Question for basketball people re: the hard hedge

Submitted by Erik_in_Dayton on February 27th, 2012 at 10:54 AM

As everyone probably saw, Purdue gave Michigan trouble on Saturday by having its big man hedge really far out on Burke when Michigan tried to run the pick and roll.  Burke struggled with this, seemingly because of his lack of height and because it was one of those no-fouls-called Big Ten games (contrast w/ the NW game earlier in the week).  My question for people with a good understanding of basketball is this:  What does Michigan do to counter the hard hedge (if that's the right thing to call it)? 



February 27th, 2012 at 12:33 PM ^

why?  actually a pretty good question as Purdue gave us fits with that and others will be watching...having said that JB will counter...that's why this loss could prove a blessing in disguise...rather have that problem show against Purdue than in the NCAA tournament


February 27th, 2012 at 11:07 AM ^

They came out in the second half with a counter which was a pass to Novak on the wing who immediately fired a pass to Morgan who had slipped to the basket when his defender left to hedge. It worked beautifully but they only did this once which surprising/confusing/frustrating.


February 27th, 2012 at 11:21 AM ^

1.) Slip the screen.  I'll elaborate in case someone asks "WTF iz dat?"  Morgan acts like he's going to set the screen, which brings his man (the "hard hedger") up top, and then Burke throws a pass to Morgan.  Morgan dunks.  (D-Mo did this a lot)

2.) Split the double.  When a hard hedge happens, it's basically a double team for about a second.  Burke's guy should be on his hoop-side hip, and the hedger should be directly in front of him.  He's got a few options for splitting this, and he should be able to.  Obviously, he's not, but in theory there are many ways to split a double, especially when you know its coming.  The biggest thing he needs to do right now is slow down.  Watch him when he comes off Morgan's hip.  He's usually going at almost a sprint.  Now watch Stockton and Malone.  Stockton is sauntering.  When you come off a screen too fast, you don't have enough control to do any of the "splitting the double" moves. 

It's way more complicated than that.  Sadly, while I'm a basketball nerd, I suck at writing so for brevity and sanity's sake I'll leave it at that.  Hope this helps.


February 27th, 2012 at 11:38 AM ^

Morgan moves toward the on-the-ball defender as if he's going to set a screen but then heads straight for the basket? 

I am a huge Morgan fan, but I do think that Michigan is somewhat limited in what it can do with him because you really have to hit him right near the basket.  He's not going to take a dribble and score or hit a five-footer. 

Space Coyote

February 27th, 2012 at 11:40 AM ^

He is really good at what he does.  He finishes well off of passes and runs the coart well.  He defends really well for a guy his size (Michigan's team as a whole can be credited with this).  But he isn't going to hit much outside and he isn't going to have many successful back to the basket post moves.  His footwork is good enough finishing off of passes, but his skill set, as you said, is limited.


February 27th, 2012 at 11:50 AM ^

The problem with slipping the screen is that Burke is short. The hard edge has worked  well against UM because Burke has been unable to burn the hard edge by going over top of it. Morris was tall enough to pass right over top of most double downs and that resulted in a plethora of J-Mo two hand slams. Burke, on the other hand, is shorter and has had a hard time doing the same.

Space Coyote

February 27th, 2012 at 11:42 AM ^

Purdue was doing that "Hard hedge" but then also dropping off a wing defender into the lane to cover the roll.  Burke, because of his height, has trouble getting the ball to that open wing defender (though a very different technique, the same basic element, ie Burke's height and switching the coart/hitting diag passes, were a big reason Michigan struggled against the 1-3-1 as well), and when he did get the ball to the wing player Michigan struggled to make shots.

I'm not a basketball genious by any means, but the obvious way to beat it is simply to make shots from outside.  Once that happens the wing defender can't sag as much and the roll gets open.

Other options, as noted above, were being taken away, such as splitting the defenders.  Burke is good, but he isn't great (at least not yet).  He doesn't display the quickness or the size to threaten the hedge defender to the outside, and this means that they can pinch easier, therefore not allowing Burke to split them.

The pick and pop would be an effective way to counter this, as it wouldn't allow the wing defender to play help side into the roll (if he tried to cover the pop guy, or the screener, it would give an easy cut for the wing player to the bucket), but this again means that you have to make shots.  A second way is to essentially allowing Burke to pass off to a player who can then make the pass to the wing man or the roll if the help doesn't come (probably a diagonal pass, which is often dangerous but kills defenses when done correctly).

Michigan is missing Morris in this regard.  They are missing someone with size and length that can combat teams doing this fairly easily.  They are missing someone who can consistently make their own shot.  Developing actual post play (ie someone who you can give the ball to in the post and expect them to successfully do a post move) would also help Michigan a lot, as they don't have that here.

In the end, with this team and the way they are designed and the talent they have, it really comes down to hitting shots in my opinion.  This team doesn't yet have the skill set to beat people individually or when things break down on a consistent basis, and when they aren't hitting shots these sorts of things can really hurt.  


February 27th, 2012 at 1:01 PM ^

to make jumper on a consistent basis has hurt Michigan because the bigs aren't worried about Morgan on pick and pop and has defenders to cover the roll.   This is why McGary would be huge because he can make jumper but is big/strong enough to play down low.  Horford would have helped as well.

Naked Bootlegger

February 27th, 2012 at 11:44 AM ^

I think Burke has performed well beyond our expectations as a true frosh.   This is one area, though, where the sophomore Morris probably handled things a tad better than Burke.    Besides a year of experience, Morris' height was a huge factor.  6'4"+ point guards can pass over the top of often-shorter defenders (not the "big" defender who hedges, but the guard defender) a lot easier than a 5'11" point guard, thus allowing the "slip the screen" scenario previously described by tasnyder01 to work very effectively.    Watching John Stockton tapes will always help, too.

Burke often does a fantastic job dealing with the hedge, especially considering his freshman status.  I can recall a few times throughout the year where he effectively split the hedge and drove in for easy buckets or assists.   But Purdue was very good defending both the hedge and ensuing cross-court passes/ball reversals after the initial hedge was broken.  Needless to say, I was very impressed with the Purdue "D".   


February 27th, 2012 at 12:11 PM ^

has adjusted to how teams are defending him on the pick and roll, most notably by draining threes when the big man starts sagging off and the on-ball defender starts to recover.  This was just an off night.  There is no other way to describe the Purdue game.  Michigan brought its D-game.  They are not an elite team but they are better than Purdue.  That game was just a lesson.  If you are going to come to a game in your pajamas you might as well just stay in bed.  It was loss they needed.  They will rebound.


February 27th, 2012 at 12:36 PM ^

(I was an asssistant HS basketball coach for a few years) we don't do a great job of "pressing" the screens that we have set.  Which is to say, there should be good contact made by the ball handler (Burke) and the screener (say... Morgan).  They should actually bang into eachother thus forcing the screener's defender to have to choose between switching or staying with his man but slowing the dribbler with a quick flash.  

We always taught that if you properly rub the man screening for you, the 2 on 1 or "roll" (with a trailing, hopefully pinned "screenee") should be there.  It's a matter of being more aggressive than they are and beating their hard hedge with an aggressive screen and rub.  

Some of this depends on the fact that we cross screen a lot at the high post and create some "easy to read" screens.  That's another topic and is mostly related to offensive style and offensive preference in Coach B's hybrid Princeton looks.


February 27th, 2012 at 1:04 PM ^

My $0.02 (in order of preference):


1.  Screener rolls hard to the block.  Burke hits screener over the top.  Howeva, many have pointed out because of size Burke has trouble delivering the pass over the top.

2.  Screener rolls hard to block and Burke rotates the ball quickly to the wing.  Screener should be anticipating entry pass from wing and establishing post from either trailing defender or help side defender.  Wing should have easy post entry to screener or open jump (depending on defense rotation).  Burke flairs to top of key to provide spacing and outlet in case none of this works out.

3.a.  If screener is good jump shooter, pick and pop.  Burke has to flair to the wing side to draw the double team away from screener.

3.b.  If a switch occurs (ie big defender on Burke), Burke should flair to the wing, current wing runs the baseline to clear out, and screener flairs top of the key and towards opposite wing.  This creates a clear out / mismatch where Burke (and excellent dribble drive penetrator) can go one on one against a big.


Never, ever, try to drible through a double team.  That is a disastor waiting to happen.


February 27th, 2012 at 1:08 PM ^

I looked at the NCAA rules recently re: charges and blocks because I was so frustrated with the inconsistency of the calls.  While doing this, I happened to see that it's an offensive foul for a ball-handler to try to dribble through two defenders (or a defender and the sideline) when there is no reasonable chance that he could fit through the relevant space (between the two defenders or between the defender and the sideline). 


February 27th, 2012 at 4:46 PM ^

Beilein touched on this issue during today's Big Ten coaches teleconference. From an article

Beilein said Purdue aggressively played the ball screen with larger defenders, notably 6-foot-10 forward Robbie Hummel,, which hindered Burke's ability to find his way into the lane.

After reviewing the film, Beilein explained that Purdue used both screen hedges and switches against Burke, something the freshman continues to work on fighting against.

"That's basketball, and he's still learning every day," Beilein said. "There's hedges at all different angles. Wisconsin hedges very different than Purdue hedges, and teams switch ball screens much differently than they used to. Is it a hedge, or is it a switch?

"Every game is going to be completely different, and as a result, we work on it endlessly to get him to work on those things. In the moment of action, he'll make a really great play or he'll make a play that he'll learn from in the days ahead. ... It's like a quarterback reading the blitz."