Eastern Kentucky comes in at 1-0 after a 79-68 victory over Chattanooga on Tuesday evening. Led by former Scott County star A.W. Hamilton, the Colonels are coming off a 13-18 record in his first season at the helm. Hamilton has brought several transfers with him to EKU and returns one of the best guards in the OVC in Sophomore Jomaru Brown. The Colonels feature a full-court, run-and-jump press that will look to speed up the game and take Kentucky out of their normal style of play. They were able to force 20 turnovers on Tuesday while holding Chattanooga to just 32.4% shooting.
#11 Jomaru Brown: 6’2” 190 lbs, Sophomore Point Guard
14.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 2.2 apg
Point Guard. 14 points on 6/13 shooting in win over Chattanooga. Very aggressive in transition. It might take more than 1 person to help corral him in transition. Will push it hard and try to get to the rim. Capable 3-point shooter. More of a driver than a shooter. No right hand drives! When he does drive it you can look for opportunities to come help and come take it off of him. Driving to score not to pass. When he is on the perimeter without the ball you can help off of him. No layups. Get your hands up and make him score over you when he drives it. Looking for steals defensively.
#12 Ty Taylor: 6’3” 175 lbs, Senior Guard
Transfer from UNC-Wilmington: 7.7 ppg (13.6ppg as a sophomore), 2.2 rpg
Lefty. Willing 3-point shooter. 94 of 163 shots were from 3 last season. Did not shoot a good percentage (28.7%). Don’t dare him to shoot, but you can close out a little shorter until he makes a couple. No left hand drives! Stay between him and the basket and make him finish over you. Can help off of him. Low percentage finisher.
#14 Houston King: 6’4” 185 lbs, Sophomore Guard
5.3 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 42.3% 3pt
Shooter!!! Take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s. NO 3’s!!! 75 of 121 shots were 3’s last season. Very aggressive looking to squeeze them off. Have to chase him off screens and get over the flares. They won’t set a lot of ballscreens for him, but if they do you have to go over. DO NOT help off of him or dig not the post off of him. Went 4/5 from 3 in their opener against Chattanooga. Long and athletic. Likes to shoot the pull-up J going to his left. More likely to drive it all the way to the basket going right. Prefers to shoot jump shots. Contest everything.
#2 Tre King: 6’8” 225 lbs, Sophomore Forward
6.0 ppg, 4.4 rpg
Strong, physical forward. Will play on the perimeter some, but looking for opportunities to slash and cut. Likes to cut along the baseline as the ball is being driven. Do not get back cut! Closeout short when he catches it on the perimeter. No right hand drives. Can help off of him when he is away from the basket. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. Box out!!! Very good rebounder.
#5 Darius Hicks: 6’8” 225 lbs, Redshirt Junior Forward
Transfer from NC State: 4.3 ppg, 3.0 rpg (in 4 games prior to injury in 2017-2018)
Very strong, physical post player. They are looking to throw it in to him in the post. Likes to make the quick spin to the baseline on the left block, but still scores it back into you with his right hand. All right hand, left shoulder. Sit on his left shoulder. Keep him off the block. No deep post catches. Likes to face up and use his quickness to drive it. No right hand drives. Likes to spin. Can look to take a charge. All right hand. 18 points and 12 rebounds against Chattanooga. Closeout short when he is away from the basket.
#21 Lachlan Anderson: 6’9” 205 lbs, Senior Forward
5.6 ppg, 4.1 rpg
Long, athletic forward. Be physical with him. He doesn’t want the game to be physical. When he has the ball you can get up and pressure him some. Apply as much pressure as you can without allowing an easy right hand drive. Willing shooter, but shot a bad percentage last year. 12-57 from 3. 2 of 3 shots against Chattanooga were from 3. Very good offensive rebounder, will fly in from the perimeter to crash the glass. Box out!
#0 Russhard Cruickshank: 6’0” 175 lbs, Junior Guard
Transfer from Garden City Community College: 13.4 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.4 apg
Lefty. Backup Point Guard. SHOOTER. Take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s. No 3’s!!! 222 of 357 shots were from 3 last year. Need to go over the ball screens when they are set for him. Chase him off down screens and get over any flare screens. Do not help off of him when he is off the ball. No left hand drives. Very quick with the ball in his hands, will push it hard in transition similar to #11 Brown.
#1 JacQuess Hobbs: 6’2” 185 lbs, Junior Guard
4.3 ppg, 2.3 rpg, 2.1 apg
Lefty. More of a driver than a shooter. Closeout short and take away the left hand drive. No left hand drives. Can help off of him when others drive it and can dig on the post off of him. Be aware of him cutting when you move into help off of him. Make him finish with you between him and the basket.
Eastern Kentucky Offense
- 4-around-1 Motion with most possessions starting with a Middle Ballscreen. Lots of ballscreens and dribble handoffs throughout the possession. They don’t set many ballscreens for #14 King, but he and #0 Cruickshank are the only guys you need to worry about going over the ballscreens/handoffs. Everyone else you can hop under and take away the drive. They play pretty free in the half court. Looking for opportunities to drive it and play off the ballscreens/handoffs or going inside to #5 Hicks.
- Lots of set plays to free up #5 Hicks in the post.
- Typical 4-around-1 alignment, Point Guard dribbles over to whatever side #5 Hicks (on the block) is on. This pushes the wing player through and he will kind of “rub” against the post defender as they look to throw it inside for a post isolation.
- Cross screen/downscreen action. Point Guard hits a wing and loops under to the opposite wing. Wing hits a guy at the top of the key and the ball is reversed back to the point guard. As this pass happens the ball side corner will to set a cross screen for #5 Hicks on the weak side block. The guy setting the cross screen then receives a downscreen from the top of the key. This is a basic “screen-the-screener” action. They have a few different ways to get into similar screen-the-screener actions.
- Ballscreens and Handoffs
- Middle ballscreen, normally #5 Hicks will roll to the basket, but if he pops they will throw it back to him and he will immediately dribble into a handoff at the wing.
- Double Middle ballscreen. The first screener, typically #5, will roll to the basket, while the second screener, normally #21 when he is in, will pop.
- Princeton type spots with big man at the high post. Hit the high post and cut over top the ball for a fake handoff. Then hits the other wing either with a dribble handoff or sprints into a ballscreen for him to go downhill. See the above clip for an example.
- Out of a similar alignment, they will hit the high post and the point guard will downscreen to the Wing and that player will come off the screen into a handoff. They don’t give it to him they will hit the point guard and ballscreen for him.
Eastern Kentucky Defense
Full Court, Run-and-Jump Press. They will fall back into man-to-man, but most possessions end up being relatively quick as they will give up numbers in the half court due to trapping in the back court. They will trap “from behind” meaning once the ball handler turns they will leave the nearest man to run up and trap him. They will try to “kill” the first pass meaning a 3rd defender will come down to deny the closest passing option. Ball handlers need to drive it hard in straight lines. Never spin or go behind your back. Below is a clip than is a perfect example of the pressure they will try to apply.
Keys to the Game
• Make Plays Against the Press. The point of the Run-and-Jump press is to speed teams up to A) force turnovers and B) take you out of what you do. There will not be a lot of half court offensive possessions for the ‘Cats tonight. Quite simply, players need to make plays. There will be a lot of layups and open 3’s after breaking the press. Converting these opportunities will lead to a comfortable win.
• No 3’s for #14 Hicks. Being 6’4”, and as aggressive as he is, he will get some off. However, we simply cannot allow uncontested 3’s, or jump shots of any kind. He is far and away the most dangerous shooter so we have to take that away as much as possible.
• Slow #11 Brown in transition. He is very quick and aggressive in transition. He is looking to score. One of the most important parts of transition defense is getting the ball stopped and there are enough non-shooters that it can be a team effort to slow him down. #0 Cruickshank will push it in a similar way when he is the primary ball handler.
• Limit Careless Turnovers. There will be turnovers against the press, but we have to take away the bonehead plays. Picking the ball up near half court or against the sidelines is a bad idea. Spinning or going behind your back while trying to break the press is a bad idea. Jumping to pass is a bad idea. Cut that stuff out and the turnovers that just come as a result of the constant pressure won’t kill us.