EDITOR’S NOTE: This story is the first installment in a bi-weekly series examining a key plays for Mitchell High School boys basketball games.
Mitchell High School opted to turn back the clock by unveiling a post-oriented offense this season, and while it delivered some positive results early, it has taken some adjustments.
The Kernels wanted to capitalize on a height advantage by running the offense through Caden Hinker and Zane Alm and they have stayed true to the philosophy, with the pair accounting for 46.6 percent of the scoring output through five games.
But while Hinker and Alm have gotten touches -- a combined 19.6 shots per game -- the rest of the offense was stagnant. That led to an adjustment in spacing to alleviate congestion in the paint and it resulted in shooting 51 percent from the field in a 51-48 loss to Class AA No. 1 Brandon Valley on Jan. 2.
Clearing a clogged lane
Initially, Mitchell wanted to put one of its post players on the low block and another in the high post in hopes of creating an inside-out effect.
The Kernels were able to pound the ball in low, but it closed driving lanes. Not only did the post player on the low block have limited maneuverability, but players driving from the perimeter were met with a lane clogged with teammates and defenders.
So, while Hinker and Alm shot 54.5 percent from the low block, teammates were 30.5 percent shooting overall.
“Last year playing with one post player at a time, to now playing with two at a time,” MHS head coach Todd Neuendorf said. “Both bigs are used to being in the same spot that only one can be in now. It’s still taking some getting used to, because what we’re doing now, we didn’t even do in the summer.”
Same plays, different look
Following a 65-38 loss to Houston (Tenn.) in the Hoop City Classic, Mitchell decided to retool the offense slightly against Brandon Valley, placing one player in the high post. The plays are still the same, they are just run from different areas on the floor.
The Kernels moved to more sets with two players in the high post at the beginning of a play to create space in the lane.
It allowed a post player to still catch the ball in the paint in a one-on-one scenario, but now with room to drive. And when the Lynx brought another defender to stop the drive, it left an opening on the perimeter or an open player cutting into the paint.
“It allows our guards to move off of the (post player) and free up some space in the lane,” Neuendorf said. “When a big guy drop-steps from the block, he’s never at the right angle. He ends up shooting a shot without using the backboard. If you’re flat on the block, a guard can’t cut off you without going out of bounds. We want our post guys to have assists.”