I wrote this post to provide my opinion on the Boise State basketball team.
Boise State runs a dribble-drive motion offense. This offense uses four guards spaced around the perimeter and one post player. The objective is to attack the rim using dribble penetration and if the defense collapses on the penetrator, the penetrator kicks the ball out for an open 3. Here are some links that describe the dribble-drive motion offense:
This offense is ideal for Boise State’s guard heavy personnel. If all goes well, it gives our guards space to get to the rim, gives our 3-point shooters open looks, provides for free throw opportunities as our guards attack the hoop, and give our post players plenty of offensive rebounding opportunities when the post-defender has to help on the drive. In all, it’s a great offense for our personnel and Coach Rice knows this.
This offense requires a lot of energy. It takes effort to beat a defender off the dribble and take the ball to the rim. It takes even more energy and effort when your defender has more length and athleticism. Boise State has that energy in the first half. It is no surprise that our offense generally does pretty well in the first half of the game and the first half of the second half. The problem arises in the last 10 minutes or so of the game. Especially when we are playing long, athletic teams like SDSU and UNLV. At the end of the game, our players no longer have the energy or leg strength to beat a lengthy defender to the rim. With no dribble penetration, we no longer get open 3 point shots, and no longer get to the foul line. Instead, players dribble around the perimeter looking for an opening and finding none, pass to the next player who does the same thing. Meanwhile, the shot clock winds down.
This is where Derrick Marks comes into the picture. Marks is probably the most athletic player on the team and the only player that can create his own shot. More than anybody else on the team, Marks has the athletic ability to create space between him and his defender to get a somewhat decent shot. That is why Marks has the ball at the end of the game. He can create his own shot. However, Marks, like the other Boise State players, loses his legs and energy at the end of the game. So, his shot creating ability is lessened and he is only able to create low-percentage shots. It should be no surprise when he misses those difficult shots.
Unfortunately, Marks's low percentage shots are the best looks we can get at the end of the game, while using the dribble-drive motion offense. No other players on our team have the athleticism to beat their defenders off the dribble on a low tank. Drmic is an outstanding player, but it takes him much more effort and energy for him to get to the rim than it does for Marks. It’s no knock on Drmic, that just seems to be the case. At the end of the game, Drmic doesn’t have the energy to get to the rim and get his own shot off when he’s been battling longer and more athletic players the whole game.
Thus, the end of the game comes down to Marks. Marks has single handedly won games for Boise State by making difficult shots late in the game, such as Utah State this year and Colorado State last year. He has also missed late game shots. But I don’t think we should be blaming Marks for any loses. In reality, it is a product of the system.
The first solution is to develop depth. Boise State rarely plays more than 8 guys a game. And with Elloriaga hurt and Iggy MIA, depth becomes a huge concern. Developing depth starts with recruiting. I think coaches have done a great job recruiting at Boise State and will continue to excel. Next, coaches need to give the bench game-time experience. I would like to see Trent, Hanstad, Nebeker, and Dukulis get some more minutes and give the starters rest. Then, hopefully, the starters will be fresh at the end of the game and be able to finish strong. Of course, it is a double edge sword, because without the starters playing the majority of the game maybe we aren’t in the tough games at the end. But, I still think we need the bench to contribute more minutes.
The second solution is to develop quick hitting plays for the last 10 minutes of the game. Once the players lose energy, the coaches need to recognize it and have plays ready to go. These plays need to involve a lot of off-ball screening to get Drmic, Marks, and others in positions to score. I would love to see Drmic curling around a double screen on the wing, or getting a baseline screen towards the hoop. Whatever happens, the coaching staff needs to develop plays to put players in appropriate positions to score. We cannot rely on beating more athletic players one on one.
So, I don’t think we can blame any player, especially Marks, for losing any game. It’s just how the system works. Once we get more depth, the dribble-drive motion offense will work at the end of the game. Until then, coaches need to change the system at the end of the game to put players in position to score. Of course, this is only my opinion as a BSU hoops fan, and I recognize that I may be completely wrong.