Saturday, April 5, 2014

Why Didn't Florida Go Small?

When UConn got down 16-4 in the first half, Kevin Ollie made what coaches call an adjustment. With his normal lineup unable to score against Florida's aggressive defense, he went small, putting three guards on the floor and playing DeAndre Daniels, a 6'8 195 SF, at center.

That's what NBA coaches do when their offense is struggling - they get more shooting and ball-handling on the floor and try to speed up the game. They don't just sit there and do nothing. They pro-actively search for the unit that best matches up with their opponent on a given night.

Over the next 20 minutes, UConn totally swung the momentum of the game, going on a 33-11 run. During that time, Billy Donovan really didn't do anything different - he stuck with his normal rotations and kept his normal game-plan even though it was clearly not working.

Eventually, Donovan got his team back in the game by going to a bigger line-up and playing a 1-3-1 zone, trapping UConn and forcing a few TO's. They got some points going from defense to offense and pounded the ball inside to Patric Young, but other than that, their offense fell apart.

Ollie was clearly willing to live with Young's offense - the guy is built like an Adonis, but he's not a very skilled player. If he has to beat you with 1-on-1 moves, Florida is in trouble. Even though his big men are really limited offensively, Donovan never tried to downsize with Ollie.

I can see the argument about sticking to your identity when you are a 30-2 team, but when you are shooting 39% from the field with 3 assists on 11 turnovers, why not try something different? What's the harm in going Dorian Finney-Smith at the 5, Casey Prather at the 4 and three guards?

Donovan stuck with Will Yeguete, even though this was not a game he was going to do well in. He was useless on offense and he couldn't stick Daniels, so he wasn't adding much value to the floor. As accomplished a coach as he is, he didn't make adjustments very fast on Saturday.

That was the big difference in the first Final Four game - Ollie wasn't going down without using bullet in his holster. If he was coaching Florida, he would have went small at some point because why not. That's what you do in the NBA when you aren't scoring.

If the definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, asking Scottie Wilbekin and Kasey Hill to generate 1-on-1 offense against Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright was an insane strategy.

That's what people mean when they say Kevin Ollie brings NBA experience to the college game. He plays the match-up game, he alters his rotation patterns and he adjusts what he is doing based on the strengths and weaknesses of his opponent. That's why his team is still alive and Billy Donovan's team is going home.

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