Same Scheme, Different Shots (HV Weekly: 6/12/2020)

Part 2 of the space race -- ft. Canisius, Dayton, and Gonzaga.

Welcome back to the Hoop Vision Weekly!

In today’s edition:

  • New offensive charting tutorial for HV+ subscribers

  • A look at two teams (Dayton and Canisius) with similar offensive schemes, but very different results

  • Gonzaga’s offensive spacing

  • Links from around the basketball world

New at HV+: Offensive Charting Tutorial

Yesterday, we sent out an offensive charting tutorial to Hoop Vision PLUS subscribers.

The video covers different systems for charting offensive sets, individual players, and overall schemes. It includes examples of our video/analytics workflow from my time at New Mexico State.

A special thanks to Adrian Atkinson — a past Solving Basketball guest — who allowed me to share some of his North Carolina charting work in the video. Follow Adrian on Twitter @FreeportKid.

Video Outline and Timestamps

  • 0:00 Intro

  • 2:58 Explaining the game dashboard

  • 14:39 Offensive accounting report

  • 16:22 Michigan State horns rub

  • 18:35 Back to the offensive accounting report

  • 19:54 Measuring individual sets/plays

  • 24:44 Game-by-game matrix

  • 25:35 Adrian Atkinson's UNC passing stats

  • 29:20 Virginia offensive player charting

  • 35:38 Quick BYU offense video preview

  • 41:03 How Hoop Vision videos get made

Link: Offensive Charting Tutorial (HV+)

For access to the tutorial and the full archive of HV+ research, become a Hoop Vision Plus subscriber for $10/month or $100/year.

Spacing and Shot Selection

Spacing and shot selection are inherently tied together — both directly and indirectly. Of course, where a player catches the ball has an immediate effect on the potential shot. A player setting a screen and popping to the elbow, for example, is more likely to take a long two than a player popping to the three-point line.

Good spacing also has a cumulative effect. When an entire team’s spacing is optimized around the arc, it stretches the opponent’s defense — making it harder for help defenders to guard two players at once.

But spacing isn’t the only factor that influences shot selection. Back in October, we covered the three determinants of shot selection.

  1. The players/personnel on the floor

  2. The scheme (spacing and action) being run by those players

  3. The overall philosophy and communication of shot selection to those players

Same Scheme, Different Shots

Last season, Dayton and Canisius ran very similar base offenses. Reggie Witherspoon — the head coach of Canisius since 2016-17 — was previously on Anthony Grant’s staff at Alabama.

Both coaches used similar Continuity Ball Screen offenses with flare and UCLA action on the weak side of the floor.

Despite these stylistic similarities, the results for the two teams were very different. Dayton was a historically good two-point shooting team, finishing 2nd in the country in adjusted offensive efficiency. On the other hand, Canisius finished just 259th in efficiency.

The differences in shot selection between the two teams were even more extreme. Dayton stayed out of the mid-range almost entirely, while Canisius took a high volume of two-point jumpers.

Percentage of shot attempts that were two-point jumpers in 2019-20:
  • Canisius — 22.9%… 341st in NCAA

  • Dayton — 4.1%… 4th in NCAA

Below is a screenshot of the Canisius offense. Notice the way Marist is guarding the Canisius big — #10 Jacco Fritz — in the slot.

Canisius’s four big men were a combined 28-for-106 from three last season. As a result, opposing defenses could sag off of the player in the slot during empty ball screens — stalling out the ball screen and forcing a pass to the non-shooter.

The Canisius spacing was theoretically good. Like Dayton, they played with an open paint. But without the shooters to keep the defense honest, opponents simply loaded up to the ball.

For Dayton, placing Obi Toppin in the perimeter slot is a bit different than Jacco Fritz. One of those players draws a little more defensive attention than the other.

For many college teams like Canisius — without the personnel at the four and five to keep the defense honest — 5-out spacing is only so valuable.

That doesn’t mean there is an easy solution to the problem. (Adding Obi Toppin to the Canisius roster would have helped.) But it’s a reason why a shooting-deprived team might choose to play like this — maximizing offensive rebounds and free throws, while punting space altogether.

Gonzaga Duck-ins

Of the teams still playing with two “traditional” bigs, Gonzaga has set the standard for offensive efficiency. In the Zags’ base offense, they rarely have an open paint — instead ducking in a big while a ball screen or a drive occurs.

Even with the relatively clogged spacing, Gonzaga has finished number one in the country in offensive efficiency for two seasons in a row.

Mark Few will sometimes switch to small-ball and spread the floor — it worked particularly well this season at Arizona — but the Gonzaga big lineups have been able to still create efficient shots while also generating offensive rebounds and free throw attempts.

Is Few’s offensive model replicable?

The most recent Gonzaga bigs (Rui Hachimura, Brandon Clarke, Killian Tillie, and Filip Petrusev) have been extremely skilled and talented. They could play in the trenches out of the duck-ins or on the perimeter in throw-and-chase situations.

Link: Gonzaga’s Offensive Shift (HV+)

Bill Self and Kansas — the other notable Hi-Lo offense program — have been forced to go small in recent years due to bigs with more limited skill sets. Personnel matters.

So Gonzaga’s hyper-efficient style of play may only be replicable in the same way Villanova’s hyper-efficient style of play is replicable — with NBA-caliber talent. But regardless, the last two years have been impressive for the Zags despite going against the grain.

Next week… a look at the teams succeeding with 5-out space.

ICYMI from earlier this week

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