It comes as no surprise to anybody who has watched Wake Forest over the past few seasons that the Deacs have excelled on the offensive end under Danny Manning, particularly in the past year and a half.
In the four years that he has been head coach, Wake Forest has ranked: 121st, 131st, 7th, and now 24th this season in adjusted offensive efficiency nationally according to Ken Pomeroy.
For a comparative reference, under Jeff Bzdelik the Deacs ranked: 229th, 177th, 191st, and 144th on the offensive end.
The seventh ranked adjusted offensive efficiency last season was the best since Chris Paul was here in 2004 and 2005 and the Deacs ranked first nationally in back-to-back seasons.
While the offense has excelled in various areas under Manning, one particular play type has stuck out to me this season is are play sets derived from out-of-bounds plays. Whether they come from the end (under the basket), or the sideline, the Deacs have done very well under Manning this season, as well as the past four years.
Here is a look at the points per possession for both types of out-of-bounds play types (end and side) in the four years under Jeff Bzdelik and the next four years (three and a half years?) under Danny Manning:
The Deacs weren’t necessarily bad under Jeff Bzdelik, but the success was certainly mercurial from year-to-year. Wake has ranked in the top 30% of teams each of the past four years in out-of-bounds (end) plays, and after an iffy start in 2014, has done remarkably well on out-of-bounds (side) plays, ranking in the 97th percentile last year, and so far this year in the 99th percentile of all 351 D-I teams.
Thanks to the hard work of Adam I was able to get some short clips of in-bounds plays to look at how the Deacs have excelled. What really sticks out to me in these clips is the variety of sets that Wake has for out-of-bounds plays. While there may be a base play, there are several different looks in each play that have allowed for some easy baskets.
In this play against Richmond Bryant Crawford is the trigger man. The original play was likely a lob to Doral Moore off of a screen by Melo Eggleston, but Moore got tripped up by Grant Golden. Most of the time I would assume the play would stop there and there would be a lob to an escape route up top, likely Woods who is creeping towards the point, but in this set Terrence Thompson sets a second screen for Melo, who gets free of his trailer in the zone and is there for the easy alley-oop. This was an exceptionally well-designed play that worked even though the primary option was shut down.
In this play Crawford is once again the inbounder and Manning inverts the offense to get a favorable height matchup for Keyshawn Woods inside. There’s nothing fancy about this, Wake had the height advantage and exploited it for a basket. This was actually pretty good D inside by Richmond, but Woods was just stronger to the basket.
Brandon Childress is the inbounder on this play against Army. The initial look appears to be a screen by Crawford to free up Moore for the alley-oop, but it wasn’t the best screen and Army was there to prevent the lob. Though it very well could have just been a ploy to get Army to collapse on Moore and free up the screen for Woods. Regardless, there was once again a secondary part to the play that saw Donovan Mitchell pop up and set a very good screen on Keyshawn Woods defender, which allowed him just enough time to get inside, gain correct positioning, seal it off, and lay the ball in for two points.
This second clip from the Army game is a bit of a different look altogether, but shows great recognition of time and personnel on the court. There are ten seconds left and the ball is inbounded by Childress to Thompson, who hands it right back off to Chill. From there Sarr sets a high screen and rolls to the basket (Chill arguably missed this lob) while Chill isolates the Army defender and knocks down a three right over him. I would guess that in film review it is pointed out to Chill that the lob was there for the taking with Sarr if he had his eyes up sooner since the secondary defender inside stuck with Thompson instead of helping on a rolling Sarr.
Finally, this play from the Charlotte game is similar to the one above. This time it is Crawford inbounding to Woods, who hands it off back to Crawford. From there Samuel Japhet-Mathias sets a screen that interferes with Jon Davis getting back on Crawford and it gives enough room for an easy, in-tempo shot for the three-pointer.
The biggest takeaway that I have from these plays is the amount of movement and secondary options in each one. There is no wasted motion by the guys who are involved in the play. If you were looking through film to figure out how to guard the in-bounds plays against Wake then you are looking at several different play-types and sets within each play, depending on the personnel on the court. This is not an easy ask.
The success of these plays relies heavily on the motion before the pass, but also the patience of the triggerman, where Bryant Crawford and Brandon Childress have shown excellent vision and awareness to let the play develop without panicking to get it in before a five seconds violation is called.
The next time Wake has one of these half-court in-bounds plays be sure to watch the developments as soon as the ball is handed to the inbounder. It is a lot of fun to watch and a microcosm of why the Deacs continue to have a very successful offense so far this season.