📋 Xs and Os (not Jimmys and Joes)

I’m watching a lot of basketball playbook-type of videos and wanted to stop clogging up the monthly threads with them. This topic is to discuss Xs and Os, not necessarily UVA-centric, but of course we can discuss relevance to UVA too. Starting with a couple of favorite UVA-centric videos.

How the Pack Line works:

Hard Hedging and Post Traps (look away @Hooandtrue):

No-Middle vs Pack-Line (No-Baseline):


And a couple of favorite non-UVA ones.

5-out offenses:

Zoom action:

Davidson motion offense:


And a big list of terms that often get used in these kinds of film breakdowns:



I referenced this in another thread, but if you ever want to watch an hour of Bob McKillop hollering in quite the New York accent at a bunch of Hungarian adolescent girls about being in the right spots in transition, here you go:



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His theory of point guard court vision development in that tweet is hilarious.


Dribble handoff-adjacent (cc @Hooandtrue)


PS: note the team featured


I could watch videos of off-ball cutting all day:


Predictably, the HoopVision breakdown of the UConn offense is great:

A couple things that stood out to me:

  • They have a relatively high average possession length (18.6 secs) because they spend a lot of time putting opponents in the blender with their off-ball movement.
  • If you pause their possessions at any given point, the spacing is often technically bad (e.g. 4 guys within the arc), but since they are screening and moving constantly, it doesn’t hurt them too much as each defender is occupied.
  • I have no idea how they are managing to run that many different sets with so many options.
  • I love the pace of their screening and cutting. It makes it hard to load up the help against them and confuses defenses on who actually has help responsibility.

This is an area where I see us falling short. Especially in blowouts, but the status quo still isn’t great .

I think this is what people are getting at when they say it looks like we are running through the motion. It’s not so much that as just running through motions -as it’s running motions without deliberations and urgency to put the other team on their heels. Part of that is sides as an offensive. Part of that is how we execute.


Yeah, I wasn’t sharing exactly with UVA in mind (“just be UConn” is probably not actionable advice without having their personnel), but I think there is a lot to take away from the pace of their actions and the way they are designed to be occupying all five defenders at the same time. And I’m not going to lie, aesthetically it pleases me that there is an elite offense that is built around off-ball screening and motion, rather than just 5-out ball screens.


I hate complimenting UCONN because their fans are insufferable but yeah, it’s nice to watch.


Read that last night. If I were coaching RD I’d have put in last year’s Andre F’ing Jackson Jr playbook. But I’d also be on a message board all day complaining about my lineups.

Also liked what they do with Castle to work around his apparent lack of shooting.

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Breakdown of Houston’s defense:


Haven’t read it yet, but something on no-middle and charge rule changes

a little triggered by “it’s never been easier to score the ball in college basketball”

(but i did read this afternoon and enjoyed it)


I can’t say I’m too mad about a defensive style being legislated out of the game when it is described like this by one of its practitioners:

“A big part of no-middle was five-on-three and two guys waiting to take a charge,” Drew says.

Why should the rules reward that? Glad it’s gone.

For Hoop Vision subscribers, here’s an old article on defending the Princeton offense:

This is probably the most relevant point for our defense:

#6) No-baseline

If the defense is normally a no-middle scheme, they likely wouldn’t completely change their scheme just for one game. But for some defenses, no-baseline is a useful potential option against the Princeton.

As explained in the “forwards out” section, Richmond uses their motion and spacing to then drive baseline for easy baskets or for the corner drift pass. A relatively simple solution is to just send the ball handler back towards the help in the middle.

I found some stats nerdery in the service of Xs and Os, so I decided to put it here: Six styles of team offense in men’s college basketball - Synergy Sports

The short story is that the author used Synergy data on play types to group college offenses into different buckets of play style (“clusters” is the term used). They also included pro teams for some comparisons.

UVA is in the “movement offenses” bucket along with Davidson, all the Ivy League and Princeton offense teams, and amusingly the Golden State Warriors:

This bucket has teams that take shots after off-ball movement and has less pick and roll.

The whole article is pretty cool.


Thanks - looks like good lunchtime reading (today or soon)