04 October, 2022
14 May, 2023
4 Léo Cavalière (SIG)
Diccon Lloyd-Smeath's Champions League Insider
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Tactics Board: SIG Strasbourg and a thousand cuts

STRASBOURG (France) - Another season and another appearance in the play-offs for SIG Strasbourg. This is now the third season in a row where the SIGmen reach the Quarter-Finals and their fourth Quarter-Finals appearance in seven seasons.

The 2022-23 campaign may not have started in the way you'd expect from a consistent top - team in the Basketball Champions League. Since taking over the team in November, Luca Banchi has installed a patient and measured approach to things and it has worked. 


Before the Italian coach took the reins, SIG played at a pace of 74.7 possessions per 40 minutes, making them the seventh-fastest team in the BCL. Since Banchi arrived in November they have cooled the tempo to 71.3 per 40, ranking them 21st overall.  Of the eight teams left in the competition, SIG ranks eighth in pace, and that's not necessarily a bad thing.

That's not the only change either as shooting percentages have improved across the board. SIG now have a True Shooting Percentage (a metric of shooting efficiency) of 58.9 percent, as opposed to 52.9 percent previously and they are now shooting 39.9 percent from three-point range, compared to just 27.2 percent prior to Banchi's arrival.

We see the same story inside the arc as well, with Banchi's squad shooting 55.5 percent from two-point range since his arrival and 52.8 percent before. It's worth adding the context that they only played three games before Banchi arrived but the fact that SIG now ranks third in the BCL for field goal percentage and score over 37 points per game in the paint tells us that this team is regularly creating very high-quality shots.

Tactics Board:

So, how are they doing that? The first thing to observe when you watch SIG is how well they move without the ball. There are teams that move a lot without the ball but that is often due to designed movements in the offense. What we mean when we say SIG move well without the ball is the way they cut to the basket in off-ball situations. These may still be programed "reads" in the offense but the player has to recognize and react.

Here we illustrate the most common cut that you will see from SIG, a corner cut on penetration or pick-and-rolls:

  •  Single side spacing with one in the corner to prevent help rotations. This causes defense to overhelp from the strong side corner.
  • Swing-swing pass creates the advantage for Lansdowne vs overhelp.
  • Lansdowne turns the small advantage of the closeout into a big advantage with the pass to a cutting Cavaliere.

Where we once may have seen "flare" screens on the weak side of the floor during pick-and-roll or penetration, now you will more commonly see "45" cuts from the weak side, wing:

  •  A skipp pass to the third side gets the defense shifting and changing their focus of attention.
  • The Handoff and short roll forces the weak side defender on "the nail" to stunt and prevent the pass to the short roll.
  • Lacombe on the weak side wing reads the stunt and cuts behind the defense. 
  • Excellent no-look pass to sell the short roll from Frazier.

This next play is a clear sign of a team with great chemistry on the floor as the aggressive defense from Holon takes away several options but SIG keep playing until a cut from the top of the key eventually creates the advantage they want:

  •  The defense "blow up" the first handoff for Massa, he keeps playing and SIG reverse the ball to Kurucs.
  • Kurucs drives to set up the angle for a "logo" pick-and-roll and predicts the aggressive coverage from Holon.
  • Cavaliere is already cutting from the top of the key before Massa catches the passes, then finds Lansdowne this time spaced in the corner instead of cutting.

The addition of Rodions Kurucs in December has also had a very understated impact on the way that SIG are able to play. The Latvian gives Luca Banchi the option of a four-man that is able to operate as a big or as a shooter and secondary playmaker on the wing. He's shooting 39 percent from three, on four attempts per game, and might be one of the most lethal corner pocket shooters in the BCL this season.

Luca Banchi has also looked to tailor his offense to Kurucs' strengths. In the video below we see them running their "flex" action on the weak side.

Ordinarily flex would be a cross-screen, then a screen for the screener. When they run it for Kurucs out of the corner, often the defense is stuck so close to him that they get an open shot from the first cross-screen.

  • Down screen on the weak side to enter the action.
  • Small-to-big screen on Kurucs to prevent the switch in the paint.
  • Empty paint for Kurucs to make a read and attack the screen defense.

Of course, it's not just cutting without the ball and sharp-shooting Latvians that are going well for Luca Banchi's SIG Strasbourg. They have the continuity of leadership in the squad from DeAndre Lansdowne and Ike Udanoh and their guard rotation with Tim Frazier joining Marcus Keene, who is having an MVP-caliber season, has enabled this team to weather the storm of losing Matt Mitchell and Jean-Baptiste Maille.

We would have loved to see what a rotation of Mitchell and Kurucs could have been like and the lineups that Banchi could have used with both of them would have been a nightmare for defenses. However, it's a testament to the setup at SIG that they have been able to lose a star player and leader in the locker room but still make it to the Quarter-Finals regardless. Up next they have this year's hot story in Telekom Baskets Bonn: you can read the preview here.

Diccon Lloyd-Smeath

Diccon Lloyd-Smeath

Diccon is a basketball coach and analyst living in Madrid. Constantly digging in the crates of box scores and clicking through hours of game footage. Diccon is on the hunt for the stories within the stories. If you like to get a closer look at what’s going in the Basketball Champions League, you have found it.