Marshall Thundering Herd’s Transition “O” — Drags & Slips

The Marshall Thundering Herd, under the leadership of Dan D’Antoni, the younger brother of Houston Rockets Head Coach Mike D’Antoni, have fully adopted the “7 seconds or Less” concept when it comes to its offense. What makes this Run-‘N’-Gun style of attack so difficult to guard is how well Marshall manipulates the floor to create advantages, on the move, that places the defense in precarious positions almost every time down the floor. Let’s take a look at how its transition offense gives fits to any defense who dare tries to slow the Thundering Herd stampede down.

“Single Drag — Empty”

(Video & Breakdown Courtesy of Radius Athletics)

Transition offense is the bread & butter of the Marshall Thundering Herd. In this first example, called a drag action, the tenants and principles of this team’s system are on display. Notice as the point guard (#33) brings the ball down the right side of the floor that all four of his teammates are off to the left-hand side of the floor. The guards/wings form a “two-side” and the other big is in a trail position behind the play. This is what Marshall has intended on purpose. D’Antoni often likes to run his drag, double drags and miscellaneous other transition actions with an empty corner.

Empyting the corner is an odd subtlety that can mess with a defensive team’s rotation since it is more uncommon than it is otherwise. Hence, as #11 comes downward to set the drag screen another nuance becomes noticeable. Marshall LOVES to slip many of its ball-screens. The decision to slip ball-screens is very hard on any and all switching defenses. This is because teams that like to switch might not communicate loud and early enough, or perhaps might simply get lazy and attempt to jump the switch before it happens. Since #11 breaks off the screen early and indeed slips, he has an easy path to the rim as #33 floats a beautiful lob pass toward the rim for the slam dunk.

Takeaways:

— Marshall will run their transition actions toward an empty corner to negate any and all possible help options from the defense.
— Slipping ball-screens is a tenant of many transition actions that the Thundering Herd run.
— Slips on ball-screens CAPITALIZE on switch-oriented or lazy/non-communicative defenses.

“Double Drag”

(Video & Breakdown Courtesy of Radius Athletics)

In addition to single drags, Marshall will mix up its variation of the same drag concept by bringing to two players into the equation as ball-screeners in transition. The setup is a little different than the last one as since there are two players going to screen. Therefore, the Thundering Herd makes the decision to fill both corners.

In this example, you’ll see something similar to what we just saw in the last play. Watch as #11, the first screener out front slips the ball-screen again and rim-runs to the painted area. The defender actually does a decent job at first of trying to level off the rim-running big. But, the pass by #33 is floated so nicely over-the-top that there is nothing the defender can do once he gets too far back on his heels. The play results in a tough finish around the rim for two points.

This is yet another instance in which the slipping of a ball-screen versus making contact and rolling, results in an easy opportunity at the rim for Marshall out of its transition flow.

Takeaways:

— Marshall sets this action up with a guard occupying each corner of the halfcourt.
— #11 again slips to the rim (never sets the screen) and scores off the pretty lob.

“Double Drag — Empty — Reject”

(Video & Breakdown Courtesy of Radius Athletics)

Our last example incorporates a little bit of each of the previous two actions we have looked at to this point. In this example, although it is hard to tell, the strong-side, or ball-side corner is actually empty (this is indicated by Radius Athletics with the green box at the beginning). Now, not only is there a two-side formed by the guards on the weak-side, (two-side meaning two players on the same of the court), but now Marshall is engaging in a double-drag action WITH an empty corner.

This example is very much reminiscent of the first video in which four players were all on one side of the floor as well. Yet, in this case, what #33 does is genius in this situation. Instead of using the double-drag and going into the traffic, he actually slows his body up and then crosses over into an explosive first-step dribble move that enables him an easy path right by the defender with a whole side of the floor to operate on. We call what the #33 does in this situation as a “reject.” “Reject” means that a player turns down or does not use a screen and instead goes away from it. This sudden change of direction catches #33’s defender on the back of his heels and gives the attacking point-guard a quick upper-hand as he goes to finish at the rim.

Takeaways:

– Setup to this action resembles the “Single Drag” (one screener) action with an “Empty” corner
– Marshall PG, #33, “Rejects,” or turns down the ball-screen to take advantage of the empty side of the floor.

Wrap-Up:

So, as you can see, the Marshall Thundering Herd’s transition attack is indeed as lethal as there is in college basketball. This is, of course, is just a minute sample size. There are numerous other examples of how Marshall plays with an aggressive tempo off of both makes and misses alike. I hope you enjoyed this dive into the Marshall Thundering Herd transition offensive attack. Let me know what you think about what you saw here in the comments below.

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