The 1-3-1 against Illinois

Yesterday UIC played the 1-3-1 to disrupt Illinois' offensive flow. It really seemed to work as the Flames held the Illini to 54 points in 65 possessions. That's 0.83 points per possession and by far the best anyone has done against Demetri McCamey and company all season. It was very interesting what UIC head coach Howard Moore, a former assistant under Wisconsin's Bo Ryan, had to say about playing the defense in the postgame press conference.

Again, it was a good advantage for me, coaching in the Big Ten the past five years, and having some memories of how Northwestern had some success in their 1-3-1 against the Illini. Paul [Carter] and I also talked about how Minnesota gave them some trouble with their 1-3-1. As you guys know, coach Ryan doesn't believe in zone. But the one thing we worked on when I was at Wisconsin was the 1-3-1, especially back in 2006. I told myself that if I ever became a head coach, I would want to take a look at that defense. It's a good zone, because it has 'man' principles in it.  If you're not good at man, it's tough to just throw in a 1-3-1. The fact that we've worked so hard on our man-to-man defense helped us. The guys worked hard on it, and loved it.
Most of the national narrative focused on how big a win this was for UIC, and that's fine, but it's also a very interesting commentary on the 1-3-1 against Bruce Weber's team. Here's what the Illini coach had to say about it afterwards.
We haven't run it or seen it I should say. We have a zone offense. We have to make the plays. You have to pay attention in when you get out there and we yell, zone offense, whatever we run against the 1-3-1 you can execute. We were tenative with the ball up top, get it to the wing, kick it inside, people were open, just didn't make the plays. To their credit, they did something different, we didn't expect. It helped us get the lead because we scored four or five times there. But, they stuck with it, we had some plays, layups, that just didn't go down.

Certainly something for Big Ten teams like Northwestern, Michigan and Minnesota to be aware of moving forward.


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  • very interesting, good for NU that Illinois struggles with that defense, bad that they've already seen it and have time to prepare though

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