"Inside Look: Why working the ball through the post makes Gonzaga a title contender" -- Luke Winn
It begins: "The most celebrated press-conference rant of 2016–17 was not another baby-boomer coach railing against the entitlement of today’s youth but rather a recent convert to the church of analytics lashing out against strategic orthodoxy. This occurred after a nationally irrelevant game (Marshall’s 112–106 loss at Pitt on Dec. 28), and the question that triggered it was generic: “You guys take a lot of threes. Did you feel like there maybe wasn’t quite enough working the ball into the paint early on?” But the depth of Thundering Herd coach Dan D’Antoni’s answer—as well as analytics Twitter’s thirst for convention-challenging content—helped it go nerd-viral.
“You’re old school, aren’t you?” D’Antoni, 69, asked the reporter. “Do you watch the NBA ever? You see those top three teams. Golden State—do they work it in? My brother [coach Mike D’Antoni] in Houston, the biggest turnaround in the league—do they work it in? You can go get any computer and run what the best shots are, and it will tell you the post-up is the worst shot in basketball.”
D’Antoni then listed shot options from best to worst, including their expected NBA point values: the clean layup (1.8), the shot that draws a foul (1.5), the corner three (1.3) ... all the way down to the post-up (0.78). He continued: “The last two championships have been Cleveland and Golden State. What do they do? They just spread that thing out and go. I changed a long time ago. I coached for 15 years like a dummy, running down there real hard so I can get it in there for the worst shot in basketball. I didn’t even know what I was doing. The short version of my answer is no.”
D’Antoni’s NBA references weren’t exaggerations. Only 8.3% of the Cavaliers’ possessions had ended on post-ups or passes out of the post at week’s end, according to Synergy Sports Technology, while the Warriors’ rate was just 6.6% and the Rockets’ a league-low 2.8%. Marshall worked the ball through the post even less (2.5%) than the Rockets, and while this strategy led to offensive improvement and a 20–15 finish for the Thundering Herd, there are teams around the nation shunning the post to even greater effect..."