I appreciate all the comments and perspectives on the "system" debate here. I take many of Greg's points as valid, I just don't think NCC's adoption of the system will get them to the promised land now or any time soon. Of course, any good coach tries to adopt offensive and defensive strategies aligned with and attuned with the talent and types of players he/she has. When I was coaching, I surely did that. You even do it depending on what opponent you are facing and what talent and strengths and weaknesses they have. I believe most of the good coaches in the CCIW do that. I personally am a big fan of full court pressure, also half-court trapping defenses, if one has the personnel to implement them effectively . . . and the fitness of your players to go flat out like that for all or most of 40 minutes. IWU has obviously had this over some years, has not had many really effective bigs over the years, and does not have good, high-percentage three shooters, so using that kind of system on offense would not make sense. In the past, they've had better trey shooters. If you look at IWU's stats, it's always amazing that they are a poor team statistically in many ways, though now improving in the later part of the season. They win by forcing many turnovers with run and jump, having more possessions and getting many points, often easy points, off TOs. It is not rocket science. So in a way they have their system. This year, of course, they have athletic players and good scorers and a PG who can really take care of the ball, even under pressure, and not turn it over very much. Ehresman is really solid this way, as are some of the other Titans. But, the system NCC is using is just helter-skelter, even tiring their players out, even with all the frequent substitutions, and their trey shooting is actually not that great. Of course, if you shoot tons, you'll make more. I have no formula about how many treys a team should take. If good at shooting them and the defense gives you good, open looks, then of course you should be shooting many -- look at the IWU men, for example. An offense greatly based on getting open threes for many good trey shooters. But overall, you may not come out ahead. There are cold shooting nights. Perhaps Greg is right that at some point, when NCC fine tunes their system and finds better personnel to implement it, they may indeed win the CCIW. I just don't believe they will, as the top 2-3 teams will almost always have good PGs, ball-handlers, folks that can break their type of pressure and also defend their type of "system" -- even if sometimes losing to it. I'm sure if IWU has some different personnel in future, a really high-scoring post oriented big, perhaps they will go to a different strategy, different offensive sets. Actually, one of the reasons they are playing well now is that Maddie Merritt has in fact provided better post defense, interior scoring and rebounding than some of the smaller, more perimeter oriented teams that Mia has had in the past. Plus she is putting together the best season % of FTs ever for an IWU player. Getting fouled and shooting a percentage like that is a huge plus for the Titans right now. I'm sure NCC will continue to develop and refine their type of play, perhaps finding even more effective players to play in that mode. I still think, on balance, that most of the top teams in the CCIW will be able to solve it and beat their system. IMHO. (Greg, I'm not singing the praises of the IWU system, just stating the facts about how successful they have been over the past 7-8 years). Even in the Trump era, facts are still facts.
I missed the very beginning of this debate in the past day or two with a lot of stuff going on, and I would have said some stuff that has already been said. So without trying to step on any toes (mainly Greg's, because he made a point or two that I would have)...
I can understand the skepticism about The System. It requires the right personnel who are experienced in how to run it effectively. What got left out of the discussion yesterday was that this team already had that one year: the 2014-15 season. We had an elite senior point guard in Bobbi Johns that knew how to run the offense, could attack the basket at will, and was a master thief on the press. We also had a key ingredient no NCC System had before or since: an elite post presence in Tess Godhardt. She was the only player to average double figures that season, and she was averaging about 18 a game. If she wasn't hitting her shots, she could still get her points at the free throw line, but she was about a 60 percent shooter that year if memory serves. Combine that with Jamie Cuny anchoring the press with nightly block parties, backed up by Anita Sterling to draw charges. You also had a good blend of "2" and "3" guards who could shoot and force turnovers on defense. Put that together and you had a 22-6 team that made the NCAA Tournament for the first time in 31 years.
This year's team is still a work in progress, given all of the new faces. There are flashes of that post presence with a few players, but no one on Tess Godhardt's level. When healthy, Jamie Cuny is still doing Jamie Cuny things. Losing Mayson Whipple for the year hurt, though whether it would have helped against, say, Augustana this past Wednesday, I don't know. I'd like to think so, but given the early struggles in that game it might not have been enough.
I guess it all kind of depends on what your definition of "The Promised Land" is, 70. If we're talking "national title contention," yeah, they aren't there yet. But like Greg pointed out, NCC women's basketball in the years leading up to The System, was mediocre at best. My first full year working PA for them was the year before they went to The System, and... I'm just going to come out and say it: they were bad. I worked every home conference game and went to the game at Elmhurst. I don't know how many times I used the words "clogged toilet" to describe that offense, and the turnover numbers were atrocious that season.
But in the four full years of going to The System, the team is contending for the CCIW Tournament every year. They've made it three times, albeit with only a single tournament win to show for it. But that 2014-15 year, North Central played Wheaton about as well as they ever have since the long losing streak started back in '09. Wheaton just made a late run in the conference title game to grab the automatic bid. I agree with Greg's notion that at some point, a System team could win the CCIW. I hope North Central pulls it off in the not too distant future. But it will take the right level of talent, and possibly catching fire at the best possible moment, to pull it off.
RogK's criticism of The System is spot on, as well. The disciplined teams led by an excellent point guard who can direct traffic and break the press will have the most success against The System. That's why Wheaton hasn't lost to it, why Wesleyan has been able to play the Cardinals pretty well since going to The System, and was even to a degree why Augie won the other night (20 fast break points for the Vikings). The elite teams are going to be disciplined enough to not make too many mistakes, and they'll take advantage of their opportunities.
Going to The System has forced me to change the way I think about basketball when I watch this North Central team play. 70, you're right when you note that their three point percentage is not very good. That more than gets offset by sheer volume, as you also noted. And yes, there will be cold shooting nights; I've seen plenty of them. That's where the pressure and forcing of turnovers comes into play. By forcing so many, you end up taking more shots than your opponent, and that disparity adds up (which is why it's one of Arsenault's five goals).
I know I'm kind of rambling and jumbling my words together here a little bit, but it was a lot to catch up on. And I don't have a problem with legitimate criticism of The System, because there are arguments that can be made, and have been made here, against it. But personally, I was a fan of it when Michelle Roof told me she was going to it before the 2012-13 season, after four-plus seasons of it I remain a fan, and, as long as the right personnel are in place for it, will continue to be a proponent of it as a legitimate, fun style of basketball.