Alabama enters today’s game with a record of 8-6, 1-1 in the Southeastern Conference after beating Mississippi State by 21 Wednesday evening. Last Saturday, the Crimson Tide fell to Florida by 6 points in double overtime in Gainesville. Alabama lead by 21 with under two minutes to play in the first half of that game against the Gators. Coach Nate Oats’s team plays at a frenetic pace and scores 84.4 points per game which is the fourth most in the country. The Crimson Tide are led by Junior John Petty Jr. and Sophomore Kira Lewis Jr. who average 16.7 and 16.6 points per game respectively. Petty is also connecting on an incredible 50.5% of his three-point attempts. This is an Alabama team that is putting up almost exactly 30 three-point attempts per game, making 37.2% of those shots. They play with a lot of confidence and are not going to turn down any open looks, especially from beyond the arc. Let’s dive in and get to know a little bit more about Alabama.
#2 Kira Lewis Jr.: 6’3″ 165 lbs, Sophomore Point Guard
16.6 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 4.6 apg, 23/70 from 3
Point Guard. Extremely quick. Have to get back and get the ball stopped! NO BACK PEDALING!!! Always looking to push the tempo. Pushes it really hard after makes too. More of a driver than a shooter. No straight line drives. So quick that he can beat you right or left. Capable shooter. 23/70 from 3. Much better from 2 than 3. Closeout a step short to guard against the drive. Be there to contest if he shoots, but we are more concerned about him driving it. Help off of him some when he doesn’t have it, and then closeout short to guard against the drive. When he is bringing it in transition we need everybody to sprint back and stunt at him and help corral him to keep him out of the paint. Don’t do too much and give up a 3 to your man though. In the half-court DO NOT help off of shooters when he drives it. Extremely aggressive offensive player. Stay between him and the basket. Limit his layups. Make him score with you between him and the basket. More shots than points.
#5 Jaden Shackelford: 6’3″ 195 lbs, Freshman Guard
12.8 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 32/96 from 3
Lefty. Shooter! No 3’s! 96 of 145 shots have been 3’s. Have to be tight on him and take away his attempts. No catch-and-shoot 3’s. Really looking to squeeze them off. He will shoot them off the dribble too. Find him in transition. Chase him off down screens and get over the flares. Will drive it left once you take away the 3. If he isn’t dribbling it you aren’t close enough. Absolutely no help off of him when he doesn’t have it. TAKE AWAY THE 3’s!
#23 John Petty Jr.: 6’5″ 184 lbs, Junior Guard
16.7 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 50/99 from 3
Best player. SHOOTER!!! NO 3’s!!! Take away the 3’s. 99 of 151 shots have been 3’s. Have to be tight on him and take away his attempts. Will shoot them anytime he can squeeze them off. Off the catch, off the dribble, stepbacks, etc. If he isn’t dribbling you aren’t close enough, and then you have to make him drive it. He is shooting a better percentage from 3 than 2. He shouldn’t get the step backs off because you need to make him drive it. You can come help off any non-shooters when he drives it because he isn’t thinking about passing. Have to pick him up from deep because he will shoot them. Find him in transition. Get over ballscreens. Chase him off down screens and get over the flares. Have to make him drive it and then try to make him finish outside of the paint over a big man or make him pass it. TAKE AWAY THE 3’s.
#1 Herbert Jones: 6’7″ 205 lbs, Junior Forward/Guard
9.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 1/8 from 3
Lefty. Long and athletic. Non-shooter. No left hand drives!!! Closeout short and take away the left hand drive. When he doesn’t have it on the perimeter you need to be helping off of him. Help get Kira Lewis corralled. Help when Petty drives it. Be doing something. He will cut without the ball so don’t completely lose sight of him. Have to find him and box him out when the shot goes up. Very good offensive rebounder. Stay between him and the basket. Bad free throw shooter. Foul if you are beat. No And-1s.
#30 Galin Smith: 6’9″ 240 lbs, Junior Forward
2.8 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 0/0 from 3
Physical post player. Looking to score it around the basket. Will slip screens if you cheat out too early on your hedge. Will roll after he ballscreens. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. Wants to get catches deep in the post. Be physical and get him off the block. Good offensive rebounder. Box out! If he is on the perimeter in 5-out you need to be helping off of him! Non-shooter.
#11 James “Beetle” Bolden: 6’0″ 160 lbs, Graduate Transfer Guard
9.3 ppg, 21/53 from 3
Lefty. Shooter. No 3’s. Have to be tight on him to take away the 3’s. 52 of 88 shots have been 3’s. Looking to drive it left once you take him away from 3. Wants to finish everything with his left hand. Shooting just as good from 3 as he is from 2. Make him drive it!!! Try and force him to drive it right. Will shoot them behind the ballscreen so we need to get over the ballscreens. Absolutely no help off of him when he doesn’t have it. Will handle the ball a lot when he is in there. Pressure him.
#3 Alex Reese: 6’9” 245 lbs, Junior Forward
9.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 24/69 from 3
Stretch 4/5. Shooter! No 3’s! 69 of 101 shots have been 3’s. They will be 5-out when he is in there. Skilled offensive player. Closeout to take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s. Loves to pick-and-pop. Will shot fake and drive it either way, but is looking to finish with his right. Not thinking about passing as he drives it. Don’t help off of him when he doesn’t have it on the perimeter. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. Box out!
#0 Javian Davis: 6’9″ 242 lbs, Redshirt Freshman Forward
7.4 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 0/2 from 3
Backup post player. Non-shooter. Wants to score it around the rim. Will look for it on the roll. Likes to slip if you are too aggressive on the hedge. Right hand, left shoulder in the post. Be physical with him and get him off the block. Good finisher but his percentages go down the further he is off the block. Great offensive rebounder. BOX OUT!!!
#12 Jaylen Forbes: 6’4″ 186 lbs, Freshman Guard
2.5 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 4/20 from 3
SHOOTER!!! NO 3’s!!! Have to be tight to take away the catch-and-shoot 3’s. 20 of 28 shots have been 3’s. If he isn’t dribbling you aren’t close enough. Find him in transition. Chase him off down screens and get over flares. Absolutely no help off of him when he doesn’t have it. Make him drive it.
This is an offense that is going to come at you fast for forty minutes. Their average possession only last 15 seconds. They are looking to bring the ball at you quickly and have the freedom to take the first available open shot every time down the court. They are averaging 30 three-point attempts per game. They do run a couple of sets in the half court, but for the most part they are in free-flowing dribble-drive motion and they will run it from 5-out quite a bit as well to space the floor even more. The first few clips will just show their pace and space and then we will show a couple of their favorite half-court actions.
Transition After Made Basket: This is a perfect example of how #2 Kira Lewis Jr. can create offense out of nothing. After a made basket, he pushes it up the court so fast that he gets a layup. Typically we would say that our plan would be to have 5 guys sprint back and “build a wall” to get the ball stop and protect the rim. However, because of the way they shoot it, we can’t guard that way. It is the responsibility of the the on-ball defender to sprint back (DO NOT BACK PEDAL) and get the ball stopped. Your teammates will provide as much help and stunting as possible to help corral Lewis Jr. In the clip the on-ball defender just starts back pedaling too early and he is toast from there.
Flat Ballscreen: There is nothing special at all here, just a typical flat ballscreen to begin the possession. There is only so much you can do here because it is such an explosive move off the ballscreen and we are okay with one of these layups per half as opposed to giving up an easy catch-and-shoot 3, but there are still a couple of coaching points. First, needs to be giving at least one more step, if not two more, right away off of the ball screener. If you need to, just error on the side of switching it and be big to contest him at the rim. This one is tougher because #3 Reese sets the ballscreen and he can really shoot. That is even more reason to switch it.
Side Ballscreen- From 5-out they really like to have one of their forwards set side ballscreens from the trail spot. When #30 or #0 set the ballscreens they will roll to the basket, if #3 sets it he is much more likely to pop. Here, Mississippi State actually does a pretty good job guarding the ballscreen, but #23 John Petty Jr.’s defender completely falls asleep. The defender is all the way in on the block, which is a good position as a general rule, but definitely not against this team while guarding Petty. The play is made to Petty who nails an easy 3 in the corner. He is going to try and shoot enough that he is probably going to get a few off, but these are the kind of 3’s that will be completely unacceptable and get us beat today.
High Cross Screen to Ballscreen: This is one of their favorite actions from 5-out. Point Guard hits the trail spot who reverses the ball and sets a high cross screen for the point guard. Especially when #3 sets the screen like in the clip below, they will read the screen meaning that Kira Lewis could have curled to the rim looking for a layup and Reese would have popped, or Lewis could have stepped behind and Reese would have cut to the basket. However, what they really like to do is get the ball to Lewis off the straight cut and as soon as he catches it Reese will turn and set the downhill ballscreen coming back left. As he gets going downhill he has some separation and forces Blackshear to help which leaves #3 Reese open for a catch-and-shoot 3 at the top of the key. This is why we need to be ready to switch ALL downhill ballscreens. We cannot give up this 3!!!
High Cross Screen, Handoff to Ballscreen: Similar to the action above, this time the trail spot forward sets a high cross screen for the guard on the right wing as the point guard dribbles up the left side. As soon as Petty gets his catch off the screen he tosses it back to the point guard who is cutting towards him. Now the forward has turned back to set a middle ballscreen for the point guard coming off the little pitch back. We will see both of these high cross screen actions early in the shot clock a lot when they are in 5-out.
Horns-Elbow Ballscreen: This is definitely the half-court set that they go to the most. From a traditional horns alignment they will call for whoever they want to run the play for to get a catch at the elbow. They have ran this for Kira Lewis, Petty, Herbert Jones to drive it left, etc. In this instance below, they are running it for Petty so they hit him at the left elbow and the point guard cuts over top to the left wing as they fake the little hand back. Then, Petty gets the ballscreen at the elbow. As a general rule we want to switch ALL ballscreens set at the elbow because it is just too low to guard with traditional ballscreen defense. Mississippi State switches it here and the big man tries to stay in front but gives up a setback 3 to Petty. This is an incredibly tough shot and normally one that you would just tip your hat and say “good defense, better offense” but we want to make Petty drive this! If you are switched out to him you need to pressure him as much as you can and error on the side of making him drive. Remember, he is actually higher percentage from 3 than 2!!!
They will play man-to-man defense and switch almost all ballscreens. They don’t have a lot of traditional size around the basket, but they are very long and athletic on the wings. Their defense doesn’t force many turnovers, but they will try to speed you up some with extra ball pressure which has led to opponents shooting a lower percentage than normal. Still, teams are scoring 78.9 points per game against them.
Keys to the Game
- GUARD THE 3-POINT LINE!!! This is the name of the game today. No open 3’s for #23 Petty, #5 Shackelford, #3 Reese, or #11 Bolden. We always have to be thinking about where these guys are, stay attached and stay tight to them at all times. NO HELP!!! Your job is to make these guys drive it. Contest everything. Limit their attempts.
- Contain the Drive on #2 Lewis Jr. He is arguably the quickest guard in the country end-to-end with the ball. We have to do everything possible to get the ball stopped without over-helping and giving up a 3 to a shooter. Just don’t get smoked in a straight line. Give him an extra step and closeout shorter. We would rather him shoot the 3 than get layups. Limit his layups! Make him score with you between him and the basket.
- Transition Defense. They are going to come fast off of misses and makes as well. Especially off a miss you may not always be able to match up with “your man.” All of you need to be prepared to guard anyone for a possession and be prepared to follow the scout. Get the ball stopped, protect the rim, and GET OUT on the shooters. Finding the shooters in transition when we aren’t necessarily matched up is crucial today.
- Next Possession. With the pace they play with they are going to score some and we may have a lapse or two in each half. You just need to play through it, go score on our end, and then be ready to fix the mistake and get a stop the next time. Don’t make the same mistake twice! Do not allow the same guy to get two clean looks from 3 in a half!