The best offenses in women’s college basketball, 2019-20

This is the same basic idea as my post on the 25 best offenses in men’s college basketball, but just using the Synergy Sports numbers. I didn’t have as much time as I’d like to knock this one out, and I’d like to move on to profiling defenses later this week before spending another two days on offensive success.

Below is each team’s shot chart, their best play types, shooting splits, and tempo, which is calculated via Ken Pomeroy’s equation listed here.

25. Hawaii Pacific Sharks (Honolulu, HI): 0.936 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Off-Screen (99th-percentile); Transition (94th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 36.6% Rim, 23.2% Non-Rim Twos, 40.2% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 55.4% Rim, 35.7% Non-Rim Twos, 36% 3PT
  • Tempo: 75.34 possessions (would rank #7 of 353 among D-1 men’s offenses, per KenPom)

24. Drake Bulldogs (Des Moines, IA): 0.936 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Cuts (99th), Post-Up (97th), Off-Screen (97th), Spot-Up (91st)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 42.7% Rim, 17.5% Non-Rim Twos, 39.8% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 64.4% Rim, 38.6% Non-Rim Twos, 33.4% 3PT
  • Tempo: 76.57 possessions (#3 of 353)

23. Our Lady of the Lake Saints (San Antonio, TX): 0.938 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Transition (97th), Spot-Up (90th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 42.4% Rim, 27.7% Non-Rim Twos, 29.9% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 57.5% Rim, 37.8% Non-Rim, 33.8% 3PT
  • Tempo: 88.79 possessions (#1 of 353)

22. Drury Panthers (Springfield, MO): 0.938 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): P&R Ball Handler (96th), Transition (93rd)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 42.6% Rim, 25.9% Non-Rim Twos, 31.5% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 60.1% Rim, 38.8% Non-Rim Twos, 36.7% 3PT
  • Tempo: 80.46 possessions (#1 of 353)

21. UAB Blazers (Birmingham, AL): 0.939 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Spot-Up (100th), Cuts (98th), P&R Ball Handler (97th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 34.9% Rim, 24.4% Non-Rim Twos, 40.7% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.7% Rim, 32.9% Non-Rim Twos, 37.7% 3PT
  • Tempo: 69.97 possessions (#121 of 353)

20. Union Bulldogs (Jackson, TN): 0.94 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Spot-Up (99th), P&R Ball Handler (99th), Transition (98th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 41.5% Rim, 28% Non-Rim Twos, 30.5% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 56.4% Rim, 43.6% Non-Rim Twos, 40.3% 3PT
  • Tempo: 74.01 possessions (#19 of 353)

19. Marist Red Foxes (Poughkeepsie, NY): 0.941 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Cuts (99th), Spot-Up (94th), Transition (90th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 34.8% Rim, 28.1% Non-Rim Twos, 37.1% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 63.3% Rim, 44% Non-Rim Twos, 35.9% 3PT
  • Tempo: 68.46 possessions (#217 of 353)

18. Nebraska-Kearney Lopers (Kearney, NE): 0.942 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Cuts (98th), Spot-Up (97th), Post-Up (90th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 45% Rim, 16.6% Non-Rim Twos, 38.4% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 59.2% Rim, 38% Non-Rim Twos, 34.5% 3PT
  • Tempo: 70.76 possessions (#84 of 353)

17. Southeastern Fire (Lakeland, FL): 0.945 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Post-Up (99th), Spot-Up (97th), Cuts (96th), Transition (90th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 53.9% Rim, 14.3% Non-Rim Twos, 31.8% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 60.9% Rim, 40.5% Non-Rim Twos, 34.7% 3PT
  • Tempo: 77.34 possessions (#3 of 353)

16. Connecticut Huskies (Mansfield, CT): 0.946 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Transition (99th), Spot-Up (96th), Post-Up (93rd)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 38.4% Rim, 26.5% Non-Rim Twos, 35.1% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.5% Rim, 38.5% Non-Rim Twos, 39.4% 3PT
  • Tempo: 70.7 possessions (#86 of 353)

15. Baylor Lady Bears (Waco, TX): 0.947 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Spot-Up (99th), Post-Up (98th), Transition (97th), Cuts (96th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 47.3% Rim, 34.8% Non-Rim Twos, 17.9% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 59.8% Rim, 42.1% Non-Rim Twos, 37.9% 3PT
  • Tempo: 73.57 possessions (#25 of 353)

14. Florida Gulf Coast Eagles (Fort Myers, FL): 0.948 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Spot-Up (97th), Transition (96th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 36.9% Rim, 9% Non-Rim Twos, 54.1% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 56.1% Rim, 35.4% Non-Rim Twos, 33.7% 3PT
  • Tempo: 73.32 possessions (#27 of 353)

13. Westmont Warriors (Santa Barbara, CA): 0.954 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Transition (100th), P&R Ball Handler (99th), Spot-Up (98th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 30.6% Rim, 18.1% Non-Rim Twos, 51.3% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 51.4% Rim, 39.3% Non-Rim Twos, 37% 3PT
  • Tempo: 65.5 possessions (#329 of 353)

12. Iowa Hawkeyes (Iowa City, IA): 0.954 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Post-Up (100th), Spot-Up (95th), Transition (95th), Cuts (91st)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 40.5% Rim, 22.5% Non-Rim Twos, 37% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 63.3% Rim, 40.1% Non-Rim Twos, 36.5% 3PT
  • Tempo: 74.27 possessions (#13 of 353)

11. Indiana Tech Warriors (Fort Wayne, IN): 0.963 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Cuts (99th), Spot-Up (98th), Transition (98th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 46.2% Rim, 17% Non-Rim Twos, 36.8% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.4% Rim, 33.2% Non-Rim Twos, 36.5% 3PT
  • Tempo: 73.35 possessions (#25 of 353)

10. Bryan College Lions (Dayton, TN): 0.965 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Spot-Up (100th), Cuts (100th), P&R Ball Handler (93rd)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 45.2% Rim, 11.2% Non-Rim Twos, 43.6% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 55.3% Rim, 37.8% Non-Rim Twos, 37.1% 3PT
  • Tempo: 78.29 possessions (#2 of 353)

9. Abilene Christian Wildcats (Abilene, TX): 0.969 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Cuts (100th), Spot-Up (99th), P&R Ball Handler (99th), Post-Up (99th), Transition (96th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 47% Rim, 6.8% Non-Rim Twos, 46.2% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 59.3% Rim, 37.5% Non-Rim Twos, 38% 3PT
  • Tempo: 71.59 possessions (#58 of 353)

8. Arkansas Razorbacks (Fayetteville, AR): 0.976 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Transition (100th), P&R Ball Handler (95th), Spot-Up (94th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 37.2% Rim, 23.5% Non-Rim Twos, 39.3% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 54.8% Rim, 37.5% Non-Rim Twos, 38% 3PT
  • Tempo: 76.08 possessions (#4 of 353)

7. Wartburg Knights (Waverly, IA): 0.978 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Spot-Up (100th), Transition (100th), Cuts (100th), Post-Up (96th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 45.3% Rim, 7.3% Non-Rim Twos, 47.4% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 62.4% Rim, 40% Non-Rim Twos, 35.8% 3PT
  • Tempo: 73.61 possessions (#24 of 353)

6. South Dakota Coyotes (Vermillion, SD): 0.98 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Spot-Up (99th), Cuts (98th), Transition (97th), Post-Up (97th), P&R Ball Handler (97th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 40.3% Rim, 25.7% Non-Rim Twos, 34% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.1% Rim, 38.8% Non-Rim Twos, 37.7% 3PT
  • Tempo: 71.3 possessions (#65 possessions)

5. Glenville State Pioneers (Glenville, WV): 0.982 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): P&R Ball Handler (100th), Spot-Up (99th), Transition (92nd)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 37.9% Rim, 21.3% Non-Rim Twos, 40.8% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 62.7% Rim, 39.2% Non-Rim Twos, 35.2% 3PT
  • Tempo: 89.41 possessions (#1 of 353)

4. Taylor University Trojans (Upland, IN): 0.983 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Spot-Up (100th), Transition (100th), Cuts (93rd)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 36% Rim, 13.3% Non-Rim Twos, 50.7% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 55% Rim, 36.8% Non-Rim Twos, 40.7% 3PT
  • Tempo: 69.04 possessions (#177 of 353)

3. Walsh Cavaliers (North Canton, OH): 0.984 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Spot-Up (98th), Transition (98th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 46.4% Rim, 24.9% Non-Rim Twos, 28.5% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 60.7% Rim, 40.9% Non-Rim Twos, 38% 3PT
  • Tempo: 76.25 possessions (#3 of 353)

2. Ashland Eagles (Ashland, OH): 1.045 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Everything but Post-Up (89th) and P&R Roll Man (70th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 46.2% Rim, 21.8% Non-Rim Twos, 32% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.8% Rim, 44.5% Non-Rim Twos, 46.2% 3PT
  • Tempo: 75.37 possessions (#7 of 353)

1. Oregon Ducks (Eugene, OR): 1.054 PPP

  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): Every single play type not named Hand-Off (61st). Of the 11 play types offered, Oregon ranked in the 98th-percentile or higher in ten.
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 37% Rim, 25.1% Non-Rim Twos, 37.9% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 66.1% Rim, 45.7% Non-Rim Twos, 38.7% 3PT
  • Tempo: 69.52 possessions (#145 of 353)

If you’d like to see more of this, tag me on Twitter @statsbywill or email me statsbywill@gmail.com.

The best offenses in men’s college basketball, 2019-20

Last year, a couple of weeks after the college basketball season, I made my deep exploration into the best men’s college basketball offenses in 2018-19. It led to a full summer of exploring these offenses in greater detail, complete with interviews with coaches and a whole lot of GIFs and game-watching. I loved doing it; it only makes sense that I would do it again.

This year, I decided to expand the, uh, “search” to the top 25 across all levels. Why? Well, why not. SO: here are the very best college basketball offenses of the last five months. I’m doing this in a few different ways than usual. This particular ranking is from Synergy Sports. However, for last year’s KenPom-style ratings, I’ll include that top 25 on the next page, along with the top 25 half-court offenses. It just felt fair to pay tribute to the service that works for all levels of college basketball.

Per Synergy Sports, here were the 25 best offenses of the 2019-20 men’s college basketball season. Below is each team’s shot chart, their best play types, shooting splits, and tempo, which is calculated via Ken Pomeroy’s equation on the next page.

25. Briar Cliff Chargers (Sioux City, IA)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.036
  • Best Play Types (90th-percentile or higher): P&R Ball Handler (99th-percentile); Spot-Up (97th-percentile); P&R Roll Man (96th-percentile); ranked in 100th-percentile on P&R as a whole
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 39% Rim (any attempt within 4 feet of the rim), 12% Non-Rim Twos, 49% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.6% Rim, 38.5% Non-Rim Twos, 39.2% 3PT
  • Tempo: 70.22 possessions (would have ranked 114th of 353 in D-1)

24. Yeshiva Maccabees (New York, NY)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.037
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (99th), Transition (98th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 45.9% Rim, 16% Non-Rim Twos, 38.1% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 65.1% Rim, 46% Non-Rim Twos, 39.6% 3PT
  • Tempo: 78.07 possessions (2nd of 353)

23. Brigham Young Cougars (Provo, UT)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.039
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (99th), P&R Roll Man (99th), P&R Ball Handler (97th), Post-Up (92nd), 99th-percentile on P&R as a whole
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 26% Rim, 32.5% Non-Rim Twos, 41.5% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 69.4% Rim, 44.4% Non-Rim Twos, 42.2% 3PT
  • Tempo: 69.7 possessions (133rd of 353)

22. Western Oregon Wolves (Monmouth, OR)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.04
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (99th), Post-Up (93rd)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 39.5% Rim, 17.9% Non-Rim Twos, 42.7% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 62.2% Rim, 39.5% Non-Rim Twos, 40.5% 3PT
  • Tempo: 75.33 possessions (7th of 353)

21. Walsh Cavaliers (North Canton, OH)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.041
  • Best Play Types: Transition (97th), P&R Ball Handler (97th), Spot-Up (96th), Isolation (93rd), 95th-percentile P&Rs
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 36.8% Rim, 19% Non-Rim Twos, 44.2% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.3% Rim, 41.9% Non-Rim Twos, 41.3% 3PT
  • Tempo: 70.35 possessions (111th of 353)

20. Gonzaga Bulldogs (Spokane, WA)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.041
  • Best Play Types: Post-Up (98th), P&R Ball Handler (97th), P&R Roll Man (97th), Spot-Up (93rd), 100th-percentile P&Rs, 96th-percentile post-ups
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 46.1% Rim, 22.6% Non-Rim Twos, 31.3% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 65.2% Rim, 41.3% Non-Rim Twos, 38.6% 3PT
  • Tempo: 72.6 possessions (36th of 353)

19. Dayton Flyers (Dayton, OH)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.041
  • Best Play Types: Cuts (99th), Spot-Up (97th), Transition (97th), 98th-percentile P&R
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 40.5% Rim, 20.5% Non-Rim, 39% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 71.5% Rim, 44.1% Non-Rim, 37.1% Threes
  • Tempo: 68.0 possessions (233rd of 353)

18. St. John’s Johnnies (St. Joseph, MN)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.042
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (98th), Hand-Off (94th), Post-Up (92nd)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 43.6% Rim, 21.2% Non-Rim Twos, 35.2% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 63.6% Rim, 44.8% Non-Rim Twos, 38.8% 3PT
  • Tempo: 63.08 possessions (351st of 353)

17. Linfield College Wildcats (McMinnville, OR)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.042
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (100th), Transition (95th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 41.6% Rim, 15.9% Non-Rim Twos, 42.5% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 64.9% Rim, 41.7% Non-Rim Twos, 39.1% 3PT
  • Tempo: 76.84 possessions (3rd of 353)

16. Nebraska Wesleyan Prairie Wolves (Lincoln, NE)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.044
  • Best Play Types: Isolation (100th), Cuts (99th), Transition (97th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 39.8% Rim, 16.8% Non-Rim Twos, 43.4% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 67.4% Rim, 45.8% Non-Rim Twos, 35.8% 3PT
  • Tempo: 70.76 possessions (84th of 353)

15. Michigan Tech Huskies (Houghton, MI)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.045
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (100th), Cuts (99th), Transition (98th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 32.9% Rim, 26.5% Non-Rim Twos, 40.6% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.1% Rim, 40.8% Non-Rim Twos, 43.4% 3PT
  • Tempo: 67.8 possessions (242nd of 353)

14. Bellarmine Knights (Louisville, KY)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.046
  • Best Play Types: Transition (99th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 42.1% Rim, 23.3% Non-Rim Twos, 34.6% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 66.5% Rim, 40.4% Non-Rim Twos, 39.5% Threes
  • Tempo: 66.67 possessions (287th of 353)

13. Lewis-Clark State Warriors (Lewiston, ID)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.048
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (99th), Post-Up (97th), 94th-percentile P&R
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 37.5% Rim, 17.9% Non-Rim Twos, 44.6% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.5% Rim, 43.7% Non-Rim Twos, 42% 3PT
  • Tempo: 71.25 possessions (65th of 353)

12. Mount Union Raiders (Alliance, OH)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.049
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (99th), Transition (98th), Cut (97th), P&R Ball Handler (94th), 99th-percentile P&R
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 40.6% Rim, 18.7% Non-Rim Twos, 40.7% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 65.3% Rim, 38.8% Non-Rim Twos, 38.7% 3PT
  • Tempo: 71.66 possessions (56th of 353)

11. Jefferson University Rams (Philadelphia, PA)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.05
  • Best Play Types: P&R Ball Handler (94th), Cuts (94th), Transition (92nd)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 37.8% Rim, 26.1% Non-Rim Twos, 36.1% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 65.3% Rim, 39.6% Non-Rim Twos, 41.4% 3PT
  • Tempo: 68.51 possessions (210th of 353)

10. St. Thomas Tommies (St. Paul, MN)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.055
  • Best Play Types: P&R Ball Handler (98th), Spot-Up (96th), Post-Up (96th), 99th-percentile P&R
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 38.8% Rim, 13.5% Non-Rim Twos, 47.7% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.1% Rim, 41.8% Non-Rim Twos, 38% 3PT
  • Tempo: 69.39 possessions (152nd of 353)

9. Morningside College Mustangs (Sioux City, IA)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.057
  • Best Play Types: Cuts (99th), Spot-Up (98th), Post-Up (96th), P&R Ball Handler (92nd), 99th-percentile all post-ups
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 48.9% Rim, 15% Non-Rim Twos, 36.1% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 64.7% Rim, 43.8% Non-Rim Twos, 39.6% 3PT
  • Tempo: 71.37 possessions (63rd of 353)

8. West Liberty Hilltoppers (West Liberty, WV)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.061
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (98th), Hand-Off (94th), Transition (89th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 45.5% Rim, 16.3% Non-Rim Twos, 38.2% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.6% Rim, 39.2% Non-Rim Twos, 40.7% 3PT
  • Tempo: 81.03 possessions (1st of 353)

7. Olivet Nazarene Tigers (Bourbonnais, IL)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.063
  • Best Play Types: Post-Up (100th), Spot-Up (99th), Cuts (93rd), Transition (92nd), 97th-percentile P&Rs
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 45.7% Rim, 17% Non-Rim Twos, 37.3% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 62.8% Rim, 38.6% Non-Rim Twos, 40.2% 3PT
  • Tempo: 75.51 possessions (7th of 353)

6. Marian Knights (Indianapolis, IN)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.065
  • Best Play Types: Transition (96th), Spot-Up (94th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 43.9% Rim, 21.7% Non-Rim Twos, 34.4% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 61.9% Rim, 40.5% Non-Rim Twos, 43.5% 3PT
  • Tempo: 72.53 possessions (37th of 353)

5. Indiana Wesleyan Wildcats (Marion, IN)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.068
  • Best Play Types: Post-Up (100th), P&R Ball Handler (98th), Transition (96th), Cuts (96th), Spot-Up (94th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 48.7% Rim, 15.1% Non-Rim Twos, 36.2% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 65.4% Rim, 46% Non-Rim Twos, 39.3% 3PT
  • Tempo: 75.1 possessions (8th of 353)

4. Nova Southeastern Sharks (Ft. Lauderdale, FL)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.078
  • Best Play Types: Cuts (96th), P&R Ball Handler (93rd), Spot-Up (90th)
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 44% Rim, 22.9% Non-Rim Twos, 33.1% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 65% Rim, 45.7% Non-Rim Twos, 41.9% 3PT
  • Tempo: 81.51 possessions (1st of 353)

3. Lincoln Memorial Railsplitters (Harrogate, TN)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.081
  • Best Play Types: Spot-Up (99th), Cuts (99th), P&R Ball Handler (99th), 97th-percentile P&Rs
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 45.9% Rim, 9.8% Non-Rim Twos, 45.3% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 65% Rim, 44.1% Non-Rim Twos, 40.6% 3PT
  • Tempo: 78.32 possessions (2nd of 353)

2. UC San Diego Tritons (San Diego, CA)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.095
  • Best Play Types: Cuts (100th), Spot-Up (99th), Transition (98th), 96th-percentile P&Rs
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 33.9% Rim, 13% Non-Rim Twos, 53.1% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 68% Rim, 43.5% Non-Rim Twos, 40.1% 3PT
  • Tempo: 69.39 possessions (152nd of 353)

1. Northwest Missouri State Bearcats (Maryville, MO)

  • Points Per Possession: 1.146
  • Best Play Types: Every single play type but P&R Roll Man (82nd) and Hand-Offs (74th). Literally every one.
  • Percentage of Shots Attempted: 42% Rim, 12.9% Non-Rim Twos, 45.1% Threes
  • Shots Made by Category: 62.5% Rim, 46.3% Non-Rim Twos, 45% 3PT
  • Tempo: 64.85 possessions (337th of 353)

NEXT PAGE: Top 25 via traditional possession calculations; top 25 half-court offenses

The ten most fun Division I basketball offenses of 2019-20

In the midst of what is on target to be the least-efficient offensive season of college basketball since 2011-12 if not 2002-03, it’s best to find reasons to keep watching. The team where I live, Tennessee, is struggling through a gap year. The rest of the state, minus one notable exception we’ll get to, hasn’t produced a super-watchable Division I team. Schools are slowly adjusting to the new three-point line, but it’s taken the full season to do so. If you tossed on a random college basketball game, you’re likely to see more missed shots than you’re accustomed to.

That said, there are several teams and offenses this season that are worth your time and effort to watch them. In particular, the top two have reached “stop whatever you’re doing and watch this” status for me against any opponent that isn’t totally overwhelmed. (There’s numerous reasons to watch teams in the 101-300 range of KenPom’s rankings, as we’ll touch on, but not all of them are exactly fun to watch when playing a top 25 squad.)

In the post-Super Bowl pre-March area of the calendar, it feels right to give these teams their proper recognition. It’s been one of the least pretty years of basketball in some time, but it’s also been one of the most unpredictable and strange years, too. The closest comparison I have is 2010-11, which turned into an utterly insane NCAA Tournament in a year where it felt like there was no true #1 team. (Ohio State, in retrospect, was probably it…and they lost in the Sweet Sixteen.) So: here’s the ten Division I offenses I’ve had the most fun watching this season.

Honorable mentions: South Dakota, San Diego State, Iowa, Austin Peay, Louisville, Alabama.

NEXT PAGE: Teams 10-6

Building a Better Basketball Offense, Part 7: All of Our Friends

When I started this series back in early May, I figured I may have to adjust the schedule at some point. Life happens. However, I figured it would be date-related, not content-related. The seven pillars of making your offense better seemed fairly obvious to me at the time, and I was greatly looking forward to figuring out how everything would fit together. Over the course of the last three months, I realized that the seventh and final installment of this series could afford to aim a little grander than expected.

Originally, this post was exclusively going to be about…well, posts. Post-ups, post player presences, how to work an offense through the post and still be lethal from the perimeter, etc. The post-up is far from dead in college basketball, and it feels like we may even be having a micro-renaissance of a sort. I’m mildly biased by the fact that the University I attended featured a first-round draft pick in the post, but several coaches seemed to agree.

However, I couldn’t shake the feeling that the scope of it would be a little small. Every team could afford to have a post presence, obviously, but not every team currently has one that they’re comfortable running an offense through. Some teams eschew post players entirely, preferring a five-out lineup that spaces the floor with guards running through the paint. Some teams, like my beloved Tennessee, ran out two posts for nearly every possession this past season. The story, as it’s been all along, is that one size does not fit all.

The more important point is that, to this point, I’ve featured 18 programs and their excellent offenses. All of them are different, and all of them achieved their impressive levels of efficiency through their own unique means. Adding three more through a post series would’ve brought it to 21, a pretty good number. The more I thought about what to do for the final installment, though, I began to think of all the great offenses I’d left out. There’s more than 21 great college basketball offenses out there, and while I can’t realistically cover them all, I could cover more than planned. So, as any coach who’s participated in this series could tell you, I started sending emails, one after another.

What I got back was something far greater and expansive than anticipated. What was supposed to be an 8-10 team post turned into 12, then 15, and now, finally, 18. This one post alone will double the amount of teams covered in this series. All of these offenses are worth covering, but they didn’t really fit into any of the first six categories. (In the end, after contemplating putting these teams in a few different categories, I threw up my hands and decided to put them in alphabetical order. Whatever’s most fair.) If they did, they just missed the cut of the relevant original piece. Considering that just two of these 18 teams are in Division I, the likelihood of them getting serious coverage by a stats + video site like this isn’t very high. I want to give them the coverage they deserve. Here’s hoping I got it right.

Every team got their own page, and this is a massive, near-18,000 word piece. If you’re only here to see one or two of these teams, use the table of contents below to click ahead to your team of choice.

Building a Better Basketball Offense, Part 6: Attacking a Zone

If you want to strike fear into the minds of impressionable young people, from my experience, you say two words: zone defense. It’s so scary! A normal man defense is simple, and your average motion offense can break it with varying regularity. The second you throw something different at your average high schooler and collegian, they become terrified. Zone defense is so…not normal! It actually requires our team to slow the game down a little bit and look for a shot, and we can’t take the first open shot we see. That’s not exactly what a lot of players want to hear.

What’s funniest about all of this is that it’s statistically easier to score on your average zone defense. Per Synergy, which includes offensive rebounds as separate possessions, the average man offense in Division I this past season scored 0.877 PPP. The average zone offense? 0.923 PPP. That’s a full 4.6 points more per 100 possessions – nothing frightening about that at all, right? (There’s some obvious sample size disclaimers here, before I go any further. Teams play more possessions against man defense than they do zone, so the first sample will obviously be larger than the second.) If it’s easier to score on, then why can’t we stop being scared of zones?

The answer has several different factors, of course. Generally, a team that runs a lot of zone defense is going to be much tougher to break than a mostly-man team that breaks into a zone for a few possessions per game. They simply run it more often and are more comfortable in their system; therefore, they know the weak spots of it and know to pay close attention to them. Plus, the zone defense is open to greater variance. On average, teams take 4.5% more threes per game against zones than they do man defenses. It doesn’t lead to any greater success – 34.3% hit rate against zones versus 34.2% against man – but it does allow for higher variance, both good and bad.

Another key stat here: offensive rebounding. Zone defenses give up about 3.9% more offensive rebounds than man defenses do. That might not seem giant, but on average, that’s an additional offensive rebound for every 25 opportunities. Considering you have around 30-40 chances in any given game, an additional two points could be massive in a close game. Plus, the biggest one of all: Assist Rate. Teams get over 10 more assists per 100 possessions against zones versus man. Why? The zone defense requires you to pass the ball. In theory, you could certainly run isolation plays and pick-and-rolls to the basket in it, but they’re a rare sight against teams like Syracuse.

The following three teams have a variety of ideas for attacking zones. They don’t necessarily change their entire offense to do so. All three are excellent at passing the ball, looking for open shooters, stretching the zone, and finding weak points to attack. A high-end zone offense requires patience, fearless players, and confidence in your ability to get the same type of shots you’d get against a man defense. If your team has struggled with breaking down zones in the past, let these programs be your inspiration.

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Building a Better Basketball Offense, Part 5: Cuts

Cuts, by and large, are the easiest way to score points in basketball. By their Synergy terms, they’re downhill actions that can come in a variety of ways: backdoor, off screens, curls, flares, basket cuts, flashes, etc. To borrow a phrase from several different coaches, there’s a million different ways to run a cut. However, there’s also a few select ways that should work best for you and your team.

This past season, the Cuts play type on Synergy was the most efficient play type on average. It’s been the most efficient play type since Synergy has existed. And yet: it’s the fourth-most used play type in college basketball. Why don’t more teams run cuts? Is this simply Synergy designating a “cut” as a different action at times? Are teams not as influenced by the Golden State Warriors (by far the highest user of cuts in the NBA) as we thought? If Cuts only represent around 8.4% of college basketball possessions, are they really that important?

There’s no one answer, obviously, but we can attempt to provide a few different ideas. First off, it’s impossible and silly to run the same play type for a full game. You’ve got to be diverse, to be creative, and to be unpredictable. The best offenses in college basketball have to have at least two of these three items: 1. Great shooters; 2. A great, unique system; 3. A coach unafraid of switching from a game plan. (Most commonly, they have all three.) The highest-usage cut rate over the 14 seasons in the Synergy database is Grove City’s 20.8% use in 2017-18. 20% seems to be a realistic limit; even Golden State only uses them 11% of the time. (In the Notes section of this piece on the last page, you’ll see some brief work on Grove City’s cuts.)

So: why are Cuts so important if most teams won’t run them more than 8-9% of the time? Because plays ending in cuts aren’t the only ones that count. The vast majority of basketball offenses use off-ball cuts, screens, motions, and more just to set up a potential shot. If a player gets a pass off of a cut and doesn’t shoot it, that won’t go down in the database. Chances are that these teams are using cuts by the technical term more often than the average 8.4%; it’s my duty to show you which ones are the best ones, theoretically.

In this series, you’ll see three teams that run a variety of unique looks offensively, all of which heavily involve cuts. Bellarmine went from going 18 seasons without a Division II NCAA Tournament bid to winning 275 games this decade on the back of Scott Davenport’s backdoor-heavy offense. On the other hand, Notre Dame’s women’s program has made 26 straight NCAA Tournaments and seven of the last nine Final Fours on the back of a routinely great offense. In between, Aaron Johnston’s hard work for South Dakota State’s women’s program has taken them from a Division II power to their first-ever Sweet Sixteen appearance in Division I this past season.

All three programs are impressive in their own way, with each finding a unique, creative way to win games on the back of their cuts. In terms of great college offenses to mine ideas from, this might be one of the better collections you’ll find.

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Building a Better Basketball Offense, Part 4: ATOs and OOB Plays

It’s been said for as long as I’ve watched basketball that the plays a coach has the most control over come out of timeouts. It makes sense: that’s the only time of the game where you can draw up a play on the fly or tell the entire huddle at once what to run. Sure, coaches can call sets from the sideline, but they don’t get to draw up the set while the shot clock bleeds away.

In terms of in-game control, this is indeed where the coach has the most influence. Of course, that’s only part of the equation: a coach is made better by his out-of-game control more than anything else. Quality practices, a smart system, informed recruiting, and creativity/innovation help a coach stand out more than anything they can do in a game. That said, being able to draw up a good set for a quick two or three points out of a timeout or an out-of-bounds situation can be the final piece in a coach’s arsenal.

As with the rest of this series, ATOs and OOB plays are meant to be part of your better basketball offense, not the entirety of it. Rare is it that a team is great at both, but not at least good at the rest of their offense. Per Synergy, of the top 15 ATO offenses this year, just one ranked below the 85th-percentile in overall offensive efficiency nationally, and 13 of the 15 were in the 91st-percentile or higher. (Holy Family University in Philadelphia either has the greatest ATO coach or the worst non-ATO coach in the nation, with a 36th-percentile offense.) Generally, the plays are going to work better than most others if you have the players to execute them.

However, this doesn’t discount the necessity of the aforementioned creativity and innovation. If you’re only running a couple ATO sets and haven’t changed things up in a while, an opposing coaching staff can snuff it out pretty quickly. Continuous tweaks and new ideas can allow you to spring a player for a wide-open three or an easy cut off of a screen to the rim. Considering I am not a coach and know next-to-nothing about what makes ATOs work, I figured I should discuss this with experts.

The three teams in this portion of the series are either very well-known for their ATO prowess or should be. Any coach or fan of the game reading this knows that the Belmont Bruins have possessed insanely good ATO sets for as long as Rick Byrd coached there. You know Jim Crutchfield from his work at West Liberty; now you’ll get to see what he’s doing at Nova Southeastern. Lastly, Scott Heady isn’t a household name, but the Marian Knights had the fourth-best offense in all of college basketball this year and his ATO/OOB sets were a big part of it. Exploration is good, just like innovating is.

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