Louisville creates offense from its defense

Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports

Louisville's swarming defense has fueled the Cardinals' offense this season.Louisville enters the Final Four on a 14-game winning streak and has won its first four tournament games by an average of 21.8 points, the largest scoring margin in the field.

The Cardinals have created offense from their defense all season, forcing the nation’s second-most turnovers per game and scoring the most points off turnovers of any major conference team.

Let’s break down how Louisville has used its swarming defense to generate points at the other end of the court:

Turning its opponents over

Louisville averages 22.6 points off turnovers, the most among teams from big six conferences. The Cardinals record a steal on 16.1 percent of their opponents’ possessions, which ranks second in the nation.

Louisville This Season

The Cardinals had one of their most dominant games in many years against North Carolina A&T in the second round of the NCAA tournament.

Louisville scored 34 points off turnovers and had a steal on 20 of its opponents’ 68 possessions, its highest steal percentage in any game over the last 15 seasons.

Transition scoring off turnovers

Louisville has forced a tournament-high 71 turnovers in the NCAA tournament and is forcing a turnover on nearly 27 percent of its defensive possessions.

The Cardinals have used their press defense on half of their defensive possessions in the tournament, forcing 38 of their 71 turnovers with the press.

The press defense has allowed them to get out on the break and score easy baskets. Louisville has scored 72 transition points in its first four games, the second most in the field. More than half of those 72 points in transition have come off turnovers.

Active defense and deflections create offense

Louisville’s active defense is one of the main reasons it has been able to create points off turnovers. The Louisville coaching staff tracks deflections throughout the season, and the Cardinals had a season-high 67 deflections against North Carolina A&T.

Louisville Deflections by Player
2013 NCAA Tournament

Russ Smith has been the most active Louisville defender, with a team-leading 38 deflections and 13 steals in the tournament.

Largely because of his active defense, Smith has been the best transition player in the tournament. He has 41 transition points, the most in the field, and 21 of those points have been scored after Louisville forced a turnover.

Facing Wichita State

Wichita State has struggled at times to hold on to the ball this season, turning it over on at least 20 percent of its possessions in 19 of 38 games this season, including four games with a turnover rate of at least 27 percent.

However, the Shockers have improved their ballhandling in the tournament. Only once in four games have they had a turnover rate over 20 percent, and their offensive turnover rate of 17.4 percent entering the Final Four is on par with Syracuse (17.0%) and Louisville (17.3%).