College basketball: Which system do you belong in?
Not all basketball attributes are created equal.
For every rim-protecting post player, there is a point guard with cat-like quickness and superb court vision. For every long-range marksman, there is a slasher who is unstoppable in the paint.
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With that in mind, let’s play a game. It’s called, “If I was a (x), I would want to play at (x).” Doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue, but you get the idea. Let’s get started.
“If I was a pass-first point guard, I would want to play at Kentucky.”
Why? Because my teammates would make me look good. The talent is rarely the same on a yearly basis, but Kentucky is always loaded on the wing and in the frontcourt. In other words, Lexington is a point guard-friendly environment.
It’s also difficult to remember the last time the Wildcats lacked a quality floor general. John Calipari has coached Tyler Ulis, John Wall, Brandon Knight and Eric Bledsoe in the past several seasons, and for better or worse, he’ll put the ball in his point guard’s hands and allow him to create.
If your greatest joy in playing basketball is setting up others, what more could you ask for?
“If I was a 3-point shooter, I would want to play at Villanova.”
The Wildcats were often criticized for their tendency to settle for 3’s last season, but who’s laughing now? 42.6 percent of Villanova’s shots came from 3-point range last season, and despite catching fire in the NCAA tournament, they ranked outside of the top 100 among Division I teams in 3-point percentage.
Take a look at the past few seasons, and you’ll notice Villanova was actually shy from distance last season. By its own standards, anyway. Villanova launched the 22nd most 3’s in the country in 2014-15 and the seventh highest total in 2013-14; both of those figures were higher than their total last season.
Jay Wright knows a hot 3-point shooting team is virtually unguardable. His 2016 national champions proved him right. If I’m a 3-point shooting fiend, I’m taking a hard look at Villanova.
“If I was a perimeter defensive stopper, I would want to play at West Virginia.”
Lace those shoes tight, because Bob Huggins will work you hard. But for good reason.
‘Press Virginia’ is like no other college basketball system. The Mountaineers defend 94 feet on virtually every possession, and although this is an an unofficial statistic, WVU likely leads the nation in ‘opposing point guards rattled.’
In the past two seasons, West Virginia ranked first in the country in steal percentage. That is an official statistic. Huggins recruits tenacious, scrappy athletes who always seem to think the game a step or two ahead of everyone else. For a defensive ace, there is no better system in the sport.
“If I was an old-school throwback, I would want to play at Virginia.”
Are you a mid-range specialist whose game was better suited for the ‘90s? Are you a back-to-the-basket power forward living in an era that craves floor-spacing big men? Have you been fundamentally sound since you were in diapers?
Then you belong at Virginia. Tony Bennett runs an old-fashioned program defined by gritty defense, basketball intelligence and efficient, slow-paced offense. Had the Cavaliers played faster last season, Malcolm Brogdon’s raw numbers would have been higher, and as a result, he would have challenged Buddy Hield and Denzel Valentine for the Naismith Award.
Here’s the thing, though: personal accolades don’t mean squat to Virginia players. Just win. It’s a throwback program, and a nice ying to the rest of college basketball’s yang.
“If I was a stretch power forward, I would want to play at Notre Dame.”
Notre Dame’s game plan is admirable. They want to outscore you, and whatever happens on the other end, well, happens.
The Fighting Irish have been stellar offensively in the past two seasons, ranking inside of the top 10 in adjusted offensive efficiency each year. Defensively, Mike Brey’s squad leaves much to be desired, ranking outside of the top 100 in adjusted defensive efficiency over the same span.
So If I’m a big man who struggles to protect the rim, has a hard time defending in space but loves to get buckets, then Notre Dame is the place for me. Brey will find a spot for a Ryan Anderson (or Bonzie Colson) type.
"If I was a crunch-time hero, I would want to play at Connecticut.”
In 2011, Connecticut won the national championship as a No. 3 seed. In 2014, the Huskies won it all as a No. 7 seed.
The takeaway here: The Huskies clearly save their best for when the lights shine brightest. Like, this is a real thing that happened last year:
The Huskies went on to beat the Bearcats in the fourth overtime.
And then there’s Kemba:
And Shabazz (0:30):
If you’ve got that clutch gene, look no further than Storrs.
"If I was an energetic athlete, I would want to play at North Carolina.”
The Tar Heels led the nation in adjusted offensive efficiency last season, and they ranked 259th in the country in 3-point percentage. In today’s basketball ecosystem, that seems fishy.
And then you see how UNC makes its hay. The Tar Heels rebounded an astounding 40.7 of their own misses last season; they were absolutely relentless on the glass.
There are three key components to offensive rebounding: athleticism, understanding angles and a never-ending motor. It also helps to have a coach that encourages crashing the glass; advanced analytics suggest getting back on defense is more important than salvaging second and third chances.
“To heck with that,” Roy Williams has probably said at one point or another. If you love to clean up on the boards, then Chapel Hill is the place for you.