The Floyd Street Tribune: Diagramming Matt Cross's big 3 and Louisville's "law of averages"
Inside: Insight into the play Louisville drew up for Matt Cross's game-winning 3-pointer vs. NC State, plus gifs(!) on how the Cards found better looks and more.
Thanks for reading The Floyd Street Tribune! Missed the previous newsletters? That’s OK. With a paid subscription, you can access all of ‘em here. In the previous edition, I delved into what we learned (and didn’t learn) from the Bahamas and Michigan State.
“Butler” banks a win
Louisville’s biggest moment of the season came from a late-clock play designed to get Noah Locke a shot, but with no time for a second pass, Matt Cross made the big bucket himself. Here’s how Cross, this week’s guest on my podcast, Floyd Street’s Finest, broke down the big moment in a win over NC State in Raleigh.
As Louisville broke its timeout huddle and the on-court players headed back to the floor, Mike Pegues pulled Cross aside for a quick reminder. There were two seconds left on the shot clock, and Cross may not have time to do anything other than shoot if the play started as planned. That little note produced a big moment in Louisville’s young season.
(As a side note, kudos to assistant coach Kahil Fennell and, I believe, graduate manager Seth Tatum, who appeared to ask referees exactly how long the clock had already lingered on the “2” — was it more like 2.0 or 2.1 seconds left on the shot clock or 2.8 or 2.9? That’s a big difference, but college shot clocks don’t show us tenths of seconds.)
Chris Mack used the timeout to talk through the play to get a quick shot. The Cards hadn’t run “Butler,” a late-clock-scenario play, to that point in the season, but the situation called for it. The full play is meant to get Noah Locke a shot after Cross collects the inbounds pass. But, as Pegues noted, Cross didn’t have time to make the second pass. You can even see Locke coming back through a Malik Williams re-screen at the top of the key as Cross catches the ball, but Cross only had time to catch and shoot. That Dre Davis, who played quarterback in his younger dual-sport days, served as the inbounds passer was not lost on me. He delivered a dime of a pass.
Above is the play design (minus the Williams re-screen). Jarrod West sets a strong cross screen from block-to-block. Williams screens for Locke to come to the ball, then turns and re-screens for Locke to come back across toward Cross. If there was another second or two on the clock, Locke could’ve had a clean look from the wing, but the pass from Davis was so on point that Cross could simply catch, set his feet and shoot, all in one motion, making one of the two corner 3s he hit vs. NC State.
Great coaching and great execution of a play dialed up for that exact moment.