Stopping the Trae Train...
Good luck stopping Trae! Our best bet is that he just has an off night.
But I’m not saying we can’t impact his performance tonight. I am convinced we can!
Different theories include:
STOPPING TRAE DIRECTLY - I think every team attempts this. Hey… someone has to go out and at least try to guard him. But has anyone really been able to stop Trae? I would say… no. The only player to stop Trae has been Trae himself.
STOPPING TRAE INDIRECTLY - I wish we could have had TRele travel to Norman with the team. He was so so good at denying the players he guarded from ever receiving the ball. His defense was pro-active, meaning, he hedged his defense into the passing space as well as guarded quite close with his guy not even having the ball. Travis usually didn’t have to face some of the problems of off-ball screens because he was so close to his man that he could follow him right off his trailing line through screens.
STOPPING EVERYONE NOT NAMED TRAE - To some degree, we have to be careful with this idea because if it means we lay off Trae, he might just put up 100 points against us! He wouldn’t care. He wants to win.
Traditional thoughts are around the 3 areas above.
Why not think about Trae in a non-traditional way?
What if we basically just FORGET his effectiveness all together and just focus on a 40-minute strategy? What does this mean? It means we use a strategy to WEAR DOWN Trae so he becomes ineffective down the stretch of the game, when the game outcome is decided.
Just look at how OU uses Trae now. They usually run ISOs for Trae instead of setting him up with high ball screens. I recently heard Fran talk about how he thinks they need to run more high ball screens for him in order to better integrate Trae’s game with a “team ball” concept… utilizing other players better.
What Fran misses from this, and why Fran is talking about basketball while Lon is coaching it… Lon knows that high ball screens create an opportunity for the defense to wear down the ball handler. Teams, like Kansas, can use high ball screens as a kind of trap against the ball handler. Any player-to-player contact creates wear and tear on the players in contact.
Let’s think about different ways to wear down Trae tonight. Typically, double-teaming is a great way to do that, but isn’t necessarily effective against Trae because he so easily shreds double-teams with his handles.
USE AN AGGRESSIVE DEFENDER - In our case, that would mean Devonte. But just how much of Devonte’s total game are we willing to sacrifice to also wear down Devonte on Trae? And might Devonte get into foul trouble? It seems like we can use Devonte on Trae for large parts of the game, but several shifts to other players will help reduce the wear (and fouls) on Devonte. Garrett could be a very good second option. He has been one of our best defenders working ball denial.
OFFER AGGRESSIVE WEAKSIDE HELP - Sometimes this means delivering a hard foul. Hard fouls do a lot to wear down players. But another very useful aggressive defensive play by the weakside is to set to draw a charge. THIS IS OUR VERY BEST SINGLE MOVE TO HOBBLE TRAE! Mitch is, by far, our best defender at drawing charges. It’s not even close!
BALL DENIAL TO HIS TEAMMATES - Another key strategy against Trae. Our defenders need to make sure they are not caught in “no-man’s land” between Trae and the teammate he passes to for the easy trey. Our guys need to COMMIT EARLY on Trae’s drives, and they need to weigh their defense towards the guys not named Trae.
GUARD THE RIM - We need our 5 to guard the rim, and not the player. Since the rest of our help defense is mostly trying to stop Trae from passing out off his drives, our post guy needs to be our last friction against an easy layup.
If this game was a couple weeks ago, I would state that I think Mitch needs to get most of our minutes at the 5. Not so sure now since Doke continually shows positive improvements in his game with every new game.
But I will go out on a limb and say… if Mitch has a good game (where he is dialed in) he might easily be our most-important player in this game. He has tremendous shot blocking ability for a guy his size. He is also pretty darn quick. If he can stay out of foul trouble, he could be the shadow defender that creates FITS for Trae!
Using our “wear down” approach… we just need to stay close to OU until the last 5 minutes of the game clock. We already seem to have a knack this year for transforming games in the final minutes.
Also KU’s small ball can really wear down Young. Our guards are going to switch switch switch on him. Everyone keeps talking about who is going to guard him but in reality it’s going to be whichever guy is closest to him. KU has routinely been switching at 4 positions, almost 5 with the soft hedge and recover when screens involve the 5. OU can pick which player defends Young by simply running a quick weave or screen (see Baylor picking on Vick). So this will have both positive and negative effects. We simply won’t just put Devonte on him and say go get em. However, it will mean fresh legs on him most of the game. And with Svi’s improvement lately on D, all of our guards are competent defenders.
To one of your points, I would not be shocked to see someone put Young to the ground this game early (though they might save that for the Phog).
Good analysis. Personally, I bear Trae no ill will, but I am royally sick of hearing his name mentioned every two seconds. You would think no one else was in the game! Even when other games are on, ESPN is constantly promoting him. I wish I had my little clicker that I use at the zoo to count interactions with visitors. I would use it tonight, and I’ll bet it would count into the hundreds.
AARGGGHH! Just went to ESPN’s website: first 3 stories are about young Trae!
Well, Trae had a bad week and dropped to #12 and #11 in both polls…I meant to say OU dropped…
Not sure if we are best to switch off Trae. Trae can totally exploit most defenders so we may want to keep our selected guard to stick on him.
What we have to watch out for is Trae’s dangerous passes. Getting caught up in ball screens can easily create just enough of a gap where Trae may be able to get an easy assist.
What makes Trae so dangerous is that he has so many tools. It’s hard to defend everything he can do.
If Trae discovers an effective offensive move against us we just need to find ways to disrupt that specific flow and make him do something else.
I think I would prepare several unique defensive strategies thinking we may use many of them… even for just a play or two. Anything to disrupt his flow.
At this point in the season… not sure I see our zone working. Maybe a 3-2 where our two strongside guards try to pinch him. But… Trae has crushed those pinches this year. So many of the effective defensive strategies teams try to use on him fails and is actually what Trae wants to face. Many double teams he slices through like butter, leaving 2 defenders in the dust (and behind the play)! That means Trae is open for a shot/drive, or one of his teammates is open for the trey/drive, or both.
Trae is such a gifted guard that he really exposes how we don’t know a dang thing about hedging against the drive. I would have loved to see TRele try to guard him. TRele may not have had the leg speed to keep up with him, but at least he knew something about hedging against the drive!
Hey Trae young team, where’s your fans?
@Crimsonorblue22 Noticed the same thing. A lot of empty seats for such a big game.
@Hawk8086 There are no big basketball games for Oklahoma fans. They are too busy thinking about their spring football game.
If I wasn’t watching the game and heard Young only had 8 points at the half, I would guess KU was well ahead. It appears the OU cast is better than some thought.
What a$$ announcer said not to play doke?
That Newman shot was a pass to doke