Friday, June 13, 2014

Basketball on grass and the up-tempo offense

Over at SB Nation I take a look at how the Oregon Ducks find 5-man skill player lineups that offer them the most matchup advantages over their opponents.

In general, hurry-up/no-huddle (HUNH) offenses are at their best when they can find a particular 5-man lineup that the defense can't match personnel-wise, and then hammer the weak spots hard at high tempo so that the defense can't sub or adjust.

For instance, let's say that the Ducks are in what I labeled as their "Flying V" personnel. They find that if they flex out their TE that the defense isn't able to handle perimeter screens honestly. They can then run option or screen plays over and over again from flex-TE formations at a pace too quick for the defense to adjust.

When you hammer a defense over and over with the same plays, that's when they start to get desperate and start lunging and cheating to the ball in ways that set them up for misdirection, play-action, or other back-breaking plays.

Let's say that you miss a pass or they otherwise find time to sub. Let's say they've been playing nickel and now they bring out 3rd linebacker to play out in space who can handle your TE's blocks on outside screens. Well now you bring the TE back to the line of scrimmage and get him matched up in coverage vs their Mike linebacker while that new linebacker is now asked to cover a receiver or the slotback.

Now you hammer these new match-up advantages and see if you can get the defense reeling and cheating as they grow desperate to make plays. Consider also that they are getting physically fatigued in addition to becoming mentally fatigued because of the effort they are expending to stop these plays and the pace at which you are running them.

Explosive plays ensue.

Versatile hybrid players KILL in the HUNH, just as versatile players like LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, or Boris Diaw are killing in the NBA Finals. When you watch a HUNH team like Oregon, keep an eye out for the hybrid players because they are often a big part of what makes the engine go.

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