Breaking Down Maryland’s Defense On Snaer’s Game Winner


By now we have all seen it more times than we would care to admit. Last night, Michael Snaer hit a dagger three pointer against the Maryland Terrapins with 1.1 seconds remaining that spelled the end for the Terps attempt at stealing a victory on the road. After the game many fans had the same, predictable, cry of “How can you leave Snaer that wide open?”.

After watching the replay of the highlight, and talking it over with fellow TerrapinStationMD writers Michael Willis and Jason Colenda, I thought it would be a prudent decision to break down exactly what transpired on defense for the Terps during that last possession which led to the eventual game-winning basket from Snaer.

Just to reset the time and score, FSU had possession with a sideline out of bounds trailing 71-70 with 8.9 seconds remaining.

Snaer lined up as the inbounder, who history says is the most dangerous player on the floor in this type of late game scenario. The rest of the FSU players on the floor set up in a 2-1-1 set with Turpin and Miller at the top of the key, Okaro White is lined up at the foul line facing the opposite basket and Montay Brandon is under the rim.

As Snaer starts the play from his position as the inbounder Turpin and White collapse to the paint. White setting a screen on Brandon’s man, Jake Layman, while Turpin sprints to the opposite block for a potential lob. Miller, sprints to the corner closest to Snaer opening up the top of the key for Brandon to use White’s screen to accept the inbounds pass starting the play creating a 1-4 set.

The play is in motion before Brandon has even caught the pass from Snaer. As he accepts the inbounds pass at the top of the key, a double screen is already being set along the baseline for Miller by White and Turpin as Snaer fills the spot which Miller held in the corner. First big problem with how the Terps defended this play by the Seminoles can be found here. Neither James Padgett or Alex Len hedge the double screen to knock Miller off of his line. Because of this, Miller gets a clean release to catch the pass from Brandon on the wing while Nick Faust is still fighting through the screen set by Turpin along the baseline.

This is where, for lack of a better term, all hell breaks loose for Maryland. Since neither Len or Padgett hedged the original double screen on Faust his man, Ian Miller, now has the ball on the wing with Alex Len being the closest defender to him. Miller slips upon catching the pass but gathers himself enough to immediately attack Len off the dribble where Miller has a clear advantage. Layman helps off of Brandon while Faust frantically attempts to get back into the play on defense.

However, at this point, Len is already beat and Layman recognized the mismatch too late to get over and help on Miller. If you pause the video clip at the :07 second mark you can clearly see the alignment of the defense at the time Miller gained possession. As things are alligned at this point James Padgett would be the help-side defender on any drive as he is the Terps defender who is two passes away on defense.

For some reason, Padgett decides to begin boxing out Okaro White as Miller puts the ball on the floor. In doing this, Padgett takes himself out of position to be an active help-side defender as he has taken Okaro White, and subsequently himself, completely out of the play. By the time Miller has beaten Len off the dribble and gotten to the paint (pause at the :09 second mark if following along) Padgett finds himself in no mans land. Instead of being able to step up and force Miller to either pass the ball or put up a contested shot against two of the Terps big men Padgett is firmly entrenched on the baseline with no way of being able to stop  Miller from getting into the paint to make a play.

As Padgett is not in any position to prevent the penetrating Miller from getting to the rim, Dez Wells is forced to help off of Michael Snaer in the corner more so than he should have had to. Had Padgett been in position after Miller had gotten open off of the double screen by Florida State Wells would not have had to help off of Snaer as much as he did, eventually getting airborn to contest Miller elevating with the basketball (pause at the :10 second mark). Had the Terps defended this play correctly, Padgett would have been in a position where he could have easily stepped up to cut off the driving Miller and Wells would have been in a spot where he’d have been better able to close out on the three point shooter, Snaer.

Until Miller is able to get past Len and the help side defense that, by design, should have been there was nowhere to be seen Wells was forced to overcommit and leave his man more than his position on the floor called for when Miller originally gained possession. By the time Snaer catches the pass from Miller in the corner the closest Terps defender, Dez Wells, still has a foot in the paint as Snaer is setting his shooting motion. The close out by the overcommitted Wells comes late and Snaer ends up the hero on his home court knocking down the game-winning three pointer which I could imagine had Terps fans all over throwing the remote control in disgust.

This was a collective let down by the Terps defense as a whole and not one player should be thrown under the bus for the events of the last 8.9 seconds of regulation last night. Hopefully this article helps paint a clearer picture as to exactly how Snaer was able to get the look that eventually buried the Terps bid at a rare win away from Comcast Center.