It’s Time to Modernize Georgetown’s Offense

Posted by Justin Kundrat on January 25th, 2017

On the heels of a 15-18 season in 2015-16 and currently in the midst of a 10-10 campaign featuring a 1-6 record in conference play, the criticisms of Georgetown‘s offense far outweigh the viable solutions. Yes, the Hoyas do not have a true point guard, but their assist to field goal ratio (60.7%) ranks among the top 30 in college basketball. Sure, Georgetown is lacking in high volume shooters, but its three-point field goal percentage of 36.9 percent ranks in the top 100. John Thompson III‘s team might not be a very good defensive rebounding team this year, but the 28th-tallest team nationally did not simply forget how to rebound (the Hoyas were much better at cleaning the defensive glass last season). Is the Princeton offense broken? No, but without player buy-in, understanding, cohesiveness or whatever you want to call it, the pieces at Georgetown will not fit into the greater puzzle. Without good team chemistry and trust in the process, all those backcourt cuts that require a heavy reliance on spacing and timing will become a turnover-fueled hodgepodge. So, what are the Hoyas to do?

One of Thompson’s first initiatives in the offseason was to instill a faster offense — as a result, the Hoyas’ average length of possession this season has fallen from a middling 17.3 to a top-quintile 16.0 seconds. But this strategic shift hasn’t made Georgetown’s offense more efficient — it’s actually worse — and its transition rate of scoring is only marginally higher. In effect, the “faster pace” scheme can be distilled to “taking shots earlier in the shot clock,” which, if anything, runs against the overarching theory of finding the best shot. There’s nothing wrong with the way Georgetown’s lineup is constructed. It generates plenty of firepower from the backcourt, has floor-stretching, big wings, and experienced big men. The attack instead needs to be focused on improved shot selection and methods of scoring. Currently, as the above table shows, an outsized proportion of Hoyas’ offense comes from the free throw line (14th nationally). It’s a plausible strategy in theory, but it is also one that relies heavily on the whimsy of officiating.

“Modern offense” in NBA parlance means generating points predominantly from shots at the rim and behind the three-point line. While opportunities haven’t been lacking in the former, the conversion has been remarkably poor. The Hoyas rank 98th nationally in percentage of shots coming at the rim, but a dismal 273rd in conversions there. While trips to the free throw line aren’t factored into this equation, the team’s guards have struggled in finishing drives to the basket. As the below table shows, L.J. Peak focuses too much of his attention on drawing fouls, while Jonathan Mulmore and Tre Campbell lack the requisite strength to finish plays in traffic.

The opposite problem exists at the perimeter. This is Thompson’s best three-point shooting team in six years and yet just over a third (34.2%) of the Hoyas’ shots come from beyond the arc (226th nationally). The only player in the rotation who is not capable of knocking down deep shots is 7’0 center Bradley HayesRodney Pryor (42.6%) and Marcus Derrickson (42.4%) might be the only pure shooters on the team (accounting for L.J. Peak’s shooting slump and corresponding drop from 40.9 percent to 32.8 percent this year), but there are numerous other Hoyas who can keep the defense honest. That is exactly what Georgetown needs because teams are choosing to pack the paint and seldom biting on pump fakes. Georgetown’s notorious change in pace certainly hasn’t fixed the problem, but a change in its shot selection just might.

Justin Kundrat (142 Posts)

Villanova grad, patiently waiting another 10 years for season tickets. Follow Justin on twitter @JustinKundrat or email him at justin.kundrat@gmail.com


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