1. Crean SLOB on opening possession vs. Michigan St.
Indiana ran a beautiful sideline out-of-bounds play in the opening minute against Michigan St. I was having trouble with my GIF creator, but check out the annotated photos of the play:
In the end, Troy Williams made the play much harder than necessary. He dribbled at Vonleh and the awkwardly passed inside, after the big man had lost his positioning. However, Vonleh did still make a contested hook shot. Regardless of execution, a great quick hitter by Tom Crean.
2. Siena pulls away in the second half against Rider.
There are some solid offensive teams at the top of the MAAC, and Rider is one of them. Siena protected their homecourt with a strong defensive effort. Rider finished with just .765 points per possession, their lowest of the season. However, it was Siena’s second half offense that caught my eye in this game.
New Siena head coach Jimmy Patsos is a disciple of Gary Williams and as a result runs an old school flex offense. The flex offense is generally out of style in today’s college basketball world (probably for good reason). The Saints haven’t been good on offense this year (252 in AdjO), but the flex intrigued me in the second half. When Siena brought the lead up to near double digits, they were able to consume long possessions with the continuity offense rather easily.
Siena’s average offensive possession takes 19.1 seconds, well above NCAA average. With the lead, Patsos’ team was able to maintain its flex continuity while taking chunks of time off the clock. Critics of Bo Ryan and Wisconsin’s swing offense are quick to point out the difficulties in coming from behind while playing cerebral basketball. However, it seems logical that it is equally as difficult for opponents to come from behind. A study comparing the ability to comeback and average possession length would be interesting.
3. Xavier stays undefeated in the United States.
Xavier has now won seven in a row since going 0-3 in the Bahamas. The Musketeers handled Butler at home yesterday. Also, the 17 point win against Cincinnati on 12/14 keeps looking better and better. The offense was the key for Chris Mack yesterday, but on the season defense has been the recipe for success.
Xavier currently ranks 27 in AdjD playing Mack’s PackLine defense. Xavier is just 201st in the country at forcing turnovers on the season, but they force opponents into difficult shots and rebound the basketball. Xavier stepped up the pressure at times against Butler yesterday (even using a 1-2-2 press), but what stands out to me is their positioning.
Take a look at this photo from the opening possession yesterday. All five guys pack the paint to help Stainbrook. Xavier’s defense doesn’t thrive on aggression, instead they force you to make tough shots.