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Peck
01-13-2009, 03:08 AM
for the past few hours trying to figure out what in the name of God is wrong with our defense.

I have been reading over and over and hearing everyone from O'Brien to the players say over and over how we have to play better more consistant defense.

So for the past three games I have honestly tried to go over every play on the defensive end to see what happens, who it happens to and why it happens.

I still have no answers.

I admit that I am no expert or even pretend expert on this. I love good hard nosed defense but I am very very much used to the solid one on one defense as taught by Larry Brown.

I have noticed some things that I think are troubling however every time I go "aha" I then see that same thing being done by a differant player later in the game. So that makes me wonder if it is a breakdown by the players or if it is the system.

I have no real answers here.

However I have a lot of questions and hopefully one of you can help me out here.

1. I have noticed lately that Jarret Jack (who previously I had always considered a good defender) does not keep his man in front of him. My first reaction to this was, well shock but then it was disgust at Jack. However after seeing Deiner & Ford do very very similar things with thier man (making them hedge towards the elbow) is this by design or a breakdown by the player?

2. Routinely I have seen all three of our frontcourt players swing to the ball side of the court. I don't care who is on whether it's Foster, Murphy or whoever. Three things have happened from this routinely.

a. we get called for a defensive violation
b. two guys double the ball and the third guy shifts fast enough back to pickup his man.
c. two guys go to the ball, the ball gets swung and the player who is now open from the three man shift shoots an open shot.

Is this by design or is this a player breakdown.

3. What type of player does O'Brien need for his defensive system to work? No, I'm not trying to be a smart@ss there, I honestly want to know. Do we need bigs like Marcus Camby and smalls like Billups or is it something else.

It seems to me that the type of defense we are running is geared for long athletic players, however again I am not claiming to know anything for sure.

4. At some point in a half court defense I see one person wide open because we soft double the ball. I say soft double because I very rarely see us put much pressure, IMO, on the dribbler. Now is this by design to make the other team shoot the shot that we want them to shoot or is this a breakdown by the players?

5. Is there any one player that you think is the problem. I know many are going to say Murphy and while I agree that he seems to be an issue, from what I have witnessed Troy really does not do anything any differant than the other bigs and in fact is really more consistant in what he does (however that may be part of the problem) I am not saying don't blame Troy here because if he is the problem then let's hear it.

6. Is dribble penetration part of our problem on defense or not? I just can not make up my mind on this?

7. Have any post up players had much success vs. us this year? I know some post players have lit us up, but from memory they have not done it in the traditional post up way. Amare was hitting 18 foot jumpers like they were dunks and I believe even Howard was shooting hook shots and jumpers. I ask this because fromm my memory we usually don't let many paint points go in but I could be wrong here.

That is enough for now.

d_c
01-13-2009, 03:16 AM
3. What type of player does O'Brien need for his defensive system to work? No, I'm not trying to be a smart@ss there, I honestly want to know. Do we need bigs like Marcus Camby and smalls like Billups or is it something else.


I'm not trying to be a smart@ss, either, but he just needs better defensive players.

In the starting 5, Granger is the only guy who is above average defensively, and even he's slipped in this department, as he's had to save his energy on this side of the ball in order to shoulder the load offensively. If you make him go full bore defensively the entire game, you'll start seeing less and less clutch 3s down the stretch from Danny.

I would say Jack is probably average defensively. Hibbert is a big body, but he's also a rookie and foul prone. Murphy?.......uh, yeah.

Peck
01-13-2009, 03:39 AM
I'm not trying to be a smart@ss, either, but he just needs better defensive players.

In the starting 5, Granger is the only guy who is above average defensively, and even he's slipped in this department, as he's had to save his energy on this side of the ball in order to shoulder the load offensively. If you make him go full bore defensively the entire game, you'll start seeing less and less clutch 3s down the stretch from Danny.

I would say Jack is probably average defensively. Hibbert is a big body, but he's also a rookie and foul prone. Murphy?.......uh, yeah.

While agreeing he needs better players, specifically what kind? Stronger? Quicker? Higher Jumper? Better defensive IQ? I realize the answer is yes to all of these but if you had to pick one?

Country Boy
01-13-2009, 07:36 AM
While agreeing he needs better players, specifically what kind? Stronger? Quicker? Higher Jumper? Better defensive IQ? I realize the answer is yes to all of these but if you had to pick one?

He needs the type of player who thinks defense first, second, and last.

joew8302
01-13-2009, 07:51 AM
I really think Foster, Jack, Granger, Ford and Daniels are all adequate defenders and have proved this to be the case in the past. Are they great? no, adequate. For this team to be as bad as they are defensively I think O'Brien has to take a lot of the blame. His rotations are a mess and we get crossed up all the time. I mean if the defense is this bad you have to change SOMETHING! O'Brien still has yet to adjust, he just says dumb stuff like "our defense has to get better".

BlueNGold
01-13-2009, 07:54 AM
He needs to replace Troy Murphy with a strong defensive player. Preferably one that is long and lean and able to close gaps quickly. This would allow our perimeter guys to play a little tighter D. Of course we need good perimeter defenders too.

The best thing we could do is replace Murphy with McRoberts. I'm not sure McBob is that good, it's that Murphy is simply not athletic enough. Go back and check the games where McRoberts plays 10 minutes or more. We have a winning record in those games and if anyone would watch, he makes a difference on the defensive end.

Of course that will never happen because McBob plays the same position as Foster and Murphy. Money sometimes gets in the way of basketball decisions in the NBA.

Again, McBob is no lockdown. He's not going to make this team a .600 team. But he will improve our defense and can run sufficiently in this offense. We have enough players willing and able to hit the 3. Why not a player who can play D on the interior too?

kbills05
01-13-2009, 08:12 AM
this is sad because what he should do is play jack at the point like he has been doing because T.j is hurt...Graham can continue to play the 2 position and danny the 3, McRoberts the 4 postion and Hibbert at the 5 position. the problem w/ the pacers is Dunleavy,Murphy,Diener and Rosho play no defense at all. And to my surprise sometimes these guys are being put on the floor together (can you believe that)!!!

If i were coach i'd have my five as...Jack/Ford, Rush/Daniels, Granger,McRoberts/Foster and Hibbert

you have to bring Dunleavy, Murphy, and Rasho off the Bench because they are huge liabilities on defense and they give the 2nd unit that scoring that it needs. i honestly think McRoberts should get more playing time. with that being said i don't know what the hell jim O' brien is doing but for whatever reason he cannot get this team to play a lick of defense...and to top things off they consistently have 2 on 1 or 3 on 1 fast breaks and settle for the 3 point shot everytime...

I won't be happy until we replace Jim O'brien becaue its obvious to me that he is a terrible coach and is not adequate at all.

Brad8888
01-13-2009, 08:53 AM
This must be our answer,

Jim O'Brien during his postgame interview following the January 12 game against Utah as posted on pacers.com:

http://www.nba.com/pacers/news/postgame_090112.html

"PACERS COACH JIM O'BRIEN
(On the game) “I thought we played great defense. I thought our defense was absolutely outstanding in the second half. If a guy hits a lucky shot there’s nothing you can do about it but defensively we held them to 37 percent in the second half. We played with a great deal of passion defensively but it just didn’t end up on a positive end.”
(On the play of Mehmet Okur) “He had a great game, hats off to him. It’s tough to double-team somebody on the three-point line, it’s very hard to do that. "

Notice how our intrepid leader believes we played great defense.

Our best players don't think so:

"PACERS FORWARD MIKE DUNLEAVY
(On the game) “We come out, we start well but so does the other team. We take too long to settle in, figure them out and decide we want to play defense. Then when it gets down to crunch time in the second half we decide we want to play defense a little bit. We try to dig in to do it, but it’s too little too late. You have things happen like tonight when there is a loose ball and Williams throws up a three and it goes in. We decide to play defense in the last minutes of the game. That stuff happens to you. It’s called karma.”
(On the pace of the game) “We wanted to come out tonight against this team and start out well. We did that offensively. It goes for both ends of the court. Defense we didn’t do that.” "


"PACERS FORWARD DANNY GRANGER
(On the game) “First half we were not existent. We picked it up a little bit more in the second half. It just wasn’t there. We took a little more pride in the second half than the first half. We let them get such a big league that we were fighting back the whole time. We just clearly ran out of time. That is basically the tale of the game.”
(On the lack of defense) “I think there has to be a commitment on our part. We need to commit to doing. We talk a lot and say we are going to do it. When it comes down to it we just don’t do it. We do it on occasion. That’s not going to win enough games. Once we get that commitment then we will be a lot better team.” "

Looks like the players are more aware than the coach, and are as frustrated as we all are about it. Thoughts?

joew8302
01-13-2009, 08:58 AM
O'Brien is probably the only coach in the league to praise a team who gave up 120 points for good defense.

count55
01-13-2009, 08:59 AM
My opinion is that he needs smarter players. Or, at least, players who have better judgment. It seems to me that the players are working the system almost to a fault. In some ways, it's like watching my son's third grade team play. You work over and over to teach them something, then, in a game, they follow it to T, but they lack any instinct to adjust to the flow of the situation.

Now, that is not to say that these players are stupid. In fact, I think it's an indictment of the system. The team is constantly forced to overthink, and two things happen: 1. they are too slow reacting, leaving them scrambling, and 2. The decisions are too erratic, creating a domino effect of guesses and scrambling. On any "bad" play, you're likely to see 2 or 3 guys making reasonable decisions that end up burning us because they don't mesh. (As example, I cite the Joe Johnson 3 in the last ATL game.). I also believe this is the main reason that you and many others (including me) can watch the defense and not be able to tell what the **** they are doing and what went wrong.

This a defense that Derrick McKey could excel in, but Artest would be a disaster.

Added to this confusion is the noted lack of athleticism of our big men. Foster is relatively quick, but he can't erase mistakes at the rim. Hibbert and Rasho are average shot blockers if they are in position, but they struggle to get in position...Rasho due to slow foot speed, Hibbert (IMO) because he lacks the instincts to read the play at this time. I think Murph's a decent player, and he certainly gives what he can, but he's just slow and weak.

This is also why I think McBob tends to look so effective. He's got Foster's quickness, but has much better hops. In this system, with this personnel, he's going to have a lot of opportunities to make plays. The one risk with playing him more would be his inexperience creating more bad decisions. (A risk I consider well worth taking.)

So now you've got a deadly combination of players who don't fully understand the system, don't really know each other, and lack the athleticism to cover their mistakes. The frustration goes, the trust declines, and players get more and more out of position, because they don't know where to go, and don't know where their teammates will be.

Now, here is where I think the coaching staff is failing. They keep pushing the system they're trying to run, rather than adjusting and simplifying for the personnel. It's the classic failing of an ideologue. If it isn't working, it's because they didn't believe hard enough...the players didn't follow their assignments well enough. They simply refuse to believe that their faith could be wrong.

Now, there are people who will say that Obie isn't interested in defense. I reject that out of hand, and I believe that I've provided ample historical evidence that his previous teams played defense, and played it well.

However, his offensive system, as Bball has pointed out, is at the least putting additional pressure on the D. At worst, it's doing serious harm to it. However, I also think the offensive system itself is being exaggerated by the defensive woes. With no faith in getting stops, the team feels more urgency to score in bunches, which results in more and more possessions and more errors, putting more pressure on the D. All the while, the players go faster and scramble more, sapping energy reserves, resulting in less efficiency at both ends. We have become a snake eating its own tail.

To this point, I have felt that O'Brien has done more good than harm with this team. They compete pretty much every night, and they have rarely thrown in the towel.

However, this issue has reached the point in the last couple of weeks where I consider Obie to be hurting the team. It's not about play calling or substitutions (though I consider the McBob exile a potentially serious error). It's that he's not adapting the defensive system, and it's hurting the players. (I think Rush is a particular victim.)

I believe he needs to play them more straight up. Everybody *****ed about the defense that Jack played on Kobe's game winner, but I would submit that if we played defense like that all season long, we might possibly be over .500 at this point. Call it the NBA version of the bend but don't break defense. We're going to give up points with this personnel, but we can do better than what we're doing.

This, in turn, will allow us to slow the offens down a little. I don't advocate snail ball, because we don't have the half court weapons. However, if we just show a little more patience, I think we can remain potent while becoming more efficient at both ends.

Now, it's possible that a year together will make this defense better. However, since we don't have a championship quality roster, we should assume a continued state of turnover. If Obie cannot make the system more easily digestible for new players, then he will no longer have any utility in my mind.

Brad8888
01-13-2009, 09:09 AM
Count,

Well thought out and brilliant post as usual. I fully agree with you, including the small Artest reference. He supposedly hated structure, but imploded when left to his own devices on the court.

If there were only a way to have someone involved with TPTB, between us all we hopefully could convince them to make the appropriate changes. Your suggestions, I feel, would indeed improve us dramatically.

Unclebuck
01-13-2009, 09:12 AM
1. I have noticed lately that Jarret Jack (who previously I had always considered a good defender) does not keep his man in front of him. My first reaction to this was, well shock but then it was disgust at Jack. However after seeing Deiner & Ford do very very similar things with thier man (making them hedge towards the elbow) is this by design or a breakdown by the player?


Depends on what the offense is running. If they are running a pick and roll (which they almost always are - crazy how almost every team starts their offense with a pick and roll) But in general in pick and rolls, they try to push the ball handler towards the baseline. So the guard defender gets on the high side and the big guy defender (sinks to the baseline or outside of his man) in position to stop/trap the ball handler. But if it isn't a pick and roll then it is a breakdown by our point guard - of course a lot of teams also fake run a pick and roll and gets us out of position.

Pick and roll defense is by far the most important aspect of any defensive team. Pushing things baseline - which more and more teams are now doing is a good plan - of course you really can't do that on the high pick and roll that starts at the top of the key in the middle of the floor - that is what kills us.




2. Routinely I have seen all three of our frontcourt players swing to the ball side of the court. I don't care who is on whether it's Foster, Murphy or whoever. Three things have happened from this routinely.

a. we get called for a defensive violation
b. two guys double the ball and the third guy shifts fast enough back to pickup his man.
c. two guys go to the ball, the ball gets swung and the player who is now open from the three man shift shoots an open shot.

Is this by design or is this a player breakdown.


Very much by design. This is the signature move by this defensive system. Something that could not be done at all until zone was allowed - when they changed the rules 6 or 7 years ago. Most teams in the NBA do this now (JOB was one of the first when he coached the Celts). Typically you only do this when a good offensive player is on the wing. The basis for this is to force the excellent offensive player to pass the ball. it is called flooding the ball side or strongside. I think it is a smart way to play defense - we might do it too often or we over commit - but there is no use in allowing a great offensive player to get to the basket


3. What type of player does O'Brien need for his defensive system to work? No, I'm not trying to be a smart@ss there, I honestly want to know. Do we need bigs like Marcus Camby and smalls like Billups or is it something else.

It seems to me that the type of defense we are running is geared for long athletic players, however again I am not claiming to know anything for sure.

He needs very smart athletic big guys. In this defense the big guys are the most important defenders, because they need to be consistantly communicating, helping, recovering. But really this defense should be effective whether you have good individual defenders or not - the key thing is all 5 guys have to trust each other 100% - if I leave my man to help you - I have to trust someone else will help me. All 5 defenders have to be 100% aware and move as the ball and offensive players move. Players have to be on a string - or tied together. But really great defenders are not needed, that is the reason a team plays this style -(to cover-up for poor defenders) anyone should be able to play it

The basic point I want to make is that the whole basis, the whole concept, the whole reason to play this type of defneisve system is that a team can play it well even if they don't have good defenders - they do have to be smart, they do have to be 100% committed and trust each other 100000% - but no we don't need 4 Artests to run this defense - not at all




4. At some point in a half court defense I see one person wide open because we soft double the ball. I say soft double because I very rarely see us put much pressure, IMO, on the dribbler. Now is this by design to make the other team shoot the shot that we want them to shoot or is this a breakdown by the players?

I'm not exactly sure what you mean here. If by soft double teaming you mean hedge and recover or dig down on a dribbler - you do that instead of a hard double because it doesn't get your defense as far out of position - easier to recover from quick hedge than it is from a hard double.




5. Is there any one player that you think is the problem. I know many are going to say Murphy and while I agree that he seems to be an issue, from what I have witnessed Troy really does not do anything any differant than the other bigs and in fact is really more consistant in what he does (however that may be part of the problem) I am not saying don't blame Troy here because if he is the problem then let's hear it.

No Troy is not the problem - he is pretty good in the team concepts, Sure his one-on-one defense is bad, and he's slow and has no real presense - but he doesn't get lost. Roy and Brandon and Graham are problems because they get lost. Jack over-commits and gets out of position. TJ gambles and is too small to be a huge factor. Rasho is smart, but slow. Granger is too busy worrying about the offense he has to carry. Daniels is good in this system, so is Jeff, so is Dunleavy - in fact this system makes Dun a better defneder than he is




6. Is dribble penetration part of our problem on defense or not? I just can not make up my mind on this? Yes it is always a problem


7. Have any post up players had much success vs. us this year? I know some post players have lit us up, but from memory they have not done it in the traditional post up way. Amare was hitting 18 foot jumpers like they were dunks and I believe even Howard was shooting hook shots and jumpers. I ask this because from my memory we usually don't let many paint points go in but I could be wrong here.
That is enough for now.
Yeah we typically front the post and bring weakside help - I think we are pretty good at this

Speed
01-13-2009, 09:21 AM
How about a system that has the flexibility to operate, but still not give average players career nights or put back dunks in crunch time.

Not trying to oversimplify things, but I think a team concept for defense is a must, but when it's unorthodox you are going against what these guys have learned their whole life and then when it comes to adjusting with that system, it doesn't happen.

And yes, you need a physical presence defensively at the 4 or 5, or both. Add a couple of guys like Diop and Reggie Evans (I know horribly subpar offensively), it would make a world of difference. I really believe that.

Or what Count said.

Unclebuck
01-13-2009, 09:34 AM
O'Brien is probably the only coach in the league to praise a team who gave up 120 points for good defense.

In fairness, we have no idea what he said to his players in private and to Wells he said they played pretty good defense in the seocnd half or really the last 3 quarters and if the Jazz shot 39% in the 2nd, 3rd and 4th quarters then yes that is probably good defense. - I missed most of the game last night, so I don't know

Unclebuck
01-13-2009, 09:37 AM
My opinion is that he needs smarter players. Or, at least, players who have better judgment. It seems to me that the players are working the system almost to a fault. In some ways, it's like watching my son's third grade team play. You work over and over to teach them something, then, in a game, they follow it to T, but they lack any instinct to adjust to the flow of the situation.

Now, that is not to say that these players are stupid. In fact, I think it's an indictment of the system. The team is constantly forced to overthink, and two things happen: 1. they are too slow reacting, leaving them scrambling, and 2. The decisions are too erratic, creating a domino effect of guesses and scrambling. On any "bad" play, you're likely to see 2 or 3 guys making reasonable decisions that end up burning us because they don't mesh. (As example, I cite the Joe Johnson 3 in the last ATL game.). I also believe this is the main reason that you and many others (including me) can watch the defense and not be able to tell what the **** they are doing and what went wrong.

This a defense that Derrick McKey could excel in, but Artest would be a disaster.

Added to this confusion is the noted lack of athleticism of our big men. Foster is relatively quick, but he can't erase mistakes at the rim. Hibbert and Rasho are average shot blockers if they are in position, but they struggle to get in position...Rasho due to slow foot speed, Hibbert (IMO) because he lacks the instincts to read the play at this time. I think Murph's a decent player, and he certainly gives what he can, but he's just slow and weak.

This is also why I think McBob tends to look so effective. He's got Foster's quickness, but has much better hops. In this system, with this personnel, he's going to have a lot of opportunities to make plays. The one risk with playing him more would be his inexperience creating more bad decisions. (A risk I consider well worth taking.)

So now you've got a deadly combination of players who don't fully understand the system, don't really know each other, and lack the athleticism to cover there mistakes. The frustration goes, the trust declines, and players get more and more out of position, because they don't know where to go, and don't know where their teammates will be.

Now, here is where I think the coaching staff is failing. They keep pushing the system they're trying to run, rather than adjusting and simplifying for the personnel. It's the classic failing of an ideologue. If it is working, it's because they didn't believe hard enough...the players didn't follow their assignments well enough. They simply refuse to believe that their faith could be wrong.

Now, there are people who will say that Obie isn't interested in defense. I reject that out of hand, and I believe that I've provided ample historical evidence that his previous teams played defense, and played it well.

However, his offensive system, as Bball has pointed out, is at the least putting additional pressure on the D. At worst, it's doing serious harm to it. However, I also think the offensive system itself is being exaggerated by the defensive woes. With no faith in getting stops, the team feels more urgency to score in bunches, which results in more and more possessions and more errors, putting more pressure on the D. All the while, the players go faster and scramble more, sapping energy reserves, resulting in less efficiency at both ends. We have become a snake eating its own tail.

To this point, I have felt that O'Brien has done more good than harm with this team. They compete pretty much every night, and they have rarely thrown in the towel.

However, this issue has reached the point in the last couple of weeks where I consider Obie to be hurting the team. It's not about play calling or substitutions (though I consider the McBob exile a potentially serious error). It's that he's not adapting the defensive system, and it's hurting the players. (I think Rush is a particular victim.)

I believe he needs to play them more straight up. Everybody *****ed about the defense that Jack played on Kobe's game winner, but I would submit that if we played defense like that all season long, we might possibly be over .500 at this point. Call it the NBA version of the bend but don't break defense. We're going to give up points with this personnel, but we can do better than what we're doing.

This, in turn, will allow us to slow the offens down a little. I don't advocate snail ball, because we don't have the half court weapons. However, if we just show a little more patience, I think we can remain potent while becoming more efficient at both ends.

Now, it's possible that a year together will make this defense better. However, since we don't have a championship quality roster, we should assume a continued state of turnover. If Obie cannot make the system more easily digestible for new players, then he will no longer have any utility in my mind.




I'm nominating this for post of the year - I agree with you 100%. Great post.

Dr. Goldfoot
01-13-2009, 10:08 AM
These are not rhetorical questions.

Would you guys say the Pacers are primarily running a "soft zone"?

Is this a classic case of "make the supporting cast beat us" and that's exactly what's happening? Possibly the reason so many players are putting up unusually high offensive numbers?

Would this team not be better suited just playing "white on rice" man to man defense?


sorry for all the quotations in there.

2minutes twowa
01-13-2009, 10:12 AM
I would like to hear Dick Harter's take on the Pacers' defense. Every other time he was here as a Pacers assistant, his players played man defense, with the big man going high on the pick and roll until his man recovered. Why has he changed now? My thinking is, if a team with Mark Jackson, Reggie, Smits, Mckey and Dale can be at least solid defensively, then there's no reason this younger team can't do the same.

Defensive Comparisons IMHO:

Jackson < Ford
Reggie = Dunleavy
Granger = McKey
Dale > Foster
Smits = Murphy

OTD
01-13-2009, 10:26 AM
Is this not what JOB type of basketball? Shoot the 3 ball. Score a lot of points. I agree defense is the key. Of which the Pacers have not had for the second year.

Speed
01-13-2009, 10:35 AM
I'm nominating this for post of the year - I agree with you 100%. Great post.

Yep, me too.

Brad8888
01-13-2009, 10:36 AM
I would like to hear Dick Harter's take on the Pacers' defense. Every other time he was here as a Pacers assistant, his players played man defense, with the big man going high on the pick and roll until his man recovered. Why has he changed now? My thinking is, if a team with Mark Jackson, Reggie, Smits, Mckey and Dale can be at least solid defensively, then there's no reason this younger team can't do the same.

Defensive Comparisons IMHO:

Jackson < Ford
Reggie = Dunleavy
Granger = McKey
Dale > Foster
Smits = Murphy

O'Brien likes to control the middle by, in my opinion, only having his guards apply moderate pressure on the perimeter, and then expects his guards to somehow rotate along the perimeter to cover the arc, thereby overextending them beyond a reasonable range of coverage.

Also, back then hand checking was permitted, allowing weaker overall defenders to cover by reducing their opponents overall movement due to the contact created by the defender. More overall contact was allowed on the interior as well, allowing Dale Davis to be more effective than Jeff is allowed to be today. Jeff does try to use some of the tactics from the past, but unfortunately he gets fouls called for it, which limits his defensive effectiveness.

2minutes twowa
01-13-2009, 10:40 AM
O'Brien likes to control the middle by, in my opinion, only having his guards apply moderate pressure on the perimeter, and then expects his guards to somehow rotate along the perimeter to cover the arc, thereby overextending them beyond a reasonable range of coverage.

Also, back then hand checking was permitted, allowing weaker overall defenders to cover by reducing their opponents overall movement due to the contact created by the defender. More overall contact was allowed on the interior as well, allowing Dale Davis to be more effective than Jeff is allowed to be today. Jeff does try to use some of the tactics from the past, but unfortunately he gets fouls called for it, which limits his defensive effectiveness.

Great points, especially about the hand checking. I had forgotten how much perimeter defense has changed. Ahh, the good ole days when you could elbow, shoulder and basically mug anyone coming through the lane:D

Anthem
01-13-2009, 11:01 AM
I believe he needs to play them more straight up. Everybody *****ed about the defense that Jack played on Kobe's game winner, but I would submit that if we played defense like that all season long, we might possibly be over .500 at this point. Call it the NBA version of the bend but don't break defense. We're going to give up points with this personnel, but we can do better than what we're doing.
Great post in general, but this in particular I really liked.

Completely agree.

Naptown_Seth
01-13-2009, 12:04 PM
My opinion is that he needs smarter players. Or, at least, players who have better judgment. It seems to me that the players are working the system almost to a fault. In some ways, it's like watching my son's third grade team play. You work over and over to teach them something, then, in a game, they follow it to T, but they lack any instinct to adjust to the flow of the situation.
As I've discussed many times I watched plenty of Rush at KS last year and he was a very aware and smart defender. He was good about knowing where his guy was and reading when they were about to get trouble in another matchup. From this he was a strong help defender and was constantly looking to pick up any defensive scrap he could.

You go help, he boxes your man out. You get PnR to the lane, he drops in enough to at least help you catch up or even force the kickout (better a jumper than a layup).

I still see him doing these things which is one reason why I've been stumped by JOB's comments on his game. If JOB said "kid can't buy a shot right now and we need points" then okay. But defense?

So I start thinking about your quote above and I'm starting to get the opinion that the longer the season goes on the more the guys ARE PLAYING JOB'S style and the ones that don't, the ones that still freelance and try to break out of that mold to help are the ones getting benched.

If you are punished for improvising and you respect the coach, then why should we expect you to do exactly what you mention Count?


Look, every time we discuss JOB, especially at the last party, I've said my peace but followed it with "but I'll let JOB prove me wrong". That means he's got to get the team to give up less and less points as the season goes along, not more and more.

It just feels like the more the team learns his style the more they struggle. Perhaps it was the players themselves and risiduals they still had from previous styles and coaches that had them going well early on.


I've only seen one guy consistantly play great defense in this system, and that's Marquis. Danny makes great individual plays, but often struggles in the position or team sense of the defense.


At some point it stops being bad luck, flukes and unfair and starts being who you are.

Shade
01-13-2009, 12:22 PM
Firstly, JOB wouldn't know a good defensive scheme if it took a nap on his face. He's just not a defensive-oriented coach. I've been saying this since the day we hired him.

Secondly, look at our personnel. We are loaded with average-to-poor defenders.

Ford and Jack are too small, and Diener is both too small and too slow. On top of that, Jack has a tendency to bite on the dribbler and get blown by. The epitome of this habit was in the Lakers game, where Jack had a few feet between him and Kobe on the perimeter. For whatever reason, Jack committed to a half-hearted rush, and Kobe quickly took advantage, blowing by Jack and leaving the P's at a disadvantage.

Quis has been injured, but even at his best he's not a defensive beast.

Dun is not a good man-to-man defender. He's a good help defender, but he needs strong defenders around him to exploit that trait.

Graham is a solid defender, and I'm really starting to like what I see from him.

Rush is a rookie and can't play his way into more PT, mostly due to Graham's play of late.

Danny does what he can, but he needs help.

Murphy always has been, and always will be, a defensive liability. He's just too slow and not very athletic.

Hibbert is a solid defender, but his lack of speed and experience finds him out of position and a magnet for foul trouble.

Foster is an above-average defender, but he can't defend both his and the center positions.

McBob looks to be an above-average defender, but he never sees the court.

Rasho can barely even move these days, much less play defense.

What I propose, at least until we can get more defensive-minded personnel in here, is to go more often to a zone. We just have too many poor man-to-man defenders to expect that style to be even semi-successful.

Naptown_Seth
01-13-2009, 12:30 PM
easier to recover from quick hedge than it is from a hard double. Easier to split and pass out of too.

BTW, enough with the "needs smart, athletic players" talk. ALL TEAMS are better with smart, athletic players. Not only that, but this team has a flipping engineer as it's star and an extremely smart 4 year G'town guy. Not to mention a coach's kid that went to Duke and another Dukie that can't get off the bench and the best all-around player from the national title KS team.

As Count mentioned, the team has smarts.

You want a damning moment on JOB? Anthony Randolph. He came in the other night and did EXACTLY what many of us have been saying McBob brings to the table. He totally disrupted the game and caused fits for the Pacers. The kid has talent, but he's still green and makes plenty of errors. Didn't matter. His job was to bring energy and impact 4-5 plays in a short span in order to alter the momentum.

He did just that. The perfect counter to him was McBob. He's stronger than Randolph, has similar hops and can keep up with him. Instead snail Rasho comes out and for every time he outsmarts the kid he gets beat 2-3 times by athletic ability. It was a horrible counter move and flew in the face of everything we've been saying about playing McBob more.

He's not a star, Rush likely won't be one either, but they both do have plenty to offer right now. Instead we keep getting more of the same, and the more it fails the more it seems to get used. I'm not even talking about development, I'm talking about impact right now. Rush won't score big, but who cares. You've got Dun and Danny and Troy and PGs that like to score and Hibbert you can work for 6-7 shots.


Randolph reminded me of when I really lost it for Isiah, when we all saw that Artest could stop KMart while JO couldn't in game 4 (JO got in foul trouble and the switch had to be made). Game 5? JO right back on KMart and the Pacers lost.

If it's happening and fans can see it then the coach should too. Randolph's impact was classic, not cutting edge or fringe stuff. It was a perfect example of what's often been wrong this year.


And oh by the way, the offense is getting lazier. I don't fault JOB for that directly.

Spirit
01-13-2009, 12:56 PM
Our defense to me kind of looks like a zone.. Nobody really stays with their man, and we double team way too much on the perimeter, which leaves shooters open. Also, our defense isn't to blame for all of our problems. The way we play offense makes the other team score a lot more, too, because of the fast style, which makes more posessions, and hence, more shots and points. Don't get me wrong our defense is not good, but it's not as bad as the points allowed would suggest. The defense is a big problem though, and if was atleast decent we'd probably have 5-10 more wins right now.

OakMoses
01-13-2009, 01:02 PM
This must be our answer,

Jim O'Brien during his postgame interview following the January 12 game against Utah as posted on pacers.com:

http://www.nba.com/pacers/news/postgame_090112.html

"PACERS COACH JIM O'BRIEN
(On the game) “I thought we played great defense. I thought our defense was absolutely outstanding in the second half. If a guy hits a lucky shot there’s nothing you can do about it but defensively we held them to 37 percent in the second half. We played with a great deal of passion defensively but it just didn’t end up on a positive end.”
(On the play of Mehmet Okur) “He had a great game, hats off to him. It’s tough to double-team somebody on the three-point line, it’s very hard to do that. "

Notice how our intrepid leader believes we played great defense.

Our best players don't think so:

"PACERS FORWARD MIKE DUNLEAVY
(On the game) “We come out, we start well but so does the other team. We take too long to settle in, figure them out and decide we want to play defense. Then when it gets down to crunch time in the second half we decide we want to play defense a little bit. We try to dig in to do it, but it’s too little too late. You have things happen like tonight when there is a loose ball and Williams throws up a three and it goes in. We decide to play defense in the last minutes of the game. That stuff happens to you. It’s called karma.”
(On the pace of the game) “We wanted to come out tonight against this team and start out well. We did that offensively. It goes for both ends of the court. Defense we didn’t do that.” "


"PACERS FORWARD DANNY GRANGER
(On the game) “First half we were not existent. We picked it up a little bit more in the second half. It just wasn’t there. We took a little more pride in the second half than the first half. We let them get such a big league that we were fighting back the whole time. We just clearly ran out of time. That is basically the tale of the game.”
(On the lack of defense) “I think there has to be a commitment on our part. We need to commit to doing. We talk a lot and say we are going to do it. When it comes down to it we just don’t do it. We do it on occasion. That’s not going to win enough games. Once we get that commitment then we will be a lot better team.” "

Looks like the players are more aware than the coach, and are as frustrated as we all are about it. Thoughts?

I think you're misreading these quotes and intentionally interpreting them to make O'Brien look bad. They all mention the defense in the second half being outstanding, not the defense for the entire game. The players agree with O'Brien in this regard. Utah only scored 50 points in the second half and, like O'Brien says, only shot 37 percent. If we held teams to 50 pts/half, or 100 pts/game, we'd be over .500. I watched the game and for the most part our defense was much improved during the 2nd half, but the Jazz also missed more open shots. We also held the Jazz scoreless for about 6 straight minutes of gametime during the 3rd and 4th quarters.

Seth and Count, I agree completely about McRoberts, especially with Naptown's point about the GS game.

OakMoses
01-13-2009, 01:18 PM
This might be interesting. During last night's game, we held the Jazz scoreless for 6:14 of gametime from the end of the 3rd quarter to a couple minutes into the 4th. Over this time period we went on a 16-0 run. We used 8 different players. Here's how the minutes broke down.

Foster: 6m14s
Dunleavy: 5m32s
Diener: 5m14s
Rasho: 3m46s
Graham: 3m4s
Granger: 2m33s
Murphy: 2m28s
Jack: 2m9s

Draw whatever conclusions you want to about this. It certainly supports the "Foster Sucks" crowd. The one point that should be brought up about the Jazz lineup is that Deron Williams was not on the floor for about 4.5 minutes of this stretch. In addition, Utah only took one shot inside 12 feet during this time, and that was a runner by Kosta Koufos.

count55
01-13-2009, 01:19 PM
As I've discussed many times I watched plenty of Rush at KS last year and he was a very aware and smart defender. He was good about knowing where his guy was and reading when they were about to get trouble in another matchup. From this he was a strong help defender and was constantly looking to pick up any defensive scrap he could.

You go help, he boxes your man out. You get PnR to the lane, he drops in enough to at least help you catch up or even force the kickout (better a jumper than a layup).

I still see him doing these things which is one reason why I've been stumped by JOB's comments on his game. If JOB said "kid can't buy a shot right now and we need points" then okay. But defense?

So I start thinking about your quote above and I'm starting to get the opinion that the longer the season goes on the more the guys ARE PLAYING JOB'S style and the ones that don't, the ones that still freelance and try to break out of that mold to help are the ones getting benched.

If you are punished for improvising and you respect the coach, then why should we expect you to do exactly what you mention Count?


Look, every time we discuss JOB, especially at the last party, I've said my peace but followed it with "but I'll let JOB prove me wrong". That means he's got to get the team to give up less and less points as the season goes along, not more and more.

It just feels like the more the team learns his style the more they struggle. Perhaps it was the players themselves and risiduals they still had from previous styles and coaches that had them going well early on.


I've only seen one guy consistantly play great defense in this system, and that's Marquis. Danny makes great individual plays, but often struggles in the position or team sense of the defense.


At some point it stops being bad luck, flukes and unfair and starts being who you are.

I'm on a blackberry, so I'm responding briefly, to be fleshed out later.

First, the smarter players comment was my initial thought, but it doesn't describe perfectly what I was trying to convey. I wrote the first post kind of on the fly, so I didn't get a chance to do a lot of proofing or wordsmithing.

That being said, I feel that only quoting and addressing my first paragraph is a little wonky. Many of your issues were addressed later in the post, and I got the overall impression that you were violently agreeing with me.

Also, I want to touch on the Rush section briefly (to be revisited later tonight). It makes some sense that improvisation is frowned upon. I'm not saying that it's the best approach, but it seems that if the defense is designed to mitigate or hide weaker defenders, they tend to have the unintended consequence of limiting better defenders. The scheme is so (too) interdependent, and a player like Rush or Granger can do just as much or more harm by trying to do too much. Again, that needs more explanation, which I will provide later.

Rush, to me, is exaggerating his actions. He's like an actor who's speaking lines in a foreign language phonetically. He may get the words right, but he has no idea what they mean. In the scripted world of theatre, you can get away with it. In the notably unscripted world of basketball, it can be killer.

Please note that I have not endorsed the system they are playing, I have noted that it is hurting players, specifically Rush, and have called for it's modification.

I'll get back tonight to try to complete these thougts, perhaps making them more clear.

BillS
01-13-2009, 01:22 PM
I think you're misreading these quotes and intentionally interpreting them to make O'Brien look bad. They all mention the defense in the second half being outstanding, not the defense for the entire game. The players agree with O'Brien in this regard. Utah only scored 50 points in the second half and, like O'Brien says, only shot 37 percent. If we held teams to 50 pts/half, or 100 pts/game, we'd be over .500. I watched the game and for the most part our defense was much improved during the 2nd half, but the Jazz also missed more open shots. We also held the Jazz scoreless for about 6 straight minutes of gametime during the 3rd and 4th quarters.

Agreed.

And the problem is that bad defense in the first half and good in the second is WORSE than good in the first/bad in the second (yes, both are worse than good in both halves, smarta**es ;) ).

Bad defense in the first half allows players to get into rhythm/into the zone/comfortable/whatever and leads to the ability to make those "mindless" shots in the second half when the defense firms up.

Good defense in the first half not only keeps players from getting in rhythm, it tires them out so that the consequences of poorer defense in the second half are not nearly so drastic.

OakMoses
01-13-2009, 01:29 PM
Rush, to me, is exaggerating his actions.

I feel like this same thing is happening to Jack. The few times that he's been asked to guard a guy straight up and not play within the system, I feel like he's done a pretty good job.

(Say what you want about his defense on Kobe in the Lakers game, but he didn't let him drive and forced him into a contested free throw line jumper. It's not his fault that Kobe's 4 inches taller and more athletic than he is.)

When he plays within the system, however, he overshades toward the middle to keep his guy out of the lane and doesn't keep his man in front of him as well as he's capable of. I think this is why he looked so bad against Deron Williams last night. He would bite hard on the fake to the inside and then Williams would cross him over and get about 5 feet of seperation.

I got the Utah feed and before the game they interviewed one of their assistant coaches about how to guard Granger. His main point was that you have to keep him from driving to the right and you do that by playing defense with your right foot between his feet. This way you shade him to the right by about half a body. It seems like our players are shading guys a full body to force them out of the lane. This leads to penetration which leads to ball movement which leads to a wide open shot.

Bball
01-13-2009, 01:51 PM
At some point it stops being bad luck, flukes and unfair and starts being who you are.

You didn't have to type that long post. This is all you need to say.

Bball
01-13-2009, 01:58 PM
We gave up 50 points in the second half... Relatively speaking that might be good defense but realistically speaking, I don't see giving up 50 points in a half as indicative of good defense.

And let's be honest, how many of those misses were due to defense anyway? Several of their shots just didn't drop but were wide open looks. It was more the law of averages coming around if anything.

-Bball

Putnam
01-13-2009, 02:06 PM
And let's be honest, how many of those misses were due to defense anyway? Several of their shots just didn't drop but were wide open looks. It was more the law of averages coming around if anything.


There is no law of averages. The probability of any shot is independent of other. Making several in a row doesn't "come around" to making future shots less likely.

PaceBalls
01-13-2009, 02:08 PM
IIRC there was a really long stretch where Utah was stuck at 96 points. Like 9 minutes game time or something. I thought that was a nice defensive stretch. We were down 20 and got within 4 points or something

CableKC
01-13-2009, 02:16 PM
I am pretty sure that we aren't the only team in the entire league ( nor in the history of the NBA ) that has a pretty unathletic team with little to no Interior defensive post presense.

So, I have a simple question for all of you......given the type of players that we have....not real athletic, defenders at the wing and even slower but smart players in the PF/C positions with ( at most ) average to slightly above average defensive skills....and the pace at which our offense runs ( which involves many 3pt jumpshots and frequent FGA running up and down the court ), what type of defense do you think would be suited for our team?

Like most of the posts in this thread.....I'm not trying to be a smart*ss here........but I'm trying to figure what would work given the situation ( one that won't likely change in the next 2 seasons ) that we are in now....since it appears that some of us have come to the conclusion that the present defensive scheme is not working.

Don't tell me that you want to implement the same defensive system that the Cavs or Celtics use simply cuz it works....when it's obvious that we don't have the necessary players to fit such a defense, I'm simply trying to figure out what works with the existing set of player that we have that won't likely be moved ( given their contracts ). There must be a defense that can be implemented that makes sense given the players that we have.

Bball
01-13-2009, 02:17 PM
There is no law of averages. The probability of any shot is independent of other. Making several in a row doesn't "come around" to making future shots less likely.

No way I buy that. A career 30% shooter that hits 7 in a row will eventually fall right back in line with his 30% shooting (or whatever number you want to choose as the baseline). To do that, he has to have a streak of misses or a streak where he shoots considerably under his average.. or even back at his average. It all evens out...

Putnam
01-13-2009, 02:48 PM
No way I buy that. A career 30% shooter that hits 7 in a row will eventually fall right back in line with his 30% shooting (or whatever number you want to choose as the baseline). To do that, he has to have a streak of misses or a streak where he shoots considerably under his average.. or even back at his average. It all evens out...



OK.

Bball
01-13-2009, 02:55 PM
OK.

Darn it... I wanted you to convince me where I was wrong.

-Bball

Kuq_e_Zi91
01-13-2009, 03:03 PM
I feel like this same thing is happening to Jack. The few times that he's been asked to guard a guy straight up and not play within the system, I feel like he's done a pretty good job.

(Say what you want about his defense on Kobe in the Lakers game, but he didn't let him drive and forced him into a contested free throw line jumper. It's not his fault that Kobe's 4 inches taller and more athletic than he is.)

When he plays within the system, however, he overshades toward the middle to keep his guy out of the lane and doesn't keep his man in front of him as well as he's capable of. I think this is why he looked so bad against Deron Williams last night. He would bite hard on the fake to the inside and then Williams would cross him over and get about 5 feet of seperation.

I got the Utah feed and before the game they interviewed one of their assistant coaches about how to guard Granger. His main point was that you have to keep him from driving to the right and you do that by playing defense with your right foot between his feet. This way you shade him to the right by about half a body. It seems like our players are shading guys a full body to force them out of the lane. This leads to penetration which leads to ball movement which leads to a wide open shot.

This is an excellent point. We shade too much. By shading all the way in one direction we are expecting help and by asking for this help on a consistent basis we're leaving ourselves open in other areas, like you said. For example, if Jack shades his man to the middle expecting help from a big, all the ball handler has to do is drive the lane and hit the open man while the big is rotating. Any team with decent passing can break us down like butter.

I agree with many of you who said we should just do man on man defense. We don't have the best on-ball defenders in the league but it's probably better than leaving ourselves open to anything from the word go.

Peck
01-13-2009, 03:18 PM
I'm nominating this for post of the year - I agree with you 100%. Great post.

Um.....

While I agree with you that his post was outstanding you do realize that he said this?

However, this issue has reached the point in the last couple of weeks where I consider Obie to be hurting the team.

So from you 100% agreement with his post I am now taking it that you feel that JOB is now hurting the team?

Peck
01-13-2009, 03:19 PM
BTW, there have been some outstanding reply's to this and I want to thank those of you that so far have given answers. I will wait till later to see what others have to say before I ask some more questions and see if we have any conclusions.

Justin Tyme
01-13-2009, 03:29 PM
Ok, the Pacers allowed Utah 39% FG shooting in the 2nd half, but for 6 minutes when the Jazz went scoreless was that b/c of the Pacers playing "D" or the Jazz just hit a cold spell in the game? In the last 5 games played the Pacers have given up 606 points which averages out to 121 points a game by the opposition. How can TPTB, including O'Brien, not see this style of play isn't working?

For those who are slamming Harter for the lack of "D", it was brought to light last week in another thread that Harter isn't running the "D" this year. Lester Conner and another coach is. Maybe Harter should go back to being the defensive coach. My guess is that the Pacers are giving up more points the 1st 38 games this year compared to the 1st 38 games last year when he was the defensive coach. We are giving up 114.5 points per game in the 1st 38 games this year. What was the average per game given up last year in the 1st 38 games, anyone know?

Since the Pacers were 5-5, the Pacers are giving up an average is 120 per game. In the 1st 10 game the Pacers only gave up an average of 99.8 points. In the last 28 games, the Pacers are giving up 20 points more per game to the opposition. It's pretty obvious that O'Brien's system is failing. Something has to be changed and quickly or losing will start wearing on the players destroying the team chemistry. I see Foster constantly complaining about foul calls, and in the last few games I'm seeing Granger getting chippy with opposing players. TPTB can not allow this to happen. Bird needs to step in and do whatever is necessary to right the ship before it becomes too late. The season is almost half over, and Bird has had plenty of time to observe what's going on in order to make a change/changes. It's all Bird's watch now, so it's time to DO SOMETHING besides hope things will work themselves out on their own.

Unclebuck
01-13-2009, 03:37 PM
Um.....

While I agree with you that his post was outstanding you do realize that he said this?

However, this issue has reached the point in the last couple of weeks where I consider Obie to be hurting the team.

So from you 100% agreement with his post I am now taking it that you feel that JOB is now hurting the team?

Well, I didn't want to nitpick - I guess I don't agree 100% - but it was still an excellent post. No I don't feel OB is now hurting the team. I think he's doing an excellent job keeping them together. We'll lose 3 out of the next 4 and then if the team is still "together" I think they will begin to win some games - at a greater clip then they have been. If you look at the rest of their schedule - after next Tuesday - it really isn't too tough the rest of the way. Besides 2 games at Orlando, and at Boston - the pacers don't play any elite teams on the road - it is rather shocking to look at their schedule - just shows how tough it has been and it is through next Tuesday.

NuffSaid
01-13-2009, 03:42 PM
I think everyone should read UB's post #12. It IS the answer to the Pacers' defensive woes. Now, I posted this in the Pacers/Jazz post-game thread and will repeat myself here for those who haven't read it:

I think JOB should use the game film as a traing video to show how teams should defend the PnR. I haven't seen a team defend it as well as the Jazz do. To be effective defensively against the PnR, all 5 players MUST trust each other and, as UB said, move as if everyone were tethered to each other. For years, I've complained that guys like Foster, for example - and there are others among our bigs who also do it - will shag off the ball handers on high screens or PnR plays immediately after rotating defensively to the ball handler. What they really should do is stand firm long enough to disrupt the passing lanes or force the ball handler to put the ball on the floor. Too often, the ball hander sees that opening as the rotating defender shags off and takes advantage of it.

As to those who continue to rag on Jared Jack for his defense, IMO he does well for the most part, but he tends to give up too much space. I know that in backing off his man just alittle (2-3 ft), he's trying to stop dribble penetration, but I'd rather see him step into the ball handler and force him to dribble around me than to give up too much ground and allow him to take a 3-pt shot. Another problem is both Jack and Ford will reach for the ball right in front of the ball handler. Once they do, a good PG will know he has the advantage because he has spacing between himself and his defender. But if our PGs would close that spacing just alittle, they'd most likely negate alot of what the opposing PGs are doing to us.

count55
01-13-2009, 04:10 PM
Well, I didn't want to nitpick - I guess I don't agree 100% - but it was still an excellent post. No I don't feel OB is now hurting the team. I think he's doing an excellent job keeping them together. We'll lose 3 out of the next 4 and then if the team is still "together" I think they will begin to win some games - at a greater clip then they have been. If you look at the rest of their schedule - after next Tuesday - it really isn't too tough the rest of the way. Besides 2 games at Orlando, and at Boston - the pacers don't play any elite teams on the road - it is rather shocking to look at their schedule - just shows how tough it has been and it is through next Tuesday.

And allow me to soften my statement just a touch. There are things that he is doing that I think are hurting the team. I believe that happens to everyone associated with a team from time to time. I am not calling for Obie's dismissal because a) I don't think he deserves it at this time and b) we can do a lot worse.

There are negatives that he has that could eventually lead me to change my mind. I like O'Brien, I liked both Carlisle and Brown, too, but felt they had earned their dismissal by the time their tenures ended.

Unclebuck
01-13-2009, 04:16 PM
There are negatives that he has that could eventually lead me to change my mind. I like O'Brien, I liked both Carlisle and Brown, too, but felt they had earned their dismissal by the time their tenures ended.

I agree, after 3 or 4 seasons it is almost always time for a new coach.

Still can't get over the pacers schedule - really wasn't aware it was so tough in the first half and so much easier in the second

Will Galen
01-13-2009, 04:39 PM
I love these kind of posts where you have guys actually discussing what's wrong instead of complaining and venting. Normally I stay out of such threads, (limited X&O knowledge) however, I have some ideas that I want to toss into the mix.

I read something Brad8888 posted in this thread,

Quote; Jim O'Brien during his postgame interview following the January 12 game against Utah as posted on pacers.com:

"PACERS COACH JIM O'BRIEN
(On the game) “I thought we played great defense. I thought our defense was absolutely outstanding in the second half."

"PACERS FORWARD MIKE DUNLEAVY
(On the game) “ Then when it gets down to crunch time in the second half we decide we want to play defense a little bit.

"PACERS FORWARD DANNY GRANGER
(On the game) “First half we were not existent. We picked it up a little bit more in the second half. (On the lack of defense) “I think there has to be a commitment on our part. We need to commit to doing. We talk a lot and say we are going to do it. When it comes down to it we just don’t do it. We do it on occasion.”
------------------

The players are buying into OB's system, because they play hard and they don't give up. When they got down last night by twenty I gave up, but they didn't, they got it back down to four.They also know what's wrong, 'their defense,' however they don't play it all the time.

They started out the year playing defense. Unclebuck bumped a post today titled, "When did the Pacers become so good defensively?"

Remember when the season started and opposing players would drive the lane it seemed like every Pacer was there to block progress. OB' commented one game that they had over 40 deflections.

Now near midseason it's been mentioned that Ford's not playing like he started the year, and that was said before he come down with the nagging injuries. Rasho's slowed down, and we are starting player's with little experience, like Hibbert and Graham.

It's been said it takes most players a half season to learn OB's system. Remember last year when it was said Danny didn't know the system and kept getting caught out of position. That's now happening to Rush and Hibbert, as well as Graham and others.

Count said this in one on his posts. Quote; "Now, here is where I think the coaching staff is failing. They keep pushing the system they're trying to run, rather than adjusting and simplifying for the personnel."

Then he said;

". . . I've provided ample historical evidence that his previous teams played defense, and played it well."

I think Count was close to putting it together. OB's other teams finally got it and played good defense. Why would he expect this one not to do the same?

This morning I was reading on ESPN how Phil Jackson lets his team figure things out for themselves because it's a lasting lesson. Well, the Pacer's players know what's wrong and say they just aren't doing it.

From all this I just think we are going though normal growing pains. It's not quiet the halfway point of the season and we've learned a few things. One, we can play with anyone. Two, Danny is turning into our go to guy, one of the hardest things to find.

I think OB' knows what he is doing and we will be okay, it's just losing all these close games makes one want to pull their hair out.

Or bang their head against the tv like Peck.

BillS
01-13-2009, 04:59 PM
Don't forget that after Feb 17 you'll have to either have a converter hat or a satellite/cable head to bang it against an analog TV.

:tmyk:

BlueNGold
01-13-2009, 06:50 PM
We didn't step up our defense in the second half. Utah stepped down their offense and to some extent everyone including Okur's arm got tired.

Nobody seems to factor in that Deron Williams sat a nice chunk of the second half precisely when Utah went cold and got out of rythym. When Brevin was in, they were minus 12. When Deron was in, they were plus 19...giving them a 7 point win of course.

The truth is, Utah could have played Williams another 5 minutes and scored 130 points in that game if they thought they needed to do that.

QuickRelease
01-13-2009, 07:24 PM
What I don't get is how teams seem to have an exponentially high percentage against us when it comes to hitting back breaking, against all odds, BS shots. Something like 35 footers with the shot clock running down.

cinotimz
01-13-2009, 09:56 PM
All teams are much better defensively if they have an inside deterrent. A big that can block shots and make you think twice about entering the lane. That also allows other defenders to stay at home a bit more instead of constantly collapsing to help. OB's system probably could use that shot-blocking big even more.

We dont appear to have that, at least not in OB's eyes. Some say Hibbert can be that guy-time will tell.

Bottom line is we seem unable to put significant on the ball pressure and we have no inside defensive deterrent. Not a good combination.

Camby is rumored to be available. Make it happen Larry.

While youre at it, go get your old buddy Ronnie.

Those 2 guys would fix things on both ends.

And certainly give us things to talk about other than the defense and firing the coach.

Anthem
01-13-2009, 11:08 PM
It just feels like the more the team learns his style the more they struggle. Perhaps it was the players themselves and residuals they still had from previous styles and coaches that had them going well early on.
Man, the more I think about this the less I like it. Good point.

count55
01-13-2009, 11:09 PM
These are not rhetorical questions.

Would you guys say the Pacers are primarily running a "soft zone"?

Is this a classic case of "make the supporting cast beat us" and that's exactly what's happening? Possibly the reason so many players are putting up unusually high offensive numbers?

Would this team not be better suited just playing "white on rice" man to man defense?


sorry for all the quotations in there.

Apparently, everybody thought they really were rhetorical...;)

I don't think you're far off with the "Soft" zone concept, though "Half-Assed" might be a better description.

The defense clearly shades towards the perceived threat, most of the time. I was talking to my brother about this tonight, and he was using Kirilenko as an example. It was clear we wanted him to shoot the ball. There were times where he was standing on the perimeter when Rasho's defense consisted of pointing to three hookers in the first row and tell Andrei that they were bought and paid for if he just took that 18-20 jumper. He scored 23, but he was 6 of 18, and I can remember several bricks after he stood there unguarded for 3 or 4 seconds. It's likely that you're right to some degree about "making the other guys hurt us." Unfortunately, they are.

I tend to agree that simpler is better, but see more below.


Agreed.

And the problem is that bad defense in the first half and good in the second is WORSE than good in the first/bad in the second (yes, both are worse than good in both halves, smarta**es ;) ).

Bad defense in the first half allows players to get into rhythm/into the zone/comfortable/whatever and leads to the ability to make those "mindless" shots in the second half when the defense firms up.

Good defense in the first half not only keeps players from getting in rhythm, it tires them out so that the consequences of poorer defense in the second half are not nearly so drastic.

Also, poor first half D starts the downward cycle of the faster offense. The more points we give up early, the more we start to push at the offensive end, creating the self-consuming snake.

That being said, I don't doubt that a large reason that we caught up to Utah last night was because they had simply shot their wad. In fact, I think what saved Utah was Deron Williams and some questionable officiating. (Danny should've had at least 8 more free throws last night.)


We gave up 50 points in the second half... Relatively speaking that might be good defense but realistically speaking, I don't see giving up 50 points in a half as indicative of good defense.


If we were to give up 50 per half at the pace we play, (and I think we played last night), that would put us at 4th in Defensive Rating.

Now, back to this:



As I've discussed many times I watched plenty of Rush at KS last year and he was a very aware and smart defender. He was good about knowing where his guy was and reading when they were about to get trouble in another matchup. From this he was a strong help defender and was constantly looking to pick up any defensive scrap he could.

You go help, he boxes your man out. You get PnR to the lane, he drops in enough to at least help you catch up or even force the kickout (better a jumper than a layup).

I still see him doing these things which is one reason why I've been stumped by JOB's comments on his game. If JOB said "kid can't buy a shot right now and we need points" then okay. But defense?

So I start thinking about your quote above and I'm starting to get the opinion that the longer the season goes on the more the guys ARE PLAYING JOB'S style and the ones that don't, the ones that still freelance and try to break out of that mold to help are the ones getting benched.

If you are punished for improvising and you respect the coach, then why should we expect you to do exactly what you mention Count?


Look, every time we discuss JOB, especially at the last party, I've said my peace but followed it with "but I'll let JOB prove me wrong". That means he's got to get the team to give up less and less points as the season goes along, not more and more.

It just feels like the more the team learns his style the more they struggle. Perhaps it was the players themselves and risiduals they still had from previous styles and coaches that had them going well early on.


I've only seen one guy consistantly play great defense in this system, and that's Marquis. Danny makes great individual plays, but often struggles in the position or team sense of the defense.


At some point it stops being bad luck, flukes and unfair and starts being who you are.


I'm on a blackberry, so I'm responding briefly, to be fleshed out later.

First, the smarter players comment was my initial thought, but it doesn't describe perfectly what I was trying to convey. I wrote the first post kind of on the fly, so I didn't get a chance to do a lot of proofing or wordsmithing.

That being said, I feel that only quoting and addressing my first paragraph is a little wonky. Many of your issues were addressed later in the post, and I got the overall impression that you were violently agreeing with me.

Also, I want to touch on the Rush section briefly (to be revisited later tonight). It makes some sense that improvisation is frowned upon. I'm not saying that it's the best approach, but it seems that if the defense is designed to mitigate or hide weaker defenders, they tend to have the unintended consequence of limiting better defenders. The scheme is so (too) interdependent, and a player like Rush or Granger can do just as much or more harm by trying to do too much. Again, that needs more explanation, which I will provide later.

Rush, to me, is exaggerating his actions. He's like an actor who's speaking lines in a foreign language phonetically. He may get the words right, but he has no idea what they mean. In the scripted world of theatre, you can get away with it. In the notably unscripted world of basketball, it can be killer.

Please note that I have not endorsed the system they are playing, I have noted that it is hurting players, specifically Rush, and have called for it's modification.

I'll get back tonight to try to complete these thougts, perhaps making them more clear.

I've thought about this more, and I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with this. I have an idea in my head of why Rush is getting benched, and why it would make sense if I was running this system, but it's kinda spotty, and I wouldn't run this system, so I'm the wrong advocate for it.

Anthem
01-13-2009, 11:31 PM
I got the Utah feed and before the game they interviewed one of their assistant coaches about how to guard Granger. His main point was that you have to keep him from driving to the right and you do that by playing defense with your right foot between his feet. This way you shade him to the right by about half a body. It seems like our players are shading guys a full body to force them out of the lane. This leads to penetration which leads to ball movement which leads to a wide open shot.

Yeah, it was interesting to watch their version of superstar defense. Danny still got his, but I don't see what else they could have done. They clearly had a plan, and it was a good one. There was a period last night when the Jazz really focused in on Danny... did anybody notice it? It was right before and after he got blocked twice.

Danny's man was guarding him at the perimeter, and AK-47 was shadowing halfway between him and the hoop. Danny moved around the perimeter and it was like AK was attached to him with a string. At first I thought "illegal defense" but because AK went in and out of the zone it was never defensive 3 seconds. Did anyone else see that?

imawhat
01-14-2009, 12:55 AM
Bad defense in the first half allows players to get into rhythm/into the zone/comfortable/whatever and leads to the ability to make those "mindless" shots in the second half when the defense firms up.

Good defense in the first half not only keeps players from getting in rhythm, it tires them out so that the consequences of poorer defense in the second half are not nearly so drastic.

Totally agree. We've seen this happen numerous times; even within the games we've seen individual players get red hot (Okur) by lack of defense.


Also, poor first half D starts the downward cycle of the faster offense. The more points we give up early, the more we start to push at the offensive end, creating the self-consuming snake.

That being said, I don't doubt that a large reason that we caught up to Utah last night was because they had simply shot their wad.

Agreed on both statements. If we'd won last night, I would've called it basketball rope-a-dope.

Bball
01-14-2009, 01:22 AM
I'd like to think there is a method to the madness and Obrien is simply letting this group get its wings on offense and learn that they can score with anyone as well as letting them learn some lessons by letting them sink or swim or their own. That might yet be the case. The team is still playing hard. He's not lost them... yet. They could've rolled over and died last night and didn't.

And just when I'm thinking it has to be something like that because even a fool couldn't be pleased with the play of the team at this point in the year, he goes and compliments their horrid defense last night and even calls it great.

Is the defense really that complicated? Honestly, it looks like they are just waiting for the other team to shoot the ball so that the Pacers can go back on offense. I keep looking for things like the players getting into a defensive stance, being aware of their surroundings, not overplaying, etc.. Frankly, I don't get it. I think OBrien has been all about lip service to the defense, while focusing on the offense. And now the defense is suffering because of it. Players are coasting on defense, playing lazy, slacking... just waiting to get the ball back and get into our Chinese Fire Drill Helter Skelter Offense.

Fortunately, we don't appear to be as 3-ball happy as we've been in the past and that is good (IMHO). I just wish there was some more structure to the offense. More passing, less dribbling. Reverse the ball. Get the defense scrambling. ...Not just dribble around, decide you don't have a shot so pass it to the next guy who dribbles around and decides whether he has a shot or not and cycle this thru until someone shoots. The lack of structure on the offense, and the pace, are both hurting the defense. So is the lack of an emphasis on the defense (which I whole-heartedly believe is the case).

We're wearing people down on the offensive end of the court and the defense is paying for it.

...And let me say this: I despise run and gun basketball. You can play at a fast tempo without playing run and gun ball. So the more it looks like run and gun, the more biased against it that I'm going to be. I'm a person who believes defense comes first and last.

That said, I don't much like ISO ball either. And I especially didn't like seeing us run 99% of the offense thru JO either.

But JO is gone now and we have players that can shoot and even get to the basket. IMO it took getting rid of JO for the players (and fans) to realize our wings and shooting wasn't as bad as it looked when all the emphasis was on JO.

And by that same token, I don't think our players would suck at defense and look nearly as bad if the offense was reined in and more of a TRUE emphasis was put on the defense.

For whatever reason, OBrien isn't getting it done. It could be there's a method to his madness and he's looking farther down the road than me. But if I was a betting man, I'd bet he's just on a kick to develop some kind of offensive juggernaut and defense is several priorities from where I'd want it to be.

Lord help us if TPTB decided what fans wanted was more scoring and he's following some edict handed down from the Ivory tower for PR reasons.

cinotimz
01-14-2009, 01:44 AM
For whatever reason, OBrien isn't getting it done. It could be there's a method to his madness and he's looking farther down the road than me. But if I was a betting man, I'd bet he's just on a kick to develop some kind of offensive juggernaut and defense is several priorities from where I'd want it to be.

Lord help us if TPTB decided what fans wanted was more scoring and he's following some edict handed down from the Ivory tower for PR reasons.

Oh, I think you are very close to reality here. The braintrust knows this team wasnt going to compete for a championship. The focal point has been to turn over the players and get players that the majority of fans dont hate. While the roster turnover is taking place, try to provide as an entertaining style as is possible.

And likely most will find this style a bit more entertaining than losing 76-69 games. Because the offensive style is a bit unorthodox, it allows the supposed disparity in talent to be offset by a certain 'uncomfortable' effect that ends in more close losses, and high scoring ones to boot.

And lets face it, fan interest is most likely higher given the current circumstance than if we were losing 76-69. I think theyre going to lose a fairly significant amount of games while transforming the roster. However, they want to try and maintain fan interest as much as possible during that timeframe, and all out offense is certainly a legitimate way to try and do that.

Now, of course, noone is likely to come out and admit such. But it doesnt seem like much of a stretch.

d_c
01-14-2009, 02:13 AM
And by that same token, I don't think our players would suck at defense and look nearly as bad if the offense was reined in and more of a TRUE emphasis was put on the defense.

For whatever reason, OBrien isn't getting it done. It could be there's a method to his madness and he's looking farther down the road than me. But if I was a betting man, I'd bet he's just on a kick to develop some kind of offensive juggernaut and defense is several priorities from where I'd want it to be.


The Pacers (as the roster standsnow), if they played a half court, slow it down style, would probably be getting pounded a lot and wouldn't even be in the a lot of the games that they've been in against good teams.

They just don't have the personnel to do it. A guy like Murphy is going to get worn down physically in a halfcourt game more so than in a fast paced game because he'd be spending more time getting pounded by guys stronger and more rugged than him. Hibbert would probably be better suited to it, but right now he's a foul prone rookie and can't play big minutes.

The only guy in the half court set who can regularly penetrate into the lane is Ford, and he's a 5'10" PG who, with his injury history, you probably want to limit his forays to the hoop. The Pacers also lack any sort of guy who you can dump the ball into in the post and draw double teams.

And then there's Dunleavy. He's had 5 coaches in this league and JOB's much criticized system has (by a good margin) been the one that's gotten the most out of him.

As far as JOB himself, I'll say it again: At the time, he was the most credible coach on the market who was willing to take the job. I'll take a guy like SVG over JOB, but SVG wisely took Dwight Howard over the Pacers (and so would you). You need to build up a more attractive roster in order to lure a better coach in. Right now, top notch coaches aren't going to trip over eachother in order to come into Indy just to prove their system works better than JOBs.

imawhat
01-14-2009, 02:49 AM
Thin slicing the defense: There's a lot of great information in this thread.

I think there are some extremely, extremely basic things we were doing earlier in the season that we've stopped doing.

I took a few photos/videos from my tv between Game 2 (vs. Celtics) and Game 35 (vs. Suns) to showcase a few of them [apologize for the quality].

Game 2 (vs. Celtics)

Play 1-pick n roll defense

Ford on Rondo. At this initial stage, Ford is favoring Rondo's strong side.
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/DiverseMusicians/celts1pic1.jpg

Pierce sets the pick, Granger reacts early, hedges, and favors Rondo's strong side. Ford drops back to prevent entry pass. Troy sags off man to cover basket should Pierce roll.
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/DiverseMusicians/celts1pic2.jpg

Granger recovers to Pierce when Rondo switches hands and backs off, and Ford goes back to favor Rondo's strong side.
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/DiverseMusicians/celts1pic3.jpg

Keep in mind Granger left a dangerous player because the most dangerous option in this scenario is Rondo coming off the pick. Had Rondo made the play we dared them to force, Troy was in position to possibly steal the entry pass. If I'm not mistaken, this exact thing happened either right before or right after this play and Troy stole the pass.

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/Uv5O2Ni9uLQ&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/Uv5O2Ni9uLQ&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>


Play 2-man defense

Daniels begs Ray Allen to go left. He gets into defensive stance the EXACT second Ray gets the ball.
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/DiverseMusicians/celts2pic1.jpg

Murphy covers Garnett. The reason I've pasted this picture is because all 5 players are in stance or are ready to react to the play. If Ray decides to pass, Garnett is immediately placed into a trap because of Troy and Rahso's position.
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/DiverseMusicians/celts2pic2.jpg

Marquis quickly flies under a pick and persists on forcing Allen left.
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/DiverseMusicians/celts2pic3.jpg

As Allen dribbles closer to the corner, Marquis changes his angle to prevent the pass back to Garnett. Marquis deflects the pass and we get a fast break (Troy actually gets out of position on this play, but I've posted just to show early season man defense). Forcing a player in an unnatural direction is a very simple way to take a player out of their comfort zone.

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/aI-bpw6L1hU&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/aI-bpw6L1hU&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

Play 3-Crowding the high post

Murphy crowding Garnett directly after he receives the pass
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/DiverseMusicians/celts3pic1.jpg

This is something that all great defensive teams do. When they want to, Detroit is easily the best team in the league at doing this. This isn't quite high post, but the idea is the same. Garnett could easily go around Murphy, but it was obvious that this was the beginning of a play. What Murphy does could have varying results, but here are the two most obvious: 1) Garnett breaks the play and tries to seize the opportunity or 2) Garnett is forced to exert a little more effort on his pass. This could cause a hitch in the play if Garnett isn't able to make a pass when he wanted to.

Great offenses will easily out-execute these types of things, but this is more about effort and forcing a team out of their comfort zone. You don't even have to be a smart player to do this.

Btw, the rest of the play shows discipline on defense, with everyone staying in stance for most of the play.

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/53hPdNwBrY4&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/53hPdNwBrY4&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

Peck
01-14-2009, 03:13 AM
Outstanding, thank you for that.

You deserve the dancing fruit salute for that.

:dance::pepper::carrot::pineapple:mango::cucumber: :rock::apple::dorange::bdance:

imawhat
01-14-2009, 03:37 AM
Outstanding, thank you for that.

You deserve the dancing fruit salute for that.

:dance::pepper::carrot::pineapple:mango::cucumber: :rock::apple::dorange::bdance:

Thanks.

Now, the bad examples:

Game 35 (vs. Suns)

Play 1- pick n roll- poor execution

Nash dribbles while Amare is coming to set pick.
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/DiverseMusicians/suns1pic1.jpg

Diener actually forces Nash to ignore the pick and go left (towards the corner, which is something we've normally gone away from for the past 20 games). Only problem is that Foster doesn't commit to either stopping Nash or recovering to Amare. When Nash picks up his dribble, Foster actually takes another step or two backwards...a very, very slow reaction (as you'll see in the next picture).
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/DiverseMusicians/suns1pic2.jpg

Hence the wide open Amare shot.
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/DiverseMusicians/suns1pic3.jpg

Why was Foster slow to react? As you can see in the video, Foster doesn't get into defensive stance, forcing all of his reactions to be a step behind. Defensive stance is one part of the "effort" that exists less and less with each game.

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/H3jh71h_V9c&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/H3jh71h_V9c&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

Play 2- defensive stance

Here we see Barnes coming out to set a pick on Barnes, Granger is sagging off but in stance.
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/DiverseMusicians/suns2pic1.jpg

Granger showing Foster why staying in stance is important. Here we see Granger recovering to Barnes the exact moment Nash picks up his dribble.
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/DiverseMusicians/suns2pic2.jpg

Though Granger would've recovered in time, Amare makes a very nice play by bumping Danny.
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/DiverseMusicians/suns2pic3.jpg

Here we see Foster in "half-stance". His right arm is out, but his left arm is completely down and resting.
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/DiverseMusicians/suns2pic4.jpg

Seeing this, Barnes switches hands and goes up right. Foster fouls, plus made basket.
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/DiverseMusicians/suns2pic5.jpg

This is a very common error from Foster, despite some of the overrating of his defense. He uses his feet very well at times, but often fouls while trying to recover from not having his hands ready. This is a great play in that it shows rewards and consequences of being in/out of defensive stance. Also, though Diener is again showing an increasingly rare sign of forcing Nash to the corner on pick and roll, I would argue that it's not really "forcing" when you allow a guy to go his preferred direction to make a play.

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/4QJ98i-RpPc&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/4QJ98i-RpPc&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>

Play 3-exhaustion? lack of effort?

Nash dribbles up court. A clearly tired Granger has his hands on his knees
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/DiverseMusicians/suns3pic1.jpg

Amare comes to set a pick for Hill
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/DiverseMusicians/suns3pic2.jpg

For whatever reason, Granger initiates contact with Amare and does not fight through the screen, giving Hill a wide open look.
http://i4.photobucket.com/albums/y129/DiverseMusicians/suns3pic3.jpg

It's obvious that Granger is tired, but he NEEDS to show more effort. He has to fight through these screens. If he's too tired, it's his duty to inform the coach that he needs a breather and it's the coach's duty to realize his players need a break.

<object width="425" height="344"><param name="movie" value="http://www.youtube.com/v/ZAWc6FFlBZw&hl=en&fs=1"></param><param name="allowFullScreen" value="true"></param><param name="allowscriptaccess" value="always"></param><embed src="http://www.youtube.com/v/ZAWc6FFlBZw&hl=en&fs=1" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" allowscriptaccess="always" allowfullscreen="true" width="425" height="344"></embed></object>




Though there are a lot of valid points in this thread, I don't think enough has been said to account for early season success. It's true that players are failing to grasp the system, but we WERE successful. This is why I don't buy the talent argument either. It's just that we don't show the effort we were showing earlier, mainly in defensive stance and energy. Also, there are some fundamental things that we've gone away from; very simple things which are allowing other teams to get in full rhythm (i.e. forcing players into their unnatural direction and crowding the passer) . With the rhythm comes the high shooting % (the real killer), the runs, and then everything else mentioned in this thread.

imawhat
01-14-2009, 04:46 AM
The defense clearly shades towards the perceived threat, most of the time. I was talking to my brother about this tonight, and he was using Kirilenko as an example. It was clear we wanted him to shoot the ball. There were times where he was standing on the perimeter when Rasho's defense consisted of pointing to three hookers in the first row and tell Andrei that they were bought and paid for if he just took that 18-20 jumper. He scored 23, but he was 6 of 18, and I can remember several bricks after he stood there unguarded for 3 or 4 seconds. It's likely that you're right to some degree about "making the other guys hurt us." Unfortunately, they are.

Not necessarily. They've missed out on some very obvious choices throughout the past few games. In particular, the New Orleans game sticks out in my head because I was there. The defense was not going towards the perceived threat on Paul, who burned us on about five or six straight PnRs. It wasn't until the last play that they played it correctly (and Paul still made an awesome play).

On the opposite though, O'Brien would have to be off the reservation to not play Kirilenko like that. For everyone who saw the Jazz game, these are the nightmares that pop into my head every time someone brings up getting AK47 in a trade. Even Shaq shoots a higher percentage away from the basket.

His defense would be welcome though.



I've thought about this more, and I'm not entirely sure where I'm going with this. I have an idea in my head of why Rush is getting benched, and why it would make sense if I was running this system, but it's kinda spotty, and I wouldn't run this system, so I'm the wrong advocate for it.

I'm dumbfounded about the Rush situation. When he was first benched, his defense was fine; his shooting was off (contrary to O'Brien's comments).

Now it appears that he's allowing himself to get pushed around and he's not being physical, as well as finding himself more lost than he was. He hit the wall early (I hope).

duke dynamite
01-14-2009, 09:35 AM
Imawhat, I want to applaud the fact that you went through all of this work to show us this.

I felt like I was reviewing tape like one of the players the day after the game.

count55
01-14-2009, 10:08 AM
Not necessarily. They've missed out on some very obvious choices throughout the past few games. In particular, the New Orleans game sticks out in my head because I was there. The defense was not going towards the perceived threat on Paul, who burned us on about five or six straight PnRs. It wasn't until the last play that they played it correctly (and Paul still made an awesome play).

On the opposite though, O'Brien would have to be off the reservation to not play Kirilenko like that. For everyone who saw the Jazz game, these are the nightmares that pop into my head every time someone brings up getting AK47 in a trade. Even Shaq shoots a higher percentage away from the basket.

His defense would be welcome though.

I didn't say they were particularly effective at it.



I'm dumbfounded about the Rush situation. When he was first benched, his defense was fine; his shooting was off (contrary to O'Brien's comments).

Now it appears that he's allowing himself to get pushed around and he's not being physical, as well as finding himself more lost than he was. He hit the wall early (I hope).

I get the Rush situation perfectly. I don't necessarily agree with it, but I think it makes perfect sense when you look at what it appears they are trying to do. Rush has a lot of nice instincts and skills as a defender, particularly on the ball. However, in watching him this season, his away from the ball defense has ranged from mediocre to little-kid-sitting-in-right-field-picking-dandelions. Since it appears that the defense is supposed to be relatively structured, and it's supposed function as a unit, how a player plays away from the ball is arguably more important than his on the ball defense.

In O'Brien/Conner's system (I think), it's the rough equivalent of a safety who keeps blowing coverages in football. He may do a great job of playing in man, he may do a fantastic job in run support, but if he doesn't cover his sector well in a zone, he will be exploited.

I am assuming that the architects of this system (O'Brien/Conner) believe that it will work, and that it is best for this team. Therefore, they may have fallen in love with their creation, and, as I said earlier, don't see the failures as flaws in the system, but rather in the failure to execute it well enough (believe hard enough).

This type of complex system can be very effective, but it is very fragile. It is possible for the defense to look awful, awful, awful, then...poof! great! (The reverse is also true.) It's a binary solution set, either it works great, or it fails miserably. Therefore, it's difficult to see how close or far away they are from succeeding from either casual observation or looking at the numbers. You'd have to know all of the details of the defensive assignments to even begin to guess.

If you want an illustration of this type "light switch going on", consider the 2006 Colts. They were a horrible defense because they relied on players fulfilling their assignments and allowing the team speed to overcome the lack of size. Two key positions were failing at this: Gardner at LB and Sanders' replacement at Safety. As a result, the opposing offenses had a go-to play or area to exploit, and they did it mercilessly.

When Morris and Sanders took away that option in the playoffs, playing their roles in the system perfectly, the defense became dominant. Many considered it a fluke, but to me, it was the logical result of the perfect execution of a system that had produced dominant defenses in Tampa. Also, Sanders is given much credit for being the difference maker. He is a great player, and much is deserved. However, the physically limited Rob Morris was every bit as important to that turnaround. Gardner was a better athlete, but always got gobbled up. Morris filled holes that needed to be filled, and I think no Morris, no ring.

So, therefore, in the eyes of the coaches, the team is better off with Graham, a pedestrian defender who follows his assignments in the scheme well, than with Rush, a potential lockdown defender who regularly "blows" plays.

However, the fact that the only illustration I can think of is football underscores why I am not comfortable with this system. Football is much more set-piece and scripted. A much higher level of discipline is needed. Basketball is too free flow for what I perceive to be such a complicated, fragile system. There are too many independent variables.

In Brandon's case, it's particularly difficult. He's a rookie trying to catch up to the speed of the game. While rooks need to learn, they also need to be able to fall back on their past experience and instincts to get through some rough spots. The system itself seems to prevent Brandon from doing this. This is how a player who shows signs of being pretty decent can struggle so badly. He works hard in the D, but doesn't see the fruits of his labors. His shot is off, he goes back to try to play D, maybe he makes a play, maybe he gets caught ball gawking, his assignments on D at the best don't come naturally to him, at worst, are counter-intuitive, then he goes back to the other end and the shot abandons him...the lack of confidence on D breeds lack of confidence on O breeds lack of confidence on D, and so on.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that Rush had a much better temperament than Hibbert. I thought he felt that he knew he belonged. I actually question that conclusion now. Hibbert, while still a bit timid, may actually have an advantage over Rush in this regard. He probably expects things to be harder for him, therefore he is more able to assimilate the failures and enjoy the successes. Rush, while certainly not thinking it would be a cake walk, probably expected more success than he's having, particularly shooting the ball. With his shot deserting him, he would normally hope to fall back on his D. However, while he might be doing a good job straight up, he is (and is being told) that he's not doing his job as part of the unit, and as he becomes more confused and doubtful, his performance suffers.

It doesn't help that this corresponds with Dunleavy's return and Graham's improved play. It all becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, at least for this season.

Bird and O'Brien need to take a long hard look at this situation. Brandon becoming a fringe player for the rest of the season won't necessarily be a bad thing for his development, and it doesn't necessarily mean that he won't be a good player. However, it's also very unlikely that it would actually be a good thing.

Again, I believe that the team is better off in both the short and long term by abandoning the system they appear to be trying to play and simplifying things.

Disclaimer: I am not a coach or a scout. I believe everything I wrote above, but fully accept the fact that someone with a more practiced eye may be able to take this view apart point by point. I am taking what I see, what I've heard, and trying to reconcile it to what I've seen and learned, both in a lifetime of watching sport, and, believe or not, in my professional experience working with people and working in turnaround situations.

I would love to hear, for example, tbird and buck address my comments. (Even more, I'd love Mark Boyle (if you happen to not have fallen asleep) or Slick to tell me whether I'm full of crap or not.)

count55
01-14-2009, 10:12 AM
imawhat...I didn't see your earlier posts, just your response to me.

I need to get some time to watch them. I'm expecting to learn a lot, and I'll be interested to see if it confirms or refutes my layman's view.

count55
01-14-2009, 10:29 AM
Though there are a lot of valid points in this thread, I don't think enough has been said to account for early season success. It's true that players are failing to grasp the system, but we WERE successful. This is why I don't buy the talent argument either. It's just that we don't show the effort we were showing earlier, mainly in defensive stance and energy. Also, there are some fundamental things that we've gone away from; very simple things which are allowing other teams to get in full rhythm (i.e. forcing players into their unnatural direction and crowding the passer) . With the rhythm comes the high shooting % (the real killer), the runs, and then everything else mentioned in this thread.

I wish I'd read these before I wrote my last response. Now I feel like an idiot.

In any case, I had written a response to Seth about why we were successful early, but deleted it because it was part of an overall section that I thought was unsatisfactory. My theory was basically that, while they may not have fully understood the system early, and they had fresh legs, and were probably more committed to trying to make the system work. As the season wore on, and the inevitable failures came, they had less faith, either consciously or unconsciously, and began to freelance more and get away from the fundamentals (which is also, as shown in the Danny example, a result of routine and fatigue).

Also, if my supposition that the system is very unit-oriented, then it is possible for some of the players to get much better at playing the system, but the system to get worse of others don't improve or getting worse. In other words, the results may have benefited from everyone being at more or less the same point on the learning curve coming out of camp.

Edit: ...And my opinion of your earlier posts can be found in the "Thread/Post of the Year" thread.

Bball
01-14-2009, 11:55 AM
So I am not crazy to think we were fundamentally better early in the season... and that we're now slow to get into defensive stances, are playing sloppy and making bad decisions and getting into a 'half-***' position (which we then pay for one way or the other)!

Good work imawhat!

I wonder if anyone can or will refute what you've done? It looks spot on to what my perceptions have been telling me.

So the next question becomes "Why?". Why has the defense regressed and why hasn't the coaching staff addressed it? I'm still sticking to my "Because it's a symptom of the pace of the offense and the coaching staff accepts it as such" thought. Nothing will be done to address the defense if it in any way would affect the Chinese Fire Drill offense.

Dr. Goldfoot
01-14-2009, 01:53 PM
I'm not sure any of those plays illustrate good defense.

The first play T.J. gets blown by and is forced to foul inside the paint.
The second play Murphy is completely out of position and gets saved by Daniels active hands/poor passing by Allen?.
The third play Danny closes too hard allowing his man an opening to go straight to the hole forcing an interior player to foul.
The fourth play Diener hops out past the three point line giving Nash the room he needs to make Foster commit leaving Amare open at the top of the key.
The fifth play Diener gets blown by Danny looks for the switch Diener fights his way back to his man Danny tries to recover closing too hard allowing Barnes entrance to the lane forcing Foster to foul in the paint.
The sixth play resulted in a missed jumper early in the shot clock.

6 plays= 1 made basket, 3 shooting fouls, 1 steal and one miss.

Naptown_Seth
01-14-2009, 02:28 PM
That being said, I feel that only quoting and addressing my first paragraph is a little wonky. Many of your issues were addressed later in the post, and I got the overall impression that you were violently agreeing with me.
Yeah, mostly I was in agreement with you. I understand the confusion because so often forums are back and forth quote to argument or quote to agree style, but I often quote something as a jumping off point.

A lot of times I have moved on to another thought or debate separate from the intial quote, and in those cases I try to increase the spacing as an indicator of that. In this case I kinda started debating with you but also realized that we were somewhat saying the same thing starting at the same thought (which is what I quoted).


Rush has tended to overplay at times, and he loves to snoop in on the other matchups while on the floor. I agree with you that this can derail THIS system, but I think that at some point you need to figure out how to work around that and make the best use of what you've got. More so when it's a top pick like this.

We might as well say "well sure Granger and Troy can hit the 3, but I want to limit 3 attempts to only 6-7 by the entire team all night so they need to stop". It might be breaking the current offense, but you might also want to revise the approach.

I think that you (Count) and I are in total agreement on that. I'd hate for Rush to totally lose his way by getting too dogmatic. At the same time I think his smarts, like Granger, would allow him to slowly come along so that in the future when he broke ranks it would be because he was able to identify where the situation is falling apart WITHIN the system, which was part of your point too.

I will say this, I was no great coach and it was just kids, but there were times that a kid would notice something I missed. As a coach you have to check the ego IMO. You must realize that players may have learned good stuff from other good coaches, or may just be that sharp themselves, and that they might be on to something when they go against the grain. This is especially true if the player is not inherently selfish.

ChicagoJ
01-14-2009, 04:59 PM
Wow. Imawhat and Count are really duking it out for Forum MVP this season.

Good grief, I'm impressed.

Keep it up, guys.

Anthem
01-14-2009, 06:36 PM
but there were times that a kid would notice something I missed.
Doesn't surprise me in the least.

:devil:

imawhat
01-15-2009, 02:30 AM
Imawhat, I want to applaud the fact that you went through all of this work to show us this.

I felt like I was reviewing tape like one of the players the day after the game.

Thanks Duke!


In any case, I had written a response to Seth about why we were successful early, but deleted it because it was part of an overall section that I thought was unsatisfactory. My theory was basically that, while they may not have fully understood the system early, and they had fresh legs, and were probably more committed to trying to make the system work. As the season wore on, and the inevitable failures came, they had less faith, either consciously or unconsciously, and began to freelance more and get away from the fundamentals (which is also, as shown in the Danny example, a result of routine and fatigue).

Also, if my supposition that the system is very unit-oriented, then it is possible for some of the players to get much better at playing the system, but the system to get worse of others don't improve or getting worse. In other words, the results may have benefited from everyone being at more or less the same point on the learning curve coming out of camp.

I think it's ironic that you mentioned fresh legs. If I were to write a season story, I would say our season changed after the 8th game (which appears to be some kind of "magic" number for big changes). Game 9 vs. the Bulls is where we started to looked tired and our defense loosened. In particular, Rasho started looking very tired. Game 11, Danny falls asleep and Rashard Lewis sinks the game winner. They became less committed and more confused, at which point they started focusing on offense.

Fast forward a few games, and it looks like some sort of virus has completely derailed our defense. And now it appears like our lack of defense is a symptom of the offense like Bball says.

It has actually gotten so bad that opponents are abandoning their normal offenses for simple plays in order to beat us, which is somehow hurting opponents enough to keep us close.

Utah two nights ago was the perfect example. They normally run an offense with lot of screens from their bigs and with backdoor cuts/passing not too dissimilar from the Pacers. Instead, they spent a great portion of the game attacking our transition defense and trying to get uncontested shots. This is how they got so exhausted and went ice cold (and I highly doubt this is O'Brien's version of "great defense", but I seriously don't know his plan).

This is also a part of why I believe it's simple fundamentals and effort that are killing our defense as much as an ineffective scheme with a lack of talent. This would explain why the players almost universally take the blame for defense by saying they need to stop talking and start playing defense.

Naptown_Seth
01-15-2009, 03:30 PM
Doesn't surprise me in the least.

:devil:
Those innings are tough to keep track of, and there's so many of them. Don't get me started on outs or who's supposed to bat next.

I was going for more of a Buttermaker school of thought when it came to coaching.

Naptown_Seth
01-15-2009, 04:05 PM
And allow me to soften my statement just a touch. There are things that he is doing that I think are hurting the team. I believe that happens to everyone associated with a team from time to time. I am not calling for Obie's dismissal because a) I don't think he deserves it at this time and b) we can do a lot worse.

There are negatives that he has that could eventually lead me to change my mind. I like O'Brien, I liked both Carlisle and Brown, too, but felt they had earned their dismissal by the time their tenures ended.
A - agree, I'm not looking for JOB to be fired, I'm just discussing the current production. It's way too early and as you say it could get way too ugly with a change.

B - don't agree on Rick, primarily because of the set of rosters he was given year after year and the massive amount of change he had to face as well, even within seasons.

CableKC
01-15-2009, 04:57 PM
I get the Rush situation perfectly. I don't necessarily agree with it, but I think it makes perfect sense when you look at what it appears they are trying to do. Rush has a lot of nice instincts and skills as a defender, particularly on the ball. However, in watching him this season, his away from the ball defense has ranged from mediocre to little-kid-sitting-in-right-field-picking-dandelions. Since it appears that the defense is supposed to be relatively structured, and it's supposed function as a unit, how a player plays away from the ball is arguably more important than his on the ball defense.

In O'Brien/Conner's system (I think), it's the rough equivalent of a safety who keeps blowing coverages in football. He may do a great job of playing in man, he may do a fantastic job in run support, but if he doesn't cover his sector well in a zone, he will be exploited.

I am assuming that the architects of this system (O'Brien/Conner) believe that it will work, and that it is best for this team. Therefore, they may have fallen in love with their creation, and, as I said earlier, don't see the failures as flaws in the system, but rather in the failure to execute it well enough (believe hard enough).

This type of complex system can be very effective, but it is very fragile. It is possible for the defense to look awful, awful, awful, then...poof! great! (The reverse is also true.) It's a binary solution set, either it works great, or it fails miserably. Therefore, it's difficult to see how close or far away they are from succeeding from either casual observation or looking at the numbers. You'd have to know all of the details of the defensive assignments to even begin to guess.

If you want an illustration of this type "light switch going on", consider the 2006 Colts. They were a horrible defense because they relied on players fulfilling their assignments and allowing the team speed to overcome the lack of size. Two key positions were failing at this: Gardner at LB and Sanders' replacement at Safety. As a result, the opposing offenses had a go-to play or area to exploit, and they did it mercilessly.

When Morris and Sanders took away that option in the playoffs, playing their roles in the system perfectly, the defense became dominant. Many considered it a fluke, but to me, it was the logical result of the perfect execution of a system that had produced dominant defenses in Tampa. Also, Sanders is given much credit for being the difference maker. He is a great player, and much is deserved. However, the physically limited Rob Morris was every bit as important to that turnaround. Gardner was a better athlete, but always got gobbled up. Morris filled holes that needed to be filled, and I think no Morris, no ring.

So, therefore, in the eyes of the coaches, the team is better off with Graham, a pedestrian defender who follows his assignments in the scheme well, than with Rush, a potential lockdown defender who regularly "blows" plays.

However, the fact that the only illustration I can think of is football underscores why I am not comfortable with this system. Football is much more set-piece and scripted. A much higher level of discipline is needed. Basketball is too free flow for what I perceive to be such a complicated, fragile system. There are too many independent variables.

In Brandon's case, it's particularly difficult. He's a rookie trying to catch up to the speed of the game. While rooks need to learn, they also need to be able to fall back on their past experience and instincts to get through some rough spots. The system itself seems to prevent Brandon from doing this. This is how a player who shows signs of being pretty decent can struggle so badly. He works hard in the D, but doesn't see the fruits of his labors. His shot is off, he goes back to try to play D, maybe he makes a play, maybe he gets caught ball gawking, his assignments on D at the best don't come naturally to him, at worst, are counter-intuitive, then he goes back to the other end and the shot abandons him...the lack of confidence on D breeds lack of confidence on O breeds lack of confidence on D, and so on.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that Rush had a much better temperament than Hibbert. I thought he felt that he knew he belonged. I actually question that conclusion now. Hibbert, while still a bit timid, may actually have an advantage over Rush in this regard. He probably expects things to be harder for him, therefore he is more able to assimilate the failures and enjoy the successes. Rush, while certainly not thinking it would be a cake walk, probably expected more success than he's having, particularly shooting the ball. With his shot deserting him, he would normally hope to fall back on his D. However, while he might be doing a good job straight up, he is (and is being told) that he's not doing his job as part of the unit, and as he becomes more confused and doubtful, his performance suffers.

It doesn't help that this corresponds with Dunleavy's return and Graham's improved play. It all becomes a self-fulfilling prophesy, at least for this season.

Bird and O'Brien need to take a long hard look at this situation. Brandon becoming a fringe player for the rest of the season won't necessarily be a bad thing for his development, and it doesn't necessarily mean that he won't be a good player. However, it's also very unlikely that it would actually be a good thing.

Again, I believe that the team is better off in both the short and long term by abandoning the system they appear to be trying to play and simplifying things.

Disclaimer: I am not a coach or a scout. I believe everything I wrote above, but fully accept the fact that someone with a more practiced eye may be able to take this view apart point by point. I am taking what I see, what I've heard, and trying to reconcile it to what I've seen and learned, both in a lifetime of watching sport, and, believe or not, in my professional experience working with people and working in turnaround situations.

I would love to hear, for example, tbird and buck address my comments. (Even more, I'd love Mark Boyle (if you happen to not have fallen asleep) or Slick to tell me whether I'm full of crap or not.)
count55, good read that actually made sense to someone like me. I'm not particularly fond of a Defensive system that appears ( on the surface ) to be very Black and White in terms of success or failure......leaving very little room for any type of mistake. As you suggest....a Defensive system that is very fragile and EXTREMELY dependent on all 5 Players on the court where they are all executing in sync with each other seems like a recipe for disaster.

This is one of the reasons why I think that it limits the type of player that we can acquire/draft/trade for.......sticking to a System that requires that everyone fully understands what needs to be done at all times when they are on the court requires that we look for those players with the necessary Basketball Smarts that can figure it out.

It seems that this defense would work with the perfect roster that not only understands it, but can properly execute it. Who on our roster "gets" it when it comes to the Team Defense concept?

Naptown_Seth
01-18-2009, 05:02 AM
In Brandon's case, it's particularly difficult. He's a rookie trying to catch up to the speed of the game. While rooks need to learn, they also need to be able to fall back on their past experience and instincts to get through some rough spots. The system itself seems to prevent Brandon from doing this. This is how a player who shows signs of being pretty decent can struggle so badly. He works hard in the D, but doesn't see the fruits of his labors. His shot is off, he goes back to try to play D, maybe he makes a play, maybe he gets caught ball gawking, his assignments on D at the best don't come naturally to him, at worst, are counter-intuitive, then he goes back to the other end and the shot abandons him...the lack of confidence on D breeds lack of confidence on O breeds lack of confidence on D, and so on.

A couple of weeks ago, I mentioned that Rush had a much better temperament than Hibbert. I thought he felt that he knew he belonged. I actually question that conclusion now. Hibbert, while still a bit timid, may actually have an advantage over Rush in this regard. He probably expects things to be harder for him, therefore he is more able to assimilate the failures and enjoy the successes. Rush, while certainly not thinking it would be a cake walk, probably expected more success than he's having, particularly shooting the ball. With his shot deserting him, he would normally hope to fall back on his D. However, while he might be doing a good job straight up, he is (and is being told) that he's not doing his job as part of the unit, and as he becomes more confused and doubtful, his performance suffers.
Good stuff there. I think there's a lot to that.

With Dun's return, especially if Ford plays also, I think the team can easily afford to settle back on Rush for now. He's gotten tons of playing time this year so it's not like a huge growth stunt to drop his minutes.


I was actually pretty pleased to see JOB work in all 3 young players for at least small bits of meaningful game time. I think each guy has stuff he brings already and the team actually does appear to have the kind of depth than can tolerate low PT for these guys right now.

The defense was much better the last 2 games. So was the offense for that matter. When the team moves on both ends you see huge improvements in their game. So maybe it is just execution on defense in the sense of "zone roles" as Count mentions.

We've got 3 great benchmarks coming up to get a truer sense of where the team is at.

flox
01-18-2009, 12:01 PM
The more I read this thread, the more I realize why this defense was designed. It's meant to coverup the issues that Murphleavy presents. I used to watch GS games back before Nellie, and one of the biggest issues was the Murphleavy always got burned defensively. It's interesting because Murphy and Leavy are high bbiq players who follow defensive systems very well. They play the hardest they can on defense, but they don't have the necessary athleticism to play man to man. This system seems to cover up the defensive weakness of Murphleavy, and is willing to give up lower percentage shots (15 ft+), and not give up the higher percentage. This would also explain why we foul so much.

I really think that this system was designed because we have medicore defenders.

As for our current defensive rating adjusted, we are showing improvement, actually, we've gone from 23 to 20th in the league in adjusted defense. I'm pretty happy about that. Hopefully this adjusted trend continues.

Putnam
01-18-2009, 12:08 PM
The more I read this thread, the more I realize why this defense was designed. It's meant to coverup the issues that Murphleavy presents.

I really think that this system was designed because we have medicore defenders.



I'm not sure about this myself, but some have said that O'Brien's defense is the same they ran when he was coach of Philadelphia and Boston. It is not a defense designed here in Indiana but something O'Brien has used in the past.

Bball
01-18-2009, 12:11 PM
I'm not sure about this myself, but some have said that O'Brien's defense is the same they ran when he was coach of Philadelphia and Boston. It is not a defense designed here in Indiana but something O'Brien has used in the past.

Some of those people said that last year too... But if you poke around you'll find comments (from OBrien) about this year being a new defensive system.

Can both things be true?

-Bball