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A Closer Look At The Final Possession Against Missouri

As eager as I (and I'm sure the rest of the Kansas faithful) am to forget about Saturday night's game, I think the final possession merits a closer look.

After allowing Missouri to go on an 11-0 run, Kansas found itself needing a three with under 10 seconds to go. Taking the ball out from their own baseline, everyone in Jayhawk land was probably waiting for the same play that tied the 2008 National Championship game (I would guess most people other than Frank Haith and the 5 Tigers on the floor knew it was coming). For the record, that play is this:

When run correctly, it's designed to get an open shot at the top of the key off a handoff, but it leaves the option to pass the ball into the corner as well.

A look at how well this version went is after the jump:


This frame is just the setup here. Because the resolution isn't great I put a neon green circle around the player with the ball and numbered the KU players in pink. A pair of things I notice here is that our player 4, Robinson, is almost inside the lane, which doesn't really stretch the defense (though Teahan, player 2, will be fading to that corner, plus it is an easier setup for an off ball screen this way). I also noticed that Tyshawn brought the ball up, which of course puts the ball in the hands of a weaker three point shooter for the final shot.


This frame is a bit tough to see, especially in the top corner (them running it to the bottom would have made it far easier on me), but Tyshawn drives it deep into the corner to get a clean handoff to Johnson. It looks from this shot that he has a semi free way to get into the lane, and with Teahan fading to the corner they probably could have gotten off a good look, but this play has worked reasonably well in the past to say the least. One thing to note however is that Releford and Teahan, players 3 and 4, are essentially being guarded by one white shirt.


Here is when the play first starts to take shape. First, Releford sets a solid screen for Johnson after the handoff. If you watch the video at the end (and you can semi tell from this shot) Johnson does a great job coming off the screen as close to Releford as possible. I'm not sure how HCBS teaches it, but in normal circumstances I am fine with there being some separation to encourage the defense to try to come over the top, which obviously gives the ballhandler an easy way to get into the lane. But in this case they obviously needed a three so it was a good job making him go under.

Also keep an eye on the backside where Robinson sets a screen for Teahan to be an outlet in the corner.


Here Johnson has two options (well, two and a half): he can stop and shoot the NBA range three, take the extra dibble and shoot it from right at the three point arc, or he can throw a pass to Teahan in the corner. Because the Missouri defender got around Robinson's screen fairly well, the pass is probably too risky, and the reward probably wouldn't be good enough, as it would probably be a fairly well guarded three.


Here we see the unfortunate consequences of Johnson's hesitation. A pair of Tigers converge on him and his only real option is an off balance heave. He could have forced a pass to Teahan (or Robinson I guess) but the better option would have been to shoot it early. I am assuming the plan was to try to get it to Teahan in the corner, but I must admit to being confused as to why Johnson brought it up and not Tyshawn. Tyshawn is shooting 44% from three on the year, while Johnson is at 29%. I also think Tyshawn would be a bit more susceptible to botching the handoff as well, but perhaps they wanted to give him the option to shoot a pull up three.

Either way, an Elijah Johnson three is probably the worst possible shot to ask for, but it's the one we had to settle for. If you don't want to watch it again I certainly wouldn't blame you, but here it is in video form: (via fetch9)