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View Full Version : Should Coach Few Look to Emulate Huggins & WVU Next Season?



OntZags
04-16-2017, 06:01 PM
Discussion in the Jesse Wade thread got me thinking about how to manage minutes next season & how the team makeup looks.

Huggins & what he has done with WVU is one of my favourite program success stories. (besides GU of course) He generally doesn't recruit directly against the big boys but he still has been able to build a team that is nationally competitive. He gets a lot of long, athletic players with high motors that buy into his system. He plays a deep bench and their war of attrition style of play generally wears most teams down. On paper Gonzaga was a fair bit more talented but that team was one bounce away from knocking the Bulldogs out and quite possibly getting to the finals themselves. They aren't the best on paper but they punch above their weight class.

Now obviously there is still tons of uncertainty regarding Gonzaga's roster heading into next season so this is a bit premature. Gonzaga's floor is probably borderline top-25 with ability to win a game or two in March but not necessarily a legit contender. (assuming worst case scenario of NWG not returning, no incoming eligible transfers/recruits etc.) "Best case" scenario on paper is borderline top-5 team with NWG returning and adding a guy like Reid Travis (no idea if that rumour has any actual legs) & perhaps Jeter. (super useful for scout team next season in order to prepare for teams with quality bigs) And then obviously there are thousands of permutations putting the team somewhere in between.

Either way we can start with what we know:


Gonzaga's frontcourt will not be as strong as last season. Not to suggest the team won't have a post-presence but there will be marked drop in efficiency and ability to dominate smaller opponents down low. They'll also get fewer open 3's as a consequence. The staff has great halfcourt schemes but they might have to look at generating scoring in other ways too. And defensively when playing against teams with elite bigs the team is going to have adopt a more help-friendly approach, implement some zone etc. They'll still match up well with most teams but it will be an issue they'll have to gameplan for against some teams. (and it'll be very beneficial to have 5+ games with Landale & hopefully Mika before the tourney to help prepare)


The team will be deep. Whether Nigel comes back or not, I have a hard time envisioning the staff not adding at least one solid rotation player that will be eligible next season. (and I could see 2 if he leaves) And even if they don't the team will still have depth, if lacking in a bit of star power. If the scuttlebutt regarding Larssen is accurate the team will have 3 quality bigs initially. Everything I've seen from Kispert tells me he'll be ready to jump into the rotation as a freshman. I'm also optimistic that Rui will be ready for more minutes. And based on what I've seen in limited time (coupled with Few's effusive praise) I'm bullish on Jeremy Jones too. He's clearly a strong athlete and has nice length and solid feel for the game. If possible I'd love to see them reward him with a schollie because the program needs to stays true to its' roots and rewards guys from within.

So that puts them at 6 potential rotation guys. Add the known commodities in Melson and Perkins. (and Norvell is clearly ready to jump into the mix) Lastly we have Wade who I think could benefit from a redshirt but I do believe he has the talent & maturation to see minutes next season. (and I totally understand if his preference is to play even limited minutes rather than looking at a 5 year college career at the age of 20) And he has the capability to bowl the staff over and force his way into heavier use in the rotation.

So that brings the possible rotation to 10 excluding NWG & or additions. Last season the 8 man rotation made sense. The team was so well balanced and there was greater disparity between the best players & the 9-12 guys that it worked ideally. This years' team appears to have a greater sense of parity. I certainly understand Few's hesitancy to want to expand the rotation too much but I think it can work in some circumstances and I think next years' team might be ideally suited to experiment with it.


Which brings me to my thesis that this Gonzaga might be better equipped - and most suited - to adopt a greater press strategy than probably any other in GU history. JW3 is an ideal starting big to utilize in the press. Tillie is a dynamic athletic and can run the floor. Larssen seems fairly mobile for a big man. Rui. Duh. Kispert doesn't necessarily seem explosive but he can run and has great length. Jones is a legit rotation guy at a major program and fits the mold to a t. The guards all have great motors and pretty solid length on the whole as a group. This team has the athletic makeup, length and depth to be very effective at pressing. And perhaps most importantly they all seem to be team first guys that could buy into a system where some guys would have to sacrifice stats and/or playtime in order to successfully facilitate it.

Last season Gonzaga was pretty well as or more talented than any team in the country and could play a more traditional style and almost always win. (and they had the personnel to really dominate in the frontcourt) While we await to see exactly what the lineup will be it is unlikely that Gonzaga will be quite as strong next season relative to the best teams. And its' highly unlikely they'll be as effective in the halfcourt which could necessitate the need to create scoring opportunities in less traditional ways. While they'll still be better than most(and a big leg up on most of the WCC), successfully utilizing the press can really help bridge the talent difference between them and the elite teams come the later stages in the tourney.


One of the great things watching this team develop has also been seeing Few's growth as a coach as well. The teams are better prepared and play with better schemes than they ever have. Part of that is incorporating facets of other successful programs and melding them with your own. Few can be orthodox at times but he's shown (eg. utilizing Jones/Rui vs WVU & implementing zone at times in tourney) flexibility with how he approaches certain matchups and how to best utilize his guys. I want to highly emphasize I'm not suggesting they burn the playbook and start anew completely mirroring WVU. They've got a great system. But with the personnel in tow for next year I really believe they can strategically integrate the press into their playbook with some degree of regularity and have it yield huge benefits.

Sorry for the execessively long rant lol. :) Thoughts?

demian
04-16-2017, 06:11 PM
Discussion in the Jesse Wade thread got me thinking about how to manage minutes next season & how the team makeup looks.

Huggins & what he has done with WVU is one of my favourite program success stories. (besides GU of course) He generally doesn't recruit directly against the big boys but he still has been able to build a team that is nationally competitive. He gets a lot of long, athletic players with high motors that buy into his system. He plays a deep bench and their war of attrition style of play generally wears most teams down. On paper Gonzaga was a fair bit more talented but that team was one bounce away from knocking the Bulldogs out and quite possibly getting to the finals themselves. They aren't the best on paper but they punch above their weight class.

Now obviously there is still tons of uncertainty regarding Gonzaga's roster heading into next season so this is a bit premature. Gonzaga's floor is probably borderline top-25 with ability to win a game or two in March but not necessarily a legit contender. (assuming worst case scenario of NWG not returning, no incoming eligible transfers/recruits etc.) "Best case" scenario on paper is borderline top-5 team with NWG returning and adding a guy like Reid Travis (no idea if that rumour has any actual legs) & perhaps Jeter. (super useful for scout team next season in order to prepare for teams with quality bigs) And then obviously there are thousands of permutations putting the team somewhere in between.

Either way we can start with what we know:


Gonzaga's frontcourt will not be as strong as last season. Not to suggest the team won't have a post-presence but there will be marked drop in efficiency and ability to dominate smaller opponents down low. They'll also get fewer open 3's as a consequence. The staff has great halfcourt schemes but they might have to look at generating scoring in other ways too. And defensively when playing against teams with elite bigs the team is going to have adopt a more help-friendly approach, implement some zone etc. They'll still match up well with most teams but it will be an issue they'll have to gameplan for against some teams. (and it'll be very beneficial to have 5+ games with Landale & hopefully Mika before the tourney to help prepare)


The team will be deep. Whether Nigel comes back or not, I have a hard time envisioning the staff not adding at least one solid rotation player that will be eligible next season. (and I could see 2 if he leaves) And even if they don't the team will still have depth, if lacking in a bit of star power. If the scuttlebutt regarding Larssen is accurate the team will have 3 quality bigs initially. Everything I've seen from Kispert tells me he'll be ready to jump into the rotation as a freshman. I'm also optimistic that Rui will be ready for more minutes. And based on what I've seen in limited time (coupled with Few's effusive praise) I'm bullish on Jeremy Jones too. He's clearly a strong athlete and has nice length and solid feel for the game. If possible I'd love to see them reward him with a schollie because the program needs to stays true to its' roots and rewards guys from within.

So that puts them at 6 potential rotation guys. Add the known commodities in Melson and Perkins. (and Norvell is clearly ready to jump into the mix) Lastly we have Wade who I think could benefit from a redshirt but I do believe he has the talent & maturation to see minutes next season. (and I totally understand if his preference is to play even limited minutes rather than looking at a 5 year college career at the age of 20) And he has the capability to bowl the staff over and force his way into heavier use in the rotation.

So that brings the possible rotation to 10 excluding NWG & or additions. Last season the 8 man rotation made sense. The team was so well balanced and there was greater disparity between the best players & the 9-12 guys that it worked ideally. This years' team appears to have a greater sense of parity. I certainly understand Few's hesitancy to want to expand the rotation too much but I think it can work in some circumstances and I think next years' team might be ideally suited to experiment with it.


Which brings me to my thesis that this Gonzaga might be better equipped - and most suited - to adopt a greater press strategy than probably any other in GU history. JW3 is an ideal starting big to utilize in the press. Tillie is a dynamic athletic and can run the floor. Larssen seems fairly mobile for a big man. Rui. Duh. Kispert doesn't necessarily seem explosive but he can run and has great length. Jones is a legit rotation guy at a major program and fits the mold to a t. The guards all have great motors and pretty solid length on the whole as a group. This team has the athletic makeup, length and depth to be very effective at pressing. And perhaps most importantly they all seem to be team first guys that could buy into a system where some guys would have to sacrifice stats and/or playtime in order to successfully facilitate it.

Last season Gonzaga was pretty well as or more talented than any team in the country and could play a more traditional style and almost always win. (and they had the personnel to really dominate in the frontcourt) While we await to see exactly what the lineup will be it is unlikely that Gonzaga will be quite as strong next season relative to the best teams. And its' highly unlikely they'll be as effective in the halfcourt which could necessitate the need to create scoring opportunities in less traditional ways. While they'll still be better than most(and a big leg up on most of the WCC), successfully utilizing the press can really help bridge the talent difference between them and the elite teams come the later stages in the tourney.


One of the great watching this team develop has also been seeing Few's growth as a coach as well. The teams are better prepared and play with better schemes than they ever have. Part of that is incorporating facets of other successful programs schemes and melding them with your own. Few can be orthodox at times but he's shown (eg. utilizing Jones/Rui vs WVU & implementing zone at times in tourney) flexibility with how he approaches certain matchups and how to best utilize his guys. I want to highly emphasize I'm not suggesting they burn the playbook and start anew completely mirroring WVU. They've got a great system. But with the personnel in tow for next year I really believe they can strategically itegrate the press into their playbook with some degree of regularity and have it yield huge benefits.

Sorry for the execessively long rant lol. :) Thoughts?

That's a good post. Well done. I like your idea. I love a pressing team. I would be in favor of what you proposed

willandi
04-16-2017, 07:07 PM
There is merit in the plan, but most pressing teams seem to play a 'mugging' style of ball, expecting that the refs won't call all the fouls. while that style works, and slowed down the Zags, I don't really like that style.

seacatfan
04-16-2017, 07:41 PM
There is merit in the plan, but most pressing teams seem to play a 'mugging' style of ball, expecting that the refs won't call all the fouls. while that style works, and slowed down the Zags, I don't really like that style.

Ditto. Enough teams already ugly up the game of basketball. Do not want to see the Zags adopt that style. What they've been doing seems to be working pretty well...

stevet75
04-16-2017, 07:43 PM
There is merit in the plan, but most pressing teams seem to play a 'mugging' style of ball, expecting that the refs won't call all the fouls. while that style works, and slowed down the Zags, I don't really like that style.
Although I like any style that works with the guys we have, I agree, this is not my first choice. I think that the talent we have could put up enough points, and play a more conventional defense, and do quite well.

bartruff1
04-16-2017, 08:09 PM
Given Few's record against Huggins, perhaps Huggins should look to emulate Few....

Zagceo
04-16-2017, 08:11 PM
Given Few's record against Huggins, perhaps Huggins should look to emulate Few....

:lmao:

Reborn
04-16-2017, 08:19 PM
Your post is good but you will not see Mark Few use it. Good thoughts and well written, but just for the Zags. Sorry. Few has his own system, and he's developing it year by year, And it's evolving, His defense, imo is better than WV's. And it is better suited for the guys Few recruits. Few IS able to recruit better players than Huggins is. Huggins most likely would not use his pressing defense, especially the full court, if he had players like Few has.

Not much to think about these days; so thanks for the thread. Interesting idea to talk about,.

webspinnre
04-16-2017, 08:38 PM
Given Few's record against Huggins, perhaps Huggins should look to emulate Few....

:000tens:

Mantua
04-16-2017, 09:43 PM
I'm all for recruiting players with length especially now that Gonzaga has entered the defensive elite realm. It would be great if the emphasis on defense continues but we need to recruit players who can effectively defend.

There are some good reasons why Huggins stands out as a coach who uses the press throughout a game. Pressing for an entire game is very tiring. Players can easily become less efficient on offense. More substitutions are needed in a game that runs the press throughout so other adjustment options are sacrificed. Other elite teams will be sure to practice their press breakers. I loved to watch our defense this year. Some of the best defensive moments were half court traps which are more difficult to execute if a full court press is attempted in transition. But, yes, I would like to see the full court press run more frequently, especially during stretches when the team seems to be losing momentum.

maynard g krebs
04-16-2017, 09:46 PM
I think this team will press more, but not full court like WVa does, looking to force a lot of turnovers and hacking the crap out of opponents with the knowledge that they won't call them all.

This team has perfect personnel to run the 3/4 court zone trap, 1-2-2, 1-2-1-1, 1-3-1; an expert like Hoopaholic could fill in the x/o details better than I can, but something on that order. It's worked well in the past with players like Downs, Morrison, Knight on the point, somebody long, mobile and disruptive. Tillie might be the most perfect player for that position yet with his length and instincts. JW3, though he'd likely be the back line guy (I have no idea how good a rim protector Larsen will be; maybe him too). Rui could also be great on the point of the trap; same reasons as Tillie.

Mostly I'm thinking speed the game up, get some turnovers but mostly get opponents to shoot quickly and play in transition as much as possible. This will be a deadly 3 pt shooting team, and secondary break is a great thing to exploit that with trailers getting open 3's.

Mantua
04-16-2017, 10:07 PM
I think this team will press more, but not full court like WVa does, looking to force a lot of turnovers and hacking the crap out of opponents with the knowledge that they won't call them all.

This team has perfect personnel to run the 3/4 court zone trap, 1-2-2, 1-2-1-1, 1-3-1; an expert like Hoopaholic could fill in the x/o details better than I can, but something on that order. It's worked well in the past with players like Downs, Morrison, Knight on the point, somebody long, mobile and disruptive. Tillie might be the most perfect player for that position yet with his length and instincts. JW3, though he'd likely be the back line guy (I have no idea how good a rim protector Larsen will be; maybe him too). Rui could also be great on the point of the trap; same reasons as Tillie.

Mostly I'm thinking speed the game up, get some turnovers but mostly get opponents to shoot quickly and play in transition as much as possible. This will be a deadly 3 pt shooting team, and secondary break is a great thing to exploit that with trailers getting open 3's.

Thanks a lot, Mr. Krebs, now I'll be counting every hour until next season starts 'cause I think we'll see some deadly shooting too.

Martin Centre Mad Man
04-17-2017, 03:06 AM
This team should have the bodies to run that style of play, but I doubt Coach Few would do it for forty minutes per game. I suspect that we will mix in the 3/4 court press for stretches of games. Perhaps, you could sub in a second line of Jones, Hachimura, Kispert, and two guards to harass opponents for a few possessions while the starters rest, then bring the front line back in to run the more conventional Gonzaga sets against a tired opponent.

kitzbuel
04-17-2017, 03:58 AM
I think we are still going to be athletic enough to play a lot of man to man. Tillie can keep up with almost any 4 and is probably quicker than the average 5 we will face. We know that Melson, Josh, JW3, and Norvell are plenty quick.

I see Few playing defense very similar to what we have seen, particularly if Larsen has decent rim protection skills.

Mixing zone, some press with man to man.

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TheGonzagaFactor
04-17-2017, 06:33 AM
I don't think we'd ever see a full court press on the majority of possessions in a game, but I could see us using it more given the makeup of next year's roster.

For example, I would like to see us be able to run a press to speed BYU up when they are just coming down and burning clock. They kept that game close the way that most bad WCC teams do, by wasting most of the shot clock to shorten the game. It's pathetic trash that inferior teams resort to out of desperation, but we need to be able to counter and pressure them when they do that. Haws walking into a wide open 30 footer? Shouldn't happen. Gotta be able to put pressure on teams like that because they will crumble.

gonzagafan62
04-17-2017, 08:10 AM
I don't like pressing unless you have to with a minute or two to go.

Don't like those type of teams and it's not real basketball to me. I like man to man teams playing straight up ball. Pressing not only wears out the opponent but it wears out yourself just as quick if not quicker and makes it harder to score basketball in half court sets

billyberu
04-17-2017, 09:21 AM
I'm all for using the press situationally, but like WV?
Clearly, their style presented some challenges for us, but they were haggard on the offensive side of the ball and I think they press out of this necessity to hide those deficiencies.

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MontanaCoyote
04-17-2017, 09:35 AM
TIF Trust in Few

MDABE80
04-17-2017, 09:41 AM
40 min of Hell type presses require select athletes. We don't have them. Wear out the offense as well. Given our personnel and Few's penchant for offense, I'm not sure we could even do that... Strategic periods of time? Sure......but not like WVU does.

GoZAGsMang
04-17-2017, 10:24 AM
Think the teams that employ gimmick defenses usually have lower scoring offenses. They devote more time to defense in practice, and they use more energy on defense.
Lowering the possessions or the score is an advantage to our opponents especially with the offensive firepower we posses. Another thing to consider is we had the #1 ranked defense, and we did this without any gimmicks.

CDC84
04-17-2017, 10:58 AM
I don't like full court pressing teams because when you get to the later rounds of the tournament, and the guard play gets better, teams can beat the press, or beat it enough to beat you. And certain teams like Tark's old UNLV teams could use it as a layup drill. Teams who predominantly full court press are teams with great athletic talent but who are challenged when it comes to offensive skill in the half court. So they have to have some sort of gimmick for what they lack on offense. WVU's half court offense this year was not good. See that last sequence vs. Gonzaga. It's no wonder they pressed.

Gonzaga is the last team in the universe I could ever see full court pressing for all 40 minutes.

Pressing also wears out your best players, and forces too much substitution. You end up playing guys 15mpg who should be getting 5mpg. Also, most players hate full court pressing. It takes a guy like Huggins to convince his guys that they can't beat Kansas and Baylor unless they fullcourt press and play D as if their life is on the line.

It's also a great way to blow a 24 point lead in a blink of an eye.

TexasZagFan
04-17-2017, 12:05 PM
http://m.memegen.com/wnxlgh.jpg

Coach Crazy
04-17-2017, 02:32 PM
I'm a fan of Bob Kloppenburg...so I am biased. If you have the length and the athletes, there should be some element of press.

Having said that, I have to step back and ask myself: will it affect work rate in the half court set? How many breakaway points will we give up?

If you're hurting your own efficiency and giving extra points, that press can raise the number of possessions in a game. That's a nightmare.

But that's something you can only tell once you've practiced and/or played in games.

I do think you can run a press without "mugging".


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seacatfan
04-17-2017, 03:29 PM
I do think you can run a press without "mugging".


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Definitely in theory, but in practice it seems the two often go hand in hand.

The '13 Louisville National Champs did some pressing I believe. Other than them can't think of anyone any time recently that cut the nets down that employed it regularly. Pressing works great until it doesn't, and then it can turn into a disaster. If a team's whole system is based on pressing and forcing TO's and they find themselves in a game where that's not working, then they don't have much to go on.

demian
04-17-2017, 03:51 PM
Definitely in theory, but in practice it seems the two often go hand in hand.

The '13 Louisville National Champs did some pressing I believe. Other than them can't think of anyone any time recently that cut the nets down that employed it regularly. Pressing works great until it doesn't, and then it can turn into a disaster. If a team's whole system is based on pressing and forcing TO's and they find themselves in a game where that's not working, then they don't have much to go on.

that Louisville team if I remember correctly in that NCAA tourney would unleash that press for like 2 or 3 minutes or so in the second half and it was lethal and they would go on like a 10-0 run in a blink of an eye.

kitzbuel
04-17-2017, 05:43 PM
I'm a fan of Bob Kloppenburg...so I am biased. If you have the length and the athletes, there should be some element of press.

Having said that, I have to step back and ask myself: will it affect work rate in the half court set? How many breakaway points will we give up?

If you're hurting your own efficiency and giving extra points, that press can raise the number of possessions in a game. That's a nightmare.

But that's something you can only tell once you've practiced and/or played in games.

I do think you can run a press without "mugging".


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It is also obviously possible to be the top rated defense without a constant pressing.

Plainsman
04-17-2017, 07:21 PM
NO!!!!

GeorgiaZagFan
04-17-2017, 11:08 PM
...I despise Huggins and his style of basketball!!! In my opinion it is NOT real basketball ...it is THUG ball....he goes 10 or 11 deep and doesn't care who fouls out ....he has them play just over the line and dares the refs to call all the fouls!! His players are constantly slapping, grabbing, pushing, hooking, ....if Few was to use those tactics, I would no longer be a fan....Pitino does the same thing at Louisville ....it is a shame they let these teams get away with it!!!