It didn't end up being a very close game at all as UCLA was simply too good in all aspects of the game today. UCLA's defense was solid throughout and Xavier was unable to make any big runs.

One of the things that UCLA does really well defensively is the way they defend ball screens. There are many ways to defend perimeter ball screens, one of those is the hedge. UCLA has used the hedge almost exclusively all year and it really bothered Xavier as Lavender was unable to use the screen to turn the corner and make a play. Here are a few sequences from the first half, showing Kevin Love hedging on the ball screen,

There are a few ways coaches/commentators refer to the hedge. Some say, "show hard" or "hard hedge", they all mean the same thing. Basically what happens is the screener's defender comes out to impede the ball-handler's progress forcing the ball-handler to take a few retreat steps. This allows the original defender to recover on the check and the screener's defender can recover back to his original defender.

The Hedge:

Kevin Love of UCLA does a great job each time on the hedge. On a couple of occasions, he even slightly bumps the ball-handler further slowing him down,

The other important key about the hedge is for the help-side defenders to rotate and gap the other players, specifically to protect the basket. Watch here as Love tells Real-Mata to cover rolling man until he is able to get back,


The hedge maneuver on the ball-screen is not the easiest concept to master. Therefore it requires a lot of practice to be able to be good at it and not give up easy baskets, which would be counter-effective.

For a brand new video, check out Bob Huggins' DVD on M2M drills. Coach Huggins' Bearcats teams were always known for their incredible defensive intensity. Don't forget to check out the X's and O's Basketball Forum to talk hoops with other coaches.