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The Play That Ended UCONN's 111-Game Winning Streak - Mississippi State Baseline Runner

- By Joe Haefner
This play was used consistently by Mississippi State throughout their run to the championship game during the 2017 NCAA Women's Basketball Tournament.  They used the play in many critical situations at the end of the game. In fact, they used it with a minute left in regulation to take the lead against UCONN. Eventually, Mississippi St won the game in overtime and ended UCONN's 111-game winning streak. It's a super simple play that is very effective when executed properly. Tip of the hat to Half Court Hoops for creating the video.
The initial set is a 1-4 low. You have one player up top and four players across the baseline. With this variation, the play is initiated when 2 cuts to the wing. 1 dribbles to 2 for a dribble hand off.
Frame 1
5 positions to set a screen on 1's defender. As soon as the handoff was made in the previous diagram, 3 starts to drift towards the lane.   Once 1 runs off of 5's screen, 3 crosses into the lane.  3 prepares to screen or cut to the opposite wing. 4 then gets in position to set a screen on the defender. 2 dribbles to the top of the key and slightly to the other side of the floor.  This sets them up for the pass to 1.
Frame 2
Defender Goes High - 0:00 In the first video clip, 3 chose to screen for 1.   However, 3 does not screen in most of the clips.  Here's why... x1 who is the defender guarding 1 chose to go high over the top of 5's screen. This put 3 in perfect position to screen x1.  It's hard to tell if this was planned or not, but it was a smart play.
Frame 3
x1 Goes Under The First Screen - Trails 1 - 0:13 When x1 goes under the screen, 3 cuts straight to the opposite wing. Since x1 went low, 4 also slides down to re-position and set a second screen for 1. Since x1 got caught on the screen, 1 cut straight to the corner. If x1 went under the screen, 1 might cut more towards the wing area. You can see this at 0:33 on the video. The beauty of this variation is that it makes it very difficult for 4's defender to help on the screen. 1 - The defender x4 is briefly distracted with watching 3 cut across the lane.   2 - x4 has to be aware of 4 flashing to an open spot or sealing. 3 - At the same time, 1 is cutting behind the defender x4's vision.  So the defender x4 might not even see the screen coming. 4 - Defender x4 can't slide down too low with 4 because they have to beware of 2 and possible dribble penetration.
Frame 4
Defender x4 Cheats On Screen And if the defender x4 decides to cheat on the pass and help out on 1, 4 flashes to the ball. If 2 sees this soon enough, they can use a ball fake to 1 to take x4 and x1 further out of position. While this would be rare, 2 still needs to be aware of 5's defender.   If x5 slid over to stop the pass to 4, they could simply pass the ball to 5.
Frame 5
1 Doesn't Cut Through - 5 Re-Screens - At 1:05 You notice that in some of the video clips that 1 doesn't cut through.  1 stops in the middle of the lane and comes back to the same side where they started. If x1 is too close or even getting ahead of 1, this is a smart counter. 5 turns around to re-screen for 1. 3 also needs to be aware of this.  If 1 stops, so should 3.  If 1 cuts back, then 3 cuts back too.
Frame 6
Variation - No Dribble Handoff Another variation is that the play doesn't start with a dribble handoff. 2 immediately cuts to the opposite corner and the play is run.
Frame 7
Defenders Switch Screen - Post Pass Counter - At 1:45 With this sequence, defenders x4 and x1 switch. If a mismatch occurs, 1 passes to 4 in the post. In the video, watch how 1 recognizes this, catches the ball, then immediately dribbles to a better passing angle to throw the ball into the post.
Frame 8
Pass into low post.
Frame 9
Note for youth coaches: If you're a youth or middle school coach, you shouldn't spend much time on plays during practice.  We elaborate on this concept and how it can stunt long-term development of your players in this article. However, it's not a bad idea to have one or two simple plays to use in special situations; like at the end of the game.   If you're going to teach this play, you shouldn't worry about teaching all of the counters.  You could just teach the initial play on diagram 2 and how to pass into the post on diagram 8. Personally, I've tried to teach a play similar to this with a middle school team and tried to teach all of the counters.  Long story, short... we spent hours of practice time and never fully executed it during the game.  So we wasted a lot of time that would have spent teaching kids how to play and how to improve individual skills.




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Paul says:
10/27/2017 at 10:22:55 AM

Love it. I see the need to have very bball smart kids running this, players who have their heads up and constantly analyzing the court. If you have players who put their head down and just run the play then defense will dominate and peel this offensive play apart.

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mark says:
10/27/2017 at 2:26:05 PM

does this play work against a zone defense or only man to man?

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Paul says:
10/27/2017 at 2:56:14 PM

Yes this would work against a zone because you can overload one side of the zone and force that defensive player in that area to pick which OFF player he is going to defend. This then opens the other OFF player for the shot/layup....etc....

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