Bearcats Trading Three Pointers For Rim Attacks In 2013-14

Frank Victores-USA TODAY Sports

For each of the last two falls Mick Cronin has promised adjustments to his offense. Those adjustments have generally centered on two things, pressing more and playing faster which would lead, theoretically, to easier shots on offense against defenses that aren't set. Through four games the pace remains as glacial as it ever was, but the Bearcats efficiency is blowing prior Cronin teams out of the water.

That the Bearcats have had a jump in efficiency at all makes little sense. The statistical profile for the Bearcats has never really changed in the Cronin era. Top 50 or so defense, average offense, glacial pace. Rinse, lather, repeat. But this, this year is completely different. It all comes down to one thing, shot selection. (All of this data comes from Hoop Math, a wildly underrated site for basketball fans with a statistical bent)

% of shots at rim % of shots 2 point J's

% Of Shots From 3

2013-14 45.5 33.0 21.5
2012-13 30.7 32.2 37.1
2011-12 35.4 29.9 34.7

That is a radically different approach from these Bearcats. It goes without saying that this is a four game sample size, three of them coming against vastly out gunned competition. As the season wears on and the competition gets tougher some of those rim runs will become three point shots. So long as the Bearcats continue to try to get to the rim good things will continue to happen.

There is little doubting that the rule changes are playing a part in the Bearcats changes. Mick is a savvy guy, he is smart enough to tailor his approach to benefit as much as possible from the higher foul totals/free throw attempts. But there is also something to be said for the team he has assembled.

For most of the guys on this team getting to the rim is plans A through D. There are far fewer players on this team who would be as inclined to take 25 footers as frequently as Cashmere Wright was. That is not a knock on Cash, who is my second favorite Cronin era Bearcat, but he took three or four eye roll educing 25 footers a game. Sure, he earned that right, but him having that green light doesn't magically turn those shots into a good one.

There are so many good things that can happen when a team attacks the basket and the downside is minimal. This is a team that has taken that message to heart. It is only four games with tougher competition to come, but this offense can turn out to be very good if they attack the rim at current rates.


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