(Photo: Sun Devil Athletics)
Since being invented by Nolan Richardson in the 80’s, the “Forty Minutes of Hell” defensive approach has been used by countless teams to smother opponents and create havoc on the defensive end.
The full-court press is extremely tough to play against because it forces the ball-handler to face consistently tight defense no matter where they are on the floor. It causes a lot of offensive mistakes, and up-tempo teams like ASU enjoy using it because of the turnovers and transition opportunities that it creates.
Tonight, the Arizona State women’s basketball team used the press to perfection, snuffing out the SMU Mustangs for the entirety of the contest and causing a lot of discomfort and disruption for SMU’s offense.
To put things in perspective, SMU shot just 35.7% from the field, didn’t hit a single three, and committed 10 turnovers in the first half. Just by looking at those numbers one would think that their second look at the full-court press in the second half couldn’t be worse right? They just had to come out after formulating a plan of attack, and get right back in this game.
You can probably see where this is going.
Southern Methodist managed three points in the first half of the second period. That’s three points in ten minutes of basketball.
ASU finished the game holding the Mustangs to 31% from the field and a laughable total of 16 second half points. Additionally, SMU didn’t make a single shot from beyond the arc.
SMU couldn’t buy a bucket, but these weren’t open shots that just wouldn’t seem to fall. Arizona State was able to contest nearly every look at the basket SMU got and that’s what led to these gaudy numbers.
Katie Hempen was able to explain a bit on why ASU was able to make so many disruptions on defense. “We had really good ball pressure.” she said, “We were really focusing on that this past week and the way that we play we really want to make a team gag.” She then added, “Everybody knows Charli-Turner Thorne takes a huge amount of pride in her defense.”
And don’t think this will be a one time thing. ASU has the player personnel to use the press and use it well. They’ve got athletic wings and guards such as the Amukamaras and Hempen, as well as frontcourt players like Brunner and Moos that are willing and able to get up and down the floor quickly.
This type of defense plays right into the Sun Devil’s favor, as Charli-Turner Thorne likes to use a lot of fresh legs in her rotations, something that is necessary to play tight coverage consistently, so don’t except it to go away anytime soon.