Skip to content

Breaking Down: Iowa State’s upset bid, a clinic on neutralizing shotblockers

Jan 10, 2013, 3:36 PM EDT

Iowa State v Kansas Getty Images

All that anyone is talking about here on Thursday — other than, of course, this ridiculous dunk that Jamaal Franklin managed to pull off — is Ben McLemore.

Deservedly so. The freshman had 33 points on 10-12 shooting in an overtime win over Iowa State. He also just so happened to bank-in the game-tying three with 1.0 seconds left in regulation. Since Kansas is the No. 6 team in the country and McLemore’s development into a go-to scorer is what makes the Jayhawks a national title contender, it’s easy to ignore the fact that Iowa State came within one fluky shot of becoming just the eighth team to beat Kansas in Phog Allen since Bill Self took over.

So how did Iowa State manage to nearly spring the massive upset?

By taking advantage of their frontcourt’s versatility.

Georges Niang and Melvin Ejim are both excellent face-up forwards. They have shot a combined 20-55 from three this season (36.4%) and have the ball-handling and passing skills to allow Fred Hoiberg to play a five-out offense. What that means is that unless either of the two big men happen to have a matchup advantage on the block, all five Cyclones will be outside the three-point line.

And on Iowa State’s first three buckets of the game, the advantage was obvious. Niang hit two threes and a 17-footer as Jeff Withey, college basketball’s best shotblocker, played way off of him. Bill Self initially began with Kevin Young on Ejim, who is more athletic and a better rebounder, but changed that matchup after the first TV timeout.

With Withey on Ejim — or Percy Gibson, when he was on the floor — it allowed Hoiberg to do a number of different things:

1. Take advantage of Withey in ball-screens situations. Kansas started out having Withey hedge-hard-and-recover on ball-screens, but that was a problem against Iowa State. For starters, the Cyclones start their ball-screen action very high:

source:

Which means that Withey has a long, long way to go to get himself back into the play. Since Hoiberg has so many shooters on the floor, there’s a ton of space for Clyburn to operate. As the Kansas defenders help on Will Clyburn here since Withey isn’t in the paint to protect the rim, he’s able to find Ejim wide-open for a three. But, you’ll notice in the screen-grab, Clyburn had two other teammates wide-open as well:

source:

You can watch that entire set here.

2. Using whoever Withey was guarding in dribble-handoffs. When Withey would guard on the perimeter, he would give his man a good five feet since he’s tall enough to contest just about any jump shot that they would take. But this left the Jayhawks susceptible to dribble-handoffs, which are, more-or-less, the same kind of action as a ball-screen. Ejim dribbles over and hands the ball off to Clyburn, who then runs directly off of Ejim’s shoulder. As you can see, Withey is in terrible position to cut-off the penetration, and it leads to a layup for Clyburn:

source:

You can watch the video of that entire sequence here. And here’s an example of a similar play, but instead of the dribble-handoff leading to a layup, it gets Chris Babb a wide-open three.

3. High-low post touches. Niang is a threat to score on the low-block, and he has enough size and stretch to establish position on Young. Ejim, who was 2-5 from three on Wednesday, is a capable enough passer that Hoiberg was able to use him to feed Niang on the block. Here, you can see Niang sealing Young:

source:

By the time Withey tries to help, Niang is already finishing an and-one:

source:

The Cyclones finished the game 14-38 from beyond the arc, which is something they absolutely needed to do if they were going to have a chance to win this game.

Fred Hoiberg put together a terrific game-plan to neutralize Jeff Withey’s shotblocking ability and take advantage of the perimeter ability of their big men, and Iowa State executed it to perfection.

Now only if he had fouled up three with 8.4 seconds left

(All screen-grabs are from ESPNU’s broadcast of the game)

Previous Breaking Down posts can be found here.

You can find Rob on twitter @RobDauster.

Latest Posts
  1. The Ray Kasongo saga takes another turn on Wednesday

    Aug 19, 2014, 9:55 PM EDT

    kasongo

    Ray Kasongo was denied admission from Oregon on July 30, reopening his recruitment.

  2. Northern Illinois unveils its new basketball floor (PHOTO)

    Aug 19, 2014, 8:10 PM EDT

    Twitter/NIUAthletics Twitter/NIUAthletics

    This new court design is interesting to say the least.

  3. Report: Wichita State to play in early season tournaments in 2015, 2016, 2017

    Aug 19, 2014, 7:59 PM EDT

    AP AP

    Take a look at what tournaments the Shockers will appear in over the next few years.

  4. Four-star 2015 guard Jimmy Whitt commits to Arkansas

    Aug 19, 2014, 6:07 PM EDT

    Under Armour Under Armour

    Jimmy Whitt is ranked just outside the top 50 in the Class of 2015.

  5. Highlights from the 2014 Nike Global Challenge (VIDEO)

    Aug 19, 2014, 4:40 PM EDT

    Nike EYBL Nike EYBL

    Stephen Zimmerman averaged 17.5 points, 11.5 boards and 2.2 blocks per game in four games at the Nike Global Challenge.

  6. Nicholls State adds the son of a Syracuse legend to their 2014 class

    Aug 19, 2014, 3:54 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Nicholls State may have a large, orange-clad fan base these days.

  7. John Calipari on whether Kentucky will use platoons this season: ‘I think so’

    Aug 19, 2014, 3:04 PM EDT

    Kentucky Athletics Kentucky Athletics

    It’s how they played through their six games in the Bahamas.

  8. VCU lands a commitment from talented local guard

    Aug 19, 2014, 1:40 PM EDT

    Nike/Jon Lopez Nike/Jon Lopez

    Shaka Smart brings in a perfect piece and that was a priority recruit.

  9. Photos and videos from Team USA’s trip to West Point

    Aug 19, 2014, 12:33 PM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 12.32.00 PM

    It looks like everyone had a great time.

  10. Short film on an American basketball player in the AFL (VIDEO)

    Aug 19, 2014, 11:09 AM EDT

    Screen Shot 2014-08-19 at 11.08.20 AM

    Jason Holmes is a pro athlete in a sport he never heard of.

  11. Mixtape of high-flying 2015 guard Christian James (VIDEO)

    Aug 18, 2014, 11:00 PM EDT

    christian james

    Christian James is one of the better dunkers in the 2015 class.

  12. Former Vanderbilt player releasing book exposing sex, drugs and parties in college basketball

    Aug 18, 2014, 9:30 PM EDT

    kyle fuller Getty Images

    A former Vanderbilt player is hoping to release a book discussing the dirtier side of college basketball.

  13. Ohio State releases non-conference schedule

    Aug 18, 2014, 8:25 PM EDT

    Thad Matta AP

    Ohio State has some interesting games in the non-conference slate.

  14. Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery: ‘We have great kids. We don’t have thugs’

    Aug 18, 2014, 7:25 PM EDT

    Fran McCaffery AP

    Iowa head coach Fran McCaffery defended some of his player’s recent offseason troubles.

  15. Sexual assault lawsuit filed against 2014 NCAA Tournament team, alleging Title IX violations

    Aug 18, 2014, 6:24 PM EDT

    swilling Getty Images

    Some more disturbing allegations are levied against a 2014 NCAA Tournament team.

  16. College Basketball Talk’s Recruiting Roundup

    Aug 18, 2014, 5:00 PM EDT

    (adidas) (adidas)

    This week’s CBT Recruiting Roundup features some thoughts on Noah Dickerson to Florida and a couple of 2015 guards cutting school lists.

  17. Report: There’s ‘a chance’ Georgetown will play Maryland

    Aug 18, 2014, 3:42 PM EDT

    John Thompson III AP

    The two programs haven’t played on one another’s home court in two decades.

  18. Nebraska lands two players on Monday, including a Kansas transfer

    Aug 18, 2014, 2:24 PM EDT

    Andrew White III AP

    Nebraska has added a player in the Class of 2017 and a top 50 recruit from 2012 in the span of a few hours.