Archive for the ‘Offensive Strategies’ Category
Over the past few seasons, Michigan State’s Draymond Green has earned endless praise for his basketball IQ, which is well deserved. However, one player with a significant amount of basketball IQ who does not get as much credit for it is Pitt’s Nasir Robinson. Nothing he does is flashy, but his moves on the court are calculated and intelligent. This fast break shows that, as Nasir Robinson recognizes the opening and exploits the defense for a layup.
After the missed shot by Notre Dame, Pitt pushes the ball down the floor and leaves three Notre Dame defenders behind the ball. The key here is that Pitt moves the ball by the way of the pass, instead of the dribble (illustrated in blue). This moves the ball quickly down the court and allows Pitt to play three on two in the frontcourt.
Memphis is built to attack the rim and create off the dribble to get easy shots at the rim and draw fouls. While they rely heavily on isolations, they also have certain rules ingrained into their offense to create space for the guards. Let’s look at a couple of them and how they open the floor.
Without a strong back to the basket post player, Memphis often goes five around zero to open up the middle of the floor. This puts gaps in the defense that the guards can attack. In the following frame, look how spread out the defense is as Memphis puts all five guys around the perimeter. This gives Chris Crawford space to slice through the lane for the floater.
Butler chose to hedge hard on every pick and roll by Louisville in their matchup, so Louisville was content to find the roll man on the screen which gave them several easy baskets inside. With Louisville’s big men not seen as offensive threats and their guards depleted by injuries, Butler thought this would be the best way to slow down the pick and roll. However, the Cardinal guards did a great job of locating the roll man and feeding them the ball for several baskets throughout the game.
While Butler did a great job of stringing out the pick and roll and not allowing dribble penetration, they did a poor job of rotating back to the roll man. You can see in the following frames how they hedged on the ball screens but left the roll man open.
In early February last season, Luke Winn studied all of the catches made by Jared Sullinger and found that seniors Jon Diebler and David Lighty were responsible for 60.5% of post entries. In last night’s game, we saw Ohio State miss several opportunities to enter the ball into Sullinger, which was quantified by Andy Glockner. Sullinger is one of the most efficient players when he can catch the ball on the block, all he needs is a strong passer to give him the ball. Let’s look at the differences between Diebler/Lighty from last year and Aaron Craft/William Buford this year.
First, let’s take a look at how Diebler and Lighty found ways to enter the ball into Sullinger. Kentucky defended Sullinger well in their Sweet Sixteen game but focus more on the entry pass to get the ball to Sullinger, who has good position in all these clips.
What to notice is how Diebler and Lighty do one of two things before they make the entry pass. They either make the pass right away after receiving the ball, before the defense can react, or they force the defense to react to movement which puts them off-balance. They can do this by either a ball fake or a jab step to put the defender on his heels and leave a passing lane to Sullinger. This makes it hard for the defense to get a hand on the entry pass and Sullinger is able to get the ball while isolated.
In Pitt’s win over Rider, they faced a Rider team that played nearly exclusively zone defense. By scoring 86 points in 62 possessions, Pitt attained an offensive efficiency of 139.6. Thanks to Statsheet’s advanced box scores, we can see that Pitt had a 176.5 offensive rating when Nasir Robinson was on the floor yesterday. Comparatively, Dante Taylor, Khem Birch and Talib Zanna had offensive ratings of 101.7, 132.6 and 116.9. This starts to show how important Robinson is to the zone offense of Pitt. Let’s dig a little deeper.
Robinson shredded the zone defense to the tune of 22 points on 9-10 shooting from the field with 4 assists. He showed he is comfortable sitting in the middle of the zone and being the player that handles the ball in the vulnerable parts of the zone. The prime spots for a big man in a zone are the high post and the baseline. Robinson showed he is comfortable in each spot on the floor as he was able to both score himself and set his teammates up from these spots. Robinson is always probing the defense to get to an area where he can receive the ball, rotating from the high post to the baseline to find the open spots in the zone.
When he does receive the ball, he has the ability to create his own shot and one for his teammates. You can see this in both videos below, which demonstrate his offensive proficiency against the zone. He can take an efficient dribble or two to get to the rim or he can find an open teammate for a three point shot.
While their defense was a big reason for their win over Vanderbilt, Cleveland State also executed their offense well in spurts. Vanderbilt was overplaying the wing and Cleveland State took advantage of this to go backdoor for the easy layup.
John Jenkins is the first victim on the backdoor, as he overplays Trevon Harmon in the corner. Watch as his position changes as the ball moves around the perimeter. He starts with a foot in the paint to cut off penetration when the ball is at the top of the key and moves toward his defender as the ball moves to being one pass away from Trevon Harmon, Jenkins’ man.
In our second post on Florida’s offense, we are going to look at how Florida entered the ball into the post, mainly for Vernon Macklin. Many of these sets came while Florida had two strong offensive big men on the court at one time and although the duo of Macklin and Alex Tyus have moved on, I believe that Florida will still be able to have the personnel to run the following sets.
While Florida does many different things to get the ball into the post, we are going to explore two of the more interesting ones today; the baseline screen and the high low option.
Note: Apologies on the weirdness of the screenshots. I don’t know why they look that way and will try to prevent it from happening again.
The first set I want to highlight is Florida running a guard baseline before making the post entry pass. In this first play, Erving Walker runs baseline off of screens from Tyus and Macklin to catch the ball on the wing. Butler decides to play these screens straight up, as a hedge or switch from Macklin’s defender, Andrew Smith, would put Macklin in a much more favorable position than if Smith stayed at home.
A hedge would have left Macklin open for the slip of the screen and open dunk. A switch would have left Ronald Nored on Macklin, a major mismatch. Butler decides to let Nored run with Walker on his own and give him no help off the screens.
In our last post, we looked at the strength and weaknesses of Terrell Stoglin. After watching the tape on him, my main question coming away was how would new coach Mark Turgeon utilize him in the offense. Turgeon led teams have been some of the slowest teams in the nation each year, while one of Stoglin’s main strengths is his decision making on the fast break to get his team easy baskets.
This post stemmed from a desire to get a more educated look at why Turgeon’s teams are so slow and has morphed into a plea for someone to start tracking shot clock data for college hoops, which would cause further analysis on individual team’s possessions. From the article, tempo can be deflated if a team forces the offense of the opposition to use the majority of the shot clock. Also, a team can still run in transition yet look slow on paper if they use the entire shot clock on possessions in which they don’t get a quick basket.
So what characteristics does the teams coached by Mark Turgeon exhibit? I looked at Texas A&M’s NCAA tournament game against Florida State last year, as well as Wichita State’s 2007 NCAA Tournament game against George Mason. I feel comfortable using a 2007 game to show the trends of Turgeon teams because, as you can see from his coaching resume, his style has stayed consistent since 2003.
Note: Before we begin, I wanted to explain my methodology on one point. I talked about wanting shot clock data available made above. For the A&M – FSU game, the shot clock was consistently on display, so I recorded the time each possession ended – either by a shot, turnover or foul that led to free throws. If a team got an offensive rebound, I did not record the time the shot was taken if the follow up was taken quickly. If the ball was reset and the team ran their normal offense, I did record the time. Also, I stopped recording with about 2:30 left in the game, as A&M ramped up their pace in an attempt to comeback and were not playing their usual style.
That is why you will see a slight difference in the total number of possessions between FSU and A&M. Unfortunately, the shot clock data was not available for the Wichita State game, so we have a very small sample size for this data. Also, we have no other data for comparison, so take the figures with a grain of salt and interpret them how you see fit.
What we will find is that Turgeon’s teams slow the tempo on both the offensive side of the ball and the defensive side of the ball. Let’s start with a look at the offense.
Focus on defensive rebounds
Turgeon focuses heavily on protecting the defensive glass and preventing offensive rebounds. His teams have not finished lower than 67th in offensive rebounds allowed since 2003 and have finished in the top 11 in the nation 4 times since then. They almost always send 4 players to rebound and often send 5 to make sure they secure the missed shot.
While this does allow them to rebound well, it does not allow them to push the tempo. At most, they have one player who is able to receive the outlet pass but it would be foolish for that one player to push the tempo when he is outnumbered. This means they are forced to slowly bring the ball up the court, which slows down the pace of the game. In collecting shot clock data for this game, I characterized possessions used within 7 seconds of the shot clock starting to be possessions used the result of transition. In the FSU game, A&M ended a possession in the first 7 seconds only 8 times out of 56 possessions (14.3%).
They do not like to send 3 guys to defensive rebound, have the rebounder give a quick outlet pass and try to get a 2 on 2 or 3 on 2 break. They are taught to secure the defensive rebound before they turn up the court and the point guard is often coming back toward the ball instead of moving up the court. This severely limits the opportunities to beat the defense down the court.
I have to assume Tugeon will continue this in his new job at Maryland. The Terps are lacking in height this year, so it will be necessary for them to send as many players as possible to the defensive glass to make sure they secure the rebound. This could prevent transition opportunities for Stoglin, however, as he will be moving toward the rebounder to get the ball instead of moving up court.
I am a big proponent of setting screens against a zone to get players open, as seen in this post. Even though it seems counterintuitive to set screens when players are defending a zone instead of a specific man, screens can still be effective against a zone defense in getting players open, as we saw in the previous post. Today, we will see that even ball screens can be useful against a zone in helping the ball handler get to the dangerous spots on the floor.
It must be noted that we are not referring to pick and rolls but simply ball screens. There will likely not be space for the screener to get open bit if the screen is well designed and executed, it can assist the ball handler in penetrating the gaps of the zone which ultimately helps the offense get open shots. We are going to take a look at one example that Wichita State used in its NIT game against Virginia Tech last season.
In this play, Ben Smith is going to receive a ball screen set by JT Durley on the left side of the court. The high post man, Gabe Blair, sees the ball screen and cuts to the rim to open up the lane. Meanwhile, the opposite wing defender, Erick Green, is forced to stay on the near side of the court to defend Toure’ Murry, who is properly spacing the floor.
Wichita State had an overall offensive rebounding percentage of 35.9% (52nd in the nation) during all of 2011 with a 33.4% in conference play (1st in the MVC). The team did have an effective height of +1.3 (77th in the nation) so some of their prowess came simply because of their height advantage. However, they also had a clear strategy to attack the glass which helped them attain their offensive rebounding percentage.
What Wichita State loves to do is after a player attempts a long jump shot from the wing or corner, the player on the opposite side of the floor crashes the back side of the glass. The player often has a free cut to the rim, as the defender usually neglects to box out the weak side wing player. By crashing hard to the rim from the weak side, this gives the Shockers the advantage on the glass and helps them increase the percentage of offensive rebounds they grab.