That play showcases Atlas’ field balance. Gray and Costabile can stretch defenses from the righty wing. Romar needs to be picked up near midfield. Eric Law and Xander Dickson warrant faceguards around the doorstep. And Teat can hit any of them on the ear from his lefty wing.
But Atlas still trailed 9-8 at halftime.
Brooks knew they’d need one more play. This game – like most PLL games – was destined to come down to the final possession. Early in the fourth quarter, he walked over to the whiteboard to jot down an idea.
“The guys looked at me like, ‘What are you doing?’” laughed Brooks. “I was like, ‘I’m just making sure I’m planned and ready for the end of the game.’”
The play is one Brooks has been running for years.
“The Whips are a very sound defense,” said Brooks. “What can we do to get motion going with off-ball picks and disguise our look? Make them think, Romar’s gonna pop or Costabile’s gonna pop or Dickson and Lawsy’s gonna cut.”
All that misdirection was meant to set up one hero: Chris Gray, who was 0-for-9 shooting at the time.
“I did not realize [Gray] was 0-for-9 shooting,” recalled Brooks. “I just know the type of competitor that he is. And I know his capability dodging from behind with speed.”
“He’s a special player,” said Teat. “There’s never a point in the game or in the season where we’re not going to go to him.”
After a dummy dodge down the alley and a wave of off-ball picks, Gray caught the ball at X ready to run off a pick from Costabile. This is why Atlas LC drafted the NCAA’s all-time leading point scorer with the second overall pick in 2022. As dangerous as Gray is above the cage ripping stepdowns or hitching around defenders, his ability to create his own shot is what makes him special. When he gets topside, it’s over.