One of the highlights of watching Florida basketball this year was their excellence when it came to baseline out of bounds (commonly referred to as BLOB) plays. While offense certainly wasn’t a strength of the Gators the ability to get a clean look after inbounding the ball from under their opponent’s hoop was impressive and it was able to get them some easy baskets. This wasn’t a recent phenomenon as White has a tactical genius on BLOB plays throughout his time in Gainesville but the past season it went to another level.
Late in the season I tweeted out some of my favorite BLOB plays up until that moment and you can see them here:
BLOB-god Mike White has drawn up excellent stuff his entire career as a head coach and this year with the #Gators has been no different. Here are my favorite BLOB sets from the season so far. @MikeWhiteUF @GatorsMBK pic.twitter.com/b1SeDcCGmu
— Eric Fawcett (@Efawcett7) March 8, 2019
Just how effective were the Gators on BLOB plays and how did they become so successful? Let’s find out.
By The Percentages
To figure out just how efficient the Gators were on shots coming off BLOB sets I watched each BLOB play (there were 170 of them) and noted every time they got a shot immediately off the inbounds action. All in all there were 59 shots immediately off the pass from the inbounder with the rest of the possessions simply ones that got the ball in safely so that they could get into their motion or set offenses.
Of those 59 BLOB shots they hit 28 of them which was good for a 47.5% shooting percentage.
Just how good is that? Well, overall the Gators shot 42.5% from the field this year. That means that a BLOB shot is a significantly more efficient shot than a normal attempt. If you want to take it a step further you could note that taking transition out of the picture the Gators shot 40.6% in half court offense this season, making their 47.5% BLOB efficiency even better than a normal half court attempt.
Of their 28 made field goals 20 of them were 2-point shots and 8 were 3-point shots, so when you account for those values they were at 1.08 points per possession on BLOB shots. Considering the Gators were at 0.897 PPP on the season and 0.869 PPP in the half court their BLOB plays were significantly more effective.
Teams always shoot better in transition than they do in the half court and transition shots are some of the most valued attempts in basketball. The Gators PPP in transition? 1.06. That means their BLOB sets are even better than transition looks and therefore were the most valuable shots they took this season.
Here is how each player faired in their BLOB attempts:
Hudson’s potency is really interesting given the fact that he really struggled this season. The way Coach White was able to put him in positions to get easy buckets on inbounds plays was tremendous and I think deserves a lot of credit.
Noah Locke was completely snake bitten on inbounds sets. He had a lot of clean looks that didn’t fall and if he was hitting his threes on BLOB plays like he did the rest of his long balls Florida’s efficiency would be even higher. I’ll also note that Allen had a lot of clean looks that didn’t fall for him and for that reason Florida’s 47.5% and 1.08 PPP on BLOB plays could easily be higher.
What Makes Florida’s BLOB Plays So Good?
I have to give a ton of credit to Coach White. I watch a ton of college basketball and there isn’t any team that runs as many inbounds plays as the Gators do and the creativity he shows is brilliant.
To go into more detail the first thing I noticed after watching every inbounds set the Gators ran this year is that they aren’t scared of using the entire 5 second inbounds clock and are banking on the fact no referee wants to call a 5 second violation.
Look, I’m not trying to rat anyone out here, but let’s just say after watching all these inbounds plays that there were a handful of them that were clearly longer than 5 seconds and could have been turnovers. Banking on the fact that referees seldom make that call is a wise bit of gamesmanship and it has really worked out for the Gators.
Most inbounds sets in basketball revolve around 2 actions simultaneously with the inbounder making a read as to which one worked and therefore got someone open. So often as soon as the ref puts the ball in the hand of the inbounder teams rush through the action like it was a live grenade and they desperately need to get the ball in as soon as possible.
The Gators, on the other hand, display extreme patience and many of their plays use an action, a misdirection, and then another action that use most of the 5 seconds. It demonstrates extreme poise and maturity to not be scared of the 5 second clock and it really worked out for them as most defenses are only used to guarding quick movements as soon as the play starts. Getting into the second or third action of their play almost always resulted in someone being wide open.
Once again, I really need to give props to Coach White for his set design. The actions he designs are extremely clever and it’s shocking to me that we don’t see teams around the country stealing them, so I expect soon we will. I think he should get a lot of the credit for Florida’s success here, but he’s not the only one.
Coach White draws up magnificent plays but Florida had the players who could execute. Here are the players I thought were pivotal to Florida’s success and which inbounds set was the best for them.
As one of the best passers in college basketball it makes sense that he would be the set up man for one of the country’s best BLOB teams. His ability to make the proper read and deliver the ball on target was extremely impressive but not at all surprising given his elite passing ability. An underrated part of his passing on inbounds sets was not only that the pass needed to be on target, but on time. Timing was a major part of Florida’s inbounds sets and like a human metronome he’d deliver it at the perfect moment. He was best showcased when he had to throw a lob at the exact moment a player was freed up by a screen.
Hudson had a tough offensive season but you wouldn’t know it seeing how he executed on BLOB plays. Something savvy he did that was subtle but important was go shoulder to shoulder with whatever teammate was setting a screen for him. By sticking so close to his screen setter he was able to send his defender into the screener and ensure contact which would then free up Hudson. This was best seen on the “Ring Around The Rosie” set the Gator Country boards loved where he would run a circle around his screener under the hoop before getting the ball for a layup.
It’s great to have a leaper like Johnson on inbounds sets and his ability to touch the sky made him an excellent finisher on lob plays. His wide body also allowed him to hold off defenders when he got a seal under the hoop which also contributed to some layups. My favorite play involving him was when he started underneath the hoop and stayed stationary while other plays ran around the perimeter as misdirection. Then, Nembhard would just throw the ball up and since Johnson could outleap his defender most of the time he’d go up, get the ball, and finish.
After Nembhard Hayes might have been the most important Gator on inbounds plays. His leaping ability made him a lob threat like Johnson but what was entirely underrated was his screen setting ability. For any of these sets to work you need excellent screens and Hayes’ discipline to make contact and manufacture the necessary space for his teammates was tremendous. If you see a BLOB highlight of KeVaughn Allen hitting an open jumper or Keyontae Johnson throwing down a monster alley-oop it was probably because Hayes set a perfect screen.
Secondary Actions After The Inbounds
In addition to looking for immediate shots off the inbounds pass the Gators also had multiple sets that flowed directly out of the inbound.
For example, there was a designed post up, often for Isaiah Stokes or Kevarrius Hayes and once for Dontay Bassett, that came from an inbound set that allowed the ball to get in safely to the top of the break where everyone else cleared out allowing for a simple post entry pass and a one-on-one play on the block. This was good, simple basketball that made for some good looks on the inside. Florida didn’t have great post players who could finish down there but it was a nice play design that flowed nicely into the post up.
Another secondary action was a Nembhard-Hayes pick and roll that was effective. Here, Nembhard would inbound the ball to the near wing and then run onto the court, receiving the ball as a handoff and instantly getting a screen for Hayes. I love any dribble handoff into instant pick and roll play and considering this one came immediately out of an inbounds set defenses could often be caught sleeping.
Andrew Nembhard returning to the Gators gives them the perfect quarterback for these sets and Scottie Lewis will be another lob threat next to Keyontae Johnson which should make for some thunderous finishes. Adding another shot maker in Tre Mann will be nice too as a lot of the great looks generated out of the BLOB plays weren’t converted last year. Florida’s excellence on inbounds sets should also give people faith that the offense on a whole could really improve. Coach White showed such great creativity on these plays and I’m sure with a summer to focus on half court offense that same creativity can manifest there.
The numbers don’t lie and the 1.08 points per possession show how valuable BLOB sets were and playing against some of the toughest defenses in the country in the SEC I think it’s wise to use BLOB sets as a chance to get easy buckets. Even when the Gators couldn’t score in the half court they were able to get BLOB buckets this season and for that reason they were extremely pivotal.
With BLOB sets being such an important source of offense for the Gators last season expect it to play another key role in 2019-20.