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Terps Break Press, Own Momentum

Clemson is known as having one of the stingier defenses in the ACC and its press is vaunted as well. But last night Maryland had little trouble breaking it down and moving the ball past midcourt.

The problems began for the Terps seemingly after the hard part of the task was complete.

Little more than a minute into the second half, Greivis Vasquez made a nifty pass to a wide open Sean Mosley, who missed a lay-up and then fouled the Clemson defender who rebounded the ball. At that point, Maryland trailed by six.

Less than six minutes later, Cliff Tucker also missed an open lay-up attempt. At that point, Maryland trailed by 14.

Those are just two examples of Maryland's struggles to put the ball in the basket. There were plenty others, to be sure. But the missed lay-ups stood out to Gary Williams, who remarked how they helped negate Maryland's success at breaking down Clemson's press defense.

Williams also praised Clemson's ability to recover once their initial plan faltered.

"We press quite a bit, so in practice everyday we're going against the press against each other, so that's probably an advantage," Williams said. "But where Clemson was really good was when they got out of their press, when we broke it and didn't score, they were able to set up their drop-back defense and really take us out of our offense, which a lot of teams don't do. They have trouble matching up or whatever, but Clemson did a really good job in their transition out of their press tonight."

By Steve Yanda  |  February 19, 2009; 7:22 AM ET
Categories:  Men's basketball  
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Comments

You know the old adage, "team that press are not good at beating a press"? Rafferty talked about it maybe 35 times the other night. When you think about it for more than 5 seconds it really makes perfect sense. All presses work differently, MDs funnels to the sideline and corners, some funnel to the middle to create double teams there, some tempt you to lob over the top, etc. And each of them has the best way to beat the individual press. So a team that faces it's own press each day in practice will develop habits on how to beat that specific press. How could they not? However in a game facing a DIFFERENT press the "good" habits they have formed to beat THEIR press may feed directly into the press the other team is running, become "bad" habits and create turnovers. I would hypothesize a team that runs the same press your team runs will have little to no success running that press on you. You have seen it you know how to beat it. A team that runs no press at all may have moderate success breaking your press because they have no built in press breaking habits. They have a punchers chance. A team that runs a drastically different press may have a ton of trouble because they will fall back on what worked in practice which won't work in the game. Habits are hard to break under pressure and they could just turn the ball over and over again.

Just a thought I had that seemed on topic. Perhaps it was the scotch talking but it made perfect sense to me at the time.

Posted by: Lee26 | February 19, 2009 12:05 PM | Report abuse

lee25: So a team that faces it's own press each day in practice will develop habits on how to beat that specific press."

In other words, you're well prepared to play against something you see every day in practice, but that very practice becomes a handicap if your opponent's approach is different from what you see every day in practice?

Pass the scotch.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 19, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Well yeah, basically. Think of it this way. A fast ball and a split finger fastball and a change up look the same right. Lets say you take cuts at fast balls and change ups all the time. The split finger fastball is a pitch you are going to really struggle with. More so possibly than someone who just practices hitting fastballs.

Maybe thats a bad analogy. I guess you would have to really get into the different presses and the best way to beat them. But if the best way to beat YOUR press is the worst way to beat THEIR press then what you end up doing over and over again in practice, which you will have an inclination to revert to due to classical conditioning and repetition, will actually hinder your ability to beat their press.

Let's just assume the best way to beat a press which forces you to the sideline is to pass the ball back to the inbounder and he advances the ball up the middle of the floor. In this press the guy on the backside stays at home and teh guy on the inbounds goes to double team. This is pretty much how MD was breaking Clemson's press(which funnels to the sideline just like MDs although MDs goes more towards the corner) the other night. Remember Dave Neal bringing the ball up the middle multiple times? But imagine a press in which the guy on the backside doesn't stay home or the guy on the ball isn't the guy going to double on the sideline the double team is coming from up court. That quick pass out of the double team to the inbounder would then be right to a waiting defender under the basket for an easy basket for the pressing team. You follow me? In the heat of the moment with two guys coming at you and 10,000 plus (not in Dukes high school gym, but everywhere else) screaming fans you revert to the habit of the pass back to the inbounder which in this case is hurting you.

I'm 100% sober now and still think it makes good sense. A press is just like a pass defense in football. If you practice vs a press cover two for 6 straight months and then see a zone look where the corners drop and the safeties come up and play zone underneath you're going to throw to what looks like open receivers and get picked more often than not...

Posted by: Lee26 | February 19, 2009 3:38 PM | Report abuse

Rereading your post perhaps you were agreeing. If so, salude.

Posted by: Lee26 | February 19, 2009 3:39 PM | Report abuse

I did agree, actually. I was just looking for a drink.

Posted by: Samson151 | February 19, 2009 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Being a Terps fan, we're all always looking for a drink...

Posted by: Lee26 | February 19, 2009 8:46 PM | Report abuse

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