitter

Phil Anderson, the FishDuck.com Volunteer editor for this article, is a trial lawyer in Bend Oregon.



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