Feeling Flat

While there are untold hours put into game planning and strategizing, many times the right move or the key play of the game doesn't result from a master plan. Instead, it often evolves from the flow of the contest on the floor. Such was the case in WVU's 67-65 win over Providence on Wednesday.

The Friars unveiled a pair of defensive strategies designed to disrupt WVU's flowing offensive schemes, and they worked well in the halfcourt against the Mountaineers. The first involved PC's 2-3 zone, which they extended all the way to the three-point line. While that strategy held WVU to an abnormally low 16 three-point shots, it also made the Friar defense vulnerable inside. West Virginia took advantage of that by passing the ball to the free throw line, then to cutters along the baseline, and while the Mountaineers missed several easy shots, they made enough to keep the in the game.

The second, and the focus here, was the Providence tactic of trapping not the first, but the second pass WVU made to the wing. The Friars bothered West Virginia with that in the initial game in Rhode Island, and continued to employ it in this latest matchup.

"They wouldn't let us play offense," head coach John Beilein noted. "When they called "11" they were trapping the second pass to our wing player. We made the mistake in the first game of getting trapped, then turning around and getting trapped again. Tonight, we wanted to get the ball to the foul line and then finish."

While the Friars used the tactic for much of the game, West Virginia didn't come up with an effective solution until halftime. And it wasn't a grand design of the game plan, but rather a simple suggestion from an assistant coach.

"At halftime, Jeff Neubauer said, ‘Why don't we go flat, and they won't be able to trap us,'" Beilein related.

Of course, the analytical Mountaineer assistant wasn't suggesting that WVU play without emotion in the second half. "Flat" is simply one of the many unique names employed by John Beilein to call plays.

"It's a way of getting into our offense without making [an extra pass]," Beilein explained. "It eliminates one pass out of our offense. They were trapping the second pass to the wing, so we said o.k., we're going to eliminate a pass and get into our offense without seeing the trap."

There wasn't any conscious decision to hold "flat" for use in the second half, however. It was, indicated Beilein, just "something that we came up with at the half".

However it happened, it yielded some good results, but perhaps the most important sequence using "flat" came with less than four minutes to go in the game. The call came from the bench, and Tyrone Sally and D'or Fischer went to work. Fischer screened for Sally, who curled off the big man's pick, took a bounce pass and floated to the hoop for a patented Sally scoop that gave the Mountaineers an eight-point lead.

"It's the look we called," Beilein explained. "Tyrone reads the screen. If [the defender] trails him, he curls to the basket, and if he goes through, then [Tyrone] would have faded. The defender trailed him, so we got the nice little bounce pass and made the basket."

Which left Providence, no doubt, feeling more than a little flat.

BlueGoldNews Top Stories