This isn’t a bad defensive team. However, there are certain things that the defense does poorly. Cronin’s matchup zone is probably the best defense to run for this type of team because our post players (Ellis, Clark, Deberry) are not quick enough to play man-to-man defense for forty minutes like the post players from the smaller 2013-14 team (Justin Jackson and Titus Rubles).
When a guard like Troy Caupain is picked by an opposing post player, it is the job of forward like Gary Clark to hedge the screen and slow down Caupain’s man so that Caupain has enough time to recover. One of the main problems with our defense is that our post players hedge for way too long which results in a somewhat ineffective double team on a ball handler outside the arc in open space and a wide open post player down low.
The other type of hedging occurs when a guard sets a screen for another guard outside the arc. This is where teams like Temple, Butler, and George Washington have had their success from three. When this happens, guards like Kevin Johnson or Farad Cobb hedge for too long and allow the opposing guard to pick and pop. This means that instead of just rolling off the screen toward the basket, they pop back out to the corner for a wide open three as one of the Bearcats try to recover before it’s too late.
The other major problem for the Bearcats defense revolves around defensive rebounding. Temple had 11 offensive rebounds. Iowa State had 15 offensive boards. Even though we beat Tulsa by nineteen, they still corralled 14. VCU had 16 which helped them stay in the game. If we are going to win this conference, we have got to protect the glass. We have a large frontline that doesn’t box out. One of the biggest culprits is Octavious Ellis. Ellis is a good athlete who can really jump, but he allows many offensive rebounds because he only relies on his legs.
If the Bearcats can mitigate or fix these problems, then they will be in good shape, but if they do not, more losses will come to inferior opponents who just want it more.