A Week of Bad Defense in the Big 10 When it Mattered Most


I do not like the Big 10, a tradition-bound, ponderous bag of blow hars pomposity.  I derive great pleasure when Big 10 teams are humbled in inter-conference play in football or basketball, but opportunities for this sort of pleasure are scarce in the throes of conference play so I had to look a little deeper.  I was not disappointed as two Big 10 teams that have spent much of the year in the top 5 produced shambolic defensive displays when it matteres most and inspired this post.

Indiana-Illinois midweek tied at 72.  Illinois inbounding the ball in the offensive end, but deep in the corner with .9 on the clock.  This is a catch and shoot only.  Defensively do not foul, protect the rim and force a catch going away from the basket to make the shot difficult if not impossible.  Indiana will not win the game from this position, but the objective is not to lose it.  They did.  Indiana made the incomprehensible decision to guard the ball straight up, and body up man without apparent emphasis on staying basket side allowing Tyler Griffey to come clean at the basket after a twist play with a clear passing lane for the in bounder.

Indiana should have left the inbounder unguarded using the fifth defender to cover the basket thereby allowing the remaining defenders to be more aggressive in forcing their men away from the basket to catch, or guarded the inbounder with a long player hard on the basket shoulder obstructing a direct pass to the basket and again forcing a catch away.  Bad stuff.  Indiana loses.

Yesterday, Michigan hit a three with 2.4 seconds left to lead Wisconsin 60-57.  As is common in the over-coached, but underwhelmingly so Big 10, Wisconsin calls timeout allowing Michigan to think through a classic foul or defend situation.  Wisonsin was inbounding full court.  2.4 seconds equates to two dribbles and thus a great opportunity to foul.  Wisconson set up three players at midcourt who ran horizontally to get open on the move with the ability to gey their shoulders turned to the basket to shoot.  Michigan defenders hugged these cutters allowing them to turn and gain leverage against them.  The third horizontal cutter caught the ball near midcourt with defender on his hip shoulders turn making it a difficult fouling situation and hit a halfcourt shot to force overtime.  Michigan should not have bodied these cutters, but stayed basket side slightly looser which would have made the catch easier, but more likely to be with back to basket and/ or requiring a dribble to shoot.  This would have enabled Michigan to foul and prevent a game tying three.

Bravo Big 10.

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