It's Getting Real (HV Weekly: 1/24/2020)

On Dayton, an ACC standout, and a jam-packed January

Welcome back to the Hoop Vision Weekly!

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Compared to last weekend’s slate of action — which featured half of the Top 32 (in kenpom rankings) matching up against each other — we have a slightly relaxed weekend ahead of us. And yet, the stakes are quite high this weekend, as the SEC/Big 12 challenge gives several teams a huge resume-boost opportunity, the Big Ten race continues to be tight, and a few of the smaller conferences see their marquee teams matching up for all-important late January tilts.

In this edition, we have a few newsletter-exclusive originals:

  • A write-up + in-depth video on Dayton’s juggernaut offense and how the Flyers have emerged as more than just a fun aberration from the Maui Invitational.

  • Matthew Giles (@hudsongiles) — a contributor throughout the season last year — returns to the HV Weekly with a spotlight on Elijah Hughes, the do-everything wing posting a remarkable stat line in the midst of Syracuse’s recent ACC surge.

Let’s go!!

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(*Reminder: Team rankings and score projections via
  • 30 games between teams ranked in the kenpom Top 100

  • 16 games between teams in Top 68

  • games between Top 48 teams

  • games between Top 32

And some of the fun ones

Highest-ranked matchups…

High-Major: Baylor (#5) at Florida (#29)
”Low-Major” Special: 
Loyola-Chicago (#86) at Northern Iowa (#48)

Biggest Projected Blowout…

Texas Southern 91, Miss. Valley State 70

Projected Highest-Scoring Game(s)…

McNeese State 97, Houston Baptist 84

Projected Lowest-Scoring Game…

Purdue 58, Wisconsin 55


Flying High, Toppin Charts

Over at Hoop Vision PLUS, we’ve talked quite a bit this season about shot selection:

(HV+) Why the best teams don't take the best shots

That article was written in October, but it’s held true for this season. The top three teams in the current kenpom rankings — Kansas, Duke, Gonzaga — all take fewer three-point attempts than the NCAA average, and all three rely heavily on the post-up.

One of our main points regarding shot selection is that personnel matters.

Post-ups are likely inevitable with talented bigs like Udoka Azubuike, Vernon Carey, or Filip Petrusev on the roster. However, coaching philosophy does have something to do with shot selection. Not to mention, the coaching staffs are responsible for recruiting these types of bigs in the first place.

The blue blood model of…

  1. Recruiting a plethora of size and athleticism

  2. Getting the ball inside

  3. Pounding opponents on the offensive glass

…still pretty clearly works. And executing that model (or even just step #1) while also finding players who can shoot and spread the floor is a difficult task.

Looking back to that post from October:

Again, it’s not impossible to produce a team with both elite athleticism and shooting. The results of a team like that can be historical — look no further than Villanova’s 2018 NCAA tournament run. But the stars have to align in some sense.

**Enter the 2019-20 Dayton Flyers**

With a 6-foot-9 near-lock NBA lottery pick (Obi Toppin) and a combination of shooting and athleticism around him — the stars have aligned for Dayton this season.

They currently sit at #4 in the kenpom rankings — behind only the three teams mentioned above — but Anthony Grant’s team does it in a more “modern” (or NBA-style) fashion. Yesterday, we released a 17-minute voiceover video breaking down the Dayton offense. Noted online critics (okay fine, just one Dayton fan) have left comments calling it “the most beautiful YouTube video ever made.”

Video topics include:
  • Obi Toppin transition rim runs

  • Moving out of the post after early offense and into Continuity Ball Screen

  • Hi Lo passes after switches in CBS

  • Flare/UCLA option in CBS

  • “Twist” action

  • Three of Anthony Grant’s most used sets

  • Ball movement and attacking closeouts

  • Kansas and Udoka Azubuike struggling vs Dayton to take away threes

So again — while the traditional model can still produce great teams, Dayton’s offensive statistics show the power of a team that is able to space the floor at an extremely high level.

Just about 80% of Dayton’s shots have come from three or at the basket (post-ups not included), well ahead of other top 10 teams.

See Dayton on an island of their own at the top right of that chart?

There is still plenty of basketball to be played, so some regression to the mean seems possible, but Dayton’s shot efficiency is in historic territory. Here’s how the Flyers currently stack up relative to every other team since the turn of the century.

Best eFG% offenses since 2000:
  1. 2005 Samford (60.3%)

  2. 2020 Dayton (60.0%)

  3. 2017 UCLA (59.8%)

  4. 2007 Florida (59.6%)

  5. 2018 Villanova (59.5%)

Best 2FG% offenses since 2000:
  1. 2020 Dayton (62.7%)

  2. 2016 Belmont (62.6%)

  3. 2018 Belmont (61.7%)

  4. 2019 Gonzaga (61.4%)

  5. 2017 Belmont (60.9%)

(P.S. — as always, shouts to Rick Byrd)


Standing Out in Syracuse

By Matt Giles (@hudsongiles) // HV Weekly Contributor

In a conference where “up-transfers” have become commonplace and often quite effective (Seth Curry at Duke comes to mind), Elijah Hughes should go down as one of the ACC’s most talented and prolific up-transfers in this era.

The Syracuse junior — whose career began at East Carolina — is one of two players this season (minimum 500 minutes) to post an effective field goal percentage (eFG%) above 54%, assist on +25% of his team’s buckets, and block more +2% of opponents’ field goals. The other is Loyola-Chicago mainstay Cameron Krutwig.

Others who have attained this statistical Valhalla? Current NBA standouts Delon Wright and Derrick White (not to mention Evan Turner and Jeremy Lin).

Hughes is capable of carrying the Orange’s offense for extended stretches. During a recent win over Notre Dame, the guard scored 26 points on a host of spot-up threes and dribble drives. Per, just a quarter of his shots have been assisted in 2020, and he is among the nation’s most efficient players in isolation, scoring 0.87 points per iso.

And yet, the 6-foot-6 wing’s accomplishments have largely gone unnoticed outside of western New York, which is puzzling — though nothing new — for Hughes. As The Athletic’s Matthew Gutierrez reported last fall, the guard didn’t attract much recruiting interest, and while other potential 2020 draftees spent their summers crisscrossing the nation playing in prestigious AAU tournaments, Hughes (who committed to ECU before his senior year) took summer classes to ensure he maintained his eligibility. Coupled with the state of the ACC this season, the junior is an all-league — and potentially ACC POY — candidate.

Picked to finish in the middle of the conference during preseason, Syracuse is now sitting at fourth in ACC; two of the Orange’s three conference losses have been within two possessions, a byproduct of Hughes’s offensive dominance and ability to exceed expectations. During the Orange’s recent four-game winning streak, the team has scored 1.10 PPP when Hughes is on the court, notching a blistering 53 percent eFG%.

Back again with a little section where we plug Hoop Vision products!

If you enjoyed the breakdown on Dayton, we know you’ll enjoy the debut digital products available at our web store at

With a focus on our “Watch Smarter” tagline, these digital products are invaluable resources for coaches — at any level — looking to gain inspiration from the top coaches/programs, or for fans looking to better understand the intricacies of the sport we all love:

Keep an eye out for more digital products as the season continues.



Sticking with the ACC, last week’s marquee matchup between Duke and Louisville also got a heavy dose of Hoop Vision attention.

From Saturday, a rare occurrence where a live telecast angle gives us insightful views on bedrock defensive approaches:

And after the game, Hoop Vision PLUS subscribers this week got a more thorough breakdown of just how Louisville went into Cameron Indoor and went back to Yum! Center with a season-defining win. An extended excerpt below:

Louisville “no-baseline” foot angles

In last week’s Starting Five, we looked at the “Texas Tech effect” — teams keeping the ball out of the middle and forcing baseline. But even with the popularity of the no-middle, there are still plenty of teams using the traditional pack line.

Louisville is one of the best pack line defenses in the country. Unlike Texas Tech, Louisville keeps the ball away from the baseline and sends it towards the middle instead. Watch Jordan Nwora’s foot angles in the clip below.

Nwora’s feet are slanted to force the ball into the middle towards Ryan McMahon’s help.

When Matthew Hurt does in fact drive middle, we can see another key principle of the pack line defense. Ryan McMahon stunts one-pass-away and then closes out to his man. Notice McMahon’s chopped feet and high hands on the close-out — a staple for a Chris Mack team. Jordan Goldwire’s lack of shooting enables McMahon to hold his stunt longer.

Duke small-ball offense

With Vernon Carey in foul trouble, Coach K decided to go smaller down the stretch with Matthew Hurt and Jack White instead of Javin DeLaurier. As a result, they went to a five-out offense.

One of the under-discussed aspects of going abnormally small (or vice versa) is that it can sometimes render the team’s primary offense obsolete. In some cases the smaller personnel simply doesn’t fit the normal offense — using Hurt or White in the same manner as Carey, for example, doesn’t make a lot of sense. And in other cases the person playing out of position simply doesn’t know the plays from that new spot.

For Duke, the result of the small-ball was a five-out offense with dribble drives and cuts. They did use White to set some ball screens, but Louisville chose to switch them — as you can see below.

Malik Williams was the key for Louisville defensively down the stretch. He could switch out onto Duke guard’s and prevent the small-ball lineup from gaining an advantage with ball screens.


Backing up from the team-specific coverage, we ran a chart on the nation’s top 100 teams (via kenpom) three-point shooting tendencies, split between catch-and-shoot and off-bounce three point attempts:

And for some added context…

Some more X’s and O’s and tactical nuggets from the week:

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That’s it for this week!

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