Are you as excited as I am?
There is no better time than now to get a little preview up for these two squads, both of which are coming off very successful seasons. The best of luck to both of them.
Coach Doug Porter had only two players graduate from last season's team which finished 27-7 and reached the Sweet 16 of the NAIA tournament. One of those was leading scorer Simone Coburn (12.8 ppg), who got her points in an odd spot for a Sytem team: the paint.
Among those back are point guard Danielle Pipal, an honorable mention All-American in 2010-11 despite averaging only 6.9 points. She also had a team-best 152 assists (4.6 per game) and 124 steals (3.8 per game, good for second best in the nation), all while grabbing 3.8 rebounds per game, as well.
Coach Porter is loaded with two veteran, talented point guards, with Danielle Tolbert (second-leading scorer from a year ago at 12.7 ppg) back to work with Pipal to get the Tigers going. If you've paid attention to this blog, you know that ONU is changing up things a bit this season, going to a more pure Grinnell-style offense.
What does that mean? Well, in simple terms, the initial start of this clears out the entire right side of the court for the point guard to get to the rim. The two Danielles certainly will be able to take advantage of this, and I can't wait to see the results.
Another point guard on the roster is Tai Peachey, a freshman who is no stranger to The System. She played for coach Evan Massey at Galesburg (Ill.) HS and brings that experience with her to college. She's always been one of my favorites (and not just because she is a fan of my blog on Facebook), so I'm hoping her first year at ONU goes very well.
Coach Porter was kind enough to answer some of my questions about the upcoming season, and here are the results of our e-mail conversation.
(With all the returning players from last year's team, what do you expect?)
Doug Porter: I am intrigued by the possibilities this season, but for an odd reason: defense. System teams don’t make a big deal out of the opponent’s scoring average because as David Arseneault once said, "We are all about scoring points." And I enjoy the teasing comments I get from coaches who say, "You guys don’t play defense."
Our team was last in the nation in scoring defense last year (83 ppg), but of course defense is relative to tempo. The real question is (or should be) "How did your defense complement your offense?" In our case, team quickness last year resulted in forcing 36 turnovers a game, and allowed us to set a college basketball record of 735 steals, about 100 more than the (NCAA) DI women’s record. So ... with only 2 seniors graduating from that team, I’m thinking defense will again spark our offense!
(What about your new players, specifically my girl Tai Peachey?)
Doug Porter: Our new players seem behind to me, but I’m hoping that this is because our veterans are so strong that the contrast is more apparent than usual. They will get spot play, some as much as 10-12 minutes a game, some 3-4, and Bridgette Jones (5-foot-6 guard from Seymour, Ind.) and Natalie Tunnell (5-9 Guard from Oklahoma City) have had good preseasons. Bridgette has that rare quality of having what I call a great "motor" meaning she just naturally plays hard. Most kids have to learn the tempo, but in her case, it seems hardwired into her nervous system already. Natalie is a pure shooter who doesn’t shoot enough (yet).
As for Tai, she’s doing just fine. Playing the System in HS at Galesburg for Coach Massey made the transition a little easier for her, I think, but there’s still the jump from HS to College basketball that she’s adjusting to. It usually takes time for any system newcomer to make the “transition” (no pun intended), and as I tell them, "Be patient… you can expect the light bulb go on about 15 games into the first season!"
(Tell us more about the Danielles and their ability to play the Grinnell-style offense.)
Doug Porter: The “D” sisters were born to play the Grinnell offense. I was watching one of Coach A’s clinic video’s last night and he made the point once again, "You have to have PGs who can get to the rim and be a scoring threat to run this offense." Having two this year is going to give our opponents some real problems, since the Grinnell "made shot fast break" as you know consists of a clear-out of the entire right side of the floor in transition for your PG.
The nice thing is that Pipal and Tolbert are completely opposite "types" as PGs. Tolbert is a converted 3-guard who has always been great at putting the ball on the floor. Physically, she’s a tank, easily our strongest player, and can take the pounding going to the basket.
Pipal is also a converted wing, but she’s more of a finesse player who likes the 8-foot pullup jumper. I don’t usually like that shot because it doesn’t allow you to draw contact and get to the foul line, but in Pipe’s case, she’s very accurate with it. Pipe was an HM all-American last year and was #2 in the country in steals (despite averaging just 13 minutes per game), and Tolbert could be at that level too. We’re really blessed to have two like that at once!
(Who do you see filling Simone Coburn's role, if anyone?)
Doug Porter: Honestly, nobody will fill that role this year, which is why we’ve moved to pure Grinnell, which doesn’t really require a post-up type player. The interesting thing about Coburn was that she shot almost 70% from the field last year to lead the nation in that stat, but she was in reality only 5-8.
The System can be designed to get a post player some very good scoring opportunities, but with two raw freshman and two converted upperclassmen forwards playing there this year, the Grinnell offense just seems to make more sense for us right now. Still, we’ll miss Simone because she was our leading scorer (quite a feat for a post player in a totally guard oriented system!)
(I get the sense you expect great things from this team. How has the preseason gone?)
Doug Porter: It’s been an unusually long preseason with such a big break between our first scrimmages and this Saturday’s games, and we are tired of practicing, so it’s hard to gauge where we are right now. We’ve also had some injury/illness problems which will hopefully work themselves out soon. With that said, this could be a pretty special team!
A huge thanks, as always, to Coach Porter, and I wish him and his team all the success in the world, beginning in that opening game.
Coach Andy Hoaglin's National Junior College Athletic Association Division II team came up one game short of advancing to the national tournament last season, finishing 19-12 in its first season running The System.
Not bad, considering the Jets started 1-7 before winning 18 of their final 23 games. Jackson CC set NJCAA Division II records last season by averaging 103.6 points and attempting 1,550 3-pointers, with sophomore Erika Bullock voted second-team all-conference and freshman Nicole Wurster getting a nod to the third team. Bullock averaged a team-best 14.2 points and Wurster was right behind with 12.4, while Bullock finished third in NJCAA Division II with 4.58 steals per game.
Coach Hoaglin was kind enough to answer our questions about this season.
(How has the second preseason with The System gone?)
Andy Hoaglin: Our second preseason has gone much smoother than our first year's. We have 11 returners that have a flavor for what we're trying to accomplish with our version of the Grinnell System.
One of the main benefits is not having to convince players that The System is viable method of playing the great game of basketball. All of our freshmen have seen our System in action and understand what we're trying to do with it.
The most beneficial piece this year is having a large group of players experienced in the extreme results (both positive and negative) of System basketball.
(Last season started slowly. What can you do to make sure it doesn't happen again?)
Andy Hoaglin: To put it as simply as I can: The teaching and the absorption is happening much quicker, which allows us to get "deeper" into other System aspects. For example: Finding the second level fade, when the RW is curling, two-man game with the PG, multiple press looks and other concepts we just couldn't unload on the team last year.
We also ran a "hybrid" last year, because frankly, I was hedging my bet on the System. We ran an ONU/Grinnell hybrid. My advice to other coaches: Don't employ hybrids. Choose your path wisely, and hold true to it and don't underestimate players.
One more thing is that we've got depth at the PG position. Our PG's can score from outside and at the tin. They're quick and athletic.
(How have the players accepted the "brand" of being a System team?)
Andy Hoaglin: Put it this way: We went and watched a couple of former JCC players playing against each other in a opening season contest last Saturday. They kept on saying, "Don't ever think about doing THAT to us!" or "Coach, I'll quit if you go back to this!" and finally my wife: "I'll divorce you if you go back to the way you used to coach!"
Our families and players are proud to say they're System. (great answer)
(What are the goals for this season?)
Andy Hoaglin: We've made it a goal to qualify for our National Championship this year. This means winning our district qualifying tournament in March. We can only do this if we work the process of our formula and not focus on that end state.
I think of it the way a teacher explained the process of showing my work in math: Knowing the answer isn't enough. You need to understand how you got there and you need to do this by showing your work. The same with The System formula. Don't get hung up on the results. Work the process and pay attention to the formula. Pay attention to the details of the formula and diligently work. The ANSWER will be there at the end.
125 shots per game + 50% 3FGA + 40% off. rebounds + 35 TO forced + 30 shot differential.
(Going into season two, what is the reaction around campus?)
Andy Hoaglin: We're still facing the same criticism, but we understand it better now and deal with it usually with a smile or a shoulder shrug. We had many people at both scrimmages and we always have people peeking in during practice wondering what we're doing to equip us to be so explosive. Most people just shake their head and ask the typical question, "How do you score all those points?" or say its not basketball.
I'll take our basketball over watching a local 4-year college team lose a game 44-29. Must've been a great defensive game.
Thanks so much to Coach Hoaglin. I hope everyone appreciated his answer about following The Formula for success. To enlighten any new readers, all System teams have five goals in each game, and none of them involve making shots, scoring points or keeping the other team from scoring.
Did you notice Jackson CC's goals? The Jets want to attempt at least 125 shots per game, with half of them being 3-pointers. They also want to rebound 40 percent of all their misses on the offensive end while forcing at least 35 turnovers. All this should lead to Jackson CC attempting at least 30 shots more than the opponent.
These are very ambitious goals; Grinnell, the original System team, wants to take 94 shots in each game, so you can see how high Coach Hoaglin has gone. I hope they do it, because that will mean monster numbers for the Jets.