Spacing, spacing, spacing

As an addendum to my Florida State – Wake Forest preview, this is a look at a topic that has come up quite a bit with the newfound offense of the Seminoles: spacing. I’ve been throwing that term around a lot since the Princeton game, in previews, recaps and on twitter. It’s generally been accompanied by some descriptor like ‘sucks’ or ‘great.’ The resaon I’ve been harping on it is that FSU switched to a 3-guard lineup and have tweaked their attack to take advantage of spreading teams out. So, I dug up a play from the Duke game which contains examples of both good and poor spacing. I’ll walk through it using screen captures, and then you can watch the video at real speed.

This was a 2nd half inbounds play from the baseline in Saturday’s game. After the ball is in and the players are situated, note that Bernard James (circled) is the only player inside the 3-pt line (actually, Dulkys is in, but not for long). Jeff Peterson passes the ball cross court to Ian Miller.


Once Miller (circled) gets the ball, Bernard James comes out to set a screen. But Okaro White (where you going, bro?) inexplicably begins to drift into the open space created by the departing James. What he should be doing here is screening to get Peterson to the corner, or just diving to the corner himself.


What should have been a clearout for Ian Miller to take Austin Rivers off the dribble gets closed down when Okaro went where he wasn’t supposed to go. So a play which began with great spacing and would have resulted in Miller breaking down the Duke defense got stymied by bad spacing later in the play. On the video you can see coach Hamilton reach his hand out when White drifts into the middle, willing him back like Obe Wan Kenobi trying to use the force. It was not with him.

Miller, seeing his lane taken away, dumps the ball back to Peterson. Again, Ham uses the force and this time it works. He motions White toward Peterson and White sets the screen. You’ll notice he sets the screen on Peterson’s left, when the play clearly wants to go right. This is because White really isn’t setting a screen. He’s decoying just to get his man out of the way so that Peterson can drive baseline.


Peterson goes baseline and draws the help defense but passes up what looks like an easy alley-oop to Bernard James. This is where Peterson’s size really hurts him. A larger guard could have executed that pass. Luckily, Austin Rivers is completely out of position (too far from the baseline) so Peterson is able to avoid what should have been a turnover and can kick the ball to Dulkys.


Dulkys immediately swings the ball to Ian Miller and Jeff Peterson reverses and gets out of there. This leaves a nice pocket for Miller to drive into and score on an 8′ jumper. In the video, note Dulkys rotating back to the defensive end as soon as he realizes Miller is going to shoot.

Here it is at full speed (once you hit play, click on the youtube button to view at full size). Use the force.