Michigan Basketball: Michigan vs. VCU — Preview — Wolverines Mission Protect From Havoc

Posted at 11:00pm — 3/22/2013

Michigan Basketball: Michigan vs. VCU — Preview — Wolverines Mission Protect From Havoc

The Michigan-Virginia Commonwealth game has been billed by some as the potential game of the tournament. The reason for this is the great contrast in styles, both on offense and defense. Both teams can run transition and that is where the similarities end.

Shaka Smart made no secret upon being hired that any player who wanted to be a part of the VCU program would need to play tough, on the ball defense with no let up. This philosophy has been given a title, havoc.

Mar 21, 2013; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Virginia Commonwealth Rams head coach Shaka Smart reacts to a play in the first half against the Akron Zips during the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at The Palace. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Havoc involves pressing full court the entire game. The typical set up is what some term the 421, or some may call this press the 1-2-1-1 full court. There are times the press looks like a more aggressive 422. Upon entry close to the baseline a second defender joins the primary defender. The preferred location is toward the sideline and close to the corner. This forces the offensive man to pass over two men. If the offense can make one weak pass that does not advance the ball far, then another trap opportunity ensues.

Havoc also likes to trap at half-court, preferably against an offensive player, who like a fly heading toward a spider web, ends up at the sideline.

Havoc is not only pressing, but also slapping, putting the hand in the face, and playing pressure on the ball all of the time. Do not hesitate, move the ball.

Havoc intends to physically wear a team out, but also havoc may be more beneficial by mentally wearing a team down. Intimidation, fear, and hesitation are intended by-products of havoc.

Mar 21, 2013; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Tim Hardaway Jr. (10) dribbles the ball while being shielded by South Dakota State Jackrabbits guard Brayden Carlson (12) in the first half during the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at The Palace. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

The argument is that Michigan has the point guard and the athletes to beat the press. The truth is that such a well in-place system with long athletes cannot be cracked by one player. An effective plan and precise execution is needed. Michigan has at times struggled with the press this year, especially in end game situations. The team has appeared to not have an effective way to break pressure, other than Trey Burke breaking a press. They are great ball handlers on the floor for Michigan. A guy that can take two dribbles and get to the rim is not necessarily a great ball handler; he just has a good move. Spike has been a little shaky against good pressure from good athletes.

What will Michigan do to combat this formidable press? One way is to get the ball in quickly and reverse the ball to the opposite side as the two defenders are springing a trap. Get the ball up the floor as quick as possible and have relief ready down the center of the court. A second method is to attack the press by throwing over the initial trap. This may entail bringing Mitch McGary down court and having the ball go to him up high. He would then need to either reverse the ball backward to a guard that frees up or attacking full speed ahead with a second pass. In the perfect world, two quick passes to the right spot can create two on one opportunities at the rim. Michigan has rarely shown the second method and has either reversed the ball or just simply have Trey Burke bring the ball up and beat the press single-handedly.

VCU is not a great half-court offensive team and succeeds by forcing turnovers for easy points, much like Ohio State, but unlike Ohio State, constant and full-court all the time. But sadly Michigan’s defense allows teams great shooting nights.

Mar 21, 2013; Auburn Hills, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines guard Trey Burke (3) moves the ball on South Dakota State Jackrabbits forward Tony Fiegen (34) in the first half during the second round of the 2013 NCAA tournament at The Palace. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

To win this game, Michigan needs to break the press and not create turnovers. In addition Michigan must play at least average defense and be in rebounding position. VCU can be beat down the middle, but the press must be broken and the defense spread.

Passing, especially quick preplanned passes may be critical to Michigan’s chances. If Michigan plays lazy, throws lazy passes, dribbles all over the place against this defense, or has no idea where to throw the ball when the trap occurs, then the game could be in VCU’s control. When games are in VCU’s control, a win is the usual result. Get back on transition!

This game will tell exactly how hard Michigan is willing to work, play basic defense, and run to get back on defense. There will be little margin of error and Michigan will need to play in a manner that neutralizes VCU’s strength. It would not hurt to take care of the ball and play with enough discipline to take good shots as well. It would not hurt if fouls will be called fouls.

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff

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Topics: #GoBlue, Big Ten Conference, Go Blue, Michigan Wolverines

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