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Final Four's favorite plays

4/3/2004

The Final Four teams each have a play, a set, a way of moving on offense, that when a basket is needed, they will more often than not signal to in the Alamodome.

Watch for these "sets" on Saturday night in both national semifinal games.

Duke
Duke's offense consists mainly of fast-break opportunities in transition, a simple "motion" offense with spacing that allows for a lot of dribble penetration and ball screeens to free Chris Duhon to drive into the heart of the defense and make good "reads."

The Blue Devils' set plays are very simple, but effective because Mike Krzyzewski is looking for specific opportunities to exploit his team's talents.

In this set, Luol Deng (4) sets a ball screen at the top of the key for Duhon (1), who tries to drive into the lane or draw J.J. Redick's man (3). Duhon's pass to Redick is what we call a "penetration-and-kick" 3-point shot.

Now, if Duhon can't turn the corner, he passes back to Deng (4) for the 3-pointer or the post-feed inside to Shelden Williams (5)

Connecticut
UConn is another team that has a number of "favorite" plays. But here is a set play which has a number of options that fit the Huskies' explosive personnel.

Here, Ben Gordon (2) hits Taliek Brown (1) with a pass, who has cut off Emeka Okafor's pick (5), for a quick post-up move.

Another option off this set sees Brown (1) use Okafor's screen (5) to dribble to the middle as Gordon (2) comes off Rashad Anderson's screen (3) looking for a jump shot.

Finally, if Gordon (2) catches the pass and doesn't have a shot, Anderson (3) and Josh Boone (4) set a staggered double screen for Okafor (5), who posts up for the high percentage shot.

Georgia Tech
Because Georgia Tech is a transition-orientated team, it likes to run some set plays right out of its fast break. Ths makes it difficult for defenders to react, because they are mainly concerned about retreating to build their halfcourt defense.

Here is an example of how the Yellow Jackets can set up a play on the break.

Here, Jarrett Jack (1) dribbles at Marvin Lewis (2), who proved against Nevada just how good a shooter he can be, and hands the ball off to Lewis.

As Lewis (2) dribbles to the top of the key, Anthony McHenry (4) screens down for B.J. Elder (3) as Lewis passes to Elder.

As Elder dribbles out, Jack (1) cuts off McHenry's screen and Luke Schensher (5) sets a "flare" screen for Lewis (2). Elder picks out to the open spot on the floor.

Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State actually runs a "set play" offense that has a lot of bread-and-butter, or favorite, plays. So, when we talk about OSU's set plays, there isn't a lot of room for freelancing.

Here is a play, however, that the Cowboys ran as soon as they touched the ball against Saint Joseph's in the East Rutherford final. I'd say that qualifies as a "favorite" play.

John Lucas (1) starts the play by dribbling to Daniel Bobik (2), who takes a handoff from the Cowboys' point guard.

As Bobik dribbles back to the left at the top of the key, Joey Graham (4), Ivan McFarlin (5) and Tony Allen (3) each set a triple screen for Lucas as he runs the baseline for a 3-pointer.

As we know, Lucas can hit this shot (just ask St. Joe's). But his first look is inside for a cutting McFarlin, who is getting a screen across from Allen. If Georgia Tech is able to cut off the pass inside, well, Lucas won't hesitate to shoot the 3-pointer.