Thursday, January 17, 2013

Turnovers and Point Guards

One problem I've wrestled with my entire career is that my teams have always had excessive turnovers. 

I've rationalized this as the result of my preference for playing uptempo.  But that explanation doesn't hold water when I compare my squads to other System teams, Grinnell in particular.  For example, this season Grinnell is averaging 101 possessions per game, and only 15.8 turnovers, which means they turn the ball over on only 15.64% of their possessions (15.8 divided by 101).

At ONU last year, on the other hand, we averaged 22.3 turnovers and 104.6 possessions per game, which comes to a turnover rate of 21.4%.  At NCC, with a first year System team, we are turning the ball over 27% of the time, which isn't surprising given that the kids are learning to play at a much faster tempo.

However, the real reason Grinnell has such a low turnover rate struck me again today as I was (just for fun) watching a game video of their 2007 team.  And it has less to do with the fact that they are a veteran men's team.  So what is the secret?  Every time the point guard gave up the ball, he almost immediately moved over to get it back again if the shooter was not open.  Sometimes, the ball was swung for a few passes, but it always ended up in the hands of the point guard, and almost no one else ever penetrated but him.

Those of you who have used our Olivet attack know that it is more of a "dribble-drive" approach, with a 4-player continuity weave built into it.  Problem:  weaker ball-handlers are now making decisions and trying to use skills (i.e. dribbling and chewing gum at the same time) which they are--by definition--not as good at as our PG. (If they were, then we'd move them to PG!)

[Side note:  I used to think the current "in" thing, the pick and roll offense, was (how shall I say it?) Stupid.  I have almost never used ball screens in our offensive scheme because Bobby Knight said in 1975 that bringing a screener and a dribbler together is bad, because is creates congestion around the ball, which is a no-no in his pass oriented Motion Offense. So blame Bob.]

Back on topic.  So why does everyone use ball screens so much now?  I am a little slow in the head at times, but I think I finally figured it out.  Ball screens that are set for your PG are good because the PG is doing all the dribbling, passing, and major decision making... just like in the Grinnell offense.  The only difference is that with Coach A's offense, the PG has an entire side of the floor cleared for him, and only when using the "Two man game" (i.e. a ball-screen by the Trail for the PG on the right wing) does the offense make use of the Pick and Roll (or Pick and Pop)!

That is one real reason Grinnell turns it over so seldom... no one but the PG handles it very much, and the PG should turn it over less than anyone.  Plus, they never throw it away forcing the ball into the post.

So where am I going with this?  You can score a lot of points using the Olivet attack.  It's simple and usually will create a shot fairly quickly.  But you will have to live with the fact that you'll turn the ball over more because your non-PGs (until they learn better) will make more ball-handling errors.  Bottom line:  you can play very fast and yet turn it over very seldomk just so long as you let your PGs do the driving!

Oh, and by the way... Duke's turnover rate this season is 16.4%.  So there.

1 comment:

  1. In HS, it seems your best ballhandler is your best shooter. In the Grinnell offense is it better to have a that player at the 1 or the 2? ie. fewer turnovers versus lower 3pt %.