Michaelangelo’s Note: I asked Dan to write an overview of the upcoming Pitt basketball season because I think he’s got an extremely educated perspective on the game. (And I know that I do not.)
Also, not that some of you care, but I know some of you do, so I’d like to point out that Dan titled this piece in reference to a 1970’s comedy movie about a bunch of Italian Mobsters. No modern day “gang” or “thug” overtones should be inferred. While Pitt’s on the court performance may leave something to be desired, Jeff Capel’s off-the-field player selection, mentorship, guidance and standards are second-to-none. Thank you and Happy Thanksgiving to all POVers and long-suffering Pitt Fans out there!
The Gang that Couldn’t Shoot Straight
By Dan Davis, aka “Dan 72”
November 26, 2020
I wrote this article for the POV previous to the St Francis blow out embarrassment. See if you think I was on to something.
It’s hard to talk about this coming year’s version of Pitt Basketball without reflecting back on last year’s team.
Last year, when I tried to educate you folks on the intricacies of The Flex Offense (the one Capel loves) I mentioned that to be effective, you had to hit your jump shots. But…last year’s team was one of the worst shooting teams in Pitt history. I don’t know who taught Xman to shoot a jumper from below his chin, but it is a disastrous way for any outside player to shoot a jumper. It’s easily blocked, so X has to be wide open to even take the shot. This did not bode well for an offense that is predicated on high percentage shooting, and I think the result was pretty apparent on the court.
Editor’s Note – For those not familiar with the Flex Offense, here is a basic overview from Hooptactics.net
The Flex offense is a powerful screening game utilizing strong baseline and down screens. The continuous “Pick the Picker” screening action puts a tremendous burden on the defense by having to defend two different types of screens simultaneously. Teams that exhibit good patience will surely create open shots. The Flex continuity also provides strong offensive rebounding and second efforts by constantly having two rebounders on the weakside.
Offensive Fundamentals Required
Passing – Click Here
Executing Base Screens – Click Here
Setting & Using Down Screens – Click Here
Executing Back Cuts – Click Here
Okay back to Dan’s write up:
Because X-man couldn’t shoot last year, Capel was forced to go into the standard 1-4 offense to get any screens set and shots closer to the basket after just eight games.
Editor’s Note – Here is what my research on the 1-4 offense turned up. From Hoopstudent.com:
The 1-4 High offense is a basketball offense that can be useful to teams that have several guards with the ability to shoot from the perimeter. It features a ball handler at the top of the key, two high post players, and two players located on the wings near the foul line extended areas. This offense can also create scoring opportunities by way of basketball cuts such as the Iverson cut or via basketball screens such as the cross screen. Additionally, teams with high basketball IQ will be able to take advantage of potential backdoor possibilities because of the open space below the free throw line extended. Also, teams can use the 1-4 high offense to execute actions such as high low and screen the screener.
Okay again, back to Dan:
The thing about the flex is that it requires a team to have good shooters AND an offensive threat at center. Regardless of whether we were in the flex or the 1-4, last year Terrell Brown presented such a little threat to score, that defenders constantly sloughed off of him an double teamed our shooters. As a former coach, I simply cannot understand why Brown can’t learn one offensive move back to the basket and one facing the basket. Most inside post players learn those moves in 8th grade.
So to summarize last year’s offensive woes. 1) Our guards couldn’t shoot, and 2) our center literally had no offensive moves.