Friday, April 3, 2009

The Dribble-Drive Motion Offense and the Current UK Roster

John Calipari implemented AASAA (attack, attack, skip, attack, attack) Offense after sharing a meal with an innovative junior college coach named Vance Walberg. As the two enjoyed a meal, Calipari hit Walberg with a question he was not used to. "So tell me, Vance," he said, "what do you run?"

Walberg must have been a talented salesman because one of college basketball’s top-level coaches decided to implement Walberg’s AASAA offense after that conversation. Calipari added a few wrinkles of his own and started calling the system the Dribble-Drive Motion offense. He describes it as a wide-open, European-based offense that allows the players to attack the rim on every opportunity. He has called it “Princeton on steroids.” Calipari says that players love his system because it allows them to feel unleashed.

This offense is certainly very different than most other offenses. It is founded on dribble penetration from the perimeter players. There are no screens in the Dribble-Drive Motion and the post man actually runs to the weak side rather than posting up on the strong, or ball, side. The success of the offense is determined by proper spacing and driving lanes to the basket. When ran properly, the offense yields either layup or three-point attempts and virtually eliminates the mid-range jumpshots.

Calipari has added a few additional wrinkles to Walberg’s base system. In Calipari’s version, the team sometimes swings the ball around the perimeter before getting into the offense. Occasionally, he will have a player set a high ball-screen in an attempt to spring the point guard to the basket. Another wrinkle he has implemented is that he may allow his big men to rush the basket for a potential alley-oop pass.

John Calipari will bring the DDM offense to Lexington with him and he will be building the Kentucky Wildcats around his philosophy. It is hard to argue with his results to this point. He has enjoyed an impressive run at Memphis using the Dribble-Drive Motion.

Calipari’s offense is best suited for a certain type of player and its success is directly related to having the proper personnel. Several traits that are necessary for starring in the DDM are:

- Requires quick, smart and talented guards
- Relies on agile big men that can shoot form the perimeter and run down court
- Calls for a deep bench of talented players
- Needs good three-point shooters that can punish sagging man-to-man and zone defenses

Further research on the DDM:

- Several plays within the offense
- SI Article that details the Dribble-Drive Motion
- Some of the offensive sets that lead into the offense
- And of course,

Adapting the DDM to the current Kentucky roster:

1) Jodie Meeks: Meeks is coming off an All-American season, which is impressive considering how things finished this season. He is a great shooter and has a knack for getting into the paint and drawing fouls. Jodie is not a bad ball-handler, but that is probably his weakest area on the offensive side of the ball. DDM Outlook: If Meeks enters an offense that gives him true freedom and allows him to explode to the basket and/or get good, open looks from outside – he could go down as one of the Kentucky’s all-time greats.

2) Patrick Patterson: For the most part, Patterson was Kentucky’s only hope down-low this past season. I feel that he would be better suited at a power forward position, playing alongside a true center. He has shown that he has a nice outside touch and that the can get to open spot when facing the basket. DDM Outlook: Patterson could potentially excel in this offensive scheme. The offense would allow him to play a position that is a little more natural than he has been forced to play in his first two seasons. It will be exciting to see Patrick get up-and-down the court in a fast-paced offense.

3) Darius Miller: Miller came on strong near the end of this freshman season. He showed that he has plenty of upside and will be a nice player for Kentucky down the road. DDM Outlook: Miller would definitely be able to adapt to the new offense. He has shown that he has a consistent outside jumper and he has been one of the better players on the current roster at driving into the paint for short jumpers and layups. Miller is athletic enough to play in Calipari’s system.

4) A.J. Stewart: Stewart has been an interesting case study. It has been hard to determine what is holding Stewart back – himself or his coach? He appears to be one of the finer athletes on the roster, but somehow he managed to play very sparse minutes. A.J. has been an enigma and it is hard to predict his future. DDM Outlook: Stewart appears to be athletic enough to play in this system, but his career to this point leaves me with questions. His future in Calipari’s system is cloudy, but not impossible.

5) Michael Porter: I was proud of all the adversity that Michael Porter overcame last season. He has been forced to play a position that he is not naturally gifted at and he has overcome his inadequacies with heart and determination. He showed late that he can shoot the outside shot. DDM Outlook: I have to believe that Porter will have a difficult time playing significant minutes in Calipari’s system. He can shoot the outside shot, but he is not a great one-on-one player. If Porter stays for his senior season, he will likely be a role player that sees light minutes.

6) DeAndre Liggins: Liggins is a player that is hard to figure out. He showed flashes of brilliance in several games last season, but found himself on the other end of the spectrum more times than not. He appears to be athletically gifted, but seems to struggle with decision-making and staying under control. DDM Outlook: Liggins has the explosive capabilities that could make him shine in Calipari’s system. He has the speed and athletic ability to get to the rim and take advantage of the offense’s spacing. The question that remains is whether or not he has the basketball knowledge to pick up on the keys to success in the DDM.

7) Kevin Galloway: Galloway was the player that the fans called for all season and everyone felt he should have been playing more. Everyone, that is, except his head coach. Galloway is a physically gifted player, but his decision-making and jump shot has been suspect. When he makes the correct decision, he may be the best passer on the roster. DDM Outlook: Galloway has potential to be successful in the new offense, but he needs to work hard on outside shooting.
8) Ramon Harris: Harris was a solid contributor all season when he avoided the injury bug. He is generally considered the Cats’ best defender and is capable of scoring 8-10 points a game. DDM Outlook: Harris may be a bit slow to be great in Calipari’s system. He also has a less-than-stellar outside jumper. I look for Harris to stick around but see fewer minutes under the new coach.

9) Josh Harrellson: Harrellson was reduced to a role player for the most part this past season. He showed a little promise with his outside jumper early in the season, but was unable to make a big impact once SEC play began. DDM Outlook: I think Harrellson will have a hard time adjusting to the speed that is required to play in the new offense. He will likely be a role player at best.

10) Matt Pilgrim: Pilgrim is rumored to be a heck of an athlete but he is yet to take the court for Kentucky. He has sat out his required time after transferring and is looking forward to playing next season. DDM Outlook: There are to many unknowns with Pilgrim to project what he can do in the system. If the rumors about him are true, he is a pure athlete and that will bode well for him.

11) Perry Stevenson: Stevenson started strong last season, went through a long slump during the middle of the season and then finished up strong. He has shown a solid jump shot but has been too weak with the ball around the basket to succeed against the bigger, stronger SEC big men. DDM Outlook: Stevenson would fair much better in a non-traditional offense that doesn’t expose his weaknesses so much. I am interested to see if he can play that post position off the bench for Calipari.

12) Landon Slone: I am including Slone in this conversation only because he received a fair amount of minutes last season. Some may argue that the former coach was using Slone merely as a motivational tool and that is certainly debatable. That being said, he played hard last season and gave the team some valuable minutes. DDM Outlook: I love a player that plays as hard as Slone, but I have problems believing that he can ever contributed in Calipari’s offense. Slone will be a minimal role player at best, in my opinion.

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