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There are not many chances on a college basketball court for slight of hand. No hiding the ball under your shirt during a dribble like a Harlem Globetrotter or the And1 Mixtape Tour. You can however use deception to your advantage occasionally. There aren't a lot of chances to properly deceive your opponent, and the spots must be chosen wisely.

Trailing 76-73 out of their final time out in double overtime at Tulsa, Princeton drew up a play that deceived the Golden Hurricane players and started the Tiger push to victory. I've diagrammed what occurred using screen captures from Tulsa's web broadcast after the jump.

First of all, look at all the space Kareem Maddox has behind his defender. The Tigers pull four players to the perimeter with the offense overloaded on the left side. Maddox is frozen, staring up at Doug Davis for help, not showing his intended path. All indications are the action will move left.

Even the Tulsa radio announcer yelps "Maddox looks confused!" a split second before...

...Maddox's body language changes, Davis waves with his right hand and Maddox explodes past Joe Richard to his right, who fouls out grabbing Maddox on his way by.

Maddox made both free throws to cut the lead to one with 1:13 left. Princeton got the ball back when Ian Hummer reached in helpfully to create a jump ball as he tied up Justin Hurtt in the air on a drive into traffic.

Sticking with what worked, the Tigers ran their forwards though and brought them back out on each wing, giving Maddox similar space to attack with only one line of defense in front of him. The only difference is that Mavraides and Davis have switched sides.

Maddox used a crossover dribble to keep his man guessing, then was off down the right baseline for a reverse before Tulsa's defense on the other side of the basket could turn their heads and help. Princeton led by one with :34 showing.

No deception here, just great spacing and the Princeton staff recognizing an advantage. The four other Tigers are each set up in favorable locations as second options. If the defense sagged, would you complain about Hummer attacking off the left elbow, either Davis or Mavraides on their respective wings or Patrick Saunders in the far corner?

The first of these two buckets was my favorite bit of Princeton deception since the first game Sydney Johnson coached, where Johnson emphatically yelled at his team on the other end of the floor to get their hands up and play zone out of a time out late before suddenly changing into a completely different formation as soon as the ball was in play, catching Central Connecticut off-guard. Princeton won by two, 59-57.

Donald Stroetzel said,

December 14, 2010 @ 7:53 am


This analysis another great contribution. Keep it up. Adds an interesting dimension beyond play by play for fans. Don

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