Defensive struggles to blame for No. 10 Oregon’s loss at Colorado

1 Comment

No. 10 Oregon entered Sunday’s game at No. 20 Colorado as one of the nation’s best offensive teams, averaging more than 89 points per game and shooting better than 50% from the field. With options such as Damyean Dotson, Joseph Young and Mike Moser (just to name three) at Dana Altman’s disposal, the Ducks have proven to be an incredibly difficult team to slow down.

The Ducks may not have shot as well as they’re accustomed to, making 42% of their field goals in the 100-91 loss in Boulder, but the biggest issue for Oregon was a simple one: they couldn’t get stops.

Just a few days removed from shooting 38% in their Pac-12 opener on Thursday night, Colorado shot 56% from the field and attempted 39 free throws (making 33) on Sunday afternoon. With Askia Booker (27 points, four assists) and Spencer Dinwiddie (23 points, seven assists) attacking from the perimeter and Josh Scott (15 points, 12 rebounds) inside, Colorado posted a season-best efficiency of 134.0 against Oregon. Prior to Sunday the worst performance from Oregon in this regard came in their 115-105 overtime win at Ole Miss, with the Rebels finishing the game with an offensive efficiency of 116.7 (efficiency numbers per

It’s great to be able to rack up points, and Colorado certainly deserves credit for its performance, but more times than not the difference between being a “contender” and a “champion” is the ability to get stops. Oregon was unable to do so in Boulder, and the end result was their first loss of the season.

However, for as poorly as the Ducks defended on Sunday one positive to take from the defeat is the fact that Mike Moser snapped out of his two-game slump. Through 13 games at Oregon Moser’s approached the numbers he put up in his first season at UNLV (2011-12), averaging 13.2 points and 7.7 rebounds per game, and on Sunday he was their most productive player.

Moser accounted for 24 points and seven rebounds on the night, shooting 9-for-15 from the field and posing matchup problems for much of the game. After a two-game stretch in which he scored a total of nine points while shooting 4-for-12 from the field, Moser was aggressive in looking for his shots from all over the court against Colorado. Damyean Dotson and Joseph Young added 16 points apiece for the Ducks, who will need Moser to remain aggressive offensively if they’re to be at their best on that end.

Oregon’s going to be fine despite losing; they’re 13-1 on the season and the Ducks certainly have the pieces needed to win the Pac-12. If anything, Sunday’s result served as a reminder of what steps they’ll need to take defensively in order to make good on that potential.

Michigan State playing zone? It’s possible

Tom Izzo
Associated Press
Leave a comment

Throughout Tom Izzo’s tenure at Michigan State the team’s half-court man-to-man defense has been a staple, and the Spartans have generally proven difficult to have a high rate of offensive success against. The reliance on that defense is why Izzo’s conversations earlier this summer about using some token full-court pressure due to the shortening of the shot clock caught some people off-guard.

According to the Detroit Free Press there’s another wrinkle the Spartans may use, and it’s likely that this wrinkle will show up more often than the full-court press. During Friday’s opening practice the Spartans worked on a 2-3 zone, and Izzo wants his assistants to make sure the team works on the defense consistently throughout the season.

That’s also why zone in general isn’t going to get heavy play at MSU, but having it as a tool could be beneficial — especially in games with touch fouls on the perimeter called in droves.

“I told (my assistant coaches): ‘You hold me accountable to working on it every day some’ … I have a tendency to drift off on that, and I don’t want to drift off on it,” Izzo said of the 2-3 zone. “But we will be, rest assured, a 90-some percent man-to-man team still and hopefully take some of those principles to zone.”

As noted in the story one of the risks in using pressure is allowing quality shots, which is why it’s unlikely that Michigan State will go to it. But even with Izzo vowing that his team will work on the zone, that doesn’t mean they’ll be playing it as often as Syracuse does.

Man-to-man has been Michigan State’s staple and it will continue to be. But it doesn’t hurt to look for other ways to keep opponents from getting the looks they want, especially if teams have five fewer seconds to find those shots.

Virginia used 3-on-3 to adjust to new shot clock

Malcolm Brogdon
Associated Press
Leave a comment

When the college basketball rules committee made the decision to trim the shot clock down to 30 second from 35, one reason for the switch was the desire to improve offensive production. With offensive numbers at their lowest point in years, proponents of the move see the shot clock change as a necessary move if scoring is to improve.

Whether or not that winds up being the case will be seen throughout the upcoming season, but teams are still having to make adjustments during the preseason.

Virginia, which has played at a snail’s pace (and with great success, mind you) in recent years, made some adjustments to their summer work in anticipation of playing with a 30-second shot clock. One adjustment was more games of 3-on-3 with a 15-second shot clock, which forced all involved to be more decisive in their offensive decision-making.

While the pack-line defense will always be a staple of Tony Bennett’s teams, the feeling in Charlottesville is that they’ve got the offensive firepower needed to both play faster and be more efficient offensively than they were in 2014-15 (29th nationally in adjusted offensive efficiency per Ken Pomeroy). One of the players who will lead the way is senior guard Malcolm Brogdon, who led the team in scoring and was a first team All-ACC selection, and he discussed the team’s outlook with Mike Barber of the Richmond Times-Dispatch.

And even though Anderson’s highlight-reel shot blocking was the thing that frequently fueled fast-breaks for U.Va. last season, Brogdon and [Anthony] Gill said they expect this year’s team to actually push the tempo even more.

“I think we’re going to be a team that gets out and runs more,” Brogdon said. “I think we’ll have three guards on the floor, most of the time, will be able to handle the ball as a point guard and get out in transition. I think we’ll play a lot faster.”

Brogdon and Gill are two of the team’s three returning starters with point guard London Perrantes being the other, and the Cavaliers also return most of their reserves from last year’s rotation. That experience will help them on both ends of the floor as they prepare for a run at a third straight ACC regular season title. And in theory it also allows them to extend themselves a bit more offensively than they did a season ago.