Highlighting one key lineup

The Aztecs recently beat the preseason favorite to win the Mountain West by 30 points. It was complete and total domination that has since catapulted the Aztecs up the computer metrics.

The Rams are a team built for the modern game of basketball. They usually have five players on the floor that can shoot the basketball, they have multiple ball handlers on the floor at any given moment, and they have one of the best point guards in the nation.

The Aztecs completely shut their high powered offense down. It was a full team effort, no one player or lineup can take full credit, but there is one lineup that should be highlighted.

The Aztecs played 2:33 with a lineup of Butler, CBM, Johnson, Arop, and Mensah on the floor. Two and a half minutes will not make or break a game, but nevertheless it was an important stretch.

The Aztecs out scored the Rams 9-2 in those two and a half minutes. CSU took only two shots, and had two turnovers. The Aztecs scored five of their points on transition plays.

This lineup, at least on paper, does not look like it should score 1.8 points per possession. At least three of the players are non-shooters. The jury is still out on the other two. So defenses should be able to just pack the paint, force tough shots, and get the rebound.

Instead, the Aztecs cause turnovers and misses of their own, and then run before the defense can get set. When they did need to run half court offense they found a way to get offensive rebounds or draw fouls. The Aztecs out rebounded CSU 4-0 in the two and a half minute span.

It is a small sample size to judge a lineup on. Maybe they just matched up well with the Rams lineup at the time. Maybe they got a little lucky. The defensive intensity and skill makes sense though. Four players are 6’6” or taller, and all with wingspan’s greater than their height. It is a lineup where every player (save Butler) can guard positions 1-5, and even Butler has a strong base for his position to help him bang with bigger opponents.

Then they excel at turning the defense to offense. Few people in the nation can stop Lamont Butler on the fast break, and even if he is not in a position to run, he can throw the hit ahead pass and let someone else score. CBM, Arop, and Johnson are all capable scorers in transition as well.

The lineup has a small sample but a lot of success. The team should continue to use it for a couple minutes each game to see how it goes. Taking a few minutes to frustrate the opponent by forcing turnovers and scoring a couple easy points is never a bad thing.

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