Watching a team once can be deceptive. If they’re hot, shooting well, running up the score on a bad team, or just flat playing out of their minds, a skewed perception might take place. Watching a team multiple times is the only way to decipher ‘who they are’. Our conclusion on Philomath, is that our first impressions were correct, mostly.
Here are the basics:
- Philomath struggles on the offensive end. However, over the last couple games they’ve adapted and have seemingly accepted that. In football there’s something known as “playing a complementary offense”. This takes the form of a team running the ball consistently, or if nothing else not allowing short drives, in order to give their defense a lengthy rest. Points necessarily aren’t the number one objective in this style, making sure the defense is as ready to go and that they can expend as much energy as possible while they’re on the field, knowing they’ll get another lengthy rest to recharge afterwards. Philomath has brought this to the basketball floor. 100% effort on the defensive end, then slow, methodical offensive possessions where players can ‘rest’. You never truly rest in basketball as the action is happening, but ‘coasting’ at 75% on the offensive end so you can go 100% on the defensive end, works.
- This has been fruitful so far for Philomath. They’re 7-2, on the fast track to an automatic bid in the state playoffs, and have an identity. However, long term, the blueprint is there on how to beat the Warriors, and it’s the antithesis of Philomath’s approach.
Here’s what we think:
- Philomath has only allowed over 42 points twice (56 by Banks, 63 by Willamette), they’re 0-2 when doing so. The average final score for Philomath so far this year is a Warrior win of 46-40, the mean is also 46 points scored. The closer an opponent gets to 50 points in a game, the more likely it is that they’ll win. 50 is an astoundingly low number for 4A boys basketball, but Philomath makes it work.
- The blueprint then, is to do all you can to reach 50, 52, 54 points. Full court press to try and force turnovers, play fast, shoot often, to heck with defense. Play it, don’t completely abandon it, but as soon as the ball goes through the net, inbound the ball and run. Forcing Philomath into a frantic paced game might be the best approach to winning.
Can it be done? Perhaps. Not many teams have the depth to press for long periods of time, nor the amount of shooters and athletes to run the floor extensively and live on the perimeter. Philomath can run a 2-3 zone just as effectively as man or a 1-3-1 and rotate between them regularly, forcing their opponents to stop for a moment to set their offense, slowing the game down. But with teams like Cascade, Sweet Home, and Woodburn in their league, who knows.
Philomath missing the playoffs won’t happen. Blake Ecker is one of the best coaches in the state, and there’s a wealth of state playoff experience on the roster that most teams would envy. Long term, Philomath is a likely state tournament team if they get a first round home game.