Overdependence on the Three?

Read this thought-provoking post from J.P. Giglio’s solid N&O ACC blog (which I’ve now quoted twice in three days). Excerpt:

Could part of that lack of progress be the overwhelming dependence on the 3-pointer? Basically, if State’s hitting from 3, it wins. If it doesn’t, it loses. The premise of the Wolf’s offense, as constructed in the Virginia Tech, UNC and BC games, prevents progress.

State needs to take more high-percentage shots, either by Cedric Simmons or dribble penetration.

I don’t think that’s a full explanation (I think the lower level of aggression has as much to do with it as shot selection – and this has been an issue in the vast majority of games after our January loss in Cameron), but it’s part of it. I know I was screaming for more looks for Ced on Saturday, and I can’t help thinking that the versatile Andrew Brackman could have added more variety to the offensive gameplan. And, as I’ve noted before, it’s damned near impossible to be hot from long range 6 times in a row, or even 4 times (to get to the Final Four). And if an offensive system makes national titles and Final Four appearances a virtual impossibility, then I don’t like it even when it produces regular NCAAT berths and/or 20-win seasons.

Just to clarify, I didn’t write this post with the express purpose of pissing off Mr. O.

About BJD95

1995 NC State graduate, sufferer of Les and MOC during my entire student tenure. An equal-opportunity objective critic and analyst of Wolfpack sports.

General NCS Basketball

34 Responses to Overdependence on the Three?

  1. Rick 02/27/2006 at 2:31 PM #

    I thought we were weaning our selves off this offense. But seems after the dissapointment of the Duke game we went back to the old standby.
    The Princeton offense will not win a championship.

  2. Jim 02/27/2006 at 2:37 PM #

    I’m telling you guys, this is the “prevent” offense.

    Someone who knows basketball needs to explain to me how/why we are so bad on O at the end of games. Is it because virtually all of our “set plays” are designed to be shot from 3, therefore they just overplay us there and thereby shut everything down we could possibly run? Also, we are much better on the fly with late possessions than we are out of a TO. The UConn win and the Clemson win both came on the fly. When we call a TO we normally don’t even get a decent shot off. When we got the rebound in regulation and called the TO I told everyone around me that we would not even get a shot off.

    Compounding the problem, the players we recruit to run the prevent offense get absolutely abused on D and on the boards by good, athletic teams. These teams we will see quite often in the ACC and past the first weekend in the NCAAs.

    It is all very self-limiting if you ask me.

  3. JSIMON 02/27/2006 at 2:39 PM #

    “And, as I’ve noted before, it’s damned near impossible to be hot from long range 6 times in a row, or even 4 times (to get to the Final Four). And if an offensive system makes national titles and Final Four appearances a virtual impossibility, then I don’t like it even when it produces regular NCAAT berths and/or 20-win seasons.”

    Tell that to West Virginia last year. Or all of Pitino’s Kentucky teams that went to several Final Fours. Or a lot of others that aren’t at top of mind at the moment.

    That said, the point that the N&O is making, is an accurate one. You can’t rely solely on the three-point shot. You have to have a combination of creating opportunities when the shots aren’t falling. And you have to create fouls and get to the line. That’s where we’ve fallen off (especially this season). BTW, I think the N&O blog is great. Almost as good as my own — http://www.simonsayshoops.com. 🙂

    Brackman I just can’t figure out. The reason he’s not on the floor is he can’t guard anyone. And for a 6-10 guy that’s bulked up, he can’t rebound either (and the guy’s he’s guarding sure are able to). Funny how you can get bigger but not stronger. He’s not finishing as well around the basket either.

  4. class of '74 02/27/2006 at 2:54 PM #

    To mention this team in the same breath as last year’s WVU team or any of UK’s Pitino teams is farcical. Both of those examples had both an inside as well as an outside game we don’t. Also, those teams were quicker than we are as well. We’ve had a few games with some inside presence and we’ve had several where the outside game was working but not many with both!

    Great teams impose their will on the opponents. We lack the ability to impose our will on those above a 100 RPI rating.

  5. VaWolf82 02/27/2006 at 3:06 PM #

    I didn’t write this post with the express purpose of pissing off Mr. O.

    Clean up on Aisle 3…someone left a straight line lying around.

    There are several offensive “schemes” that always seem to produce wins:
    – dribble penetration
    – entry passes to big men who can finish.

    Passing the ball around 35 feet from the basket is not one that has worked too well for State against decent teams. I don’t have the solution, but I’m tired of watching the problem.

  6. BJD95 02/27/2006 at 3:18 PM #

    Simon – I’ve gotta tell you – WVU didn’t make the Final Four last year. Why didn’t they make it? They blew an early 20+ point against Louisville because…they got cold from behind the arc and couldn’t really score any other way. They also got a favorable draw in playing a #2 seed (Wake) that apparently has a religious objection to playing defense.

    Plus, I agree with what you said – you can’t rely solely on the three-point shot. I don’t have a problem at all with the 3 point shot being an important component of the offense. Just not essentially the ENTIRE offense.

  7. Jim 02/27/2006 at 3:27 PM #

    If we had a time out before every offensive possession we would never score.

  8. Herb 02/27/2006 at 3:36 PM #

    This comment is in regards to how bad Sendek is on the last possession coming out of a timeout. I maintain you can’t fire a guy making the NCAA tournament every year, but when one aspect of your job performance is THAT bad, your boss needs to sit you down and say “this has GOT to change.” I don’t really think Lee Fowler believes in stern words for his coaches though.

    On another note, it seems to me like the first half of the season we had broken out of the mold of the past decade. We were going inside to big Ced, pushing the tempo, Sendek was getting emotional, we actually went on a run at the beginning of a second half, etc. Then all of the sudden we’re the same old team we’ve been seeing for a decade. What happened? Feel free to correct me if I’m wrong (I haven’t watched nearly as many games this season as I should’ve).

  9. Rick 02/27/2006 at 3:41 PM #

    I thnk when we lost to Duke, Herb thought the new offense would not work. And so went to what he knows gets him to the tournament.

  10. BJD95 02/27/2006 at 3:54 PM #

    It’s funny – I was more engaged watching the Duke game than I have been watching NC State basketball in a LONG time. It was actually FUN to watch. I just don’t understand how anybody watched that game and decides “Wow, we better not play that way ever again.”

    But we haven’t played with that kind of fire and offensive variety ever since. Too bad, because THAT team could have been very dangerous come March.

  11. WTNY 02/27/2006 at 4:12 PM #

    And compounding the problem of relying too heavily on the 3 is that such an offense reduces offensive rebound chances.

    This offense multiplies State’s rebounding problems!

  12. TVP 02/27/2006 at 4:17 PM #

    Well, one problem is that three of our starters (Ev, Atsur, Bethel) can’t do much offensively besides shoot the three.

    I don’t think there is anything necessarily wrong with our system – it’s just the way we take the air out of the ball at the end of games and run certain set plays that, as our friend Sean Marshall noted, aren’t that tough to figure out.

  13. BJD95 02/27/2006 at 4:20 PM #

    Atsur actually had a nice drive against BC. And all 3 of those guys started against Duke, and we still played aggressive, varied offense.

    You do make a decent case for substitution patterns that minimize the time all 3 of those guys are on the court together.

  14. Fish 02/27/2006 at 5:48 PM #

    Another major problem is abosultely no transition baskets. Look how many transition baskets UNC gets. Part of the problem is we seldom get rebounds but another problem is the fact that our outlet after rebounding and movement down the court is downright pathetic. We have no one to release too and push the ball up the court.

    Our defense also creates very few turnovers too. I thought the last few years we had done a reasonably (by Sendick’s standards) good job of deflections and steals. Part of that was Hodge and Sherrill. This year’s team has no one rangy and quick enough to step into that role (Whose fault is that? Ta Da—Sendick’s).

    Oh well, a Carnegie Melon graduate who is making in excess of $1M per year should be able to figure it out.

  15. JSIMON 02/27/2006 at 5:58 PM #

    BJD95 — you’re right. I blew it and was thinking WVa made it all the way to the Final Four. But they blew their lead against another three-point shooting team in Louisville (as you pointed out).

    Guess that proves the point that all that really matters who won/lost the title. The rest is just a blur. Hope I didn’t lose all my credibility.

    Anyway, my point wasn’t to compare this team to WVa or those Pitino Ky teams as ’74 suggests. It was just to say that teams that rely on the three-point shot as a critical part of their offense can be successful.

    I actually think this team does have the composition to mix it up on offense (which they were doing better earlier in the year). Grant and Bennerman, in particular, should be good driving from the wings. And both Bethel and Atsur have showed a bit of that too.

    The thing that’s really hurt our offense of late has been an inability to create turnovers. We’re not getting out in transition and getting layups (or three’s in transition).

    Against Duke, the Blue Devils chose not to double-team Simmons. Since, most teams are doubling now (especially since he’s not been great in handling the pressure) and are, generally, trying to keep us from getting back-doors by clogging up the middle, we’re being left open for jump shots. And we’re settling for them. The only other thing we’re getting is inverting and posting up our guards, especially Bennerman. That didn’t really do much for us either against bigger, stronger guards/small forwards like Jared Dudley, Sean Marshall and Reyshawn Terry.

  16. Kingfish 02/27/2006 at 7:04 PM #

    Jim says “If we had a time out before every offensive possession we would never score.”

    I concur 100%!!!! That is hilarious but so true. I would love to be a part of one of those timeouts to hear just a little bit of it.

    Coach K or Roy calls a timeout: those players are listening like their lives depend on it and they come out of that timeout like they just got injected with a shot of adrenaline.

    Zendeck calls a timeout and the players gaze around and some can’t even get to the huddle b/c one of the 18 assistants is blocking the way. They come out of the timeout dazed and confused like they just failed their Chemistry mid-term.

    On another note, Chucky Brown worked with Ced all summer and it showed. He has gotten progressively worse. Thanks Zendeck. Herb has never had a big man. Les was no big man coach but somehow Todd Fuller progressed.

    Why not play Fells and McCauley all year? They looked so far out of place during the UNC game it was pathetic. That is on Zendek. They can be really good players but in the Zendeck system, it will take 4 years to be serviceable.

    As far as this system is concerned, those thougts are mine exactly. How can you be hot for 6 games much less 4!!!!????

    Dribble penetration(point guard) and good post play are consistently going to win games and get you to promised land.

    Retire Zendeck.

  17. Sammy Kent 02/27/2006 at 9:13 PM #

    I concur wholeheartedly with the comments posted by Rick, Jim, BJD95, Fish, WTNY, and Kingfish.

    My $.02 is this: it’s not an accident that generally speaking in the games where we have launched more or about as many threes as twos we have actually struggled the most, even when we were hitting them at 45+%.

    Georgia Tech: 52 total shots, 27 of them threes (52%). Shot 48% on 3PFGs, but trailed all first half, and had only a one point lead with

  18. Sammy Kent 02/27/2006 at 9:17 PM #




  19. Sammy Kent 02/27/2006 at 9:18 PM #


  20. scott 02/27/2006 at 9:31 PM #

    A big problem I think is that our players don’t seem to improve much either individually or collectively as the seasons progress. We looked a lot better in early January against UNC, but now they look much better & we look worse. I think it reflects poorly on Sendick as a teacher of the game. I second Kingfish’s motion: Retire Herb.

  21. class of '74 02/28/2006 at 6:15 AM #

    I still believe this team’s biggest problem is they are too SLOW. JSimon brought up WVU and last night I watched a team that has some quickness to it’s game. WVU was able to penetrate both off the dribble and by passing from th outside. We on the other hand seem to swing the ball around too much and why? Beacuse we are too slow to take people off the dribble. The old saying of speed kills and our lack of speed is killing us!

  22. Rick 02/28/2006 at 9:27 AM #

    “But we haven’t played with that kind of fire and offensive variety ever since. Too bad, because THAT team could have been very dangerous come March.”

    100% agree. I actually had hope even after that loss. But it has been dashed by our play since that game.

  23. Mr O 02/28/2006 at 11:09 AM #

    BJD95: Duke took away our 3 point shots. That is the way to beat us. Just like teams that don’t shoot well from the outside, you take away penetration and post play and force them to shoot from the outside. That is just basic defensive strategy. Additionally, after the Duke game teams figured out that you have to keep Cedric from getting position.

    We didn’t have offensive variety during the Duke game. We only took 11 three point shots and Cedric took 1/3 of our total shots. We only had four players score more than 1 field goal and two of those were our 6th and 7th man.

    As far as getting the ball to Cedric, unfortunately he isn’t great at getting position because of his slight frame and he still isn’t a great scorer from down low. And he hasn’t played as well since the Duke game either. If we went to Cedric that many times in the Duke game and it worked, then what makes you think we wouldn’t try to keep doing that if the same opportunities were available? If Herb didn’t like to get Cedric the ball, then why did he let his guys pass it to him during the Duke game?

    Personally, I don’t think our problems are on offense. They are on defense, rebounding and ,at times, turnovers (Clemson game). But I guess it is more popular to focus on offense. Not to mention that sometimes winning and losing games comes down to talent. More talented teams tend to dominate no matter what style of play they employ. BC certainly didn’t dominate us. It was a close battle of two good teams. They were a pre-season top 10 team and it could have gone either way. Going into the year, we were most likely going to split the two games against BC and that is exactly what happened. The UNC game was definitely disheartening, but I don’t think that had anything to do with our style of play.

    Here are ACC rankings for ACC games only:
    Scoring – 3rd
    FG% – 3rd
    3 pt FG% – 1st 42.7%
    Rebounding Margin – 10th
    Steals – 8th
    Turnover Margin – 9th
    Offensive Rebounds – 12th

    It is odd how people don’t talk about our real areas of weakness and instead focus on areas where we are one of the best teams in the ACC. You could at least tie Herb’s approach to basketball to these weaknesses which I think is doable (i.e. offensive rebounding).

    There are still two really important tournaments coming up that are going to determine the success of this season. We are still ranked 19th, so hopefully that can translate to a 6th seed to give us our best chance to advance to at least the Final 8.

    Sammy Kent: Against Tech, we played horrible defense.

  24. JSIMON 02/28/2006 at 11:16 AM #

    Well said Mr O.

    It’s not our style of offense or shot selection that has been the problem — it’s our inability to create turnovers (on defense) and get easy shot opportunities and rebounding (especially offensive). Early in the year — when people liked this offense — we were getting out in transition because we were creating opportunities.

    And, as you point out, Ced hasn’t been a productive scorer since the Duke game. That’s because defenses are concentrating on him (i.e., double-teaming once he gets the ball in the post) and he is not good at getting position or handling the double-team once it comes his way. That’s not a slight at him. He’s dramatically improved over last season.


  25. class of '74 02/28/2006 at 12:41 PM #

    We don’t guard well because we are SLOW. We are less athletic than most good teams but usually our court IQ has gotten us by. For reasons I can’t fathom, our court IQ vanishes when the end of a half or game situations arise.

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