DeCourcy: Can Princeton-based scheme win a title?

Basketball junkies will enjoy this entry from The Sporting News. I found the following quote pretty interesting:

Georgetown needs to look hard at its approach. I’ve long been suspicious about whether a Princeton-based scheme can produce national championship-level teams, and the Hoyas’ two most recent experiences against elite competition didn’t erase my doubts. Against Ohio State in last year’s Final Four, star forward Jeff Green took only five shots in 40 minutes. In this season’s loss to Memphis, center Roy Hibbert shot eight times and didn’t get to the foul line.

When your best players are reduced to peripheral roles in the biggest games, there might be something wrong with the system

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53 Responses to DeCourcy: Can Princeton-based scheme win a title?

  1. packgrad93 01/08/2008 at 2:34 PM #

    “Muscle means more than you think. Coaches love to say this is a guard’s game, and the media love to quote them saying it, but ultimately size and strength make a huge difference. Speed plays well in November, when teams still are figuring out how to defend (think Texas shredding UCLA), but strength gradually wears down even the quickest, most creative teams (think Texas succumbing to, indeed, Wisconsin’s Brian Butch).

    Muscle mattered for Pitt against Duke, for N.C. State against Seton Hall, for Miami against nearly everybody on its schedule. Of course, no bunch of giants is going to win without guards getting them the basketball, but it’s not easy to win big without bigs.”

  2. primacyone 01/08/2008 at 2:40 PM #

    “Can Princeton-based scheme win a title?”

    No. Never.

    “When your best players are reduced to peripheral roles in the biggest games, there might be something wrong with the system”

    Amen brother. Say it again.

  3. Mr O 01/08/2008 at 2:41 PM #

    Georgetown’s frontcourt took more shots than Ohio St(30 vs. 21). Roy Hibbert took 13 shots himself and their forward took 11. Ohio St. was doubling Green forcing him to pass out of the double team.

    This is a complete reach by this journalist.

    Georgetown making the final four showed that they were a national championship calibre team. If you define national championship calibre teams as only those teams that win the title, then there are only 10 national title calibre teams in the last 10 years. Once you get down to the final couple of games, anything can happen.

  4. packgrad93 01/08/2008 at 2:44 PM #

    “When your best players are reduced to peripheral roles in the biggest games, there might be something wrong with the system”

    how about this clown looking at more than 2 games before making a false claim like that.

  5. Rick 01/08/2008 at 2:47 PM #

    I used to not think so but I have slowly changed my mind. IF you use it to drive to the basket and create shots then IMO it can. It needs to incorporate a big man and get him the ball in the lane where he can score and it should not rely only on the three.

    There was no way it was ever going to win anything the way it was played here.

  6. RAWFS 01/08/2008 at 2:48 PM #

    Query me this – how many times has a Princeton-style offense won the NCAA in the modern era?

    I’ll not go as far as saying ‘it can’t happen’ but will say that teams with solid D’s should be able to counter the offense and that it would make it very difficult to do. Georgetown might be the one to break through because they have the best athletes of any team running it and at the end of the day that can make the difference.

    Herb Sendek has gone to the Flex nowadays, right?

  7. Mr O 01/08/2008 at 2:54 PM #

    Herb ran some flex last year, but not sure about this year. I think last year it was mostly due to personnel.

    Teams with the best players usually win more national titles no matter what offense they run. Ohio St. had the #1 draft pick and one of the top PGs taken in the draft. Memphis is another bad example used by this writer. They are also one of the most talented teams in the country.

  8. BillyVest 01/08/2008 at 3:07 PM #

    Herb Sendek has gone to the Flex nowadays, right?

    Not sure what you call it but it isn’t what he was running in Raleigh.

    He inherited a stud big man, in Pendergraph, and the ASU games I saw, when they played in Maui, most of Pendergraph shots came when he was posting up, with his back to the basket. When Boetang came in to spell Pendergraph, he was also posting up too.

    His team still shoots the three, but he’s not living and dying by them, like he did when he was here. He’s using his big men to get easy two point shots, by posting up.

  9. Akula Wolf 01/08/2008 at 4:06 PM #

    Leave it to a sportswriter to manufacture problems where none exist. In terms of points per possession, Georgetown has ranked in the top ten nationally for three straight years, including this one. And they heavily involve their best players, as every team does; the system is totally irrelevant in this regard. But hey, let’s cherry pick two “big games” (those were the only ones that qualified?) and jump to a stupid conclusion.

  10. packgrad93 01/08/2008 at 4:31 PM #

    “He’s using his big men to get easy two point shots, by posting up.”

    Like he did with Ced. Couldn’t do that with Collins. His post game was limited & actually had a good 3pt stroke. Most offenses are taylored to the team’s personnel year-to-year.

  11. xphoenix87 01/08/2008 at 5:12 PM #

    The article offers a pretty poor argument by just citing two games, there is actually valid reasoning behind the idea that the Princeton isn’t a good offense for high-talent teams to run. Two things that the Princeton does are more apt to allow a worse team to beat a better one.

    First of all, the Princeton slows the game down. The less possessions there are in a game, the more likely it is that an inferior team will beat a better one. For example, I wouldn’t have much chance at beating Ray Allen in a three-point shooting contest where we each took 100 shots, but if we both just took one shot, I might get lucky and win. The same concept applies to a basketball game, the less possessions, the greater chance of the more talented team losing.

    Second, teams running the Princeton shoot a lot of 3s, which also favors the less talented team because three-point shots are less consistent. As we saw over the course of Sendek’s tenure at State, if a princeton team gets hot from beyond the arc, they can beat a superior team, but if they go cold, they can lose to an inferior team.

    Combine less consistency and less possessions, and you get a style of play that favors the weaker team. This is why I have long stated that the Princeton is a great offense for below-average or mediocre teams, but isn’t a great offense for top-tier teams. Does that mean you can’t win a title with the Princeton? Not at all, but it probably isn’t the best choice.

  12. bTHEredterror 01/08/2008 at 5:14 PM #

    I believe no offensive system ever won a national title, so therefore no system could lose it. It’s largely how you play on the other end and you’re talent. We would have experienced a similar level of success in the Hodge years with a flex-system.

  13. DAMangum 01/08/2008 at 7:00 PM #

    Anyone remember Cedric Simmons getting the ball at the top of the key everytime we started a play?

    That worked really well!!

  14. redfred2 01/08/2008 at 7:08 PM #

    PO…flex…two man game, like, man on man…box and one…zone, they’re all OPTIONS. And they all work great, at different times. None of them work all of the time every time though.

    That’s where the coaches who use them exclusively, all of the time, every time, are missing the boat in my opinion.

  15. redfred2 01/08/2008 at 7:16 PM #

    “Anyone remember Cedric Simmons getting the ball at the top of the key everytime we started a play?”

    Yes I do! I loved that! Those are some great memories!

  16. redfred2 01/08/2008 at 7:31 PM #

    ^xx87, very good analysis!

    Kind of reminds of another very ‘offensive’ theory, the one that precipitated the invention of the shot clock.

  17. redfred2 01/08/2008 at 8:12 PM #

    “Herb Sendek has gone to the Flex nowadays, right?”

    “Not sure what you call it but it isn’t what he was running in Raleigh.”

    WHY, ” “, WHY??? Why would you decide to change now? C’mon coach, just give it some time. Don’t be so wishy washy, afterall, nobody likes a quitter.

  18. choppack1 01/08/2008 at 8:40 PM #

    If a run-n-shoot based offense can win a Super Bowl, a spread offense can win a college football national title, a modified Princeton offense can win a national championship in hoops.

    I consider a modified PO very similar to a spread offense in football. You incorporate basic, sound principles and fundamentals, w/ some trickery – and an option long-considered by teams w/ superior talent high risk – outside shooting.

    I’ve always thought that if Sendek had been able to ink a very good PG, the offense would have been almost unstoppable – the spacing it incorporates would have led to tons of easy baskets.

    A pure, by-the-book PO isn’t the offense for a good program to run. However, a modified one – like the one Georgetown runs or the one NC State ran, could win championships…Just because it hasn’t yet, doesn’t mean that it won’t.

  19. gopack17 01/08/2008 at 10:13 PM #

    Ive been reading this blog for a couple years now and you guys do an awesome now and I dont know why buy I felt like posting tonight, so heres my two cents.
    It seems to me that for the PO to really work against a good team, you’ve got to have hot shooters all the time.
    When Herb was here we’d be cold and continue firing 3’s, and that simply is never gonna work. Some nights you could try all you wanted and not be able to hit the ocean. Thats just how it works.

    I dont see any way a team can stay hot enough shooting against NCAA tournament level teams for 6 games to win a championship.

  20. Rick 01/09/2008 at 7:57 AM #

    “I’ve always thought that if Sendek had been able to ink a very good PG, the offense would have been almost unstoppable – the spacing it incorporates would have led to tons of easy baskets.”

    It was never going to work under Herb. We did not run it like GT runs it. We did a weave and heave where we relied on the three exclusively. They drive and feed their big man. He experiemented with it while he was here, it did not work so he is trying something else in the desert.

    BTW he is playing alot of zone out there too. Apparently all the moisture here caused his brain to rust and thus not able to change.

  21. haze 01/09/2008 at 8:31 AM #

    Can it work? Yes. I assure you that Jason Kidd’s Nets would win the NCAA’s, were they a college team.

    It’s about the personnell and, frankly, about the way the system is run. Is it efficient in and of itself and is it flexible to account for different line-ups and defensive challenges? On the latter point, no system is ALWAYS the right one. You have to change gears from time to time. On the former point, I always thought that Bielein’s version of the PO was MUCH more impressive (e.g. crisper, more fluid) than the one Herb ran or even what JT3 runs at Georgetown. Given the right talent, either JT3 or Bielein could make it happen.

  22. packgrad93 01/09/2008 at 9:19 AM #

    “we relied on the three exclusively.”


  23. Rick 01/09/2008 at 9:29 AM #

    You are wrong and everyone knows it. Even Herb knew it was a dumb way to play as he has changed it.

  24. PacknSack 01/09/2008 at 10:16 AM #

    There also seems to be an assumption that a cornerstone of the PO was to hold the ball until there were 10 or 15 seconds left on the shot clock. The PO was designed to get the best available shot at any point in the possession. If the players don’t run it efficiently, with constant movement, rubbing screens and cuts to the basket, it easily bogs down to a weave and heave.

    The problem I have with it in general is that it is easier for defenses to disrupt it than it is to run it efficiently for almost 40 minutes.

    That being said, Herb has been gone for a year and a half and to post this item and start this discussion — knowing exactly where it was going — is bush league for this blog.

  25. beowolf 01/09/2008 at 10:26 AM #

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