02 January 2014

NU Under CCC - A Very Preliminary Look Into The Crystal Ball

Before the season began we wrote that no one really knew how NU would look and play under CCC.  Now that we have 13 games on the books some early trends have emerged.  Here's how we see it:


Gone is the structured and precision passing Princeton Offense.  Under CCC there is a new emphasis placed on driving the ball in the hope of dishing to open shooters beyond the arc.  The result?  More free throw attempts and turnovers.  More free throw attempts are a good thing but they have come at an enormous turnovers cost.

Turnovers are offense killers.  This is evident in GR 1.09 wherein despite an improvement in the other three factors relative to 2012-13 an 82 spot drop in TO% has led to a 101 drop in the rankings for the offense.  CBC understood the importance of holding onto the pumpkin.  His teams were perennially among the best in the land in TO% which translated into very strong offense.

Our crystal ball sees an offense that will continue to draw more fouls.  It also predicts an improvement in TO% once the roster is filled out with CCC's recruits.  How much lower this statistic will go is unclear and will be something for fans to key on as an indicator for future optimism/pessimism.

eFG% is way down with CCC at the helm.  Our crystal ball forecasts this to be a temporary phenomenon that will improve substantially with increased familiarity with the offense and once again with improved fit once CCC's recruits in place.  We have serious doubts that CCC's recruiting will be strong enough to improve eFG% to the lofty #35 plateau during CBC's NIT years.  We do project that NU will occasionally be in the top 50.

OR% is relatively unchanged -- CCC and CBC both understood the risk/reward of crashing the oboards was not worth it with this roster.  If  for no other reason than our OR% is abysmal we expect this statistic to improve with the increased athleticism of CCC's recruits which will free up some guys to crash the boards with more impunity.

In sum there is good reason to believe that this year will be the offensive trough for the CCC years.  How much the offense improves will depend on its ability to protect the ball.  This is largely dependent on CCC's recruiting.  It goes without saying that CCC is/will recruit to his offense, but the question is whether he will be able to get recruiting classes superior to those of NU's conference brethren.  Stay tuned.


Whereas the new offense has been painful to watch the defense has been a pleasant improvement.  NU's defense is currently ranked in the Top 50 which is better than any season ending ranking for a CBC-led squad.  Underlying the massive defensive improvement have been huge improvements in defensive rebounding and eFG%.  Much of the credit goes to CCC for this improvement although it is worth noting that some of the improvement should be credited to the improved roster.  Many forget that NU's defense last year was also vastly improved with a new emphasis on man defense until injuries torpedoed the campaign.

Regardless of how much credit goes to CCC or the roster our crystal ball sees that rebounding and eFG% will continue to be much improved under CCC since the improved athleticism of his recruits can only help.  Another lesser noted aspect of CCC's defense is the emphasis on perimeter defense.  This hallmark of Duke defense has carried over to NU and we expect this beneficial trend of vigorously defending the arc to continue.

The blemishes against CCC's defense have been a dearth of opponent turnovers and its increased propensity to foul.  These changes are both natural outcomes of CCC's emphasis on fundamental defense relative to CBC's higher risk/reward 1-3-1 defense.  The crystal ball says that both of these statistics will improve with the increased athleticism of CCC's recruits.

Although the B1G campaign may bring NU back to earth on defense we do anticipate a continued improvement on defense under CCC.  The key to further improvement in the defense in future will be the ability of NU defenders to force turnovers.

B1G Season

The above analysis is comparative in nature with an eye toward trends and projections to the future.   We fully acknowledge that the nominal rankings stand to worsen with the onslaught of 19+ games against teams in the nation's best conference.  We expect that voices of concern about the offense will only grow louder in the coming months and the accolades for the defense will become more reserved and less frequent.