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The Wisconsin Effect
Reacting to quick guards determined to get to the rim, coaches become infatuated with Wisconsin's Pack-Line defense, a scheme that puts Dick Bennett's Badgers in the 2000 Final Four, with four NCAA tournament victories in which opponents fail to score more than 60 points. Coaches from Sean Miller to Brad Stevens will eventually adopt the Pack-Line or a variation. "They're not trying to turn you over," says Harvard's Amaker. "They pack it in and play between you and the basket. It's like Big Ten football, where field position is important."
To attack the Pack-Line, offenses more frequently bring their big men high, to draw out defensive bigs and unclog the lane. High posts lead to more ball screens and European pick-and-pop moves, which further accelerate the evolution of the face-up, multiskilled big man and the disappearance of the back-to-the-basket center.
The Open Middle
At first blush the Princeton offense and Dribble Drive Motion attack seem as different as the Ivy League and coach John Calipari's old haunts in Conference USA. In fact, the two systems are strikingly similar. "Both keep the middle open for drives [in the case of DDM] or cuts [in the case of Princeton]," says John Thompson III, who uses Princeton sets at Georgetown.
In 1998, as Princeton itself goes 27--2, center Steve Goodrich says, "If North Carolina or Kansas ran our offense, they'd be incredible at it. The passes we throw for layups, they'd be throwing to the rim and dunking." In 2002, N.C. State reaches its first NCAA tournament in 11 years using back cuts, dribble handoffs and drift picks. But in the same way young players don't take seriously a style or move until they see it in "the league," most college coaches only begin to consider using the Princeton offense after NBA teams such as the Kings, Timberwolves and Nets adopt its elements. "At first college coaches saw the Princeton stuff and said, 'That's old school, we can't do that,'" says Florida coach Billy Donovan. "And as soon as the Nets did it, and won with it, they're, 'Wow, this is great!'"
The four dribble penetrators in DDM are perfectly adapted to the travel-team pedigree of the modern player. At Memphis in 2008, Calipari's Tigers demonstrate its potential by coming within a Mario Chalmers three of an NCAA title, as players like Derrick Rose (right) attack the basket off the dribble. After Calipari's move to Lexington, he suits up the best big man in the college game, Anthony Davis—but Davis is more likely to go on a "rim run" from the weak side, mopping up after a teammate's dribble drive, than posting up in orthodox fashion. "Teams aren't scoring off their action," says Donovan. "They're scoring when individual talent can break down a defense and force a double team."
What Vance Walberg, the coach who developed DDM, says of his offense—"It's how to play basketball, instead of how to run plays"—could have come from the mouth of Princeton sage Pete Carril.