The Missing Bounce In UVa’s Step

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Sylven Landesberg thrives with moves off the dribble.

When a basketball team is floundering around a .500 record, many things raise the ire of fans. In Virginia’s case this season, the struggles on offense frequently have been in the crosshairs. Simply put, the Hoos are not very consistent on offense, often going minutes at a time not only without scoring but also without producing any high quality opportunities.

Why? What happens when the Cavaliers’ version of a motion offense isn’t working?

The answer to that question is wrapped up in one key. Dribble penetration. Or to be more specific, the lack of dribble penetration. Running a version of Bucknell coach Dave Paulsen’s motion offense, the Cavaliers rely heavily on creating offense off the bounce. Check out the excerpt below from a recent article in The Daily Progress as a starting point, which mentions the prominent use of the dribble drive as something Memphis’ version of a motion offense also features heavily:

One of the biggest staples of Paulsen’s offense (and Virginia’s) is the reliance on dribble penetration. Paulsen feels that defending dribble penetration is the hardest task for an opposing defense because it forces players to rotate.

“When I was coming up through high school and college, I was told to use my dribble judiciously,” said Paulsen, who started his coaching career as a graduate assistant for former Michigan coach Steve Fisher. “We’re trying to tell our guys to use the dribble aggressively. I think that’s a big concept change.”

In other words, from a basketball philosophy standpoint, the system places a premium on an individual’s ability to use the dribble as a weapon of attack, either off of individual moves or off of two-man on-ball screen situations. It’s the very reason players like Sean Singletary