Against Notre Dame, UVA went to a middle triangle offense for the majority of their offensive sets against man defense. Here, I break down the usage percentages of each scheme/set they used along with the efficiency of those sets and what that tells us moving forward.
59 total possessions against settled defense
- 48 vs man.
- 11 vs zone.
Vs Man defense schematic breakdown (vs man in total, scored 46 points for 0.96 PPP)
- Triangle offense: 35 points on 35 possessions for 1.00 PPP. Used on 72.9% of possessions vs man defense. 59.3% of total settled possessions.
Note: In the triangle set, it was typically Kihei-Sam-Jay in the middle with Trey and Casey on each wing. When Jay went out, would be Kihei-Sam-and then Jay’s replacement (Justin or Kadin). Occasionally, Tomas would play the role of the wing as he filled in Sam’s role for the 2 minutes Sam wasn’t on the court.
- 5-out/motion: 4 points on 5 possessions for 0.80 PPP. Used on 10.4% of possessions vs man. 8.5% of total settled possessions.
- Sides: 4 points on 4 possessions for 1.00 PPP. Used on 8.3% of possessions vs man. 6.8% of total settled possessions.
- High ball screen: 3 points on 3 possessions for 1.00 PPP. Used on 6.3% of possessions vs man. 5.1% of total settled possessions.
- Isolation (used on last play of first half): 0 points on 1 possessions for 0.00 PPP. Used on 2.1% of possessions vs man. 1.7% of total settled possessions.
Vs Zone defense efficiency breakdown
- 15 points on 11 possessions for 1.36 PPP. Notre Dame ran zone on 18.6% of total settled possessions against UVA
Interesting note: UVA appeared to still run a triangle offense of sorts against the 2-3 zone where the three guys who would otherwise be the three in the triangle were just rotating in and out of the middle of the zone.
So, what do these numbers tell us? First off, the 0.96 PPP vs Notre Dame’s man defense is a bit concerning. That said, I think that is more a result of some poor shooting (8-26 for 30.8% from three) and missed, open opportunities. Additionally, the heavy shift towards this middle triangle offense will likely require some getting used to. The (oddly perfect) 35 points on 35 possessions is a good sign when considering some of those missed open looks and the fact that this is the first time this offense has been used on more than 25% of offensive possessions in a game since April 8th, 2019.
That, in and of itself, is fascinating. The fact that the ‘Hoos used the triangle on 72.9% of their settled possessions against man defense is nuts. Against Notre Dame they almost completely abandoned the 5-out/motion offense that they used on 55% of possessions against Gonzaga and over 75% against Towson and San Francisco, and their traditional mover blocker/sides offense that they’ve relied on heavily in games against William & Mary, Kent State, and Saint Francis.
(A flew clips of UVA using this triangle set)
Why did they shift to the triangle? First and foremost, it’s about getting the ball to Sam Hauser and Jay Huff in positions where they can attack right away rather than having to work to get into favorable positions with the ball already in their hands. As those two and Clark are constantly picking for one another off ball in the middle, they’re able to generate open space and good positioning as their defenders must choose between letting the guy coming off the screen get a clear lane to the bucket, or helping over and thereby opening that necessary space for the bigs to get in good position.
There’s also the two guys on the wing to consider. In Trey Murphy (32 minutes) and Casey Morsell (27 minutes), UVA has two guys who aren’t necessarily prone to making plays off the bounce. Both have done some of it this year, but, by putting them on the wing in the triangle, the staff is relying on them more as three-and-d guys rather than playmakers. That said, the triangle does give them opportunities to attack the basket, either off hasty closeouts or when the defense is overly concerned about the guys in the middle and they’re given an opportunity to go one-on-one.
It’ll be interesting to track what the ‘Hoos roll out against Tech on Saturday. Given Jason Williford and Tony Bennett’s comments on emphasizing putting Hauser and Huff in those favorable positions and the relatively effective performance of the middle triangle set against the Irish, I expect to see them rely on it again on Saturday.
This is the type of content I’m planning on continuing to plug out for the VIP blog, so be on the lookout for more of this soon. Also, I’ll be doing a film breakdown of the middle triangle offense, so be sure to follow me @zach_carey_ on Twitter to catch that and stay tuned to the blog for more coverage like this.