Film Study: Sowers using big-little picks

By Joe Keegan

PLL Analyst

Aug 9, 2022

If the Waterdogs’ offensive gameplan wasn’t obvious enough, head coach Andy Copelan called it out verbatim during a timeout: “Up pick with whoever doesn’t have 91.”

The respect is real for reigning George Boiardi Hard Hat SSDM of the Year Danny Logan (#91). The Waterdogs initiated 11 shots off pick-and-rolls. The picker’s defender on those 11 shots: Peter Dearth (8x), Jake Richard (2x) and Logan once.

Michael Sowers used those picks to carve up the Atlas defense. The ‘Dogs picked for Sowers all over the field. Up picks from the lefty wing. Up picks from the righty wing. Razor picks. And when the razors didn’t work, they ran it right back. Sowers’ shake forces defenders to duck under picks early if they want to have a chance at matching feet with him. Cheat, and he’ll refuse the pick to beat you the other way.

Sowers can create his own shot off a dodge or a two-man game. That’s not what the picks are for.

Picks improve the spacing above the cage. By pulling a second defender below GLE, the Waterdogs are subtracting one piece of the slide package. When you slide to a dodge, you have to zone up 4-on-5 away from the ball; slide to a two-man game, and you’re playing 3-on-4 temporarily.

Picks produce more assisted shots than dodges. Assist rate (i.e. the percentage of shots that are assisted) jumps from 38.3% to 46.7% when offenses set a ball screen.

Picks also produce better assisted shots than dodges. Assisted shooting percentage since 2019 is 36.5% off pick-and-rolls compared to only 27.2% off dodges.

See how easy it is for Sowers to dissect this 4-on-3 advantage? Kieran McArdle is open from a high percentage spot.

Back to the “whoever doesn’t have Danny Logan” part – when the picks produced a switch, Sowers exploited the mismatch. He backpedaled and isolated, forcing early slides with his first step.

With their fifth win in a row, the Waterdogs are now in the driver’s seat for a spot in the 2023 Championship Series. Win out, and they’re in. And there will be plenty of short-sticks not wearing #91 for Michael Sowers to dodge against on a Sixes field.

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