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. Former Boise State forward Joey Nebeker disputes school statement regarding his departure

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:13 PM EDT

    rice Getty Images

    Boise State announced Wednesday that two players were leaving the program. Thursday, one of those players stated that he was forced out.

  2. Lawsuit filed by Dez Wells against Xavier settled Thursday

    Apr 24, 2014, 9:47 PM EDT

    wells Getty Images

    Maryland’s Dez Wells and Xavier settled a lawsuit filed by Wells with regards to his expulsion from the school in 2012.

  3. Former Maryland center Shaquille Cleare completes transfer to Texas

    Apr 24, 2014, 8:23 PM EDT

    Wake Forest v Maryland Getty Images

    After spending two seasons at Maryland, big man Shaquille Cleare has decided to transfer to Texas.

  4. UNLV junior forward Khem Birch to enter 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 24, 2014, 7:14 PM EDT

    Khem Birch AP

    UNLV junior forward Khem Birch has decided to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

  5. San Francisco sophomore guard Avry Holmes to transfer

    Apr 24, 2014, 5:56 PM EDT

    WCC Basketball Tournament - Semifinals - San Francisco v Brigham Young Getty Images

    After averaging 12.5 points per game as a sophomore, San Francisco guard Avry Holmes has decided to transfer.

  6. Arizona State lands junior college forward Willie Atwood

    Apr 24, 2014, 4:49 PM EDT

    Herb Sendek AP

    Arizona State lands its seventh newcomer for the 2014-15 season as forward Willie Atwood picked the Sun Devils over Florida State and Iowa.

  7. NCAA waves goodbye to hardship waivers; ‘Big Five’ leagues a step closer to autonomy

    Apr 24, 2014, 4:13 PM EDT

    NCAA_Logo AP

    The NCAA’s Board of Directors released some key decisions on Thursday.

  8. Colorado junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie enters 2014 NBA Draft

    Apr 24, 2014, 4:12 PM EDT

    Spencer Dinwiddie AP

    Colorado junior guard Spencer Dinwiddie has decided to enter the 2014 NBA Draft.

  9. Report: Marshall to hire Dan D’Antoni, brother of Mike D’Antoni

    Apr 24, 2014, 3:12 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Dan D’Antoni spent 30 years as a high school coach in South Carolina.

  10. Jabari Parker on a potential move to two-and-done: ‘I think that’s ridiculous’

    Apr 24, 2014, 2:23 PM EDT

    Getty Images Getty Images

    Parker is not a fan of forcing players to stay in school for two years.

  11. Larry Eustachy: ‘My feeling is Chane is going to go pro’

    Apr 24, 2014, 1:45 PM EDT

    Larry Eustachy

    There are reports he’s already signed with an agent.

  12. Amida Brimah out four-to-five months with shoulder surgery

    Apr 24, 2014, 12:35 PM EDT

    AP Photo AP Photo

    The seven-footer will miss some time getting a torn labrum repaired.

  13. Marcus Paige, Roy Williams dance to Pharrell’s ‘Happy’ (VIDEO)

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:56 AM EDT

    marcus paige Getty Images

    Roy Williams is not the world’s greatest dancer.

  14. Skal Labissiere is back from his back injury (VIDEO)

    Apr 24, 2014, 11:25 AM EDT

    Skal Labissiere, Denio Chirindja

    Kentucky, Kansas and just about every elite program in the country is on the trail of the Haitian.

  15. Former Georgetown forward Moses Ayegba will transfer to Nebraska

    Apr 24, 2014, 12:57 AM EDT

    Moses Ayegba AP

    According to multiple reports, former Georgetown big Moses Ayegba has decided to transfer to Nebraska.

  16. UConn center Amida Brimah to undergo shoulder surgery

    Apr 24, 2014, 12:17 AM EDT

    NCAA Men's Final Four - Championship Getty Images

    According to a report, UConn center Amida Brimah will need to undergo surgery on his left shoulder.

  17. Shaka Smart adds former Vanderbilt assistant David Cason to VCU coaching staff

    Apr 23, 2014, 10:38 PM EDT

    Shaka Smart Getty Images

    Shaka Smart filled a vacancy on his staff Wednesday, hiring former Vanderbilt assistant David Cason.

  18. Has Top 100 forward Malek Harris committed to Kansas State?

    Apr 23, 2014, 9:04 PM EDT

    Bruce Weber AP

    Less than a week after making an official visit to the school, it was reported that Malek Harris had committed to Kansas State. But that may not be the case.

  19. Tulsa head coach Frank Haith announces coaching staff

    Apr 23, 2014, 7:49 PM EDT

    Frank Haith AP

    Frank Haith announced his coaching staff Wednesday, with the trio combining to have more than 90 seasons of coaching experience.

Featured video

Derrick Gordon says 'Why not me?'