Washington-ASU: Nitpicking an Impressive Husky Win, More Suggs at Two

Bryan LogContributor IFebruary 7, 2010

PORTLAND, OR - MARCH 21:  Venoy Overton #1 of the Washington Huskies goes up for a shot against Keaton Grant #5 of the Purdue Boilermakers in the first half during the second round of the NCAA Division I Men's Basketball Tournament at the Rose Garden on March 21, 2009 in Portland, Oregon.  (Photo by Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)
Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

What an awesome win!  The Huskies looked really good.  They had by far their best offensive game, consistently moving the ball widely and decisively from tip to final buzzer; their defense was highly disruptive; they dominated the boards.

As the team prepares to go back on the road, continuing to optimize their rotation will bolster their chances to succeed.  Below are a couple of notes to that end.

Pinning Holiday On a Perimeter Shooter Limits His Ability to Change the Game on D

For a good chunk of the second half, Justin Holiday was assigned to defend one of the sun devils' knock-down shooters, the big white guy.

Because Holiday is such a good man-defender, it is very enticing to assign him to the opposition's best perimeter scorer.  He will likely shut him down and take him out of his game.

As useful as that is, and I don't want to undersell the impact of such an outcome, it pins Holiday to the perimeter.  One of the facets in which holiday is special is his ability to recover.  He has consistently been able to roam off his man to make a play and recover to cover guy in excellent offensive position. 

While roaming, Holiday affects the game on almost every possession.  He excels at interrupting passes, taking away passing lanes, altering and blocking shots as a help-defender, and rebounding the basketball.

When pinned to the perimeter (or the block, as discussed in my most recent post), he is unable to affect the game in this way.  He is so effective at altering the game off his man, I think shutting down (completely!) a perimeter scorer is not even the most he can do for the Huskies.  He's that dominant.

In support of this claim, when Holiday was given the assignment, the Huskies' defensive rebounding dropped noticeably.  The strong post player for the Sun Devils was able to score against the Husky bigs one-on-one several times.  Had Holiday been free to roam, he would have been able to contest from behind, likely altering or blocking the shot.

Suggs the Solution

I think the Huskies would have been even stronger on defense by placing Scott Suggs on the perimeter player and assigning Holiday elsewhere.  Suggs is a strong fit for the assignment.  He has good length, solid quickness, positions himself well on defense, and consistently works hard.

Doing so would have allowed Holiday to insert himself into lanes and help off the ball, where he is dominant. 

Suggs at the Offensive Two Improves the Efficacy of the Huskies' Offense and Defense

I think the Huskies would be even more effective on offense with Suggs at the offensive two, instead of a second point guard.  His shooting spreads the floor, he moves the ball well, making good decisions consistently, he is a strong defender—he is long, he positions himself well, and he works hard consistently. 

On defense, more generally than the specific point above, Suggs is far longer than Thomas and Venoy; consequently, he is able to disrupt passing lanes, which Thomas especially is unable to do.  He also increases defensive flexibility, as he can be switched to defend many opposing threes. 

Other Notes:

MBA's strong passing

Who knew MBA was such an effective passer?  He is actually really talented!  His passes have been crisp and accurate, and I've noticed him many times finding the less-obvious pass, finding a teammate in a position to make a play, or really stretching the defense. 

He made several passes across the lane to the opposite wing tonight that I thought were really impressive.  

Venoy's baseline baskets

For a short guy, Venoy Overton is incredibly effective at scoring off passes on the baseline.  All season long, he's been effective at running the baseline, catching a pass and scoring in amongst the trees.