College basketball lifer Rick Pitino is looking to bring certain aspects of EuroLeague offenses to Iona basketball next season.
Rick Pitino‘s spent the vast majority of his career coaching in the college ranks. Short stints with the New York Knicks and Boston Celtics are the extent of his NBA experience. Prior to taking the Iona basketball head coaching gig, Pitino was coaching Panathinaikos in the EuroLeague.
The two-time NCAA champion wants Iona to look like Panathinaikos next season. In a Q&A with Steve Serby of the New York Post, Pitino said that he wants to play “a EuroLeague offense with full-court pressure defense.”
What’s different about a EuroLeague offense?
“The passing, the cutting. … They play with a 24-second clock, but they’ll move the basketball sometimes six, seven passes in a span of six, seven seconds, to create movement and good shots,” Pitino said. “It may end up in a pick-and-roll like we do, but they’ll create all that movement because their defensive rules are just like college. They can sit in the three-second lane.”
This is a fantastic idea, in theory. Passing and cutting can lead to beautiful offense, but the exact EuroLeague style can be difficult to pull off in college.
Most EuroLeague professionals are seasoned veterans with years of experience. College kids are far more prone to mistakes and miscues in a fast-paced offense predicated on passing and cutting. It takes insanely high basketball IQ from all five players on the floor to execute it perfectly. The fact of the matter is that Pitino will be trotting out players as young as 18-years-old.
The youth makes it tough to really copy what EuroLeague teams are doing. Pitino can definitely bring some elements of EuroLeague to his offense at Iona, but don’t expect it to look like a carbon copy.
The full-court pressure defense, on the other hand, is something fans will definitely see out of the Gaels next season. Pitino has used high-pressure defenses throughout his entire coaching career.
Expect just about every full-court pressure from Iona too. With the right personnel, full-court man-to-man can be effective, but Pitino has been known to use full-court zone traps as well. Scheming up an effective 2-2-1 full-court press can completely change the tempo of a game.
Expect Pitino to have Iona drop back into a 2-3 matchup zone in the halfcourt. But even his 2-3 zone schemes are all about staying aggressive and pressuring the ball.
When asked about whether or not the Gaels will be a fun team to watch, Pitino only needed four words to answer.
“Oh, very much so.”