Tactics Board: Derthona in the Zona
TORTONA (Italy) - Bertram Derthona Tortona have arrived. On Wednesday, playing host to UCAM Murcia, they made their debut in Europe only two seasons into life in Italy's top division, Lega Basket Serie A.
They could have been forgiven for being happy to just be there, but Marco Ramondino's team isn't built like that. Derthona took their game to UCAM Murcia and not only found a way to compete but also to win. In the post-game press conference, Ramondino made sure the significance of the moment was not lost on anyone.
"This is a milestone for our organization, we are in a small city but we have big dreams, and big ambitions. This is a night that we cannot take for granted, it is a huge moment for the history of the club and the city," Ramondino stated.
That wasn't all he said either. Ramondino also took the slightly unusual step of crediting his coaching staff with the in-game adjustment that ultimately turned the tide and won Derthona the game.
"On our side of the game, I have to congratulate our coaching staff for the job they are doing putting together the game plan and also for the adjustment that they suggested during the game, moving Zerini to the five," he said.
He went on to explain that they felt the move to use their power forwards as centers was necessary because his team were consistently 'late' defending the speed and tempo of Murcia's execution on the offensive end.
If we look at this clip below from the first quarter we can see the type of problem that Derthona were struggling with. Murcia love to play out of the low-post pivot and when they have a player like Rodions Kurucs on the low post, he poses a threat as a scorer or a passer.
Derthona's coaching staff had clearly planned for this and every time the ball went down low to Kurucs, they would drop into a zone defense. Watch how #43 Leon Radosevic leaves his man and stays to occupy the area underneath the basket.
Unfortunately for Derthona, Kurucs was able to exploit a gap between his defender #34, Kyle Weems, and Radosevic. Derthona reacted too slowly and Kurucs was underneath the rim.
In this next clip from the third quarter, we see again the same situation causing Derthona issues.
On this occasion Kurucs passes out of the post to #35, Birgander which sucks the Derthona defense into the paint and they can't recover out to the shooter (#31 Dylan Ennis) in time.
It was defensive challenges like this that forced Ramondino to listen to his coaching staff and make the change to move his power forwards, Andrea Zerina and Mike Daum to play the center role, with Kyle Weems sliding over into the power forward position.
Whilst this change may have given up some size, it made up for the shortfall with extra speed on the perimeter.
In this next clip, we rejoin the game in the third quarter, almost immediately after the lineup adjustment. This time #32 Obasohan is guarding Kurucs in the post and Derthona have Weems and #7 Leonardo Candi defending on the weak side.
This gave the Italian side more recovery speed if they did need to shrink into the paint. As it happens, Candi read the pass perfectly and came up with the steal.
The adjustment also allowed Derthona to use more switching schemes and just upped the intensity defensively in general.
Watch #0 Andrea Zerina here as he switches the ball screen and twice stays in front of Ludde Hakanson and even eventually blocks the shot.
Now, if you are going to go Smallball and give up size on the inside, then chances are you are going to need to defend as a team to protect the rim and take care of the glass.
Even then, you will probably need one of your other players on the floor to step up and perform a role outside of their ordinary, and that's exactly what Kyle Weems gave them.
Watch how Weems and Zerini switch again in the pick-and-roll and Weems is forced into making an outstanding recovery block on Birgander.
If we look at the whole game as a full picture, Derthona will take a lot of confidence from holding one of the in-form ACB teams to just 38 percent shooting and forcing 10 turnovers.
The win will give them even more confidence but it doesn't get any easier from here. Up next is Tofas Bursa on the road in Turkiye.
Marco Ramondini may well need to keep building on that trust in his coaching staff and players to step up if they want to go two from two at the beginning of their maiden voyage in the Basketball Champions League.