Thursday, March 29, 2007

Hoyamania and the "white boy" offense

Sean Gregory has an interesting profile in Time about the Princeton Offense and Georgetown. As Patrick Ewing, Jr. noted, the Princeton Offense is the "quote-unquote white guy offense" -- a precise, detailed and disciplined pass-cut-screen attack designed to share the ball. For nearly 30 years, Princeton ran Pete Carill's brainchild offensive design and it netted both a harvest of Ivy League basketball titles (13 in 29 years) and some notable upsets in the NCAA (1983 over Ok. State, 1996 over defending-champ UCLA).

Both NC State and Air Force use the offense. For the Flyboys, it has led to repeated 20-win seasons despite lacking the talent of their conference foes; for NC State, it worked less well because the talent gap between NCSU and top ACC teams was so large and Herb Sendek could not recruit top players (except Julius Hodge, who picked NCSU over Syracuse; Hakim Warrick then accepted SU's scholarship offer and we know how that all turned out).

But then, there's the code:

After all, the athletic (read: black) guys need to push the ball up the court and run one-on-one plays to showcase their skills. You can't hold them back by running that 1960s hayseed Princeton junk. Plus, only the smart, 1500-SAT (read: white) kids can learn those sets. The slower (read: very white) players need to milk the clock, move without the ball and throw those tricky backdoor passes to compete. So goes the code.

Georgetown has the double plus: running a precision offense correctly and doing it with top-end athletes like Jeff Green, Jessie Sapp, Ewing the Younger, et al. And if the offense cannot generate the shot Georgetown wants, it can fall back on those skilled players to create and score.

The Hoyas are shattering the myth, and like it. As Big East Player of the Year Jeff Green noted,

"When you're coming from high school and you're the superstar of your team, you can sometimes ask, 'Why are we doing this?' But we soon realized that nobody could guard us."

Unless the opponent plays zone -- got that Coach Williams?

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