David Blatt on the Princeton offense and defensive principles

Zach Lowe did a Q&A with David Blatt shortly after Blatt was hired to be head coach of the Cavs. Here are a few of his responses in respect to his philosophy on offense and defense.


A modern NBA offense is never purely one thing. There are always elements of different philosophies, as coaches steal and adapt different ideas. Jeff Hornacek used elements of the Princeton offense, but not to the degree explained above. Remember, too, that the Princeton offense shares many ideas with the triangle offense.

BLATT: In the full Princeton, there are no plays. Well, there are plays, but there are not called plays. According to the movement of the ball, and the movement of the center, you’re gonna get into certain sets that you read according to how the defense plays you.

That’s the part of the Princeton offense you can see in my teams — the reading and the multi-option possibilities off of any play. The Princeton offense is something that takes a long time to develop. It requires a particular kind of player, and more than anything else, it requires the giving up on the part of all the players of almost everything they know.

But elements of the Princeton offense, in my mind — they are the right way to play.

Read the full Q&A…


From the Q&A below, I found it interesting that Blatt first says defense is the side of the floor where you adapt less, and then, a few questions later, in the same interview, talks about being an adaptive coach.

LOWE: What are your defensive principles?

BLATT: My teams have always been multifaceted and multitasking on defense — a lot of different looks, different kinds of presses, different matchups, matchup zones, trapping schemes. I don’t know that that’s gonna change all that much. Defense is the side of the floor where you adapt less and teach more.

LOWE: The NBA is a pick-and-roll league. More defenses like to drop back against that play, but there are still a few that attack it high on the floor. Which style do you prefer for this team?

BLATT: There are two schools of thought in coaching, and neither one is more right than the other. There are coaches that have their system, and they are gonna use that regardless of what the team makeup is. And there are coaches that are adaptive, and take their roster, and play according to their skill set.

I’m more from the adaptive school, with a few principles that are consistent throughout my career. But we have to see what the team looks like before I can tell you exactly how we’re gonna play.

Read the full Q&A…

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