Tracking The Four: Scouting Reports

Posted by EJacoby on January 27th, 2012

Evan Jacoby is an RTC contributor & correspondent. You can find him @evanjacoby on Twitter. TT4 will cover four selected teams of interest – Syracuse, Indiana, Murray State, and UNLV – by tracking their ups, downs, and exciting developments throughout the course of the season.

You know each of our four team’s records, you can see where they’re ranked relative to other teams, and their advanced statistical breakdowns are easily accessible on sites like StatSheet and KenPom. But what about how they actually look in person? If you haven’t watched these teams play multiple times this season, we have the quick-hitting analysis of their strengths and weaknesses. This week’s TT4 Wildcard gives a scouting report for each team, which is a useful way to compare and contrast teams and also look at how they perform in future games relative to their expected tendencies. Feel free to chime in if you think we missed on something!

A Dynamic Offensive Attack has Led to Indiana's Success (AP Photo)

Indiana Hoosiers

Strengths:

  • They space the floor very well offensively, capable of attacking from a variety of angles… Capable of running offense inside-out through Cody Zeller, or outside-in by swinging the ball around the perimeter amongst a number of dangerous scorers.
  • Great perimeter shooting… They take good shots, which leads to a high three-point percentage… Jordan Hulls and Matt Roth have unlimited range on their shots… Christian Watford excels in the mid-range.
  • Cohesive unit that has started the same five players in every game… Starters and reserves both know their roles.

Weaknesses:

  • Poor perimeter defense, often leaving opposing guards without much ball pressure… Allow opponents to run offense comfortably.
  • Lack depth in the frontcourt, putting themselves in a bad position if Zeller is fatigued or in foul trouble.
  • No true point guard on the roster has led to struggles penetrating offensively… Poor assist percentage for such a high-scoring offense.

Overview: A dynamic offensive team that thrives during up-tempo games, enabling them to consistently space the floor and hit open shots… Struggle defensively in the half court with physical teams, and can get in trouble when Zeller or Watford get in foul trouble… Very streaky performance has led to extended runs and deficits during games… Improving defensive team but continue to have trouble getting stops in conference play.

UNLV Runnin’ Rebels

Strengths:

  • Incredibly fast tempo… aggressive offensive attack in which all players have great confidence in scoring the ball.
  • Fill roles brilliantly… Anthony Marshall is a go-to guard but they can also run offense through Mike Moser on the interior… Oscar Bellfield attacks from the point guard spot with a purpose to get teammates involved… Chace Stanback thrives as a wing shooter and slasher.
  • First-year coach Dave Rice has preached defensive intensity and collective rebounding effort while continuing up-tempo game that has led to improved defense.

Weaknesses:

  • Struggle in half-court games, as witnessed by 11-point loss to Wisconsin… Have rushed offense against stronger defensive teams.
  • Have a tendency to take bad shots, which has not hurt them against so many poor defensive opponents this season… Must improve shot selection in closer games.
  • Have committed a lot of fouls against stronger opponents… Also struggled to get to the free throw line against stronger defenses.

Overview: High-flying offensive team that plays at a fast pace… Have great success scoring in transition… Much improved defensive team but have trouble defending for full possessions… Must improve discipline on both ends of the floor against physical teams.

Syracuse Orange

Strengths:

  • Deepest team in the country… Rotate fresh bodies and seemingly have two players to fill all roles… Massive improvements by Fab Melo, Dion Waiters, C.J. Fair, and others means very few player weaknesses to exploit.
  • Strong 2-3 defense has allowed them to avoid fouls defensively and forced opponents to take primarily outside shots… Also forced a huge number of turnovers from the zone.
  • Nearly impossible to stop in transition… Ability to turn turnovers into high number of transition opportunities.
  • Equal opportunity offense loves to share the ball… High assist percentage and good shooting team finds easy shots.

Weaknesses:

  • Allow many offensive rebounds, having trouble boxing out from the zone… Guards prefer to leak out towards offense rather than crash defensive boards.
  • Poor team free-throw percentage… They also have a very low free throw rate in the half-court.
  • Lack of go-to scorer can limit them offensively in a half-court game.

Overview: A national title favorite thanks to a deep roster that produces with efficiency on both offense and defense… 2-3 zone defense coaxes opponents into bad shots and mistakes, allowing for many transition opportunities… Experienced coach Jim Boeheim has gotten the most out of every player this season and given defined roles to all players.

Murray State Racers

Strengths:

  • Always on the attack… Have great collective confidence in getting to the rim and shooting from the outside.
  • Explosive point guard Isaiah Canaan can break down defenses with the dribble… Canaan also thrives shooting the three, making him an extremely tough cover.
  • Score a large number of points from the free-throw line and behind the arc, which is more efficient than mid-range shots.
  • Aggressive defense leads to high number of steals and opponent turnovers… Excel with transition opportunities.

Weaknesses:

  • Take a lot of chances defensively… Poor two-point field goal percentage defense is a result of too many perimeter mistakes.
  • Lack of size will be a major issue against higher caliber opponents… Start no players taller than 6’7”.
  • Vulnerable against strong post players… Struggle to find scoring through interior offense, therefore unable to draw fouls against bigs.

Overview: Surprisingly battle-tested team has been extremely successful in the past few seasons and has finally gotten time in the spotlight… Love to play up-tempo and put pressure on defenses by being able to attack the rim or set up open three-point shots with dribble drives… Lack of size and athleticism has not caught up to them thus far, but will be an issue against major opponents… Strong guard play and distinct game style will give them a chance to win games in postseason.

EJacoby (198 Posts)


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One Response to “Tracking The Four: Scouting Reports”

  1. jerry hollingsworth says:

    I would modify your Murray State description slightly, based on only a few glimpses of Murray State on TV. It would read:

    Apparently modeled defense on The Ferret’s plan at Dook: Foul all over the floor and somehow convince the referees that to call all of the fouls would not look good for the refs. As a result, Murray State opponents always play 5 on 8, just like Dook.

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