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Gottfried's UCLA High-Post 2.0

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Rebuilding a traditional power isn't just about reviving a winning tradition - it requires a brilliant gameplan, too.


With the start of basketball only a few days away, number six ranked State is getting a lot of love over at the Mothership, which isn't exactly something I often find myself writing. This piece in particular is some good stuff, though, leaving behind some of the fluffy-puffy that makes up most such articles in exchange for some truly concrete stuff about Gottfried's rebuilding of State basketball.

"That area by the front desk, that used to be the coffee station," Gottfried says as he walks toward his office. "I like this view much better." He pauses to look at a floor-to-ceiling museum case packed with several of NC State's 17 conference championship trophies. Many of those gold cups had vanished, stashed away in storage closets. Gottfried found them and sent them off to a trophy shop to be polished and to have the gold basketballs refastened. "It's a great feel around here," says associate head coach Bobby Lutz, a North Carolina native and one of three assistants with head coaching experience. His office walls, like his co-workers', are adorned with framed photos of both the current team and red-and-white-draped superstars of teams gone by. "It's all veryBack to the Future, isn't it?"

It is. So are the game plans drawn up in those offices, then run ad nauseam on the practice floor below. Last season's much-ballyhooed offensive jolt -- the one that generated 72.9 points per game, with all five starters averaging double digits -- is regarded among many NC State loyalists as a groundbreaking, forward-thinking, fast-break-based approach. Perhaps that's because they spent so many years mired in a stay-in-your-lane, fingers-up, run-the-play offense. Like every year since 1910.

"Oh yeah, that's all me. My genius as a basketball coach," Gottfried says with a chuckle. "No, we're running the same offense that's worked for half a century now. It's the UCLA high post. Guy named Wooden came up with it."

Beyond rebuilding the legacy, however, there's a lot of machinery that has to work to make success possible. That machinery for Gottfried is the John Wooden - style UCLA high post, which the Gottfather picked up during his time in Westwood and which he has developed into something entirely his own style, what ESPN calls the UCLA high-post 2.0. Rather than simply incorporating a thinking, reacting, reading offense with the occasional fast break, Gottfried has created a system in which the fast break is the key play.

That's where the modern Harrick-to-Gottfried high post reveals its evolutionary additions from the Wooden-to-Cunningham model. The old guard certainly was not afraid of a fast break. But 2.0 doesn't just incorporate the break, it feeds off it. Not all the time, of course, but when the rhythm needs to be picked up. Or perhaps when it needs to be disrupted. But when those prolonged stretches of attack show up, defenses are forced to upshift from methodically maddened to frantically frustrated. "That's a product of what kind of athletes these kids are now," Lutz says. "The kind of explosive moves you used to see from guys off the baseline on an entry, or a guard blowing through the lane off a post rub, now you see them taking place over the length of the court in a split second. They are so big, so fast and so smart, they can back up and run a play like that using the entire floor. You see a defender settle in on a guy like Lorenzo at midcourt, and then wham, he's gone."

The whole article is a great read to get you hyped for Friday, and there's some more really great stuff in there about the UCLA offense that explained to me some of the recruiting decisions Gottfried has made - picking up skilled guard players who can run the offense or drop into secondary roles, picking up forward-type guys instead of dedicated centers - and that have me very excited for the season ahead, which I suspect will see tons of points scored in favor of the red and white.