By: Anthony Zataray
The most efficient scoring team in the NBA is the Golden State Warriors, led by world-class shooters/scorers Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, and Klay Thompson. The team averaged an impressive scoring average of 115 points last season. In addition to leading the NBA in scoring, among other things, they are the defending champions. However, the most special thing about the Golden State Warriors is not just their world-class talent, but also their pure style of play that is beautiful to basketball purists and fans; it’s free-flowing, unselfish, and fast-paced. Laker legend Kobe Bryant called the Warrior’s style of play “the Golden Democracy” because everyone gets to touch the ball and every player is a threat. Their fast-paced play impacted the game of basketball so greatly that the speed has increased tremendously throughout the whole league and has trickled down to other levels.
Here at Greenville University, the men’s basketball team has a scoring average of 127 points per game, 3 points higher than last year’s scoring average and 7 points higher than Golden State. On paper, the Golden State Warriors are the only team that are anywhere near Greenville’s scoring averages. Now, I’m not saying the Panthers would beat them or even come close for that matter, but I am saying that what Greenville does is special. No team in the NCAA could even imagine averaging this many points, not even at the top-tier D1 schools. At the D1-level, top-scoring schools Oklahoma University and Duke University share a 89-point-per-game scoring average, still falling well below GU’s 127-point average.
Naturally, the first question that comes to mind is how? How do the Panthers score so consistently? It must seem very odd that a D3 school team can achieve this type of scoring. The answer is simple, but the execution is difficult. The formula is mathematical: basketball in its simplest form is just numbers. There are only a certain number of possessions and shots that can happen within the 40-minute time period, and at the end of the game you want to have more points than the other team. In order to score a lot of points, you simply need to take a lot of shots, and to get a lot of shots you need to have the ball as much as possible and maximize the 40-minute time limit. In order to do this, a formula was created using four different numbers. To average 127 points, you need to make 100 shots, and 50 of those shots need to be threes; you must get 35 percent of the rebounds and 32 turnovers must occur to maximize shots. This sounds pretty simple in theory, but in practice it is very unorthodox. This type of play turns the game of basketball upside down, and it forces things to happen that in typical basketball would never occur.
Executing this style of play takes an all-out effort and is very unique. The goal of the defense is no longer to stop the ball from scoring; now it is to get the ball back by stealing it from the opponent. This means a full man-to-man press the entire game, turning it into a track meet with a ball. For the Greenville team to do this, it uses a five-in, five-out rotation every 45-50 seconds, keeping players fresh and ready to go. This type of rotation gives players freedom to go as hard as they can within these seconds because they know that they are going to get a rest before they are put back in. Also, when inbounding the ball the players pass it football-style down the court. As the point guard is sprinting down the court, the other team is running back to defend the basket, giving them absolutely zero time to rest. This also keeps the pace fast, giving the Panthers a quick score. Lastly, after taking a three-point shot, the shooter relocates to the top of the court for another three-point shot, giving him two back-to-back three point shots and increasing the chances of making one.
This style is hard for a player because of the sheer amount of running and the odd strategy, but it’s also an absolute blast for them because of the scoring and free-flowing play. For fans, it is entertainment that cannot be matched and can only be compared to NBA-level excitement. For coaches, it is a nightmare, because it is out of control and almost impossible to create game plan around. However, that’s kind of the point.