Anthony Davis and UK perfect the lob



The best part of a lob is the moment of knowing. The play unfolds on a course to a premeditated outcome, and the anticipation builds, and everybody — the passer, the dunker, the fans, the helpless defender — knows what’s about to happen next. That moment in time, right before the play reaches completion but right as the play passes the point of no return — there’s just something about it.

Anthony Davis, though, doesn’t erupt, doesn’t preen, despite being the one who makes everyone else’s heads shake. He just turns his gears toward the defensive end and continues playing. That’s just one example of the great “disposition” that Florida head coach Billy Donovan loves so much about this team.

For the rest of us, however, the lobs are worthy of celebration.

The plays are mesmerizing, really. Not only to people like me, who have no chance of pulling off a dunk like that without a trampoline, but also to the players who can approximate that level of skill and talent.

“We were watching ESPN,” Marquis Teague said, recalling a recent Davis highlight, “and somebody threw it to the top of the square (on the backboard). His hands were up there, he went and got it. We were like, that’s crazy for him to go that high.”

The lob has been, if UK gets the defense positioned a certain way, an unstoppable play. If the driver, usually Teague, can get a step on his defender, it forces the man guarding Davis into a decision: step out and help on Teague or stay at home on Davis?

“We just try to penetrate and make his man commit,” Teague said.

If he commits to the former, he risks giving up a dunk. If he commits to the latter, he risks giving up a layup.

Either one works for UK.

The forced decision leaves one defender to cover two options. Florida center Patric Young faced that dilemma. He chose to stay on Davis, thinking that a lob was imminent. It wasn’t, and Teague coasted to the basket for the layup.

“He actually told me running back on defense, ‘I thought he was going to throw that to you,’” Davis said. “I was telling Marquis, they do that every time. Go in thinking layup first, and then if he (comes off me), throw it.”

And if the man decides to go the other way and help out on Teague?

“Then throw it up to (Davis),” Teague said, “and he pretty much goes up and gets it.”

As definitive as the play is while unspooling, the proper nickname for it is murky.

Lob City East? Lobbington? Lob U? I’ve heard all three, and I can’t say any of them immediately stand out. Lob City is semi-taken (Los Angeles Clippers). Lobbington just sounds like a Bruce Springsteen song title. Lob U sounds too generic. None have definitively caught on.

And here’s a question I still can’t answer: why has everyone, myself included, referred to these Davis dunks as “lobs” 100 percent of the time when alley-oop also seems perfectly acceptable? Is there an aesthetic difference I’m missing out on? Is it just the new terminology?

Maybe one doesn’t need to know these things. Let the naming rights come later.

UK can just keep throwing them.