Super Smurfs

It has been no secret that I am not a fan of the idea of Reece Beekman and Dante Harris being the main backcourt. I would like to expand on my thoughts.

In my article previewing Virginia's perimeter rotation, I stated that "it would be a coaching mistake to use [Reece] Beekman and [Dante] Harris together for any substantial minutes." I have been even more colorful on Twitter, making a remark about eating my tongue if they start together. After reading what HoozGotNext had to say about Harris in his Intel Report($) over on Locker Room Access, I would like to retract that statement and instead restate it how I framed it earlier in the article: 

It would be a coaching mistake to use Beekman and Harris together except in specific game situations.

This reframing away from a focus on minutes to a focus on game situations was necessitated by the comments in the HGN article, because after reading that, I can foresee more extensive game situations where the pairing could make sense.

The Beekman-Harris pairing will make sense when the following conditions are met:

The opponent does not have (1) a guard on the floor with the size and ability to shoot over Reece AND the ability to handle his on-ball pressure, or (2) two guards on the floor with the same abilities compared to Dante; and

Having both of them on the floor will give at least one of them a defender who cannot stay in front of him; and

The frontcourt has two legitimate catch-and-shoot three-point threats; and

The offensive set employed is 5-out or 4-out-with-ball-screens and designed for dribble attack.

The only exceptions to the above conditions would be situations where desperation requires it.

Let's explore.

The main objections to the backcourt are that some opponents could exploit one or both of them on the defensive end with size, and that on offense both of them are best with the ball in his hands and neither is an elite off-ball threat. With only one ball, having both of them on the floor removes a potentially better option. It makes no fucking sense to have Reece Beekman or Dante Harris running off screens or setting up in the corner to space the floor when you could have Isaac McKneely doing that. In general, or whenever Tony needs his Sides fix, you gain offensively far less than you lose with the two of them out there.

However, if the specific opponent will be vulnerable to the dribble attack and you can and intend to exploit that vulnerability, then it makes sense to play both of them and attack the matchups without remorse or mercy. If you won't be exposing yourself to a similar vulnerability on the defensive end, go for it!

If the frontcourt cannot legitimately stretch the defense, then the D will just collapse on the dribble, so there is no point.

If the offensive set is going to have one or two post players camping out near the lane, then the dribble attack will just run into a set interior defense, and there is no point.

If the offense is designed to run wings off flare and pin-down screens - in other words, Sides - then there is no point.

The dribble attack is like the run game in football. If you can successfully attack the defense with it consistently, you should do so, because it breaks the opponent. If we face an opponent that meets the above conditions, then I would love to see Reece and Dante out there passing the ball back-and-forth and taking turns attacking the rim.  All game, every possession.

Seattle Hoo
October 6, 2023