Pillars of a good NCAA Tourney Team

Now this is just my opine and so that means its only really worth something
to me, but feel free to agree, disagree, hate, love or what ever, I’m not a
snowflake, I can handle opposing views and discussions.

#1 Solid Experienced Guard Play - I feel this is almost the most important
aspect when it comes tourney time. They keep you grounded, give you
a coach on the floor, make good decisions. They are the bees knees.

#2 Solid Defense - I don’t care if it a man, press, zone, match-up, or what
ever. If you can play solid defense and really make it hard for the other team
to score or really have to work, you will be half way to winning.

#3 Good Passing Team - No matter your offense, if you can’t pass, you can’t
really get the defense out of position or scrambling enough to take advantage
of open shot or lanes. Too much dribbling just help a defense, but those good
passing skills can kill it!

#4 Rebounding - Personally I feel defensive is the most critical. You basically
eliminate extra shots from your opponent, but thats not to say ignore offensive
rebounds cause those extra shots are always nice.

#5 Free Throws - Free points, need i say more.

Now I realize very very few teams will excel at all 5 things, if they do, I’d
expect UNLV type things from them. I think you can go a long way with 3 out
of those 5, but it will be more difficult. I think championship caliber is 4.

Now the sad part. How does Arkansas look in these areas? (In my opine)

#1 Guard play - I think we were a solid group of guards this year, granted,
sometimes I’d see a head scratching decision or two, but all considered in a
pass/fail test, we PASS with flying colors on the scoring front, as for the ability
to pass, see #3.

#2 Defense - We were atrocious on defense this year. We could not seem
to stop penetration, were constantly out of position, help defense seemed
to rarely arrive. We fouled constantly cause we played with our hands too
much and not with our feet. On a pass/fail test, we FAIL here pretty badly.

#3 Passing - I got to say in most of my years watching basketball, this team
had to be one of the worst passing teams I’ve ever seen hands down. They
spend too much time dribbling and not enough passing to get the defense to
shift out of position. I can’t even begin to fathom why we so lacked the ability
to feed the post either. The post was not good at making himself available and
the others were not good at making the entry pass or failed to try it at all. Its
never a good thing when by far your best passer on the team is your back-up
center. On a pass/fail test, we FAIL here as well.

#4 Rebounding - I realize our style puts a higher premium on turnovers than
on rebounding, so our rebounding numbers are never really gonna look good.
The thing I just totally can’t understand is when I would see someone just
standing there waiting on a RB and let an opponent go right by and grab it.
How damn hard is it to put your ass into someone and prevent then from a
clear path to a rebound. I saw this many times from mostly the guards, but
not always. We also didn’t seem to offset the numbers with turnovers because
of our poor defense this year. So on a pass/fail, we FAIL here, but I would
like to add with better defense and more turnovers, this would be a PUSH.

#5 Free Throws - We shot 68% on FTs. We should be better than that. If
not for Macon shooting almost 90%, we’d be at 62%. We were so inconsistant
here it was insane. One game we would go 23 of 25 and the next game we
might be lucky to make 12 of 25. This is a free shot, if we were just 75%
I cannot calculate how many more games we would have won or how many
of those squeekers would have been comfortable. We had 2 above 75%, the
rest 2 @(73%-72%), 3 @(66%-60%), 5 @(56%-37%). Thats not getting
it done when that is just a practice shot. On a pass/fail, we failed.

Now this is not to imply that there was nothing good about the hogs, I rarely
see a team that could shoot 40% as a team from 3pt range. That is insane.
I never seen a big man at Arkansas that wanted to tear the rim down every time
he shot the ball until this year. For years I asked why our bigs always seemed
to play so soft and not go up and try to tear the goal down, just lay it up.
I have never seen an ounce of quit in this team. Hell they could take a punch
like Gerry Cooney. (If you don’t know who this is, ask your dad. I never saw a
man that could take a pounding like that and keep on coming). This team did
not know how to quit, their heart was like Christmas Day Grinch sized (3 sizes
too big). They had the fight, they just seemed to lack in the fundamentals.
Why? I don’t know if it was coaching, talent, style, desire, coachability, players
or what. I suspect it was a mix of all of it. When we seemed to have stirred
the pot right, we could beat anybody in the nation… anybody, I believe that!
The rest of the time, we were an average team at best.

That’s a very good post,well done. Lack of fundamentals creates inconsistency and that seems the best way to describe our play. Lack of motion on offense causes to much dribbling by our guards and to many times led to poor shot selection by seniors which is unacceptable, you cant play fast by dribbling the ball for the duration of the shot clock. WPS

Nice post, Votan. A team isn’t going to go far in the NCAA tournament if they can’t play defense and rebound.

The guy at Texas Tech, Chris Beard, is a fine coach. His team reminded me of a young Eddie Sutton’s team.

There isn’t really a hard and fast rule about the type of team that makes deep runs other than your chances improve the better you are in both offense and defense, not surprisingly.

Of the power conference teams that were among the top 10 in the tournament in raw defensive points per possession, only Texas Tech made it past the first weekend, and they had two home games. Virginia, Cincy, Houston, and Michigan State went home early.

In the field Loyola is #10 (played the #171 Pomeroy offensive schedule), Michigan #13, Villanova #27, Kansas #41.

Offensive teams fared better. Of the top 10 in raw points per possession Duke, Villanova, Gonzaga, Purdue, and Nevada advanced to at least the SS.

Loyola is #43 , Michigan #21, Villanova #1, Kansas #12.

I downloaded the season stats of every NCAAT team before the EE and tallied the number of NCAAT wins for each. I haven’t found a group of strengths that clusters them very well. In fact, the distributions for each stat between the groups (0, 1, 2, 3 - wins) overlap heavily. For instance, based on estimating the rebounding percentages from bb reference boxscores, which don’t include team rebounds, I get the following means for each group:

Offensive rebounding percentages on the season:
0 wins - mean: 25% /standard deviation: 3.6%
1- 27%/3.7%
2- 28%/3.7%
3 - 26%/4.6%

Loyola is last in the field , Michigan #52, Villanova #38, Kansas #36 in the field.

In terms of offensive rebounding none of the FF emphasize it. Run an efficient offense and concentrate on transition defense. Ironically Nova got past Texas Tech by rebounding 50% of their misses even though they have been a mediocre offensive rebounding team all season. Guess Beard doesn’t know about blocking out (sarcasm).

Defensive rebounding percentages on the season:
0 - 77%/2.6%
1 - 76%/2.2%
2 - 76%/2.7%
3 - 76%/2.3%

In the field Loyola is #28 , Michigan #10, Villanova #15, Kansas #59 (tied with Arkansas).

There are a lot of ways to put together a winning team.

Good thought-provoking post.

Well done! Loyola of Chicago, a team consisting of no big names, did all you outlined rather well. They played also with great intensity and discipline. Look where they are. KY & Duke five stars are watching instead.

That is a very good point. This is a good thread

They also wouldn’t have made it past the first weekend if a jump shot doesn’t bounce straight up off the front of the rim and drops.

If you look at how Loyola rates relative to the rest of the field, Loyola was actually a mediocre rebounding team. They were dead last in the field in offensive rebounding and only average in defensive rebounding. They were nothing special at the line either. They were average in FT percentage and in the cellar at getting to the line.

On O Loyola excelled at high FG percentages on both deuces and treys. Like us they actually shot a lower percentage of treys of total attempts than most of the field but shot high percentages on those looks. They were also top 10 in assist rate. However, they were dead last in offensive rebounding, didn’t accomplish much at the line, and had one of the highest TO rates in the field. The assists also bought them a lot of TOs.

On D they were pretty much average in all categories except in not fouling. That added up to really good defense. However, that’s not the only way to play good defense. Many good defensive teams excel at a couple of categories and are weak in some others.

Traits that are common to the FF include high assist rate, low fouling, high 2FG%, high EFg%, relatively low offensive rebounding, didn’t score much at the line (all less than us), and surrendered relatively high 2FG%. The teams are spread out in the rest of the categories and not all the traits are positive.

If you try to use those categories to form THE template, you are liable to fit noise. The FF last year was in some respects the opposite. North Carolina was a beast on the offensive glass and didn’t allow shots inside. In fact, the Zags and UNC made it look you needed to load up on bigs. Then this season the FF has a lot of smallish, perimeter oriented teams.

Great thread. I was going to post this as a separate topic, but this thread seems to be the proper place.

Once thing that was not mentioned above (unless I missed it) is this: in this day-and-age of three point shooting and defenses not being allowed to be physical…shooting FROM AT LEAST 4 SPOTS in the roster is almost imperative. Especially if you run motion rather than a myriad of sets designed for specific options to get a shot.

And that was a pointed weakness last year.

When we ran motion, we wound up, many many many (into infinity) times with someone being open for a nice, make-able jumper who was a mediocre-to-poor shooter.

For Mike’s style of offense to work, you need shooting at almost every spot.

That’s what made Nolan’s best teams work…and the 94 team special. Its what 'Nova has currently. The 2016-17 Hog team was closer to this. We usually had 4 people on the floor that could knock down an open shot. Sometimes all 5. This year it was usually 2 or 3.

In that way, I think next year’s team could be distinctly better.

I swear some people want to build the Church of Chris Beard on this board and pray three times daily at his altar.

He’s a good coach. So what? So is Mike Anderson. There are only three coaches in college hoops today who have been HCs for more than 15 years and never had a losing record. He’s one of them; Mike Krzyzewski isn’t. Andy Kennedy is also a good coach and he’s currently unemployed.

I get that many people are nostalgic for the Four Corners and “real basketball”. Real basketball as you define it doesn’t exist any more. It went away with the three-point line and the shot clock, and with more athletic teams (and yes, that is a synonym for “not as many white guys”). A team playing Suttonball, circa 1974, would get blown out of the gym by a modern, athletic team with good outside shooting, like, say, Villanova. Which is also who took out your idol’s team last week, even on a night when the deep shots weren’t falling.

Eddie got the reputation for overcoaching (as did Dean Smith and some others of that era), but he would let people take shots they proved they could make, which is why he let Marvin Delph shoot from the parking lot (Marvin’s career average was 6.6 FGM per game on 53% shooting, and probably at least five of those would have been treys in the modern game). And after the shot clock took away stallball, his teams played a more, well, modern style.

There is still more than one way to skin the cat in modern basketball. Virginia plays as close to Suttonball as you can get in the modern game, and went 31-3 before becoming a footnote in college hoops history. Villanova plays marginally slower than we do, very efficiently, and plays elite defense on top of that, and IMO that’s why they’ll cut down the nets tomorrow night for the second time in three years. Michigan is pretty efficient on offense, really good on defense, and, thanks to a couple of breaks, that’s why they’re playing on the last night of the season.