By Jeff Borzello
Billy Donovan and Florida haven’t lost since December 2 at Connecticut. (USATSI)
When watching a game or looking at statistical trends, we might figure out one or two ways to slow down Wisconsin’s half-court offense or score against Florida’s multiple defenses. But that’s obviously not the whole story. But what about the guys who get paid to break down that stuff; what are they thinking?
Over the next eight weeks, I will go through each of the national championship contenders and attempt to address the key preparation points when facing each team. I will talk to four or five coaches who played those teams this season, and get in-depth insight into each team. How do you score on Arizona? How can you stop Syracuse in transition? What’s Michigan State’s biggest weakness? We’ll find answers to each of those questions, and much more.
Previous scouting reports:
Up next is Florida, winners of 16 games in a row and certainly a Final Four favorite.
Style of play
“Offensively, what sets them apart is their pace of play. Everyone runs ball-screens, motion, things like that. You can tell your guys to down this ball-screen, switch this ball-screen, but they do it so fast, they run their ball-screen motion so fast. Defensively, it’s how many defensive rotations they make in one possession. Every defense is going to have a breakdown, and they make multiple defensive rotations in one possession. It’s amazing.”
“I would look at it two ways. Defensively, they slow the game down on you. They go deep in the shot clock. Their tempo in advanced metrics is very slow, but that’s from a defensive perspective. Offensively, they’re as quick as anyone. In transition, in the half-court, they execute at a high-level. So you almost have to speed the pace when they’re on defense. And then you’re on defense, you have to slow them down.”
“I just think they’re very well-coached, they won’t beat themselves ever, and if you’re going to beat them, you have to beat them. They’re effective and efficient on both ends of the floor. They maybe don’t have that individual top-five draft pick type of guy, but they’ve got a great basketball team. [Michael] Frazier is a guy that can make 3s, [Scottie] Wilbekin hits big shots, and I just think they’re a team that does not beat themselves. That’s a direct reflection on Billy Donovan. They’re just a good team. It’s not all about individual talent.”
“First, Wilbekin. I know [Casey] Prather is their leading scorer, but the guy that makes them go is Wilbekin. He’s so good at reading off ball-screens. The other thing is when Patric Young gets post touches, either off offensive rebounds or when they throw him the ball inside. And they run. We were surprised by it. They get out in transition, and they have multiple guys who can handle the ball. Dorian Finney-Smith can handle and he plays the three-four. Prather, Young, Wilbekin all run. What makes it harder is when [Kasey] Hill and Wilbekin are in together. We have a guy who takes the point guard in transition, but you don’t know which one will bring up the ball. Hill is a problem in transition.”
“Their balance is their strength. That’s the number one key. They have five guys or however many in double figures. They have the ability to beat you in so many different ways with different personnel. Billy attacks mismatches. He identifies who he wants to attack, and he’s got the personnel to do it. They don’t shoot the ball as well as they have in the past, outside of Frazier and Scottie is a timely shooter. That’s what they’re not spectacular it. But they’re solid at everything, and they’re a really good offensive rebounding team.”
“They’re really good at floor-spacing. They do a good job with that. And they do a really good job with ball-screening actions with Wilbekin. Pro-style ball-screening. Not everyone sees it on a regular basis.”
“I think it’s Wilbekin. Nothing bothers him. You can trap this ball-screen, hedge it, go under it. No matter which way you play it, he adapts. The second thing he’s a tough SOB. He’s got some toughness to him. Late clock, late game. They’ll do something that involves Frazier, with ball-screen action, but Wilbekin has the ball.”
“That’s tough. Those seniors are so important. I guess Wilbekin at the end of the day, because of his ability to impact the game. Young is phenomenal at rebounding and defensively, but Wilbekin makes plays at both ends. He’s the head of the snake. I don’t know if there’s a guy in the country that takes what the defense gives him better than Wilbekin. He always makes the right decision and the right play. He’s that important. With Kasey Hill playing 24 minutes per game, he’s the guy who’s actually on the ball – but when it’s time to make a play, Wilbekin has it.”
“I think Wilbekin is a big key for them. He’s just very effective for them. He’s just good. He runs their show, he makes big shots. He always hits big shots. He’s their go-to-guy, no question about it.
“Probably depth, but that was before [Chris] Walker. Besides that, Frazier and Wilbekin are the only guys who can make shots. Teams have played them zone a couple times, and it’s not like it was great zone defenses, but they weren’t making shots.”
“If you can call it a weakness, it’s 3-point shooting. But they’re second in the league in 3s attempted and fourth in 3s made. But I would say consistent shooting outside of Michael Frazier. That’s why teams zone them.”
“They don’t have that one individual guy that can just overtake a team. You know, a guy where, if you needed buckets, he can automatically get you buckets. They say to win a national championship, you need three pros. I don’t know if they have three pros. Wilbekin is a good college guard.”
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