Notre Dame’s Offensive Attack Against Kentucky Wildcats
Notre Dame had a great season, capped by ACC conference title where they beat Duke and North Carolina on back to back nights, and a run to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Tournament. They ran into one of the best college basketball teams in the era of the ‘One and Done’ in the Kentucky Wildcats, and they gave them all that they could handle before falling 66-68 as a last second, contested three from Jerian Grant came up short.
While the Fighting Irish weren’t able to pull off the upset of the season, they were able to give a blueprint on how a team could beat the Kentucky Wildcats, and how any undersized team can compete with and beat a bigger, more athletic opponent.
Notre Dame was able hang around and control a lot of this game by controlling the tempo. Every team is comfortable playing at their tempo; they practice playing at a certain tempo every day and the team that can dictate the pace and tempo of the game usually has the upper hand when in live competition. Notre Dame seemed to always be in control. They were able to push it hard in transition when they had numbers off Kentucky’s makes, misses, and against Kentucky’s press. When they did push it, they were able to get shots at the basket on their primary break, they were able to great looks at the three on penetrate and kicks, and they were able to attack long Kentucky close-outs and get to the basket where they were able to finish, get fouled, or both.
When ND didn’t have numbers in transition, they did a great job of slowing down the game, spreading the court, and executing their ball screen offense. While they didn’t have the size that Kentucky has, they had four skilled basketball players on the perimeter at all times; this forced Kentucky’s bigs to step away from the basket and guard the three-point line. This spacing created opportunities to get to the basket and finish without the bigs protecting the basket.
Notre Dame had an effective 4 out motion ball screen attack that helped create driving lanes to the basket and that created mismatches on the perimeter. They also used a nice double post circle action that many teams, including Texas and Louisville have used the last couple of years. It is similar to the Virginia Blocker-Mover offense in that the posts stay hugged up on their lane line and set fade and pin down screens. They were able to use that motion to set ball screens on the perimeter and curl the pin down for shots in the paint and penetrate and kick looks. I have diagrammed that action below.
I have also clipped together a video showing some of the actions that Notre Dame was able to use to have some success against the Kentucky Wildcats. Their plan of attack on the offensive end – pushing the ball when they had numbers, and slowing the game down and spreading Kentucky’s bigs by making them guard the perimeter – is beneficial for any team playing against guys who might be bigger or more athletic than yours.
Coach Reggie Bibb is a former college basketball player who has coached at the college, high school, junior high school and AAU levels. He started out as an assistant coach at Seminole State College where he helped head coach Tom Mills earn two conference top two finishes in three years. In two out of his three seasons in Seminole, the Seminole State Trojans won at least 20 games, including one regular season conference championship and another trip to the conference tournament championship game.
Reggie has since coached at the junior high and high school levels, and even spent a year as an assistant principal.
His strengths are in player development, building team culture and chemistry, and building offensive and defensive systems that accentuate his players’ abilities and that help his players utilize what they do best to allow them to have individual and contribute to team success. He also is a great communicator and great at building relationships with his players, parents, and administration.
Reggie currently lives in Lavon, TX, just outside of Dallas, with his wife, Alyssa, and his three daughters: Alexa, London-Mila, and Zoe.
“I hope that I can bring you all content that can help you build your own personal philosophy as a person and as a coach, content that will help you reach and grow your players, and content that will help you put your team in position to be successful through effective strategies, systems, and quick hitters.”
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