Before the season, if I had told you Kentucky’s postseason chances would hinge on Derek Willis’ ankle, would you have believed me? That’s just one crazy turn in a twisted season for the Cats, and while any layman would agree that Willis is one of the reasons the Cats have turned it around, NBC Sports’ Rob Dauster broke down the film to prove it. Dauster shows that, with Willis in, Kentucky is able to open up the floor on offense instead of relying on Ulis or Murray and hoping/praying/wishing someone shows up in the post.
It’s different with Willis on the floor. Whether or not he’s actually making threes, it’s the threat of the shot that makes the difference. “You have to really decide how you want to guard those ball-screens,” one SEC coach told NBCSports.com. “His shooting makes them much harder to guard.”
Rob uses three examples to prove his point. Here’s the first:
1. Willis sets a ball-screen for Ulis, and with South Carolina icing the screen (meaning forcing the ball-handler away from the screen and towards the baseline), the big has to make sure Ulis doesn’t get a head of steam going to the rim. Willis can then pop into space for a clean look at a three:
For more, head on over to NBC Sports. Really interesting stuff, and further proof we need a healthy Derek to make a run in March.