Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Triangle Offense: Hoop Dawgs In Year Two

In a very brazen move by Mark Fox last year, he uttered the words, "We need guys who can score. You can teach those guys to play defense, but you can't win if you don't score points." This was a very refreshing attitude around Athens, as recent history would indicate, the Dawgs couldn't do either of those very well. Their was no offensive game plan other than to pass the ball around the perimeter and then heave up a shot with 4 on the clock.

Gone are those days.

CMF has installed a version of the Tex Winter derived Triangle offense. I say "version" because the offense is extremely difficult to pick up quickly. The Triangle gets it's name from the triangles that are formed from the spacing required to run it. These triangles give the players better passing lanes and also create mismatches and discourage double-teams. The offense is predicated on reading and reacting to what the defense gives you. There are no set plays- crisp passing and sharp cuts create confusion and the offense exploits that confusion.

It requires very very honed fundamentals such as sharp passing from the low post, court spacing, footwork, and the ability to read defenses. We hadn't fully gained all the necessary tools to run it effectively last year, so Fox instituted a little simpler version of the offense.

When you spread the defense like is required for the offense to be effective, the lane is cleared out, which creates a lot of one-on-one post play, drives, and basket cuts. This makes the defense defend the whole court, which gives the offense many, many options. Quick passes to the weak side give the ability to attack very quickly with accurate passes on basket cuts.

I think that this year we'll get a better picture of what the offense can really do. Adapting to this offense after Dennis Felton's Joe Johnson-esque iso game is a tough hill to climb. I think our players will be much improved in their fundamentals, which will be a key to our success. Passing from the low-post was not very good last year, but I look for it to improve dramatically.

The addition of Gerald Robinson will be key and I think Sherrard Brantley will be a welcome addition on the perimeter. Robinson scored 1,000 points at Tennessee State before his two years were over there, and I am very optimistic on what he can do. We had exactly one threat from outside last year, and when he wasn't in the game, teams packed it into the lane to defend the post. We now have two legitimate outside threats, which hasn't been the case since well... I can't remember, and teams will have to respect that.

Fox seems to gravitate toward long, athletic scorers and we seem to have more of the scoring part than we have in many years. Thompkins and Price look to be skilled scorers and I believe Marcus Thornton will be a threat playing the 3/4 this year. Hopefully Chris Barnes can improve in this area and Donte Williams can get some minutes in, because next year will feature a lot of fresh faces at the 3, 4, and 5 positions.

With all things considered, we should see a tremendously more talented offensive team this year. Don't look for us to be at the bottom of the SEC in scoring. Last year UGA led the conference in FG% (46.9) and was third in floor percentage (54.4). In 2008, we ranked last in both categories. In just one year, Mark Fox has dramatically improved decision making as well as fundamentals, which is what those stats boil down for me. If the trend continues, I look for the Hoop Dawgs to have a surprisingly good season starting November 5th.

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