Film Study: Chrome’s slow-to-go defense
The two best defenses against unassisted shots – Redwoods (18.8%) and Chrome (20.0%) – defend in very different ways.
The Redwoods slide and recover several times throughout a possession. The Redwoods have a league-high 60% assist rate allowed – meaning 60% of all shots against them are assisted. Their double teams dare anyone but the dodger to beat them.
Chrome does not slide. Opponents post a league-low 40.3% assist rate against them. It’s a stark contrast from the Woods’ man-zone hybrid defense – and most defenses across the league.
“They’re not trying to slide at all,” Waterdogs LC attackman Ryan Brown told the NBC crew after the first quarter against Chrome. “They’re straight up, guy-to-guy. Not looking to go – even off-ball, just kinda staring at your guy.”
Strong short-stick play from Will Haus and Ryan Terefenko is the backbone of Chrome’s man-to-man defense. Haus was voted 17th on the 2020 Players Top 50 – highest of any short-stick defender. Very few opponents dare to dodge him.
Terefenko – the 12th overall pick in the 2021 College Draft out of Ohio State – earned CrowdStrike Defensive Player of the Week honors for his performance on Long Island. This sequence against Connor Fields (who has shot 32.9% off the dodge in his PLL career) is insane.
Haus, Terefenko, and Chrome’s slow-to-go scheme stumped the Archers (8.0% shooting off the dodge against Chrome) and the Whipsnakes (9.7%) in back-to-back upsets.
On-ball defense is a big part of that; but fighting through the unscripted screens and re-screens that offenses counter with is critical to the scheme’s success. Terefenko’s motor doesn’t quit. He can fight through any screen or rub (see: this closeout after a strong screen by Jay Carlson).
Shots off the dodge are easier for goalies to track. John Galloway is saving 61.7% of unassisted shots; 37.8% of those saves have been clean.
Clean saves lead to quick outlets, and quick outlets lead to fast breaks. Joel White will always be Galloway’s top target – but Terefenko can take the top off the defense on a go route, too.
Chrome’s pick-and-roll defense struggled in 2020. Opponents shot 47.4% off two-man games – and 53.8% on two-man games above GLE. That’s down to a league-low 21.7% overall (and a ridiculous 20.0% above GLE). Chrome is the only defense that defends two-man games better than it defends dodges.
Terefenko has helped clean that up. He’s fighting through picks and then re-engaging his man to make up for any lost ground.
When his man picks, Terefenko chips the dodger to buy his teammate (James Barclay) time – then he recovers to his man, clogs the passing lane, and boxes out for the groundball.
It’s tough to understate the turnaround in Chrome’s pick-and-roll defense. This is the only defense in the league defending two-man games better than it defends dodges. Offenses are turning to two-man games more than ever. 45.0% of Chaos' settled shots start with a two-man game; Archers (42.3%), Waterdogs (38.7%), Cannons (32.3%), Atlas (30.7%), and Whipsnakes (30.6%) are all picking more than ever, too.
Haus’ health will be key for this defense down the stretch. With him and Terefenko in the lineup, it’s almost more advantageous for the offense to dodge a pole than a short-stick. When this defense is winning its one-on-one matchups – especially at the short-stick position – it is able to frustrate opposing offenses in a way that no other defense in the league can.