2011 Season Preview: The Good and Bad of Florida State’s offense
Earlier this offseason, we took a look at what made Florida State’s defense one of the best in country. It is obvious that what has held them back from being more successful is not their defense but rather their offense, as clearly demonstrated from Coach Hamilton’s resume.
Even though the team lost one of the best defensive players in Chris Singleton (as well as Derwin Kitchen), I have faith that once again, FSU will be a top defensive team. In games Singleton missed from 2/19 to 3/11, FSU allowed 0.861, 1.08, 0.865, 1.012, 1.057 and 0.845 points per possessions, respectively, against Wake, Maryland, Miami, UNC, NC State and Virginia Tech.
Will their offense catch up to their defense and propel Florida State to a more successful season than they have had the past few years with Coach Hamilton? Let’s take a look at what FSU does well on offense and what they need to improve on and find out.
One of FSU’s biggest struggles on offense is finding someone who can create their own shot off the dribble. They are an average team at best in creating off the dribble, as their perimeter players are not savvy enough to create their own shot. They can combat this by dumping the ball into the post and letting their big men work with the ball, which could open up space for the guards.
FSU’s big men are not thought of as strong offensive players but Okaro White had an offensive efficiency rating of 103.7 (in 21.4% possessions used) while Bernard James comes in at 107.9 (in 19.5% possessions used). When you can get the ball to a player on the block and surround them with dangerous shooters, they will have a great chance to score regularly.
One way that giving the ball to the post man will help the offense is that it will open up shooters if the defense chooses to double the post. FSU returns shooters in Michael Snaer (36.8%) and Ian Miller (35.8%), to name two players who defenses will need to respect. As we see in the first video, when Texas A&M doubles on the ball in the post, Derwin Kitchen is left open for the three point attempt. The second play is a perfect way to beat the zone defense, as Terrance Shannon makes a great pass out of the post. FSU’s big men will need to be able to pass out of the post to shooters, as they have several that can knock down outside shots this year. This will surely help their offensive production.
If the defense does not double, this leaves the post man isolated on their defender to try to score on the block. When a player like White or James is allowed to go one on one with a defender when they have good position near the basket, they are usually a favorite to score, unless they are facing a top-notch defender. They have the length to shoot over defenders and being that close to the rim means they are taking a lot of high percentage shots.
When you watch the video, you will see that Florida State does many of the same motions to get a post man open that we saw Florida run. You will also see Florida State’s big men gain position by using their strength to back their defender down to the block and pin them behind them. Once they get the ball so deep, they have a high percentage shot opportunity. FSU needs to get the ball to players on the block in order to open up their offense. This is one way they can get easy points, so they need to capitalize on this advantage frequently.
Pick and Roll offense
Florida State was one of the worst teams in the nation last year in scoring off the pick and roll. One of the main reasons for this is the angle the ball handler takes off the ball screen. The yellow line in the below frame shows the space between the screener and the ball handler (Michael Snaer in this scenario). This is way too much space to allow the primary defender to go above the screen and take away penetration. The green arrow shows what should happen off the screen, as Snaer should come off the screen shoulder to shoulder, putting him in a one on one situation with Jordan Williams. The red arrow shows what Snaer did, as he took a wide angle off the screen, allowing Pe’shon Howard to recover and force a turnover.
This will be a theme for several different guards as we will see in the video. Their guards are not quick enough with the ball to take such a wide angle and beat their defender so they need to use the screen to its full advantage in order to beat the defense.
Success off ball screens is crucial to most offenses, especially late in the shot clock. Not being able to convert off ball screens is a major reason why their offense struggles.
Not converting easy shots
This last point is what gives me some hope for the offense this season. The following video shows good shots that Florida State created that they could not convert. If Florida State can get these types of shots to drop next season, they will be a much better offensive team. If they continue to struggle with these types of attempts, they will struggle on offense again.
Several players on Florida State have said they believe their offense will improve this season. While they need to cut down on turnovers (23% last season, 311th in the nation) and convert the good looks they do get, they have a solid basis for an offense if they run it through their post players. If they can improve their offense, they will once again have the defense to be a tough team to beat.