UConn – Yale: Anatomy of a Buzzer Beater 2.0

The Situation: UConn 44 – Yale 42, 3.5 seconds left.

The Players: Javier Duren (15 PTS, 1-8 3PT) inbounding for Yale guarded by Samuel. Boatright on Jack Montague (3 PTS, 1-4 3PT). SCJ on Makai Mason  (2 PTS, 0-2 3PT). Hamilton on Justin Sears (12 PTS, 4-11 FG), Nolan on Matt Townsend (8 PTS, 0-1 3PT). See below:

UConn Yale 1

The Play: Option #1 on the play was a lob for athletic forward Justin Sears who had outworked the Huskies all night. Presumably, off a back screen from #42 Townsend. However, with Nolan positioned as he was under the basket, that option was taken away. Option #2* ran #4 Montague and #11 Mason on a misdirection past #42 Townsend, undoubtedly aiming to exploit a weakness exposed in the Texas game (Figure A).  Boatright calls for the switch as Montague and Mason cut across the middle. SCJ, as you can see in Figure B, is clearly fixated on his man and late to respond to the switch leaving Montague wide open in the corner. Daniel Hamilton picks up on the misdirection but is screened by Mason and cannot recover in time.

UConn Yale 2

Figure A

Figure B

Figure B

*Option #2 also could have been #42 Townsend rolling to the rim off the back screen. On the switch he would have his defender behind him and a clear path to the rim.

The Result: With SCJ late to respond and Hamilton caught in a screen, Montague knocks down a three in the corner for the win. That floor panel needs to be removed.

UConn Yale 4

The Verdict: 

Kevin Ollie on the last play: “Boatright had Montague. He was pointing for the switch and Sam took a couple of steps in. Montague just came off and got open, then Sam was late to retreat. It was just a communication (breakdown) again, things that we went over in practice to stop. We’ve just got to do a better job reacting to late game situations, and switching. Boat called the switch, but we just didn’t react fast enough — kind of like in the Texas game.”

SCJ on the last play: “(Boatright) called a switch. I thought I saw a guy come through the middle. The guy went to the corner. It was my fault.”

The final play was a result of terrible execution. Maybe Kevin Ollie was outcoached this game but to say he was outcoached on the final play is ridiculous. There is no doubt in my mind defense -especially communication on switches- was a focal point at practice this past week. I would estimate each player received hundreds of reps in similar situations, primarily guards. Ryan Boatright read the play as it was unfolding and clearly indicated for the switch. Daniel Hamilton also recognized the play, but was caught by Yale’s timing. SCJ needs to pick up on the call and react. It is that simple. He is a 22 year old RS sophomore who grew up surrounded by basketball, he’s not inexperienced. He needs to react. If he can’t, he can’t be trusted to play late in the game. Terrible execution- no excuse.

Last thought:

Why not have Brimah guard the inbound? His 7’6 wingspan (reported) could have greatly disrupted the vision of the 6’4 Duren either creating a turnover or errant pass. If Duren were to receive an immediate pass back I am confident Brimah could still take away the three. Or, if Duren were to drive and score on Brimah I still like us at home in OT…

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