Just a few days after losing to Gonzaga with struggles on both ends of the court, the Virginia basketball team didn’t solve all of its problems Wednesday night at Notre Dame, but the Hoos took a step in the right direction in a 66-57 win. The victory kept Tony Bennett undefeated in ACC openers as well.
The Double Bonus is back for a closer look.
This edition starts on offense where the Cavaliers committed heavily to their 3-man motion or triangle motion scheme in this game. This isn’t a new concept – we’ve seen it in the past and in a few select instances earlier this season – but this is a great game to revisit what it is plus some new wrinkles the Hoos added to it.
So, first, what is it? The 3-man motion scheme is simple from a basic principles standpoint. The Cavaliers put three players in the middle of the floor; if you draw a pair of lines halfway between the free throw lane line and the 3-point line on the sides on each side, the three interior triangle players stay mostly in between that area and work together through motion to create offense. Typically, there are four basic actions happening between those three players – pass and cut, pin down screen, UCLA back/up screen, or ball screen. The remaining two players spot up outside the 3-point line on the sides. Those two players serve as spot-up shooters, pressure relief valves if the interior three are stuck with ball movement, or as side screen and roll options if one of the three interior players passes and then follows into a ball screen.
Since this set-up is based in motion principles, it can look different possession to possession and even within a possession if one of three interior players makes a read that flashes outside of the middle. Sometimes, though not too often at all, when one of the three interior players cuts outside but doesn’t get the ball, one of the outside players will cut inside and become part of the interior group.
The Wahoos spent almost the entire game in their 3-man motion offense. By my unofficial count, they called for the 3-man set on at least 33 possessions (17 in the first half and 16 in the second half). The Synergy Sports data tagged 50 halfcourt man possessions in total so using those two numbers, UVA ran 3-man motion approximately 66% of the time. Kihei Clark, who...
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