UConn's defense needs to improve 40% mark

-
Joined
Mar 15, 2014
Messages
271
Likes
275
I've been disappointed with the UConn defense all season. I remember when Jim Calhoun was coach it was always the goal to have his team hold the opposition to under 40% shooting to give them a chance for victory. If this year's UConn team could do that the would've been in a much better position to win.

Stats don't lie:

If UConn opposition shoots under 40% - 7 wins, 0 losses (this includes the Syracuse win)
If UConn opposition shoots under 45% - 3 wins, 2 losses (loss to Cincy and USF)
If UConn opposition shoots above 45% - 3 wins, 9 losses (3 wins against Cornell, UMass-Lowell, and Tulane)

Hurley should really concentrate on his team's playing better UCONN defense. That will allow them a better chance to win games, esp. with the talent deficiencies we have.
 
Last edited:

pj

Joined
Mar 30, 2012
Messages
7,543
Likes
9,779
To consistently hold opponents under 40%, you need great athletes and length, especially inside. We don't have it.

The defensive effort is there and as players improve their strength and conditioning and gain experience, the defense will continue to improve. But we need a talent infusion. Gaffney, Bouknight, Akok will help the defense. We need a rim protector too.
 

geordi

Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel
Joined
Aug 26, 2011
Messages
1,009
Likes
688
We spent 10 years leading the nation in blocked shots. When there are 10 or so blocked shots a game, the shooting percentage goes way down.
 

SubbaBub

Your stupidity is ruining my country.
Joined
Aug 26, 2011
Messages
26,361
Likes
24,166
Nah, we have too many guys who don't understand team defense. Some are young (Wilson) ans some are disinclined (Adams, Polley, Cobb).

Defense and poor shooting are the reasons we suck.
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
406
Likes
481
I've been disappointed with the UConn defense all season. I remember when Jim Calhoun was coach it was always the goal to have his team hold the opposition to under 40% shooting to give them a chance for victory. If this year's UConn team could do that the would've been in a much better position to win.

Stats don't lie:

If UConn opposition shoots under 40% - 7 wins, 0 losses (this includes the Syracuse win)
If UConn opposition shoots under 45% - 3 wins, 3 losses
If UConn opposition shoots above 45% - 3 wins, 10 losses (3 wins against Cornell, UMass-Lowell, and Tulane)

Hurley should really concentrate on his team's playing better UCONN defense. That will allow them a better chance to win games, esp. with the talent deficiencies we have.
He said recently in a press conference that the biggest problem with the team is defense. I think he is fully aware of its short comings. Unfortunately, defense is much harder to teach and to learn. First, there is the individual problems a player can have (fundamentals, positioning, strength, length, effort, etc). Then you have to throw in team defensive principles with weak side rotations, funneling towards the end lines/shot blockers, trapping, pick and roll etc.

But I agree with your observation, our biggest problem is defense.
 
Joined
Mar 15, 2014
Messages
271
Likes
275
To consistently hold opponents under 40%, you need great athletes and length, especially inside. We don't have it.
Defense isn't just about talent, its about effort. Calhoun esp. stressed this in his early years, esp. when UConn didn't always have the talent level other programs had.
 

willie99

Loving life & enjoying the ride, despite the bumps
Joined
Aug 26, 2011
Messages
4,507
Likes
4,229
Calhoun emphasized defending the shot and rebounding, he didn't try to force turnovers save for the dream season. We were always national leaders in defensive FG % and rebounding margin. We were never national leaders in steals.

Hurley is different thus far, he tries to turn teams over and that leads to a lot of open shots. Although I think he's slowly moving away from that style, Even last year at RI, their opponents shot 45.3%. JC's teams were < 40%, be it tall or small
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2016
Messages
253
Likes
627
Hurley’s teams tend to have a reputation for playing pressure and forcing turnovers, but his team’s defensive identity varied from year-to-year. URI’s overall defensive ratings (all stats from kenpom.com) from 2012-2018 were 172, 67, 13, 65, 30, and 46. After his first year, his teams were always above average defensively, and in one or two years, elite.

In 2015 (23-10, 60 in KenPom), URI had the 13th best defense in the country. They ranked 8th in effective FG%% allowed, 24th in TO%, 2nd in 3-pt FG% allowed, 9th in 3-pt FG attempt %, and 9th in block %. The only negative? They were 323rd in free throw rate allowed. That looks like a team that played pressure D, guarded the 3-pt line, defended the rim, and fouled a lot.

2017 was arguably his best URI team (25-10, 34 in KenPom), with the 30th best defense. That team did not turn over their opponents as often (19.4%, good for 121st), but they had the 5th best 3-pt FG% allowed, the 17th best 3-pt attempt %, and the 3rd best block %. All that added up to the 9th best effective FG% allowed. Their worst trait? 334th in free thrown rate allowed

The 2018 URI was excellent overall (26-8, 52 in KenPom), but a step below 2017 defensively, and very different than the 2017 team. Their defense was a respectable 46th overall, but they dropped to 146th in effective FG% allowed. They were up to 6th in the country in forcing turnovers, but they fell to 147th in block %. Free throw rate allowed? 308th in the country.

Do Hurley’s team’s have a defensive identity? Well, they foul a lot! Fortunately, that is normally accompanied by on-ball pressure, or rim protecting, or both. The ideal scenario is that Hurley is able to recruit higher quality athletes and defenders to UConn than he could recruit to URI. Akok Akok might be a great example of that. If his teams can maintain aggressiveness in defending threes and blocking shots while having the athleticism and discipline to foul less, we should really improve defensively over the next few years.
 
Joined
Dec 8, 2015
Messages
3,212
Likes
6,469
Hurley’s teams tend to have a reputation for playing pressure and forcing turnovers, but his team’s defensive identity varied from year-to-year. URI’s overall defensive ratings (all stats from kenpom.com) from 2012-2018 were 172, 67, 13, 65, 30, and 46. After his first year, his teams were always above average defensively, and in one or two years, elite.

In 2015 (23-10, 60 in KenPom), URI had the 13th best defense in the country. They ranked 8th in effective FG%% allowed, 24th in TO%, 2nd in 3-pt FG% allowed, 9th in 3-pt FG attempt %, and 9th in block %. The only negative? They were 323rd in free throw rate allowed. That looks like a team that played pressure D, guarded the 3-pt line, defended the rim, and fouled a lot.

2017 was arguably his best URI team (25-10, 34 in KenPom), with the 30th best defense. That team did not turn over their opponents as often (19.4%, good for 121st), but they had the 5th best 3-pt FG% allowed, the 17th best 3-pt attempt %, and the 3rd best block %. All that added up to the 9th best effective FG% allowed. Their worst trait? 334th in free thrown rate allowed

The 2018 URI was excellent overall (26-8, 52 in KenPom), but a step below 2017 defensively, and very different than the 2017 team. Their defense was a respectable 46th overall, but they dropped to 146th in effective FG% allowed. They were up to 6th in the country in forcing turnovers, but they fell to 147th in block %. Free throw rate allowed? 308th in the country.

Do Hurley’s team’s have a defensive identity? Well, they foul a lot! Fortunately, that is normally accompanied by on-ball pressure, or rim protecting, or both. The ideal scenario is that Hurley is able to recruit higher quality athletes and defenders to UConn than he could recruit to URI. Akok Akok might be a great example of that. If his teams can maintain aggressiveness in defending threes and blocking shots while having the athleticism and discipline to foul less, we should really improve defensively over the next few years.
Great post.

Hurley's teams fit the modern style of defense. It's a different game than when Calhoun was coaching--my gut tells me Calhoun would have adapted to look more like Hurley.

Hurley is all about stopping the 3 pt shot and layups. Make the other team take long 2s. Teams HAVE to pressure now because there's enough shooters than allowing passes around the perimeter can be very risky.
 
Joined
Sep 6, 2011
Messages
3,530
Likes
5,151
Hurley’s teams tend to have a reputation for playing pressure and forcing turnovers, but his team’s defensive identity varied from year-to-year. URI’s overall defensive ratings (all stats from kenpom.com) from 2012-2018 were 172, 67, 13, 65, 30, and 46. After his first year, his teams were always above average defensively, and in one or two years, elite.

In 2015 (23-10, 60 in KenPom), URI had the 13th best defense in the country. They ranked 8th in effective FG%% allowed, 24th in TO%, 2nd in 3-pt FG% allowed, 9th in 3-pt FG attempt %, and 9th in block %. The only negative? They were 323rd in free throw rate allowed. That looks like a team that played pressure D, guarded the 3-pt line, defended the rim, and fouled a lot.

2017 was arguably his best URI team (25-10, 34 in KenPom), with the 30th best defense. That team did not turn over their opponents as often (19.4%, good for 121st), but they had the 5th best 3-pt FG% allowed, the 17th best 3-pt attempt %, and the 3rd best block %. All that added up to the 9th best effective FG% allowed. Their worst trait? 334th in free thrown rate allowed

The 2018 URI was excellent overall (26-8, 52 in KenPom), but a step below 2017 defensively, and very different than the 2017 team. Their defense was a respectable 46th overall, but they dropped to 146th in effective FG% allowed. They were up to 6th in the country in forcing turnovers, but they fell to 147th in block %. Free throw rate allowed? 308th in the country.

Do Hurley’s team’s have a defensive identity? Well, they foul a lot! Fortunately, that is normally accompanied by on-ball pressure, or rim protecting, or both. The ideal scenario is that Hurley is able to recruit higher quality athletes and defenders to UConn than he could recruit to URI. Akok Akok might be a great example of that. If his teams can maintain aggressiveness in defending threes and blocking shots while having the athleticism and discipline to foul less, we should really improve defensively over the next few years.
Good stuff. The main thing Hurley does is aggressively pressure on the perimeter and run guys off the 3 point line. This leads to those low 3pt% attempt rates and 3pt DFG%. But that comes at a cost: a lot of guys beating those closeouts off the dribble and getting into the paint.

Carlton has done a pretty good job blocking shots (he's in the top 100 nationally in block rate), but despite it being a rate % stat, it's sneakily a volume stat. We give up so many shots at the rim that he has more opportunities for blocks. We're 335th in the country in % of defensive shots near the rim (Haslametrics: A unique approach to college basketball analysis). Cobb isn't even blocking the shots, he's just been very poor on defense (other than rebounding). Our below average defensive rebounding and 2pt DFG% show that our bigs are just not holding up to that scheme strain.

In a nutshell, our defense has been average because the opponents are getting to the foul line and getting a lot of high value shots near the rim. We need to do a better job of forcing that penetration to less dangerous areas, contesting without fouling, and upgrading our interior defensive length and IQ to improve the effectiveness of the contests.

Hurley is all about stopping the 3 pt shot and layups. Make the other team take long 2s. Teams HAVE to pressure now because there's enough shooters than allowing passes around the perimeter can be very risky.
As mentioned, unfortunately we are allowing the layups. Or at least the layup attempt + offensive rebound follow.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Dec 8, 2015
Messages
3,212
Likes
6,469
Good stuff. The main thing Hurley does is aggressively pressure on the perimeter and run guys off the 3 point line. This leads to those low 3pt% attempt rates and 3pt DFG%. But that comes at a cost: a lot of guys beating those closeouts off the dribble and getting into the paint.

Carlton has done a pretty good job blocking shots (he's in the top 100 nationally in block rate), but despite it being a rate % stat, it's sneakily a volume stat. We give up so many shots at the rim that he has more opportunities for blocks. We're 335th in the country in % of defensive shots near the rim (Haslametrics: A unique approach to college basketball analysis). Cobb isn't even blocking the shots, he's just been very poor on defense (other than rebounding). Our below average defensive rebounding and 2pt DFG% show that our bigs are just not holding up to that scheme strain.

In a nutshell, our defense has been average because the opponents are getting to the foul line and getting a lot of high value shots near the rim. We need to do a better job of forcing that penetration to less dangerous areas, contesting without fouling, and upgrading our interior defensive length and IQ to improve the effectiveness of the contests.



As mentioned, unfortunately we are allowing the layups. Or at least the layup attempt + offensive rebound follow.
Agree with all you have to say here. I think we'll see improvement as kids get used to the system, but more importantly when Hurley gets his own recruits at UConn.

Let me try to analyze the defense at the rim a bit this year vs our recruits.

Guards: Hurley has consistently recruited athletic guards with size that can shoot. Ballhandling and passing ability seem secondary (true for Adams, Bouknight and Gaffney--all good not great ballhandlers). Everything else is gravy.

Current Guards: we have Rique and CV defending opposing guards. Adams getting spot minutes. CV is going to be solid closing out because he's a hustler, but he's a bit undersized to defend good guards if they can shoot and drive. Rique is awesome at pressure in the backcourt but he's not the kind of guard Hurley would recruit himself because he cannot defend the drive or switch onto anyone due to his size. Still love both these guys. All heart.

Recruits: Gaffney and Bouknight. Both fairly big guards for their position, assuming we want Gaffney playing primarily point by his second year. Hurley has always been about backcourt size. Both great, long athletes with high defensive potential because of their size. Bouknight in particular could be super effective locking down slashers IMO. From what I saw he has pretty good instincts. Gaffney is going to have 'Riques role: make life hell for opposing ballhandlers. He has amazing lateral speed. As he puts on weight (he already looks much stronger than last summer), he could be a lock down defender. Gaffney and Bouknight are going to need to learn to play down a position with Hurley--symptom of them not having the greatest ballhandling abilities yet.


Wings: DEFENSE is 100% what Hurley is recruiting in wings. Every wing we're recruiting is limited offensively, but a great defender. He needs hyper-athletic players who can get deep into help and block or alter shots, but still close out on shooters. This is super key because we pressure the ball so much, we're likely to give up more drives. Especially necessary if he is going to try to implement a system that involves doubling 1&5 on ball screens.

Current wings: Polley is a major weakness defensively. Not very quick so he can't cover the drive very well, and has trouble helping and closing out in time. He needs to be in the paint, but can't because of his defensive limitations. Leads to layups. Sid has the athleticism, but lacks the IQ. Sid, as we know, is the higher ceiling player because of his ability to get all over the court defensively. If he develops defensively, he could kill in the AAC.

Wing Recruits: Hurley recruits wings primarily for their defense. I'll count Akok, Precious, and Andre Jackson here since I don't know much about else about 2020 wing recruits. These are all the *type* of wing recruit I'd expect from Hurley. Ultra-switchable and super athletic. Akok is going to be great stepping back into the post to block the living *#$%^ out of opponents drives if they break through our 1-5 double teams on the perimeter. He has the length to help all over the court. Precious and Andre Jackson are similar defensively. Super athletic and switchable on the perimeter--both with the ability to make plays in the help-side, but still cover their own man.

Bigs: Not sure we have a vision for a perfect Hurley big yet. Partly because someone with size and skill is generally going to be out of our league recruiting-wise right now. But Hurley definitely wants players that aren't string beans at the 5 like we've had recently. I think ideally we are looking for a 6'11 250lb guy who can catch lobs, make layups and block shots. A player smart enough to double and recover, and who can defend the drive well when helping guards. The post up isn't a big part of basketball these days, so I expect that low post footwork to be a secondary consideration.

Current Bigs: Hurley's system puts HUGE defensive pressure on the bigs. They're going to need to double team on ball screens, cover the roll man, and block shots after we've given up the drive. It's expected that the 5 is going to have to contest way more shots than they would in a more packline-type defense. Admittedly, I wish we'd tighten up the high-hedging. Carlton, Cobb are just not good enough shot blockers or quick enough covering the roll to play that style.


I can see what Hurley's vision is. With the right personnel, it could be extremely effective. Especially with the modern game being so perimter and shooting-based. I think he's sticking to his defensive guns this year because he needs to create a culture and a system to recruit players into. But I think I would have liked to see some more flexibility defensively early in the season. I wish we had pulled away from that high, trapping hedge earlier. It was obvious game 2 it wasn't going to work with Cobb and Carlton this year, but he stuck with it for half the season.

Snow day. But man do I need a life.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Mar 20, 2016
Messages
253
Likes
627
I’m glad I’m not the only one spending too much time thinking and writing about Dan Hurley’s defensive schemes on a snow day.

I agree that our current bigs just cannot guard the pick and roll the way Hurley wants them to. Carlton blocks a fair amount of shots, but he gets beat on the perimeter. If we don’t get a solid grad transfer to split time with Carlton next year, then I hope that either Carlton adjusts or Hurley adjusts.
 
Joined
Aug 27, 2011
Messages
406
Likes
481
Best discussion I've read on the Yard in a while. The statical analysis is great. Used to have a lot of posters that would contribute stuff like this ( @James , @champs99and04, @Matrim55, @Gurleyman, @DogMania just to name a few). Would love to have more discussion like this and less debating the merits of Chief00 or Jalen's tucked shirt.

Thank you @ToolzieFan , @husky429 , @auror . Please keep it coming.
 
Joined
Mar 20, 2016
Messages
253
Likes
627
Great post.

Hurley's teams fit the modern style of defense. It's a different game than when Calhoun was coaching--my gut tells me Calhoun would have adapted to look more like Hurley.

Hurley is all about stopping the 3 pt shot and layups. Make the other team take long 2s. Teams HAVE to pressure now because there's enough shooters than allowing passes around the perimeter can be very risky.
I was also looking up some of Calhoun's team's defensive numbers today, and they are staggering. KenPom only goes back to 2001 (my freshman year!), and that was a down year for UConn, so let's look at 2002-2012. UConn led the nation in block % five times, was in the top six 10 times. We fell all the way to 19th in 2011, but that season worked out okay. We were in the top six in 2-pt FG% allowed 10 times, slipping to 14th in 2010. The team was in the top eight in effective FG% every year from 2002-2009, and we never were worse than 19th in that span. We were generally solid defending the 3, but that varied from year-to-year. Our interior defense was truly outstanding under Calhoun.

The other things that really jumped out was our offensive rebounding percentage. From 2001-2012, we never fell below 23rd in the country in OR%, and we were in the top seven a total of eight times. It's amazing that despite watching over 90% of those games (including being at nearly every home game from 2001-2004), I never realized we were THAT dominant on the offensive glass.
 
Top