Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Does Duke Run an “Offense” and Does it Matter?

A consensus seemed to arise at the end of Duke’s season. That consensus was Coach K’s team didn’t run any semblance of an offense. Now, I’m the first to admit I’m not great with x’s and o’s. I’ve read my fair share on coaching concepts but having never actually coached any, I don’t think I’m qualified to critique that aspect of coaching. Plus, I often question how much gets thrown out the window once the game actually begins, but that’s another topic.

I thought of this again after Jalen Johnson committed to Duke and we got the usual local commentary about how Wisconsin would rather have kids that want to be around and develop for 4-5 years. The comments about Duke coaching came up again as well. 

The eyeball test in March told me Duke was a mess offensively. It seemed like a lot of 1 on 5 while those veteran UCF, VPI and dirtbag Spartan teams were more disciplined and efficient. Maybe these one and done’s were being done a disservice playing for the Duke’s and UK’s of the world. I better check KenPom.

I looked at the last four years of Duke, a one-and-done factory and the paragon of talent development, Wisconsin. 

Team A:
2016: 4th in offensive efficiency, 194th in pace (68 poss. per game)
2017: 6th in offensive efficiency, 175th in pace (68 ppg)
2018: 3rd in offensive efficiency, 93rd in pace (70 ppg)
2019: 7th in offensive efficiency, 72nd in pace (72 ppg)

Team B:
2016: 89th in offensive efficiency, 344th in pace (63 ppg)
2017: 33rd in offensive efficiency, 334th in pace (63 ppg)
2018: 83rd in offensive efficiency, 347th in pace (63 ppg)
2019: 62nd in offensive efficiency, 331st in pace (64 ppg)

Now, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out which team is which. So, I ask the question, which offensive approach is better? FWIW, neither team has made a Final 4 in this stretch. One has made 2 Sweet 16’s, another has made 2 regional finals and another Sweet 16.

What it does tell me, is two things. Whatever Duke is doing on offense works. Single-elimination tournaments are crapshoots but maybe if Duke was more disciplined on offense, they’d be even scarier. Or make sure to have shooters to go with front court monsters. That’s a roster construction issue.

Basketball is played many different ways. Systems abound but when it comes to offense, you can question Duke all you want, but they’re pretty efficient and a few bounces from having two more Final Four appearances. It seems to me, playing there has quite a few bonuses than playing for a school that “develops” players the right way.

No comments: