Panthers need perimeter defense against YSU

After two home games to start the Horizon League season, the Milwaukee Panthers will hit the road for the first time in 2016 as they travel to take on the Youngstown State Penguins Thursday night. This will be the first of four consecutive road games for the Panthers.
The Penguins are going through an identity crisis, caused by the loss of Bobby Hain to a foot injury several games ago. Hain was the third-leading scorer on the Penguins roster in addition to being their leading rebounder. He’s expected to miss between 4-8 weeks.
The majority of the Penguins offense ran through Hain but now with him no longer available as an inside anchor, the Penguins have been forced to make several changes to their team. They have gone to more of a spread up-tempo offense. Their pace is significantly quicker than prior to the Hain injury as they attempted 85 shots in Saturday’s win over Oakland.
Another change they have made following the injury was a willingness to shoot a lot more three-pointers then they did earlier in the season. They attempted 32 three pointers and hit half of them in the victory of over Oakland. Looking at those that were attempted, 31 of the 32 were attempted between four players.
The three barrage is led by Junior Forward Matt Donlan who shoots over six three-pointers per game while making almost 47% of his attempts from outside. After Donlan, the Penguins get the majority of their production from their backcourt as Cameron Morse and Jordan Andrews combined to take 28 shots, including 15 three pointers against the Grizzles.
The Panthers are again going to face a lot of three-point shots. Perimeter defense continues to be a problem area for the Panthers largely because of defensive philosophy the Panthers are using called switching. Switching is when a defense exchanges a guard for a bigger defender who is normally an inside player. Switching can be a useful defensive strategy if it is executed properly. The goal of switching is to get a longer and taller defender onto a three-point shooter in the hopes of disrupting the rhythm of the shooter. Switching is problematic when it is not executed properly. When the defensive guard peels back it becomes the responsibility of the taller defender to complete the switch.
The Panthers are giving up a large amount of three-pointers because they are not getting the switch completed before the opponent shoots the three-pointer. If you are going to switch the post defender has to have the speed to be able to get out to the three-point shooter. If either the communication or the physical speed portion of the switch is not handled the result is open three-point shooters. If that continues to be the case the Panthers will need to consider not switching on defense because they are not benefiting from switching due to the amount of treys they are allowing.
The Penguins play a good amount of zone on defense. A misconception about a zone defense is that you can get three pointers against a zone. The truth is that is exactly what the defense would love you to do. Take a quick rushed three merely because it seems open. The proper way to attack a zone is to get the ball into the middle of it and either attack the rim from there or kick the ball back outside depending on what the defense allows. The Panthers need to be disciplined and attack the zone properly. Secondly, zone defenses typically have a hard time securing defensive rebounds because you do not block out a person but rather an area. The Panthers need to be opportunistic and prepared to follow missed shots because offensive rebounds should be there for the taking. Handling the zone properly on offense and being prepared for rebounds will go a long way toward the Panthers getting their first road conference victory of the season.

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