Which defense?

  • Which defense should benefit most from lowering the shot clock from 35 to 30 seconds - M2M or zone?

    I’m thinking we should gain an advantage with our sticky M2M. One of the biggest negatives about M2M defenses is the ability to stay tight throughout the shot clock… all the way to the end of the shot clock. Knocking 5 seconds off means we can keep a higher energy and have to keep it holding up 5 seconds less.

    Zones always have seams that can be attacked rapidly and get a shot off. Perhaps it is partially contested by weak side help, so it isn’t wide open… but there seems to be more opportunities to get off a fairly decent shot within 30 seconds.


  • @drgnslayr I don’t think it’s a big advantage either way. I honestly don’t think the shorter shot clock is going have near the impact most think outside of a few programs like Wisconsin and Virginia that like to play as slow as possible. If it has a bigger impact one, it’ll obviously be the M2M defense because it’s 5 less seconds of chasing, but there’s so few possessions in a game where you’re chasing for that long that I really don’t think it’s going to be a significant impact.

  • @drgnslayr Theoretically your half court defense shouldn’t change too much. The only team to really dominate for any period of time playing zone has been Cuse. But they commit to it and recruit for it. Plus, shots that you are taking inside of 10 seconds are usually not that high of a quality.

    But, teams that press could definitely have an advantage. Instead of getting the ball across the court with 28 seconds on the shot clock it is more like 22. And then if you want to run a set play, you are down to closer to 15-18 seconds. If that set play gets busted, you won’t really have time to reset or anything. Where you would have at least been able to reset to an iso type of a play on the old clock.

    As deep as we are on the perimeter this season, plus a rim protector in Diallo, I would think we at least pressure the ball handler up the court a little bit. It isn’t worth is with the 35 second clock. But, like i said, if we can prevent any resetting of the offense and force up tougher guarded shots we will be better off.

  • @Kcmatt7

    Yes, the Orange recruits very specific players for their zone and that is a big reason why they do it well.

    IMHO, I think teams with good guards and depth at the guard positions has a huge advantage with a shortened clock. They can better beat full court pressure, and the top guards can attack well off a spread defense, punishing those teams that run full court pressure. I like what we have. We have good depth. Frank and Devonte are very capable PGs and can get through most presses. We have the luxury of playing both at the same time when called for. I think Svi is 3rd for ball handling skills and there will be times that we need his skills in big games. He is our fall-back ball handler.

    So… will we run more press this year? We definitely have the depth to do it, and the quickness, too.

  • I think any good defensive team has a distinct advantage with the shorter shot clock because more shots will come with the clock running down. The actual type of defense doesn’t matter - you can zone it like Syracuse or man up like Virginia, or press like Louisville - if you are sound, the shorter clock will play to your advantage.

    I am curious to see how officials handle it. I would guess that many teams will try to draw fouls with the clock running down. I’d be curious to see if there are more bailout calls this season against the shot clock.

  • @drgnslayr

    Defense that starteth as 2-2-1 3/4 press of court

    And falleth back into defense

    That switcheth most from zone

    To man to man

    And back again;

    That is the one.

    –Willam Shakesbate 1.0

  • I think Huggy Bear has a grin the size of West Virginia about now…

    Will we still have a 10-second back court time clock? Or is that moving to 8?

  • MAN to MAN DEFENSE. And play it like a MAN, as Self would say…

    2008 set the standard for Self’s system.

    2012 team only made it to champ game because they dug down, played D, and clawed their way back from behind in several memorable games. That team had tremendous heart, but no depth.

    Agree with drgn, that shorter shot clock will favor keeping defensive intensity throughout the opponent’s possession.

    Let’s see what Self does, but I got a gut feeling I know what his call will be.

  • @drgnslayr Still 10 seconds. Huggins isn’t enamored with the changes and even mentioned that he may not do what he did last season. I think his comments there are a bit counterintuitive.

    “We pressed to speed people up,” he said. “We needed to speed the game up and be able to score with numbers because we weren’t a very good halfcourt team. … If we do what we did last year, it won’t help us.”

    Below are some additional quotes from Huggins. I find it very interesting and it goes to the point I’ve made before about Self permitting games to become low possession games, and compromising our chances to win (as the more talented team). The fewer possessions, the more likely a lesser team can win (generally):

    “Think about the guys we consider the great coaches of all time, and they ran great offenses,” Huggins said. “They controlled the game with their offense. The more they reduce the shot clock, the more the best players are going to win. You can’t run a lot of offense. You can run a quick-hitter in a ball screen or spread everybody and drive it.”

    Huggins also said - “The more rule changes we make in that regard, the best players always win,” Huggins said. “If you think that’s what basketball is, then it’s great for the game. I don’t think that’s what it’s about, so it’s not great for the game. When you lower the shot clock for more possessions, the best players are going to win. Maybe not the best players but the collection of best players are going to win. More possessions favor better players.”

    Here’s the entire article.

  • @HighEliteMajor

    " I think his comments there are a bit counterintuitive."

    I agree.

    I don’t think it is wise to put out generalizations… like… “speeding the game up always helps the better players or teams.” On a quick thought, that sounds correct. But in reality, it would be a huge mistake for a coach to coach his strategy off such broad proclamations.

    Every team, every player… is unique. The best way to play is to test the waters, based mostly on scouting. Teams and players typically have their “sweet spot” pace… and the better teams are those that sense where their sweet spots are and play to get them out of their comfort zone.

    Huggins knows this. Last year, he often gave up lots of easy baskets to teams early on… enticing them to a faster pace. It seemed reckless… but it wasn’t. As the game progressed, many of those teams got tired, and the WVU defense ratcheted up the pressure.

    It is hard to successfully change the pace of the game and go from success to more success at a different pace. Once the game is established at a certain speed, there is no guarantee a team can slow it down and be successful… even if they are trying to slow it down to a speed they typically play well at. Some teams can do it… sometimes. Huggy Bear knows all of this. He is a very good coach, make no mistake about that.

    There is no way WVU would have had the success they did have last year without Huggy having a very good understanding of the game. I thought he did one of the better coaching jobs last year in all of D1, when considering what he had to work with. It is little wonder why he has won so many games in his career and is one of the better paid coaches.

    It wouldn’t surprise me if Huggy took a page out of Self’s playbook by bluffing his hand as a “Riverboat Gambler.”

    Dropping a nickel off the shot clock should help a strategy like what Huggy ran last year. They seem to either give up points quickly when teams were capable of running secondary breaks… and also those teams that were able to fight off the pressure and play a slower game and break down the WVU defense in the latter seconds of the shot clock. Well… there will be 5-seconds less for the WVU defense to hold up and play tight.

    And think of the psychology. All D1 teams are going to get stuck now and then with shot clock violations as they adjust to the 30-second clock. Teams will be a bit hypersensitive to keep the pace up. It plays right into the hands of Huggy and his all-out full-court pressure. He will be able to put opponents in a hole because they will be starting their half-court possessions with about 20-seconds left and in awkward positions… like a guard being trapped near the half court line and sideline. When that happens… you can take another 5 to 10-seconds off the shot clock just to get the ball and player spacings in a position to run offense. Now they are down to 10 to 15-seconds left. Perhaps they can work around a couple of passes before being forced into a shot.

    I think Huggy would make a huge mistake if he abandoned the strategy he used last year. What he should have been doing since last year is EMBRACE his strategy. Go out and recruit the right players, just like Syracuse does for their zone. And recruit plenty of depth… guys with good, fast legs and reflexes… with long arms. Play the attrition game. If they do that, they should improve on what they did last year and there is plenty of room to develop this strategy into something extremely successful over the coming years.

  • Huggins is doing some double talk here. His hypothesis is: the more possessions superior players get a chance to score the more likely they are too outscore and out defend lesser players; ergo more trips make better players more likely to win.

    But consider that the fewer trips made, the greater is the percentage contribution of each score to total score; i.e., each basket and each stop are worth more in a low possession game than in a high possession game. So: if you have the better players, then as total possessions reduce, your superior players ability to score more often and get more stops means the advantage of your superior players is magnified. In turn your superior players get to decisive leads in fewer possessions and so control the game sooner and longer.

    From a risk management POV:

    Low possessions magnify the value of both makes and stops, but at the same time magnify the value of your own misses and opponent scores.

    High possession games decrease the value of successes and decrease the cost of failures.

    Thus, low possession games are the way to play, if you are an efficient scoring team that makes few turnovers and mistakes. Low possession games are also the way to play if you are foul prone and lack depth.

    High possession games are the way to play, if you are an inefficient scoring team that makes turnovers, but defends well.

    Depth, scoring efficiency, turnovers and defensive skills determine whether to play high or low possession games, not degree of talent.

    Superior players to an opponent’s are superior regardless of number of possessions. The question is which tempo makes the most of their superior talents?

    And that depends on how well they guard, protect, and how many of them there are (i.e., depth).

  • @drgnslayr

    I think you hit nailed it with the Riverboat Gambler analogy. Huggins went out and recruited for his new style of play so don’t let him fool you. Myers the Juco kid, played for a fast paced pressing team in the Jr college ranks. He also got a good top 100 kid in Ahmad who will help them. Plus everyone not named Staten returned so he’s full of crap if he thinks he’s going to change his style again because of the rules. This is essentially the same team minus a couple seniors who were largely responsible for the games they won.

  • @jaybate-1.0

    Each possession has more value in a lower scoring game, but each possession also has a randomness factor, and that random chaos is much more prominent in a lower scoring game.

    Take the KU vs Northern Iowa game from 2010. KU was far superior in true talent. for the game, KU took 54 shots and shot 44%, which was below their year on average of 48%. They lost the game by 2 points.

    On the season, KU shot about 5 more shots from the field and about 6 more FTs than the 18 they shot that day.

    If KU shoots their normal averages of shots that day (5 more FGA and 6 more FTs), that probably is worth another 8 points at a minimum (assuming KU makes 2 of the 5 FGs and 4 of 6 FTs from a team that shot 48% and 70% in those categories).

    KU was beaten by a lesser team because they simply were not able to get the necessary 8 more possessions to win that game. Even if we assume that because KU was 2 over their season average in turnovers, they should still have been able to squeeze out 6 more possessions (4 FGA and 4 FTs) KU should still have been able to find at least 4 more points, enough for a win.

    And then we have the random variance factor. Jordan Eglseder, UNI’s center, shot 2-3 from 3 point range in that game. For his CAREER at UNI, he made a total of 15 threes. For that entire season, Eglseder made three 3 point baskets in twelve (TWELVE!!) attempts. UNI got six points on threes from a guy that was a 27% career three point shooter, and who had made just one three ALL SEASON. If KU plays at their normal pace there, that doesn’t matter because the random chance that a guy hits a couple threes is washed away by the amount of possessions. But in a lower scoring game, his two threes meant a lot more than they should have.

  • One of Bill Self’s biggest achilles heels as a coach is that he doesn’t take enough advantage of the superior athletic abilities his teams have had since his time at Illinois. His ORU and Tulsa teams were typically athletically inferior and so playing slow was the way to give them a chance.

    In reality, 2008-09 and 2011-12 have been the only years KU has had the lack of depth to necessitate playing a slower tempo. Every other season, Self has had the horses to run and play fast, but rarely takes advantage of that athleticism. KU is a team that should be averaging 80 ppg, but I don’t think they have averaged that many in a year under Self.

    I agree with @jaybate-1.0, athletically inferior teams and teams with depth issues on paper are typically better served playing a slower tempo, and teams with superior athleticism and depth are typically better served playing a faster tempo.

  • @Texas-Hawk-10 To be fair, KU needed to play a slower tempo Wayne Simien’s last season so he could play max minutes and get max touches. At least that was Self’s explanation at the time.

  • @justanotherfan

    Losing a low possession game like that by 2 points is like losing a high possession by 6-8 points.

    Everything is a sliding scale in this stuff.

    So: the effects of the randomness factor slide too and there is really no net change in the effect of randomness. Randomness scales up and down.

    It is somewhat misleads and oversimplifies to say the real problem is needing 8 more possessions to score more.

    The real problem involved needing BOTH fewer TOs and higher FG% AND more stops at the other end. Insufficient stops stemmed from defense failing to strip sufficiently, and failing to both force more misses from lower percentage attempts and grab more of those rebounds.

    Its all of these on both ends of the floor that create the net effects that determine each team’s scores and so the game outcome.

    Basketball occurs on both ends of the floor and events of both ends of the floor combine for net effects.

    Frankly, the fewer the trips the fewer the chances there are for random variance to work net against you, but when it does the greater the impact it has.

    It is not clear to me yet if the reduction in accrued random variance and the gain in its percentage contribution to final score is a wash or not.

    I suspect that since Wooden and Smith and Rupp and Pitino represent winning big up tempo, and Knight, Coach K, Iba, Eddie and Self represent winning big with low tempo, that the risks and rewards of playing fast, or slow, are a wash, and that what is really decisive is adopting the tempo that the particular players you have any given season are best suited to play efficiently.

    Efficiency is, regardless of tempo, the holy grail of basketball.

    If you score, handle and defend more efficiently than the other team, at whatever tempo you play at, you are likely to win.

    The beauty of great talent is that if you harness it to the right tempo that allows it to play most efficiently, whatever tempo it may be, great talent and fitting tempo demolish opponents.

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