Cat and the UCLA offense

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    So, I’ve really enjoyed the coaching talk over the past few weeks, and I’m curious as to why our offense flowed so well in the Duke game and sputtered more against UNC. I’ve watched the Caroline game extensively over the last few days, and as BotB put it in this article, we don’t run the UCLA offense much at all.

    The biggest thing I’ve noticed (and which BotB refers to) is the timing of the first pass in the offense. It is clear that Cat (or whomever) walks the ball down the court most times in order to allow the other four to line up. But this is too easy for the defense to get set and prepared. Once that happens, everything is predictable. Allowing the defense to set is like allowing them in the huddle, now you’re on the back foot and having to react to them.

    So, why doesn’t Coach allow Cat to press and look for transition and then bring it out top? This would do two very valuable things IMO. 1) It would force the defense to stay awake and watch the ball during transition, which doesn’t allow them to have all day to find their man and get set; 2) It allows the necessary time for our bigs to get down the floor and in position while the defense is somewhat busy with semi-transition defense.

    The other thing we don’t do well in this offense is spacing. If you study the high-post offense, you see that the line of four really should cut the court in half. In other words, this offense is actually a high-post offense and you need to leave as much room behind you as you have in front. This requires the offense to “start” much higher up the court, in fact just over the half court line, and exactly where a pressure defense will be trying to keep you. I have no idea why Coach has our bigs start out down on the block and then feel like the strong side move up to the high-post is doing anything!?!?! In fact, that is one more thing that makes the offensive set false start. For this offense to really work, it seems to me that your bigs need to drag their man up in line with the wing player. If this happens, there is plenty of room for the point (Cat or Lacey) to cut to the basket. For a beautiful example of this see the second or third possession of the UNC game when Cat breaks down on the left side of the court (of course, we don’t take advantage, though).

    The few times our offensive set has actually worked, it is because of a wrinkle that allowed space creation (like the times when the 2 and 3 guards switch just after Cat crosses the line and we are allowed to make the wing pass easily because of separation.) IMHO, Coach should have Cat press the ball in transition really looking to dribble back out but taking advantage of Turner or Lacey open on the perimeter. Our bigs should not run all the way down to the block only to wait for Cat to declare a strong side and then pop up to the high-post. They should just run 3/4 of the floor and post up on edge of the foul line ready to immediately play their role in the offensive set.

    The MAIN option in this offense is the wing pass and then a cut to the basket by the 1 or the high-post player. This only flows when we make this pass immediately from transition. As BotB mentions, when we actually have to set the offense, we’ve already lost. The offensive set unlocks all kinds of options when every defensive player has to keep readjusting their angles and position. Right now, they usually only have to keep the basket behind them because the ball is always in front of them.

    I say this because I really think Cat can thrive in this offense. I just don’t think the entire team (and maybe Coaches) is aware of how critical the early timing and spacing is to this offense.


    Excellent post. On side note our guards are notorious of picking up their dribble too often. This is hard to overcome when this happens because players have to get out of position to provide help for their teammate. Of course it often leads to a bucket because of the confusion. This is not an offense but rather dumb luck and success by accident.


    I’d like to know the +/- with Cat on/off the court for the Duke & UNC games. It looked very much like our offense was so much more productive when Martin was on the floor and Cat was not.


    IMO, Cats only problem is that he can’t make 3 pointers. Hell, he won’t even try em. That’s a confidence thang. There is a certain point where you’re actually hurting your team by not taking wide open shots. I’m only talking 3 or 4 possessions per game, but they still matter. Make or miss, whatever, Cat needs to put it up when he finds himself all alone. Otherwise, I really like his game.


    Statefans, yea, me too. How does one get that? I can’t actually go back and watch the Duke game b/c CBS doesn’t have it available.

    I think the reason our offense looks better with Lacey at point is because Lacey is a scorer, and this causes him to naturally create movement on his own. Lacey has run offense, attract attention and dish, AND take it and score options whenever the ball is in his hands. Cat really only has one of those most of the time. I think today’s game showed how much movement we can have on offense, without actually running our offensive set.

    canine, I agree if Cat had a shot, it would make him MUCH more potent. I think we missed him a little today, just the composure on the ball. But I will definitely take the win and prayers to Cat’s family.


    I’d like to know the +/- with Cat on/off the court for the Duke & UNC games. It looked very much like our offense was so much more productive when Martin was on the floor and Cat was not.

    Cat has had 6 games this season with a negative +/-:

    -2 Purdue
    -13 Wofford
    -6 WVU
    -17 Cincinnati
    -7 UVA
    -8 UNC

    Unsurprisingly, those are State’s 6 losses. But I’m not sure how helpful this info really is. He averaged over 31 mpg in those games, and they were losses.

    He was +4 against Duke.

    Meanwhile, Caleb Martin has 8 games this season with a negative +/-, including 5 of the same games:

    -2 Hofstra
    -5 Purdue
    -3 Tennessee
    -6 WVU
    -4 Cincinnati
    -11 UVA
    -3 Duke
    -9 UNC

    Cat’s +/- was better against all of UVA, Duke, and UNC. Caleb averaged just over 13 mpg in those games.

    Cody Martin has 4 games this season with a negative +/-:

    -3 Purdue
    -6 Louisiana Tech
    -3 UVA
    -2 UNC

    He was outstanding against Duke at +24.

    It’s hard to compare Cody’s sample against the others, because Cody didn’t play in 7 games and had averaged less than 10 mpg in the games he did play entering today. He has played very well lately, though.

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