Published Friday, March 29, 2013 at 8:09 pm / Updated at 8:38 pm
However you cut it, Princeton offense pays for NU
No. 2 Duke vs. No. 6 Nebraska
When: 1:30 p.m. Sunday
Where:TV: ESPN2

LINCOLN — It's probably, on most possessions, a few feet or an extra pass. Subtle tweaks to the Nebraska women's basketball team's offense.

But those tweaks have a well-known name in basketball circles — “the Princeton offense” — and have had a positive effect on the Huskers, especially in their run to the Sweet 16.

“It's been really helpful, honestly,” junior All-Big Ten forward Jordan Hooper said.

NU's technical name for the high-post, cutting attack, point guard Lindsey Moore said, is “slice.” It might as well be “patience.” Coach Connie Yori switched from a true motion offense — like the one Husker men's coach Tim Miles employs — to more of a structured set to “basically demand a ball reversal,” Yori said.

That's because Nebraska wasn't doing much of it last season. Even as the Huskers averaged more than 70 points per game, they were shooting contested 3-pointers too quickly, Yori said, and not forcing the defense to work for an entire possession.

“We only had a handful of times all season where we got late in the shot clock,” she said.

Too often putting Hooper and Emily Cady in the low post created passing angles that Nebraska guards declined to take. They bombed away instead. The team shot 24 3-pointers per game in Big Ten play last season, and made 6.75 (28 percent) of them.

In 2013, NU took 20 3-pointers per game in Big Ten play, making 6.5 (32 percent). That's essentially the same 3-point offense with four fewer shots.

Where did the extra shots go? Mid-range jumpers by freshman Rachel Theriot off screens — she shot 46 percent in league play — and layups at the basket.

With Hooper and/or Cady operating out of a high-post set, Nebraska has been able to clear the baseline for backdoor passes and Moore's drive-and-dish plays that knocked out Texas A&M in the second round of the NCAA tournament. Occasionally, Hooper and Cady slip behind the fronting defense, catch a lob pass from Moore and get a point-blank look.

“We are a pretty good team at reading screens,” Moore said. “It's a good offense for us to be in, because it makes the defense really have to talk and it makes them have to figure out what they want to do on screens. And whatever they do, we adjust to that.”

In recent years, Moore said, Nebraska's motion offense could get “stagnant.” Though the motion system — popularized by former Indiana men's coach Bob Knight — theoretically has infinite variations depending on the defense, the Huskers' attack last season often resembled a game of cold potato, where Moore held the ball until some teammate made a vague move resembling a cut.

The Princeton system gives Hooper, Cady and others more of a clear directive. It can also burn overplaying, aggressive help defenses by hitting passes behind them. When Moore drives, teammates “rip to the baseline,” Hooper said, and go to the basket.

If the post helps on Moore, she passes to a cutter. If not, Moore generally gets to the basket, where she has repeatedly finished layups.

In the win at A&M, Moore made three layups and four free throws off of fouls on layup attempts. Then, at the end of the game, she twice hit sophomore forward Hailie Sample for layups when Aggie center Kelsey Bone slid over to help on defense.

A&M coach Gary Blair told Bone not to help, but considering Moore had already scored 10 of her eventual 20 points on plays at the hoop, that was advice easier said than taken.

“We knew that we'd see pressure defense, so we knew putting in this offense and lifting everyone high was going to be a really good thing for that,” Moore said. “We just had to have the mindset that we're going to back cut, and as a passer you just have to be patient.”

NOTES: Yori said in an interview Friday that Nebraska had two good days of practice Wednesday and Thursday in preparing for Duke. The Huskers practiced again Friday in Lincoln before leaving for Norfolk, Va. The Huskers will be the last team Saturday to hold their press conference (2:45 p.m.) and practice (3:30) at the Ted Constant Convocation Center.

Contact the writer:


Contact the writer: Sam McKewon    |   402-219-3790    |  

Sam McKewon covers Nebraska football for The World-Herald. Got a tip, question or rant? Good. Email him. Follow him on Twitter. Call him.



< >
2013 college football preview
View our 2013 college football preview, a 26-page, three-part section filled with coverage of the Huskers, Big Ten conference and more.
Big Red Bowl Retrospective
See complete historical results, game recaps and photo coverage from the Nebraska Cornhuskers college football bowl game appearances, from the 1941 Rose Bowl up to today.
Big Ten football recruits
The World-Herald's Big Ten recruiting database contains every football recruit that signed with a Big Ten school from 2002 to 2011, complete with color-coded interactive map representations, player information, high-concentrations recruiting clusters and more.
Devaney Center timeline
Check out a World-Herald timeline to see the evolution of memorable moments at the Devaney Center, complete with photos, videos, memorable quotes and more.
Follow OWHbigred on Twitter
Looking for the latest Husker sports news from The Omaha World-Herald and Follow us on Twitter!
Husker scholarship distribution chart
Want to see how many scholarships NU has invested at each position? Wondering how the Huskers have appropriated their offers by class? Check out our handy chart to look further into how Bo Pelini has built his team.
Husker Signing Day 2013
The World-Herald's top-notch coverage of the Nebraska football's class of 2013, complete with videos, photos, articles, live recruit interviews, interactive components and more.
Husker turnovers: A slippery slope
Bo Pelini has coached 68 games at Nebraska. When NUís turnover margin is positive or even, the Huskers are 35-2. When they lose the turnover battle, theyíre 13-18. Why hasnít Nebraska joined the nationís elite? More than anything, itís turnovers.
Interactive: Bo Pelini's contract
View an interactive PDF of Pelini's revised contract signed by the NU football coach, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Darin Erstad's contract (2012)
View an interactive PDF of NU baseball coach Darin Erstad's contract released in August 2012, complete with brief summaries of the legalese and insight into the document's finer points.
Interactive: Tim Miles' contract
View an interactive PDF of Tim Miles' contract signed by the Nebraska men's basketball coach on May 4, 2012, complete with brief legal explanations, comparisons to other Big Ten coaches and more.'s Big Ten coverage
Delivering the best news coverage and analysis of the Big Ten Conference, from and other top news outlets from around country.
Husker Recruiting: Changes shrink NU's sphere of influence
For decades, the Great Plains represented fertile recruiting ground for Tom Osborne's football program. Restoring that lost tradition won't be easy.
Deadline Deal thumbnail
Steam-A-Way Carpet Cleaning
$50 for 3 rooms and a Hallway up to 600 square feet
Buy Now
< >