DarussaFAQ: What is the deal with the ups and downs?

One thing is certain if you are watching a Drurssafaka ball-game: you will never get bored. David Blatt’s players have more ups than Vince Carter and more downs than the Greek Stock Market. But, really, how is it even possible?

Darussafaka, the Turkish newcomer with the Euroleague wild card — with Dogus written all over — in its back pocket, has played 29 games in the competition. They have won 15 and lost 14 and now, they are playing their final game, which is more of a “final” than “just a game”. If they beat Crvena Zvezda they will advance to the quarter-finals for the first in their short history.

But, that is not the case. Darussafaka is a team that got wins over Real Madrid, CSKA, Fenerbahce, Panathinaikos at home and brought back the “W” from unfriendly arenas like the one in Belgrade. Buy, they are also the team that have lost twice from Milano and from Zalgiris at home. They can win big and lose big. Also, they can make runs and breath-taking come-backs during games like it is the easiest thing in the world. If you flip the coin and check the other side you will see that they also can give away double-digit margins with a blink of an eye. From the 29 games they have give in 24 there was a come-back and only the 5 of them were drama-free.

After all the Turks are the kings of close games. Darussafaka and Panathinaikos have been involved in the most close games in the league this season, meaning that in the 19 of their 29 games the margin 5 minutes before the end was less than 5 points!

8 out of their 15 wins came after a come-back from double digits

  • They were down by 16 points (30–45 in 21') against Crvena Zvezda (away) to come back and beat them (73–70)
  • They were down by 10 points (27–37 in 15') against Unics (away) to come back and beat them (94–87)
  • They were down by 11 points (26–37 in 21') against Zalgiris (away) to come back and beat them (83–80)
  • They were down by 10 points (19–29 in 14') against Real (home) to come back and beat them (81–68)
  • They were down by 17 points (31–48 in half-time) against Maccabi (home) to come back and beat them (86–84)
  • They were down by 11 points (6–17 in 7') against Baskonia (home) to come back and beat them (98–89)
  • They were down by 10 points (10–20 in the end of the first quarter) against Fenerbahce to come back and beat them (72–65)
  • They were down by 14 points (45–31 in 22') against Bamberg (away) to come back and beat them (99–97) in overtime.

— In other four cases they were down with smaller margins. They were down by 6 when they beat Fenerbahce (away) and Panathinaikos (home), they were down by 7 when they beat Barcelona (home) and Galatasaray (home).

They have found themselves losing by 9 points or more in 20 of their 29 games

In those 20 games they have won 8 of them (see above) , they came back in other 10 and lost with their boots on and surrendered only in two (in Baskonia 73–52 and Madrid 101–83).

  • They were down by 10 points (27–37 in 15') against Milano (home) and lost 80–81.
  • They were down by 13 points (48–61 in 28') against Galatasaray (away), came back in the scoreboard (81–84) to finally lose by 81–85.
  • They were down by 14 points (32–46 in 18') against Panathinaikos (away), took the lead (77–76) in 37' and finally lost by 80–86.
  • They were down by 12 points (40–52 in 26') against Olympiacos (home), turn it back into a two-point game (64–66) to finally lose by 71–77.
  • They were down by 9 points (42–51 in 24') against Barcelona (away), took the lead (63–61) in 34' and finally lost by 77–81.
  • They were down by 17 points (36–53 in 30') against Maccabi (away) and finally lost by 92–93.
  • They were down by 10 points (14–24 in 9') against Efes (away), took the lead with 56–50, but finally lost by 81–93 with Efes making a 43–26 run in the end.
  • They were down by 9 points (51–60 in 32') against Zalgiris (home), but finally lost by 66–69.
  • They were down by 21 points (39–60 in 31') against Olympiacos (away), turn it back into a 4 point game (71–75 in 37'), to finally lose by 73–81.
  • They were down by 13 points (29–42in 17') against CSKA (away), cut the deficit to 4 points (62–66 in 30') to go back into -17 (87–70) in minutes and find themselves losing by 85–95.

In 6 games they were the ones to lose a double digit margin: they won 4 of them and lost 2!

  • They were up by 10 points (60–50 in 29') against Bamberg (home) to finaly seal their win at the buzzer (72–70) after a Nicolo Melli missed shot.
  • They were up by 13 points (48–35 in 21') against Efes (home) to lose the game by 79–84.
  • They were up by 18 points (27–9 in 8') against CSKA (home), the Russians came back at the end (84–83), but they managed to pull away with the “W” (91–83).
  • They were up by 11 points (23–11 in 9') against Unics (home), they were losing by 3 (31–34 in 19') and finally won (71–64).
  • They were up by 12 points (48–36 during halftime) against Panathinaikos (home), went down by 5 (56–61 in 33') and finally won the game by 77–72.
  • They were up by 25 points (68–43 in 25') against Milano (away) and drank their own poison. They lost the game by 89–86.

The only drama-less games, without any upsetting come-backs from either side were: against Real Madrid (lost away), Baskonia (lost away), Barcelona (won at home), Real (won at home), Fenerbahce (won away).

Why is this happening?

There are two main reasons this is happening to Darussafaka. Both of them are related to the way they are built and the way they have been playing.

a) A versatile roster

They are like the Transformers. Or like Mystique if you are Marvel fan. They can shift to any formation they want during a ball-game. Small, big and really small. That is the ability their roster brings to the table and that is what David Blatt’s fearless coaching approach is taking advantage of.

They have many players that can play two spots. Like Wannamaker (1–2), like Moerman (4–5), like Clyburn (3–4) and Anderson (2–3–4).

They can use different line-ups and shake up things in order to find the way to cause a problem to the opponent. Blatt’s plan B is to move Clyburn in “4” in order to give him the space on the top of the key to “iso” his opponent using his favorite right drive. And the coach’s plan C is to move Moerman to “5”. He tends to use a typical stretch-four with great rebounding skills in “5” to make the opposing team either play on their terms, or risk open shots and an open key.

Otherwise coach Blatt can use Zizic in the middle or Aldemir who is a solid pick-n-cut big man. He has two top-notch scoring guards (Wannamaker and Wilbekin) who can easily take over the game and great shooters on the bench (Bertans, Batuk, Harangody), who can change the pace of the game with their long distance shots.

b) a pure on-ball team

When they go small it is really easy for them to spread the floor and hit the mismatch. And it is more than certain that they will find one. That is because they have great 1on1 players: Wilbekin, Wannamaker, Clyburn and Anderson. Even Moerman is isolated playing with his back to the basket as “4”, or after a switch when he plays “5”.

David Blatt has brought back to Europe a NBA-like philosophy. He loves to run isolations, play the two-on-two game providing the right space and the best possible environment for his on-ball players to operate. His playbook is filled with quick-hitting plays and special plays that he uses if needed. All the above based on his players’ skills.

For example Brad Wannamaker is an unstoppable force when he goes left and uses his broad shoulders to draw contact. Will Clyburn can pass by his opponent like the wind, even if everybody on the arena knows that he wants to go right. James Anderson has a big arsenal of moves and fakes. He can force his opponent out of balance with his big frame, attack the rim or create his own shot. The same with Scott Wilbekin who is great on roaring to the basket and taking shots of the dribble.

Let’s check the numbers, shall we?

  • Darussafaka is the last team in assists (14.2),
  • Darussafaka draws more fouls (20.5) than any other team
  • Darussafaka takes a lot of three pointers (3rd with 24 per game)
  • Darussafaka has the best PPP (per Synergy) in Pick-n-Roll Ball Handlers situations with 0.92!
  • Darussafaka rans the most “iso” possessions in the competition except Unics who is built around the best scorer in the league and a 1on1 mogul, Keith Langford.

So, because they are so 1on1-biased they depend on their on-ball players. The simply way to put is by saying that “when their guys make them they are up, when their guys miss them, they are down”. Going on-ball tends to do that to a team. Watch Panathinaikos for example. The same deal with the Greens, with the difference that they have a coach who wants to slow the pace and control the tempo and a more solid defense in general.

Lots of 1on1 situations, lots of freedom to the guy handling the ball, lots of shooting and mixed line-ups cause these up-and-down effect. A good thing if you are a basketball fan, and a bad thing if you have a heart condition.