Utah holds conference opponents to an average of 70.5 points per game, which ranks 10th in the Pac-12 ( although misleading, because they boast the PAC-12’s highest scoring offense — 76.0 ppg).
By comparison, UW’s defense allows 61.5 points per Pac-12 game (3rd best).
Per Synergy, the Utes rank in the Top 33% nationally in defending these play types:
(1) put-backs from offensive rebounds (Top11%); (2) defending the pick-and-roll ballhandler (Top 16%); (3) defending the pick-and-roll rollman (roller) (top 18%); and (3)transition defense (Top 32%).
Trinity Oliver is the only Husky that ranks in the Top 50% of pick-and-roll ballhandlers nationwide — as a team, UW ranks in the Bottom 1% of scoring efficiency as a pick and roll ballhandler.
UW’s Dalayah Daniels is the only highly-ranked Husky as a pick-and-roll rollman (roller) — Daniels ranks in the Top 23% nationwide in points per possession (ppp) efficiency. This may be the key battle for Washington’s offense, as the Utes are extremely strong defending this play and will likely focus on neutralizing Daniels’ effectiveness.
Washington should continue to look for fastbreak opportunities against the Utes. However, too much UW transition offense plays into Utah’s strengths, so it is best to make Utah defend UW’s halfcourt offense for the following reasons.
The Utes only rank in the Top 50% nationwide in defending these play types:
(1) handoffs (Top 44%); and (2) players coming off screens (Top 49%).
The Huskies’ most common offensive set (Chins series of the Princeton offense) relies heavily on handoffs, screens and cuts at the elbow of the free throw line.
Utah is better than average, but not excellent, at defending handoffs and screen actions.
On the other hand, per Synergy, Utah struggles defending: players cutting (Bottom 30%).
Washington can run their regular offensive sets against Utah with some succees, but precise execution is key.
Furthermore, Utah also ranks in the Bottom 50% nationally in defending these play types:
(1) isolation plays (Bottom 46%); (2) post-ups (Bottom 43%); and (3) spot-up jumpshots (Bottom 41%).
As for isolation plays, Washington’s Dalayah Daniels ranks in the Top 36% of all isolation players nationwide for efficiency.
However, albeit with limited opportunities, Elle Ladine has the highest average points per (isolation) possession at 1.00 ppp — this coincides with Ladine’s recent offensive surge over the past few games.
Thus, Washington should look for isolation opportunities for both Daniels and Ladine against the Utes to take advantage of Utah’s biggest defensive weaknesses.
Likewise, for spot-up jumpshots, Washington’s most efficient spot-up shooters should take advantage of Utah’s defensive weakness in this area — i.e., Lauren Schwartz (Top 8% nationwide); Emma Grothaus (Top 12% on limited shots); and Hannah Stines (Top 38% but currently injured).
As for Utah’s weakness defending post-up offense, the Huskies’ most efficient post-up scorer is Darcy Rees (1.00 points per possession) — Coach Langley has provided very limited opportunities for Darcy to demonstrate this skill set but that may change versus Utah.
Utah Players Overview
Alissa Pili #35, a 6’2″ junior, is the Pac-12’s leading scorer at 22.1 points per game, along with 5.5 rebounds, 1.9 assists, 1.1 blocks and 1.1 steals in 30.1 minutes.
For the season, Pili shoots 60.7% from the field overall–64.6% from two-point range and 40.8% from three-point range.
Alissa Pili Shooting chart – Courtesy of CBBAnalytics
Utah’s first, second, third, fifth and sixth-leading scoring combinations feature Pili as the scorer:
(1) Ines Vieira (assister) to Alissa Pili (scorer); (2) Jenna Johnson (assister) to Alissa Pili (scorer); (3) Kennady McQueen (assister) to Alissa Pili (scorer); (5) Gianna Kneepkens (assister) to Alissa Pili (scorer); and (6) Isabel Palmer (assister) to Alissa Pili (scorer).
It is clear that if Washington stops Pili, they stop Utah.
However, this may not be UW’s best strategic approach because Pili is playing like an unstoppable force — and the national player of the year candidate that she is.