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Taking a Closer Look: Holloway's Defense

On Wednesday night Shaheen Holloway delivered his first trademark win as coach of Seton Hall when he took down #15 UConn on a last second putback. Holloway is no stranger to trademark wins, stringing together four of them as coach of St. Peter's in what has been called, "the greatest cinderella story in the history of the NCAA Tournament." While coaching at St. Peter's Holloway built his reputation as a hard-nosed defense-first coach, a style he utilized to hold UConn to just 66 points. Let's take a closer look at Coach Holloway's defense and the principles he uses to shut down opposing offenses.



This is one of UConn's first possessions and they are running a ballscreen for Adama Sanogo. Tyrese Samuel hard-hedges the screen to stop the ballhandler and Dawes goes under the screen to recover. Ndefo is perfectly on time to contest the roller, doesn't foul and prevents the easy layup. This is near perfect execution of a hard-hedge ballscreen defense.



Couple minutes later now and UConn is again looking to run Sanogo in a ballscreen. Samuel steps out to stop the ballhandler and Richmond forces a high tough pass to Sanogo. Again Ndefo is in perfect position to prevent the pass without fouling. Seton Hall's length is noticeably disruptive here.



Skipping to the end of the First Half and UConn is now running a ballscreen for their back-up Center #32. This time UConn throws a good pass but Ndefo elevates and challenges the 7'2 #32. Cannot say enough about the effort here from Ndefo.



Early 2nd Half now and Seton Hall has started to make their comeback. Here Ndefo stops the ballhandler before recovering to his own man. Later in the play UConn gets Sanogo into a ballscreen. Samuel forces UConn #44 to the baseline and Odukale rotates down to cover Sanogo's roll. With nowhere to go with the ball, #44 steps out of bounds.



Later in the 2nd Half and here is a play that shows two of Seton Hall's primary defensive principles. UConn starts with a high ballscreen that Samuel hedges while Ndefo covers the roller. Later in the play Dawes gambles for a steal and Ndefo comes down to help. Odukale sets himself up in help position and is able to contest the shooter. One of the most noticeable attributes of Holloway's defense is that it thrives in both structured as well as scramble situations.



Just a minute later now and UConn runs a double cross-screen for #44 to catch the ball and feed Sanogo in the post. Ndefo switches onto #44 and pressures him at the catch, forcing a tough angle on the entrance pass. Samuel battling in the post is able to get the steal.



Next possession and now the Seton Hall defense is locked in. UConn runs a side ballscreen for Sanogo and Samuel hedges and recovers to make the steal. Ndefo is lurking behind for a potential block. This is team defense.



Last defensive possession of the game for Seton Hall now. UConn runs a high ballscreen and Dawes switches onto the ballhandler. Ndefo recognizes that Dawes is a step behind and steps down to help, forcing the pass. Ndefo then makes an impressive contest on the shooter while not fouling. Seton Hall's ability to help and recover is on display here.



Seton Hall has put together a top-20 defense on the foundation of the partnership of Shaheen Holloway and KC Ndefo. Coach Holloway's defense requires the mental acumen to implement different defensive schemes, while also demanding level of effort and intensity a step above other programs. And KC Ndefo? Ndefo acts as his centerfielder; roaming the court, reading defenses, and recording highlight reel plays.


When Shaheen Holloway arrived in South Orange this summer he made a memorable statement saying, "I won't mess this up. I can't mess this up." On Wednesday night Holloway showed the world his vision of a revamped Seton Hall defense and recorded his first of many wins over a ranked opponent. Holloway is well on his way to not messing this up.

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