Monday, April 16, 2012

Eurochallenge F4: Besiktas

When you take a look at Besiktas' roster you can be mistaken. I say so because you can think this is the kind of team that mixes a lot of big names and let them play hoping the'll bring the wins only because they make a lot of money, so they must be really good, so they'll make a good team. No. Coach Ataman is one of the best coaches of the last decade and he has made a tough and well organized group. Of course, they have high talented players, but there is more.

They are the top favourite to win 2011-12 Eurochallenge Final Four in Debrecen (by the way, I recommend everyone to come and spend some great basketball days in this beautiful city) and I want to give you a quick look at some of their virtues and their main schemes from the coach's point of view.

After watching their games, the first thing that comes to my mind is, they score a lot of easy points. Points coming off second chances after offensive rebounds, and (this is one of the things I love from them) points off Pops Mensah Bonsu fastbreaks. Take a look at how quick he runs the court as soon as they have the defensive rebound (sometimes, when he challenges the shot, he gets ready even before they get the rebound, and this is a risk, but they seem to feel fine about that risk, as most of the times works well for them) and also when they steal the ball. He's the first running and for the rival team bigs it's really hard to follow him.

Let's talk about their half court offense. They have a clear tendency to play ball screen situations. Having such a talented group of players, both bigs and smalls, they find many options to score.

One of the situations they have been running more often is this down screen followed by a ball screen. They create a triangle between the ball handler, the screener (again, Mensah Bonsu with his athleticism is really dangerous rolling towards the basket) and the other big (Zoran Erceg is allways a threat from the three point line) and they are patient enough to look for the best possible advantage. Sometimes it will be the roll man (their fans love when they finish this action with an alley hoop) sometimes they will read the defensive helps and find a wide open shot, or if the defensive rotation works well and avoids that shot, they'll give an extra pass to the corner, looking for the inside pass from there.

Let's not stop talking about ball screens but let's make a stop now to talk about two of their key players, Carlos Arroyo and Zoran Erceg. Arroyo is so good playing these situations... Whenever they are in trouble, or if they need a safe play (end of the shotclock, end of quarter...) or they feel like scoring quickly in transition, they will look for him and he'll "make it happen" And I've already talked about him, but let's stress Zoran Erceg's role and his biggest threat. Pick and pop situations. Really dangerous. He forces the defense to take some risks and decide what they want to defend first. Stop the ball handler, avoid Erceg's shot, leave a third player wide open... He's a deadly shooter and has one of the quickest releases in European basketball.

They have many different sets to pass the ball inside, but I've chosen this one as they seem to feel really comfortable running it. I've seen them start some games with this one, and that means they're sure it is a very good option to score the first basket of the game. Two off ball screens for the wing and a baseline "small - big" screen to receive near the basket.

As usual, most of the time, the simpler the better. They run many times this simple diamond situation (most of the top level teams use it quite frequently) to let their players read the defense and find the best option. It could be a wide open shot coming off the mid post screen. It could be a strong curl to finish with a short shot or an extra pass for the screener. It could be a drive and kick for the opposite side post or the shooter beyond the three point line. If the defense manages to stop the first options, they will run a side screen. And again, the sign of being a great team, they are patient enough to keep playing, and find different options, for example the wing giving the ball back to the point guard and a back screen followed by the screener's mid range shot, or to swing the ball and looking for the inside pass.

Finally, I'd like to show you how well they play against zone defenses. They play easy, they fill the right spots (high post) they keep the right spacing and find the right pass or the best shot. High - low action and high post threat are the keys for them to beat the zone.

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