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Suggestions on improving our offense


1981 grad
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As I read comments on this board that Kent could go undefeated and having watched them play, I believe that our offense must get better.  We have seen a number of slow starts on offense and long scoring droughts.  Please post any suggestions on how this team can improve its offense.  Here are my three suggestions:

 

When Freeman gets the ball in the lane, Tribble always cuts to the middle for a quick pass.  It never happens and he just stands there and it makes an easy double team on Freeman.  It is part of the offense but it never works.  When we get Freeman the ball, stop the cut to the basket.

 

 

What is wrong with designing plays where we take a 15 foot jump shot.  This team struggles with the 3 ball and I rarely see any jump shot that is not a 3 ball.  Design some plays where players can get a short jump shot.  I think Tribble would benefit from taking shorter shots.

 

We need more players to score and attack the baskets.  Both Tavari Johnson and Nate Johnson have shown the ability to score.  However, they rarely attack the basket or even attempt a shot.  We need more balanced scoring.  Neither Hankerson or Hunter are inside players.  I think Groce has to encourage Johnson and Johnson to attack the basket or take some more shots.

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  • 1981 grad changed the title to Suggestions on improving our offense
1 hour ago, 1981 grad said:

As I read comments on this board that Kent could go undefeated and having watched them play, I believe that our offense must get better.  We have seen a number of slow starts on offense and long scoring droughts. 

I wasn't necessarily serious when I put that out there. But, for example, PCCC goes to NIU tomorrow night and in the past you may expect NIU to pull off an upset at home but it doesn't seem like that is going to happen this year with the bottom feeders. 

 

https://getsomemaction.com/stats.aspx?path=mbball&year=2022&conf=true

Edited by NWAkron
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While watching one of the MAC games over the weekend (maybe it was Broncos/Zips) the announcers talked about shooting 3s with the inside out movement.  They mentioned that there is a rhythm to that pass and shoot that raises the likelihood of a basket.  I'm not sure on the 15 footers they get the same set and shoot.

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The Zips have shot the 3 ball at a bad 32.7% clip this season. In order to score from mid-range with the same efficiency, the Zips would have to shoot at >49% from mid-range. To put that into perspective Freeman, one of the best shooters in college basketball within 5 feet of the rim, makes 57.5% of his shots. I'm guaranteeing no team in college basketball shoots anywhere close to 49% from mid-range. That isn't the answer.

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I don't really have much of a problem with the offense. We've got shooters (whether they make them or not) in X, Hank, Sammy, and Tavari. They've got the green lights. Kobe has a decent green light too, but has limited minutes and hasn't made them consistently. Nate Johnson is an underrated shooter, he keeps his attempts in check, takes good ones, and hits 40%. Tribble is a straight up slasher who's still pretty good at getting inside and getting to the basket, though I feel he should have a higher success rate when he does get it inside.

 

Watching the WMU game in particular, you can see the high basketball IQ of this roster when they truly run the inside-out. Freeman gets the ball and goes to work, or tries to. And the shooters on the perimeter move to get into position, inching away from defenders to create wide open looks. And Saturday, they were WIDE. OPEN. For example, this roster has put together a pretty underwhelming % overall from three, and they underperformed that by 10% on Saturday. If we're going to lose games because of missing wide open looks, so be it.

 

At times over the past couple years, Groce would draw up plays for Trimble to get open mid-rangers and he hit them very consistently. In hindsight, they probably should've done that more often. X has a nice stroke off the dribble in the mid-range, and he creates some of that action. Sammy and Hank do not have that touch. Nate Johnson has shown he can hit a little post fadeaway here and there. Tavari can shoot a floater in the lane better than anyone on the roster, he's just been surprisingly unable to get his own scoring opportunities in league play. However, he's had a handful of games where he gets 4 or more assists, and he doesn't have a very high usage rate. The Zips haven't had a distributor like that too often over the years, and he could be really great. He's got 12 more opportunities here to step up his game a bit, if he can take some of the onus off X, the Zips will be in great shape for March. As it sits right now though, he will be in for a very brutal awakening on 2/3.

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Taking a closer look at the numbers, and Sammy's improvement (so far) during MAC play jumps off the page. In week 1 (NIU, @BSU) he didn't attempt any 2-pointers and shot 2-7 from three that week.

 

Since then, he is 7-8 on 2s with most if not all of them being layups. Overall in MAC play, he's 13-30 from three, 11-23 in the last four games. His total eFG% (accounts for the value of the 3-ball) is 69.7%.

 

X, while carrying the team at times, has shot it just 27% from three in MAC play. His usage rate is higher than last year so it's not surprising to see that number take a dip, but I fully expect a progression back to the mean of 31-34% for X in the last 12 games of MAC play. Hopefully Sammy doesn't regress too far back toward his mean.

 

Hankerson has the most room for shooting improvement--by far. He can certainly get trigger happy at times, but even on wide open shots, he's overtaken Hunter in that department. He's 28% from three in MAC games, and just 30% inside the arc. 

 

Tribble is having his best year as a Zip, and while it can be hard to see from the eye test at times, you can see him contributing on offense much more as of late. In MAC play, he's putting up 7 shot attempts per game, making 50% of them. The kicker, though, is that he gets to the foul line 4 times per game and is shooting 79% at the line. If you take a look at niche skills in this league, his ability late in games to get to the line, and hopefully continue converting has been huge and will continue to be huge. Freeman's FG% is down 8 points from last year's MAC numbers, but he's shooting and making wayyy more FTs. Gotta keep that up, but I have trouble believing he can shoot >80% at the foul line over a large sample.

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For me, I'd like to see more movement and getting the ball more to the picking player on the pick and roll.

 

That being said, it's the same offense and strategy that has been successful before and John Groce knows way more than I do on this topic.

 

I heard Bob Huggins years ago state that everyone knows your offense when you go into a game.  As a result, much of college basketball comes down to running your designated play for 15 to 20 seconds, usually unsuccessfully because the opponent knows exactly what you're running, then running a pick and roll towards the end of the shot clock.  That has always stuck with me and I think it is borne out if you watch the games enough.  

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10 minutes ago, NWAkron said:

Is the 3 ball easier to shoot because the player knows pretty much the distance each time he shoots, so if there is an inside out play there's that catch and shoot rhythm?

 

with the 10 foot, 15 foot, etc it's a tougher shot

 

Pretty much. The worst shot in basketball is the long 2. A midranger is close behind that.

 

Say you shoot 3-10 from three in a segment of a game. that's 9 points in 10 attempts. Zips average 32% collectively.

 

Freeman takes probably 95%+ of his shots inside 8 feet using post moves, not jump shots. He shoots 58% from the floor. In ten trips, he would have to make 5-10 to equal and overcome the scoring output Akron would have during a 10 possession run of only 3s. 

 

Asking Sammy, Hank, Tavari, Nate, etc. to shoot 50% on shots they do not have in their arsenal is not realistic.

 

Dan D'Antoni explained it well after they lost a game to Pitt a couple years back something like 112-106. A reporter was grilling him about not getting it inside and he said that an open corner three averages 1.2 points per attempt where as a contested layup or back to the basket post play averages 0.78. I don't know what those numbers look like for the 2023 Akron Zips. Over the last couple of years, they are certainly better than average with Freeman's usually smart and skillful play down there that had him leading the country in FG% a couple of years. 

 

This team has one guy that can make a midranger with regularity. While they can probably get better finishing at the rim from Tribble, smarter shots from Freeman, or the obvious higher % of wide open 3s made, I don't really see the offensive strategy being an issue, moreso the execution.

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1 hour ago, NWAkron said:

Is the 3 ball easier to shoot because the player knows pretty much the distance each time he shoots, so if there is an inside out play there's that catch and shoot rhythm?

 

with the 10 foot, 15 foot, etc it's a tougher shot

@LoyalZIP is right in everything he's saying, but I think the big thing is that a 3 is worth 1.5x what a mid-ranger is. That's what really makes the 3 ball overpowered. Your odds of making a mid-ranger might be marginally higher, but your odds of making a 15 footer aren't 50% better than making a 21 footer to compensate for the point differential between the two shots.

Edited by kreed5120
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10 minutes ago, kreed5120 said:

@LoyalZIP is right in everything he's saying, but I think the big thing is that a 3 is worth 1.5x what a mid-ranger is. That's what really makes the 3 ball overpowered. Your odds of making a mid-ranger might be marginally higher, but your odds of making a 15 footer aren't 50% better than making a 21 footer to compensate for the point differential between the two shots.

so this is like a science?  who knew?  i didn't.

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I hate analytics!!!!   I am still upset at the guy who posted during the Zips UCLA game in the last 3 minutes that the Zips had a 96% chance of winning.  No, it is the Zips and we had never won a tournament game.  And of course the Browns had a 99.9% chance of winning the Jets game.  No, it is the Browns and they have a long record of finding a way to lose.  And next time we go on a long scoring drought and we keep missing threes because analytics tells us it is a better shot my response will still be that analytics is crap.  

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Analytics has its place in sports.  The numbers don't lie.  The mistake is made when programs place too much emphasis on analytics.  Exhibit A-  the Cleveland Browns.

 

I've spent countless hours studying shots from every distance on the court.   My conclusions:  1) shots that go in produce points; 2)  points are good; and 3) the team that scores the most points wins. 

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