Inside the Play: Transition Offense

The Big Ten, for the most part, features tougher defensive teams that play at a slower tempo. With that being said, it’s extremely important for teams to capitalize on opportunities to score without setting up a half-court offense. It just so happens that Michigan has become a pretty good defensive team, forcing about 14 turnovers a night. Despite being far from a transition team as a whole, the Wolverines have been willing to run in spots and that’s allowed them to convert timely opportunities in transition, whether off a turnover or a defensive rebound. We are going to look at two transition breaks versus Wisconsin while focusing on the following elements:

  1. First two dribbles
  2. Running the lane
  3. Putting pressure on the defense

Transition Break #1: Defensive Rebound

When attempting to run in transition off a defensive rebound, it’s important that you first get the rebound. (Naturally.) Michigan gets a contest on the shot and four guys are in the paint, which is a recipe for securing anything that comes off the rim assuming everyone boxes out.

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First Two Dribbles

The key to this fast break is that Evan Smotcyz can handle the ball well enough to push it once he gets the rebound. He wastes zero time looking for a guard. And guess what? He’s over the half court line in three dribbles. Coach Beilein harps on getting over in two dribbles but this is close enough, especially for a big man.

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Putting Pressure on the Defense

Now, Zack Novak makes this play. He sees that Wisconsin is somewhat back and the chances that he gets a layup are pretty slim. However, you’re taught to put pressure on the defense until someone stops you. So he drives anyway, and it just so happens that he sucks the defense in and draws help. Novak stops on two feet (very key to avoid the charge), and hits the open trailer, Tim Hardaway Jr., for a three.  This is a secondary break ran to perfection. The primary fast break didn’t net an easy scoring opportunity, but Novak’s secondary drive to the hoop did.

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Full Speed:

Transition Break #2: Fast Break off a Steal

First Two Dribbles

Again, the first two dribbles are so important when scoring in transition. After Stu Douglass gets his hand on the ball, it’s Trey Burke vs. Josh Gasser. Yes, Jordan Taylor is the last defender, however, the true battle is between Burke and Gasser. Trey Burke makes this a one-on-one instead of a one-on-two with his explosion using his first two dribbles. Although Gasser and Burke started from the same line, Burke got out of the gate quicker and is over the half court line in two dribbles. Just like Coach Beilein teaches.

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Stop on Two and Shield the Ball

This is a big time play and that’s all I can say. Jordan Taylor stripped Trey Burke on a drive earlier in the first half but the young grasshopper learns quickly. Learning from his mistake in the first half, Burke slows down when he reaches Taylor, stops on two feet, and shields the ball with his body. He’s now in a position of strength and can leap off the floor with power to finish while taking the slap on the arm.

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How about a little chest bump too.

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Full Speed:

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  • sane1

    Great analysis. I have to say, though, that both Smotrycz and Hardaway leading the break make me nervous. There was a play against NW(IIRC) where Hardaway got the ball and dribbled down the middle of the court. His wings had released early and were out wide and ahead of the defenders. Instead of passing the ball up the court, he continued his dribble and missed a chance for an easy transition basket.

    • http://www.umhoops.com/ Dylan Burkhardt

      I see your point on Smotrycz but I think Hardaway makes some good things happen on the break. I know Beilein always emphasizes that he wants him to dribble and push. He’s had some turnovers, I think I remember the same play against Northwestern, but he’s made a lot happen too. I think the reward out weighs the risk with Hardaway much more than Smotrycz, especially because it makes Tim play a more aggressive brand of basketball.

  • anonymatt

    I love me some Trey Burke. Is it just me or does he take an extra NBA step to finish his layup?

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