In Oklahoma State’s 69 – 63 loss to Iowa State on Wednesday, a problem that has plagued the Cowboys many times this season was an issue once again. The problem I’m referring to is the team’s struggle to generate points out of their halfcourt offense.
Marshall Scott noted this in his Five Thoughts, discussing how the Pokes are a young, athletic team who like to get out and run, but when they can’t, they often fail to create good looks out of their halfcourt sets.
There were too many instances where OSU would fail to create a good look off their initial offensive set, and as the play broke down, one guy would isolate and everyone would just be standing around the perimeter.
As you can see in the above clip, as Cam McGriff starts his drive to the hoop. As he does this, there are three Cowboys standing on the left side of the perimeter, with their defenders clogging up the lane on that side of the floor. This causes McGriff to drive to his right, allowing Michael Weathers’ defender to sag off and help to force McGriff into picking up his dribble.
McGriff takes a tough contested shot in the paint, but there weren’t any open OSU players to kick it out to, as no one really made a hard cut into an open area.
Here again we see another halfcourt possession where the Pokes come up empty-handed.
Yor Anei initially comes out to set a ball screen for Isaac Likekele. As Ice crosses back over, Anei sets another screen for the young ball handler. There’s too much congestion for Ice to drive to the bucket, and he is forced to dribble back out towards the top of the key.
As he does this, you can see there is no real movement from the other Cowboy players on the floor. He ends up kicking it out to Thomas Dziagwa, who is moving towards him. Dizzy drives, as everyone else is still standing around the perimeter, and he fires up a wild shot that is off the mark.
Now, when a good shooting team, like the Cowboys have been early on this year, spreads out on the perimeter, this can open up the lane and create favorable spacing. However, in the play above, this is not the case as Anei is standing near the paint and does nothing to shield his man or bring him away from the basket. He also doesn’t get in position to block out, leaving the Cyclone defender in a good position to grab the rebound.
In addition, the Cowboys look confused at times in their halfcourt offense.
“Whenever we call the play, we don’t get to it quick enough,” Lindy Waters said. “Whenever we do, we’ll have four guys on the same page and one not.” [NewsOK]
You can see Waters quote come to life in the following video.
You can see as Weathers motions to Demuth that there is some obvious confusion among the players on the floor.
There just seems to be too much isolation and not enough movement and screening at times for this Oklahoma State team. Whether this be attributed to confusion or poor execution, it has been a fairly consistent problem. Now, sometimes I realize they are going to go away from their spread motion and isolate when Michael Weathers is in the game, as it does often end up in a bucket for the Miami (OH) transfer, as you can see below.
However, the offense stalls at times with or without Weathers on the floor, and it’s going to have to improve for the Cowboys to win some games in conference play.
Youth and inexperience are two major contributors to the Pokes halfcourt woes. In addition, not having go-to scorers like Kendall Smith and Jeffrey Carroll has hurt this team at times, along with not having a solid passer and screen setter at the five-spot like Mitchell Solomon. Cam McGriff has done a solid job stepping into a bigger role as a guy who can get buckets when needed, but there’s still been some overall inconsistency for the Cowboys on the offensive end.
These issues are all things that will come together over time. As I mentioned above, this Cowboy team is young… really young.
— Nathan Ruiz (@NathanSRuiz) January 3, 2019
I’m still optimistic that OSU will continue improving as the season progresses. They have several talented young pieces and a few skilled veteran leaders. Oklahoma State has shown they can play defense on very skilled opponents, and have been able to get out and run with the best of them, so if they can put it altogether by improving their halfcourt offense … I think they can be a dangerous team as we move into the heart of Big 12 play.