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The Inverted Offense

Last week, a basketball analytics site called Dribble Handoff posted an article entitled The Revolutionalized Post-Up, in which they discuss…you guessed it…post-ups in college basketball. The evidence the author provides shows that while shots out of a post-up are pretty inefficient these days (0.89 ppp in 2018), shots out of a post pass are HIGHLY efficient (1.13 ppp). It’s a really good read for any hoops junkies out there, and some of the data is eye-opening.

However, the section relevant to CCSU fans has to do with the “inverted offense”, which is centered around posting-up a strong passing guard. There were only seven guards in Division 1 who had at least 10 post-up shots and at least 10 post pass possessions in 2017-18. Here's a snippet:

"Several D1 programs have already started to invert their offense. The chart below shows the post-up efficiency of guards with a minimum of 10 post-up shots and 10 post pass possessions in 2017-2018.

These early adopters have already seen great results as all of the guards had a pass out efficiency of 1.00 PPP or higher."

Now, let’s forget about the fact that Tyler Kohl isn’t really utilized as a guard by Donyell Marshall. Sure, he played some point last season, but that was out of necessity, not because he’s a point guard. In reality, he's a true swingman who can play any position 1-4. But that’s not really the point here. No matter what position you want to say Kohl plays, CCSU’s offense utilized Kohl in the post a lot.

What jumped out at me was that 0.69 ppp on post-up shots, many of which were fade-away jumpers (per hoop-math, he shot just 35% on 2-pt jumpers but 58% at the rim), but look at that BEAUTIFUL 1.22 ppp when he passed it out of the post! A lot of that was Deion Bute down low (like here), but also hitting open three-point shooters (like here). It seemed that when CCSU needed a basket down the stretch last season, dumping the ball to Kohl at the block was the way to get it.

It’s likely that we will see the Blue Devils utilize Kohl in the post even more in 2018-19, but what I’m curious is about is; is the inverted offense part of Donyell Marshall’s offensive philosophy? Or is he just utilizing his best player in a role that fits his strengths?

If you watched the 2018 NCAA Tournament, it would have been difficult not to notice how Villanova used Jalen Brunson. Brunson is long for a PG, but also strong and crafty around the rim, and was able to exploit that ability to dominate smaller guards in the paint, while also utilizing his passing skills to find open shooters. The difference between Villanova’s offense and CCSU’s (not including skill level) was that Jay Wright was able to employ shooters at every position, including the ‘5’. Omari Spellman, all 6’8” and 255 lbs. of him, shot 43% from three. In fact, Villanova had six players attempt at least 100 three pointers, all of whom made at least 35% of them.

While we don't yet know if the Blue Devils will have the kind of shooters necessary for the inverted offense to be a staple of the 2018-19 version, I do think there will be a conscious effort to utilize this type of offense this season and beyond. Yes, the presence of Deion Bute makes the inverted offense less practical, as the majority of his offense will come at the rim. However, Joe Hugley (and his 39% three-point shooting) is a perfectly capable small-ball 5 that could allow the Blue Devils to put five shooters on the floor at one time, which would enable Kohl to pick apart the opposing defense from the post.

After Kohl graduates, Tyson Batiste is the kind of long and crafty guard that could be utilized in a Brunson-like role (especially if he can figure out his free throw shooting issues), and 2019 verbal commit Trey Tennyson, who is listed at 6’4”, is a similar type of player. It will be interesting to see if this becomes a staple of Donyell Marshall coached teams.

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