Film Session: Northwestern

  • 01/09/2023 8:09 am in

Northwestern scored 1.14 points per possession against the Hoosiers on Sunday afternoon, its best mark against a high-major opponent this season. Indiana made its share of mistakes and is searching for answers on defense with Xavier Johnson and Race Thompson out of the lineup.

But the Wildcats also run zoom action, one of the most popular actions going in college basketball, while going 5-out. It’s a type of set where pindown screens are set for guards in the corners leading to dribble handoffs on the wings. With all the spacing and continual movement and screening, it’s a style that can be hard to guard. Northwestern’s ability to hit 3s out of it early in the game helped the Wildcats punch out to a 34-17 lead. And when they ran other 5-out sets featuring high ball screens near the hash mark, they bested Indiana’s freshmen on the strong side, leading to even more 3-point makes.

We’ll take a look at Northwestern getting several good 3-point looks and connecting in the first half against the Hoosiers in the latest edition of Film Session:

Here’s our first zoom set from the Wildcats. It’s initially run on the right side with Boo Buie setting the pindown for Ty Berry. Matthew Nicholson then hands off to Berry. The Wildcats then get zoom going on the left side with Robbie Beran setting the screen for Chase Audige. It’s here where they start to gain the advantage. When Berry dribble hands off to Audige on the left wing, Bates switches from Berry to Audige. He has to do a 180 in his direction as he’s met with a left-slot high-ball screen from Nicholson.

Bates goes over the ball screen, a typical philosophy for Indiana’s guards against a slot ball screen. But it’s harder to keep with Audige due to the switch and change of direction. It seems like Jackson-Davis is expecting Bates to be able to recover back to Audige and simply doesn’t stop the ball as a result. With Miller Kopp tagging Nicholson’s roll and Jordan Geronimo coming over from the weak side to help on Audige’s drive, Berry has space in the weak-side corner. Audige makes the pass and knocks down the 3-pointer.

Textbook ball screen stuff here from Northwestern and Audige here set up by zoom. Break down the defense, draw help and kick out to the open shooter.

In our next play, Northwestern again starts with action on the right side of the court before moving to the left. With nothing doing on the right side, we see a variation of zoom on the left. There’s no pindown this time, but it’s still Audige coming out of the corner and receiving a dribble handoff from Berry with Berry then moving down to the corner.

From there, Bates again switches and goes over the screen from Nicholson. But this time, the left side is more empty with one less Wildcat. So when Kopp tags Nicholson again, Berry is wide open in the corner. Audige whips the pass from the perimeter and Berry drops in another 3-pointer.

You can see Kopp raising his hand on this one right before the pass comes, seeming to know what’s about to happen.

Here’s our first high-ball screen near the left hash mark. Nicholson comes up and sets it for Audige. Trey Galloway goes under the screen this time, which allows the Hoosiers to stay in front of the ball handler this time around. But as this happens, Beran pops out from the right low post to the right wing. Malik Reneau doesn’t immediately follow, instead watching the action, even though Galloway has kept Audige in front of him and Kopp is on the initial line of help.

With Beran getting space on Reneau, Audige fires the pass to him on the right wing as Berry screens Kopp to give Beran even more room. Beran rises up and hits the 3-pointer.

Reneau’s lack of awareness, even if it was short-lived, was taken advantage of by the Wildcats here.

On our last play, the Wildcats again run a high ball screen near the left hash mark between Nicholson and Audige. Galloway again goes under, preventing an initial drive from Audige.

But CJ Gunn finds himself out of position. While he seems to be following the philosophy of Indiana helping off the wing to stop the drive on high ball screens, there’s no drive here and he’s over quite a bit.

So Buie simply moves from the wing to the corner and Audige hits him with the pass. It’s another 3-pointer from the Wildcats.

Freshman stuff from Gunn here.

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