NCC 105-AUGUSTANA 98
+0 Shot Differential
I'm getting pretty good at the prediction business... thought we'd play well versus Augie, and we did. We were actually up 21 at one point in the second half before going brain dead defensively, and they hit two threes near the end to cut it to 6, but we definitely saw signs of life in our offense, just as I'd forecast in yesterdays blog :-) Much better "flow," moving the ball crisply with good balance between penetration, post play, and ball movement. Fun to watch!
Even though we met only one goal (40 Turnovers), this was still one of our best offensive games. Our mere 82 shots was the result of living on the foul line all night... shot 42 free throws to Augie's 17, and we actually rebounded well in the first half with 42% ORBs before falling off again after the intermission. Need to string two good ORB halves together now!
Defensively, we seem to be the victim of too many breakaway 3 on 2 and 2 on 1 situations. In men's basketball, that's usually an automatic score for the opponent, as evidenced by the fact that men's system teams tend to yield 50-65% defensive field goal percentage, while women only average 40-50%. But with our women, we are giving up over 50% FG percentage defense too often (not that that's a formula goal, but we nevertheless don't like it). BUT, we've found we can even the odds with one simple (but demanding) concept: transition defense.
That term may need some explaining. Normally, System coaches spend most of their time worrying about two things, a) how to defend the front of the press (alignment, denying the throwin, quick traps, etc), and b) how to defend the rim versus a breakaway. To me, transition defense means learning how to play that in-between area, after the opponent breaks your press and before they get into the scoring area. This is a critical area that can easily be overlooked.
The problem is that your front defenders (naturally) tend to give up after the opponent breaks free of the initial trap or in some other way beats your press. They do "get back" but they do so at a somewhat--how shall we say it-- "leisurely" pace. Bad. Very Bad. This moment in transition defense is key to your success, or failure. Players must be taught to SPRINT back when beat, and attempt to turn the dribbler, at least forcing a change of direction so that the handler does not have a full head of steam in attacking your safety. Some handlers will do you a favor and actually pick up their dribble when a defender "chases and turns" them. In this case you can "retrap" and good things result.
Other times the handler will crossover and continue to the rim, but at least she has slowed enough to allow other defenders to recover to a more effective defensive position. We still want to go for a retrap, and cover lags and high post areas, but if the opponent does end up taking a quick shot, we have a decent chance at a rebound now. And it all starts with learning to sprint back versus a dribble escape or a pass escape.
That's transition defense!