How Texas Will Change Their Offense Under Shaka Smart
After 6 seasons, a 163-56 record, and a trip to the 2011 Final Four Shaka Smart is finally leaving the only Head Coaching job he’s ever known. Late Thursday night with Final Four media coverage swirling Shaka Smart agreed to leave Virginia Commonwealth University(VCU) to become the new Head Coach of the University of Texas.
Shaka Smart will bring with him to Austin his famed “HAVOC” style of play that is predicating on a pressing defense, causing turnovers and playing fast. However, what gets completely lost in the shuffle of Shaka’s great defensive teams is just how well they perform on the offensive end.
VCU won the Atlantic 10 Conference Tournament behind an offense that finished second in the conference in Adjusted Offensive Efficiency (adjusted for strength of opponents), scoring at a rate of 1.10 points-per-possession(PPP). Coach Smart’s move halfway across the country will bring drastic changes to how Texas plays on the offensive end.
For starters you can expect the pace to be much faster. VCU averaged 66 offensive possessions per game while Texas only averaged 62. This 4 possession difference may not seem like much, but it is the difference of 178 spots in the national rankings. VCU was 110th in PACE while Texas was 288th.
Just because VCU played fast doesn’t mean they were out of control either. They ranked in the top 10 in the country in Turnover’s per 100 possessions, only averaging 13.4. Texas on the flip side averaged 17 TO’s per 100 possessions, 205th in the country.
Aside from the speed of the game, expect the style to be much different. Per Synergy Sports VCU spent 18.2% of their offensive possessions in transition compared to the only 14.8% by Texas. VCU liked to space the floor using a ball screen and shoot a lot of 3’s. According to Synergy, 55% of their half court possessions ended in jump shots and 40% of their overall shot attempts were 3 point attempts, ranking them 49th in the country in that regard. Texas half court possessions ended in a jump shot less than half the time (46.7%) and only 34% of their shot attempts were 3 pointers, good for 171st in the country.
As you can see in the accompanying YouTube video, VCU and Texas ran vastly different offenses. While both ran some variation of a secondary break, and obviously every college team in the country uses some variation of ball screens, VCU used it as a primary weapon. According to Synergy Sports, 19.3% of the time an offensive possession for VCU ended in what they categorized as a “Pick and Roll Ballhandler.” This means that the ball handler in a ball screen is usually the one finishing the play with either a shot or turnover. They would use the ball screen in transition and would incorporate follow screens into their secondary break. VCU would also use the ball screen to penetrate into gaps and zip the ball around the court to open shooters whose defenders were in help position.
Texas on the other hand relied on pounding the ball inside. 13.4% of their offensive possessions ended in a Post-Up per Synergy Sports. Those that didn’t usually involved a post touch at some point in the possession. Granted, there is some descripency in the quality of big man that each institution can recruit. Texas being a desintation for top recruits usually have a shot to get some of the best men available, a la Myles Turner this year. Shaka Smart isn’t a slouch on the recruiting trail himself (one of the many reasons he was considered an ideal candidate for Texas), but the truth is he just can’t recruit the same quality big men that he will now be able to at Texas. As you can see, Texas uses a motion, decoy secondary break action, and just simple ball reversals to enter the ball into the post.
In truth, no one can truly guarantee success for Shaka at the University of Texas. Most can however guarantee that they will play an uptempo exciting style of basketball that should feature some of the top recruits in the country. Hopefully that combination will be enough to propel them back to the Final Four for the first time since 2003.
Coach John Zall just completed his first season as an Assistant Coach at Division II Franklin Pierce University in Rindge, NH. This past season Franklin Pierce University won 20 games and advanced to the 2nd round of the NCAA Tournament. Zall arrived at Franklin Pierce after spending the past 3 seasons as the Associate Head Coach/Head JV Coach at O’Bryant High school in Roxbury, MA. During his tenure at O’Bryant the program improved from 4 wins to 12 wins and qualified for the MIAA State Tournament twice.
Coach Zall also has experience as an AAU Head Coach for the Boston Warriors. As Head Coach for the Warriors his team won the 2011 16U State Title and twice competed in AAU Nationals down in Orlando, FL. On top of being a student at Northeastern University, Zall was named Head Coach of the Men’s Club Basketball team for the 2012-13 season. During his lone season as Head Coach, Northeastern finished second in the Northeast Regional Tournament featuring colleges from throughout the East Coast. Coach Zall has also spent time as a Head Coach in the Bay State Games where his team won the Bronze Medal in 2012 and at various camps including: Five Star, Boston Celtics, NIKE, Franklin Pierce University, Hoop Group and The Elite 75.