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Danny Manning: Defensive Philosophy

We know Manning's bio, but what is his defensive philosophy and how have his teams performed on the defensive end?

Ivan Pierre Aguirre-USA TODAY Sp

The OGBoards started the #ManUp hash tag when word broke that Danny Manning was a candidate for the position he now holds. The hash tag is fitting given Manning's defensive philosophy, which he learned under the tutelage of Kansas head coach Bill Self. He employs a pressure man-to-man defense which aims to force opponents to take difficult and contested jump shots. Bill Self refuses to play zone defense because he believes man-to-man defense is the toughest to beat when you do it right. Manning agrees with this philosophy for the most part, but his team did utilize some 2-3 zone during the game I watched them play against Maryland.

Tulsa Defense D Rtg eFG% TO% DR% FTR 2P% 3P% Blk% 3PA% A%
2012-2013 99.4 47.8% 18.9% 70.2% 41.3% 45.8% 34.2% 8.6% 36.4% 60.3%
National Rank 137 134 233 83 284 102 195 197 293 323
2013-2014 96.3 46.4% 20.3% 70.4% 47.5% 43.2% 35.2% 10.5% 33.9% 50.2%
National Rank 31 53 49 91 296 16 220 136 213 123

The above chart shows a break down of Tulsa's defense under Danny Manning over the past two seasons. When looking at this you see great improvement across the board. Manning coached up a group of sophomores to have the 31st defense in the country according to Ken Pomeroy's adjusted defensive efficiency rating. This is an improvement of more than 100 spots on KenPom and 3.1 points per 100 possessions. By comparison, last season Wake Forest had an adjusted defensive efficiency of 101.9, which was 106th nationally.

As we've discussed many times throughout the season, the four most important facets of basketball are effective field goal percentage, turnover percentage, rebounding percentage, and free throw rate. One primary reason that Tulsa improved so much on defense is that they improved their eFG% defense by 1.4%. They only allowed opponents to shoot 43.2% from inside the arc, which was 16th nationally. Field goal percentage defense is a staple of Bill Self's defense, so it comes as no surprise that Manning's teams are also strong at this. Self's defenses had finished in the top 14 in eFG% defense in each of the 11 seasons prior to this one. The teams hedge hard and make excellent rotations in addition to communicating when to switch on ball screens.

Another major jump for Tulsa's defense was their improvement in forcing turnovers. They went from 233rd nationally last season to 49th this season. Forcing turnovers is not a staple of Manning's/Self's defenses, as they say they are a "pressure team" and not a "pressing team." They'll run full-court pressure on dead-ball situations, but they'll rarely press.

Manning's teams have finished defensive possessions and collect rebounds more than 70% of the time. That's fairly impressive considering his Tulsa teams have been anywhere from below average to significantly below average in effective height. His teams have allowed opponents to get to the line far too often, but that is the least important component of defense. It's also worth pointing out that teams only assisted on 50% of made field goals last year, which is an improvement of the 60% the prior year. This tells me Manning's defenses were forcing more isolation attempts, which is a win for the defense.

Wake Forest fans can expect to see Demon Deacon teams that play excellent team defense moving forward. In reviewing several Tulsa games, it is evident that they were very well-coached on that end of the floor. Manning's team will be in the correct help side position, "jump" to the ball to defend cutters, and play denial "on the line" defense. If Wake Forest fans can appreciate great defense, then they are going to enjoy watching Manning's teams play.