Jake Miller can think of no other team in the state that plays like Madras.
For players, the White Buffaloes’ style means freedom. For their coach, it means relinquishing control.
Perhaps that is why few coaches, save for Madras’ Evan Brown, embrace a style that features a full-court trap the entire game and about 40 3-point attempts per 32-minute contest.
“Honestly, I think it has a lot to do with the classic hesitancy or nervousness of coaches to give up control,” says Miller, the Ridgeview boys basketball coach whose team lost to Madras 105-68 in a nonleague game last month. “That’s one of the things I’ve always appreciated about Evan. He’s a great coach … and he gave up that level of control and went to this, and I think that takes a lot of guts as a coach. There’s a pretty high risk-reward. And like anything, pulling the trigger on going all in is tough to do.”
Ten years after first implementing what he calls the “3-diculous” offense at Madras, Brown brought it back for the White Buffaloes last season, as Madras finished 13-12 overall and reached the Class 4A state playoffs.
During an era in which the 3-point shot is the centerpiece of increasingly more offenses at the professional and college levels, it seems natural that the same style would become popular in the high school ranks. Brown ran the full-court, run-and-gun offense at Madras more than a decade ago, leading the Buffaloes to state playoff appearances in 2006 and 2007.
Brown left Madras in 2008 for stints as the athletic director and vice principal at Cascade and Stayton high schools in the Salem area. He returned to Madras in 2014 as the AD, and this is his the third season of his second tenure as the Buffaloes’ coach.
“We do not have height, and that’s part of the whole thing,” Brown says. “We have to negate size somehow. For us to go and play traditional with the size of guys we have, it would be a struggle. So we had to do something to negate size, and this style of basketball does that. It’s just more conducive to the kids that we have playing in our program.”
Madras’ tallest player stands 6 feet, 3 inches, and seven of the 11 players on its roster are shorter than 6 feet. Brown says the Buffaloes’ goal is 80 shot attempts per game, and at least half of them 3-pointers.
After playing a brutal nonleague schedule that included eight games against team from higher classifications (including 5A Ridgeview), the White Buffaloes are 6-9 overall and won their Tri-Valley Conference opener Wednesday night at Corbett, 74-61.
They have made 165 of 632 3-pointers this season (26 percent) and are averaging about 17 steals and 14 deflections per game, according to Brown. They lead Class 4A in scoring with 70.4 points per game.
“Part of our concern is that we’re shooting too many 3s and not enough 2s,” Brown says. “So we’re not getting into the paint often enough and when that starts happening teams start to challenge you on the perimeter a little harder. We’ve got to do a little bit better job of attacking the rim.”
A 6-1 senior guard, Byron Patt, leads Madras in scoring with an average of 20.6 points per game and has made 58 3-pointers. Junior guard Donnie Bagley (5-10) is averaging 12.1 points per game and has 31 3s this season.
Not surprisingly, the players love the 3-diculous offense.
“I like the fast pace and how many shots I get out of it,” Patt says. “There’s a lot of freedom. I get a lot of freedom to shoot the ball.”
In fact, Brown will often reprimand his players for NOT shooing the ball. In the 3-diculous scheme, any somewhat-open look from beyond the 3-point arc is a good look.
“If someone’s open on our team, he wants them to shoot the ball,” Patt says of Brown. “If they don’t shoot, he’ll get on them.”
To keep his players fresh in the frenetic style, Brown regularly substitutes five new players in about every 45 seconds. It can be tough mentally for a player who is on a hot streak to have to come out of the game. But he knows he will be checking back in soon enough.
“Against Bend (a 68-52 nonleague road loss in the season’s third week) I had a few buckets in 25 seconds, and I got taken out,” Patt says. “But our team gets fired up off that, so the next shift will go out with that momentum and the confidence level goes up.”
Brown says his players typically are not out of the game long enough to affect their shooting rhythm. He says some of their opponents try to match their substitution shifts, but they usually do not match the Buffs with five new players.
Teams will try to slow down the game by running a four-corners offense or a zone defense, but the Buffaloes have ways to speed the game back up. One way is simply giving up easy layups over the top of their full-court 1-2-2 trap.
“They’ll give up fast-break layups in exchange for the potential of a quick turnover and shot,” Ridgeview’s Miller says. “As much as you might go into it wanting to slow it down, it’s almost impossible. The teams that do beat Madras, they also end up scoring a ton of points. You won’t beat them 50-45. You have to be good in full court and be able to take three-on-ones and three-on-twos. And ultimately make lay-ins.”
In his team’s loss to Madras, Miller says, the Buffaloes scored the quickest 19 points he has ever seen, during one stretch making seven straight 3-pointers.
“It puts a ton of pressure on any defense,” Miller says. “They catch and shoot so quickly, and everybody does it. They’re quick shots, and long shots, so it creates offensive rebounding opportunities for them.”
Brown says that postseason aspirations are “part of our culture here.” As Madras makes a run to return to the 4A playoffs and possibly contend for a Tri-Valley Conference title, Brown notes one distinct advantage for his team.
“We don’t have to prepare for anybody,” he says. “We just do our thing.
“But,” he adds, “they have to prepare like crazy for us.”
— Reporter: 541-383-0318,