The Late Game Offense is Offensive…and a Short Clemson Preview

It’s been a rough 10 days for the Irish, with three straight ACC losses and D.J. Harvey suffering a knee injury that will keep him out a month.  But the Irish have been close…really close.

The problem hasn’t been that the Irish aren’t good enough.  They are.  The issue has been the complete absence of offense to end games/regulation.  I went back and watched the last seven-plus minutes of the GT/NC/Louisville games, and I wish I hadn’t.

The scores at the 5:00 mark of the second half:

GT 54 ND 48 (Final GT 60-53)
ND 66 UNC 64 (Final UNC 69-68)
ND 60 L’Ville 56 (62-62 at end of regulation)

That means the Irish have averaged THREE points in the last five minutes of the last three regulations.  That’s abysmal.  Let’s dig further into the stats.

GT – 5 points, 2-8 FG, 1-2 3PT, 0 TOs
UNC – 2 points on Gibbs FTs, 0-8 FG, 0-3 3PT, 4 TOs
L’Ville – 2 points on Marty FTs, 0-8 FG, 0-3 3PT, 2 TOs
TOTAL – 2-24 FG (8.3%), 1-8 3PT (12.5%), 6 TOs


Wow. The two buckets in the GT game were a Harvey triple and a Mooney dunk off a nice feed from T.J.  Let’s go possession by possession in the Louisville game to show what some of the issues are with the late-game offense.

Possession #1 (under 5:00) – Farrell walks it up and crosses midcourt with 23 on the shot clock.  He drives it at one of the best shot blockers in college basketball, and Mahmoud blocks his layup.


This is not a good strategy.  (Matt Cashore – USA TODAY Sports)

Possession #2 – Farrell walks it up and crosses midcourt with 24 on the shot clock…passes to Gibbs who dribbles for 8 seconds, 40 feet from the basket.  After a few passes, Gibbs gets it back with 10 on the shot clock (this is the first time a player could realistically shoot it).  The ball only touches inside the 3-point line when Gibbs is cut off by a double team as he tries to go baseline.  More passes around the arc lead to a Gibbs 25-foot heave that goes over the backboard.  Shot clock violation.

Possession #3 – Farrell walks it up and crosses midcourt with 23 on the shot clock…they pass it around the perimeter for 9 seconds, when Farrell makes his move.  He drives and kicks to Mooney who fumbles it, then dishes to Djogo at the top of the key.  Djogo drives and kicks to Farrell for a three that is contested and blocked by Mahmoud with 2 on the shot clock.  Brey calls timeout.  Gibbs inbounds it to Mooney who fires up a turnaround three from 25 feet that has no chance.  Second shot clock violation in a row.

Possession #4 – After a Mooney block, Farrell jogs it up.  They pass it around the perimeter for 10 seconds before Gibbs drives and makes a backdoor pass to Djogo.  Nik can’t do anything with it because Mahmoud would have swatted it to Elkhart, so he kicks it out to Mooney at the 3-point line with 11 on the shot clock.  Mooney passes it back to Djogo who is now dribbling to his right with no chance of making a move to the basket.  He gets to the middle of the floor and launches a 23-foot triple.  Nope.

Possession #5 – Farrell jogs it up and crosses midcourt with 25 on the shot clock.  Double pick and roll at the top, and Farrell chooses to go right, leading to Mahmoud picking him up again on the switch.  Farrell passes it to the post to Marty with Adel on him due to the switch (LET ME STRESS…THIS IS GOOD)…Marty goes up strong, misses, collects the offensive board, gets fouled and knocks down both free throws.

Possession #6 – After a nice Djogo steal, he tries to take it to the rim in transition against Mahmoud.  He misses the layup.  Gibbs grabs it…he gets trucked by Mahmoud and misses the layup.  Marty gets the rebound and the Irish regroup with the shot clock off.  Brey calls TO with 16 seconds left.

Possession #6.5 – Farrell gets it and dribbles near mid-court until there are 7 seconds left.  Geben ball-screens which gets Mahmoud on Farrell again, with Farrell driving to the left.  He tries to get a floater up and Mahmoud sends it into the stands with 3 seconds left.  Djogo inbounds to Farrell in the corner and he gets a pretty good look at a triple at the buzzer, but misses.

So what’s the problem?  It’s actually “problems.”

First, the Irish aren’t getting into their offense quick enough, which may actually be a Burn-like tactic by Brey.  But in order to run Burn, you need someone that can get in the lane and either finish at the rim, or make the right pass for an open three.  Neither are happening right now.

Second, they need to feed Marty.  In the overtimes, they did this a little more and Brey recognized post-game that this needs to be a priority.  Marty can handle himself in the paint, can draw fouls, and is an above-average passer for a big.  Get him the ball earlier in the shot clock and let him work.

Third, if the opposing team has an excellent shot-blocker…do not screen with the guy being guarded initially by the shot-blocker.  Lammers and Mahmoud have done serious damage because Marty has been the one screening.  Maybe run some off-ball screens for Marty in the post to get the shot-blocker off him.  It seems like there is nothing happening off the ball at the end of these games, which if you watch Golden State for a half, you recognize is a huge part of their offense.  It causes confusion for the defense and typically results in an open look.

Time to work some magic, Mike.

Clemson Preview


Do not drive it at Elijah Thomas.  Learn from going against Mahmoud on Tuesday.

We’ll keep this short.  The Irish are 5-0 against Clemson since joining the ACC, but this is Clemson’s best team.  Though they lost in Chapel Hill this week, the Tigers amazingly hit 15 consecutive shots in the second half.

All five Clemson starters average double figures, with Marcquise Reed leading the team with 16.2 PPG.  Donte Grantham and Gabe DeVoe have been on the team for 20 years, and are putting in solid seasons.  Grantham has turned into a mini-Blossomgame.

Elijah Thomas is a specimen, and averages 11.2 points, 7.8 rebounds and 2.5 blocks in 23 minutes per game.  Let’s not drive at him, guys.

They shoot a respectable 37.2% from deep.  Overall, Brad Brownell has a really solid team that has wins over Ohio State, Florida, Louisville and Miami.

But they can be had…and they take a trip to #2 Virginia on Tuesday.  Perhaps they take the Irish a bit lightly.  Take a look at this article as well, indicating that Clemson is “a little bit banged up.”

I think Brey and Farrell work some magic and they pull out a huge road win to get back on track.

ND 71 Clemson 67


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