View from the Bench: Regular season, Game 2

Oct 19, 2012 by Dimitris Itoudis Print
Dimitris ItoudisFor more than a decade, Dimitris Itoudis has been one of the most visible assistant coaches in basketball and one of the biggest winners in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague as the right-hand man of Zeljko Obradovic as they and Panathinaikos lifted four continental titles between 2000 and 2011. This season, Coach Itoudis will educate Euroleague fans with his expertise by analyzing games every week on!

Brose Baskets Bamberg 71-86 Besiktas JK Istanbul

If there is a surprise so far in the Turkish Airlines Euroleague standings, it would have to be Besiktas JK Istanbul. But not if you saw them dominate Thursday on the road against three-time defending German champion Brose Baskets Bamberg, a team that played well at Barcelona last week and has beaten teams like Panathinaikos, Real Madrid and Olympiacos at home during the last two seasons. In fact, besides those big wins in its two previous Euroleague seasons, four of Bamberg's five home losses were by a total of 9 points. That's how good they are as a home team. But Besiktas won 71-86 to hand Bamberg its worst home loss ever in the Euroleague. How did Besiktas do it? First of all, with great shooting percentages. Considering that it was a road game and in front of a very noisy crowd, they shot excellently: 54% on two-pointers and an amazing 56% from the three-point arc. They supported that shooting with 10 offensive rebounds, too. Besiktas had a winning spirit from the very beginning of the game, and it showed in the outcome.

Good decisions by Jerrells

As we'll see in the first clip, Bamberg's decision in defending pick-and-rolls was to deny passes into the middle and force the ball to the side to defend from there. Besiktas point guard Curtis Jerrells was ready with a variety of solutions, however. First, he set up the correct angle on the side pick-and-role, causing Bamberg to switch and then attacking the bigger defensive player with a jump shot. Then, on a high pick-and-roll, when his defender goes above the screen, he attacks the Bamberg big man again, this time with a right-hand drive to the basket. Next, Jerrells attacks the middle with his strong hand, the left, and when the Bamberg center appears, reads the cut of his teammate Patrick Christopher for a lob and spectacular dunk. On the subsequent play, again attacking the middle with his left, he reads the defensive help from the wing and sends a kick-out pass to Muratcan Guler for a three-pointer. That sequence repeated itself for another good read and pass to Damir Markota. A lot of those good decisions by Jerrells came in the first half and put the Bamberg defense on its heels. Of course, when he wasn't passing, Jerrells was scoring 27 points in his almost 34 minutes on the floor. Again, he was strong in his decisions, mixing jumpers that he launched with authority and strong drives if his defender, Anton Gavel, came out to prevent the perimeter shot.

Markota on fire

Besiktas also got a lot of mileage out of the power forward position as Markota and Vladimir Dasic combined for 17 points and 9 rebounds. Markota had 11 of those, going 3-for-3 from the three-point arc in the game's middle quarters, which was crucial for Besiktas controlling the game. As we see in the clips, Markota's catch-and-shoot technique was so good that if his defender was a split-second late, it was trouble. Next, we see another pair of catch-and-shoot shots on assists by Jerrells and Tutku Acik. Markota had such a hot hand that his defender had to be right with him, or else. One of his biggest shots came when the shot clock was running out and Bamberg made the correct switch on defense, but late by a second. That second was enough for Markota to dribble and execute his shot to beat the buzzer.

Game-changing zone

Besiktas won this game in the middle quarters with defense as much as offense. In the third and fourth quarters, the score was 23-43 for the visitors, and that defensive effort for Besiktas was anchored in a 2-3 zone defense. Bamberg failed to score for its first five attacks against the zone, as the difference on the scoreboard went from 19-21 all the way to 21-34, and would have been more if not for a couple missed free throws. Only on the sixth attack against the zone did Bamberg get the ball inside, and only on the seventh did the hosts score, on a three-pointer by Sergerio Gipson. But already, that defensive stand had conditioned the rest of the game by letting Besiktas play from in front and with more confidence.