How Houston contained Buddy Boeheim when no one else could

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In the first six games of Syracuse in March, Buddy Boeheim carried the Orange offensive. The defense tried different strategies to contain him, but he didn’t shoot worse than 40% in these games. He averaged 26 points per game and lit SU’s run from a borderline bubble team into the field of the NCAA tournament.

But his offensive tears ended in Sweet 16 against Houston on Saturday. The Cougars doubled in from the screens, and DeJon Jarreau spent most of the game shadowing Buddy. Syracuse’s Junior Guard scored just 12 points in 3v13, including 1v9 with 3 pointers, and ended up with their worst field goal percentage since February 6 against Clemson.

“I knew it was going to be a battle,” said Buddy after the game. “He just jammed me when I came off screens, jammed handoffs, whatever it was. He was just great. “

Here’s how the Cougars included the focus of Syracuse’s offense in the Orange’s 62-46 defeat – and what caused the rare breakdowns that happened in their defense:

The pieces that didn’t work

Double a screen and anticipate the roll pass

In this clip, Jarreau and Brison Gresham play Double Buddy after Quincy Guerrier shows up to create a ball screen. They throw the SU junior off balance when he bounces back a pass to Guerrier after rolling the key.

Marcus Sasser stepped in front of Guerrier before the passport arrived, anticipating the movement and covering the back of the double pack. He raced in the transition and rebuilt an open layup at the other end.

After Syracuse beat West Virginia in the round of 16, head coach Bob Huggins said the climbers knocked out Buddy even when he told them to stop switching.

“We wanted the size of Buddy and we turned the size off of him and he shot her over us and made three 3’s,” Huggins said.

Houston didn’t make the same mistake six days later. The Cougars held the 6-foot-5 Jarreau through screens on it and helped or doubled up instead of switching. This kept Buddy from sliding around a switch and limited how effectively he could make room while Jarreau was still holding on to him.

Double ball screen does not work

When Buddy cut on the key around the perimeter, Guerrier and Marek Dolezaj gave him two ball umbrellas to clear his way there.

But as he rolled around the screen, Houston secured two defenders from his open gaze – Kadary Richmond stayed on the wing open for a jumper if Syracuse wanted – and took away the 3-pointer on top of the key.


That meant Syracuse resorted to its section option as the piece evolved. Buddy’s shot was not open and there was no room to initiate a trip to the basket. Instead, Robert Braswell rolled over the same path as Buddy, and the junior guard hit Braswell with a bounce pass to lead him into an open late stage. But a trio of Houston defenders came together on Braswell and prevented an SU basket with a block.

Houston head coach Kelvin Sampson said after the game that Houston didn’t want to double the post. That would have meant rotations on the back, and help would have been necessary, which would have resulted in overt shooters like Buddy. The Cougars continued to guard the 3-point line and Syracuse continued to use lanes inside.


“You were there to help him, but he’s a really good defender,” said head coach Jim Boeheim after the game.

Jarreau face protective buddy

At the start of the season, Boeheim said he was surprised that the teams were guarding Buddy on the 3-point line with a face instead of helping inside. Jarreau does the same thing in this piece and stays with Buddy instead of helping Joe Girard III after he walks down the alley. Justin Gorham immediately doubles up to Buddy after receiving a handover from Dolezaj as well, forcing a dump about the doubles team back to Syracuse’s center.

That eventually leads to a spinning layup for Dolezaj, but Houston’s double prevented an open view for Buddy behind the arch – and also cut off the lane to bring Jarreau into the house.

Take away buddy’s inside game

When Jarreau took away Buddy’s gaze behind the arch, Syracuse’s junior was forced to take some indoor photos as well. He connected with 1: 4 open looks from the 3-point line, but could not get a shot this time. Jarreau stayed with Buddy as he drove toward Paint, and Dolezaj’s defender dropped to help – as did Richmond’s husband on the opposite wing.



Buddy returned to Dolezaj and the trio of defenders moved closer, giving Richmond an open look in the corner. He converted, but Syracuse was again forced to use a secondary option on the offensive, unlike Buddy.


“You watch him the last two games, he’s opened up a lot and crouched in and out of those screens,” said Sampson after the game. “But the key is that you have to stay out of his waist. You cannot stay in them. You have to be outside. And the big one has to help. “

The rare ones that did

The one open shot

Of Buddy’s 13 attempts to shoot against Houston, this was by far the most open. Much of his looks in the Orange’s last two tournament games were open, even if they were a step or two further behind the arch, but the Cougars and Jarreau prevented Buddy from getting the same looks on Saturday.

This sequence starts with Jarreau guarding Buddy, his husband, on the left wing before Buddy cuts under the basket – a typical curl route for him that usually includes a screen of a center along the way.



This time, however, Buddy doesn’t even get a real screen. Jarreau loses Buddy on the way when he wipes off Jesse Edwards, and he Faces around the perimeter before stopping on the wing. He has at least two steps before the nearest Houston close-out and converts the open 3-point chance.


The swimmer right in front of the block

During Buddy’s junior season, he refined an interior game that includes more options than in previous seasons. He assisted defenders before turning to look for a knight. He took two drops from the screens and pulled them up from his elbow. Or he took his defenders up to the blocks, ended layups through contact, and sometimes fouled.

In this frame, Buddy rolls around a screen from Guerrier and takes a pass from Girard. He doesn’t pull up for a 3-pointer, but keeps his momentum towards the basket – Jarreau follows and Girard’s defender tries to push the ball away from behind.

When Reggie Chaney begins to rise for a block, Buddy picks up a swimmer who hits the block and sits through the basket to bring Syracuse’s deficit down to seven to five minutes in the second half.

Screenshots via TBS.

Contact Andrew: [email protected] | @ CraneAndrew

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