Its no secret that North Carolina and Duke are vastly different offensive teams. The Tar Heels want to work the ball inside, where they feel they have an advantage with post players Tyler Zeller and John Henson.
The Blue Devils, meanwhile, want to shoot a lot of 3-pointers a team strength, given they have many quality shooters. The difference between the Heels and Devils manifested itself in a large way during Dukes 85-84 victory against UNC at the Smith Center on Feb. 8.
During that game, Duke attempted 36 3-pointers, and made 14 of them. UNC, was just 1-for-6 from beyond the 3-point line. So the Blue Devils outscored the Tar Heels 42-3 on 3-pointers an enormous differential and the primary reason Duke remained alive in a game that UNC mostly dominated for 38 minutes.
UNC coach Roy Williams earlier today described the challenges of defending Dukes perimeter offense. Williams charted each of Dukes 36 3-point attempts during the first meeting between the teams. Here are his comments in full:
First of all, we do have to get out and guard the three better. We have to get closer to make them more challenged. Youre not going to stop Duke from shooting three-point shots because thats what they practice every day. Its hard to stop us from blocking shots, or rebounding the ball or running the ball because thats what we work on every day.
But weve got to do a much better job of getting closer to shooters, trying to make sure that we get a hand up on the shot, not giving a pose after the ball has already been released. Weve got to get closer. Theyre really good. Their offense is really good.
Steve [Kirschner] and I were just talking about it on the way down here, their 36 three-point shots, I took every one of those out, looked at it on tape, graded it myself, classified it myself and its like nine different categories. We all worry about dribble penetration and a guy flying in there to support and they pitch it out to a three-point shooter.
There were only four of their 36 that came from dribble penetration. They had five of them where we did a poor job going underneath the screen ... had five of them where we went under the screen. We had one of them where the guy did a great job on the screen, we played great defense and a kid made a big-time shot.
We had four of them where I call it the stare-down. You know, the kids just staring down at the ground and you wonder what hes doing and all of a sudden he pulls up and shoots it. That was a little bit of Austin Rivers last play. I mean, thats basically all that was. I mean, it wasnt any cross-over dribbles, step back or anything like that.
There were two step-backs, I think. There were two after staggered screen on the elbow. There were two or three double-screens across the top of the key. There was one where [Seth] Curry just made a fantastic cut and lost Kendall [Marshall].
There was one where we made a really silly play because we talk about retreating in the direction of the pass and Thornton fakes a pass and we go running over to where he faked the pass and then he pulls up and shoots the three, you know. And there was no dribble in between I mean he faked the pass and so we go running over there like a good little boy and then he shoots the three.
So thats the good thing about from their side thats the good thing about their offense because it does emphasize three-point shots. But a variety of different ways, with a variety of different guys screening and a variety of different guys spacing.
I mean, there were two of them where they throw it in the post diagonally across from their five man to their four man. So again, thats probably more information then you need. But [I] went through 36 three-point shots and theres nothing that is a common thread more than five times.
So that means its really difficult to prepare ... theres not any one thing you can do to cover that.
So to summarize ... among those Dukes 36 shots from behind the 3-point line, Williams counted:
- Four that came as a result of dribble penetration and passes out to the perimeter.
- Five that came after a UNC defender went under a screen, instead of over it.
- One that came when a Duke player made a big-time shot when UNC correctly defended the player.
- Four that came on what Williams described as a stare-down.
- Two that came after a staggered screen at the elbow.
- Two (or three) that came after double screens across the top of the key.
- One that came after Seth Curry lost Kendall Marshall after Curry made a nice cut.
- One that came after Tyler Thorntons fake pass faked out the UNC defense, leaving Thornton open.
- Two that came after the center threw it diagonally across the court to a forward.
That only accounts for 23 of the 3-point attempts, of course. But, as you can see, defending the 3 against Duke isnt as easy as it might sound.