Heat coach Erik Spoelstra is considering making changes to the team’s offensive approach, and he recently spent considerable time with a college coach whose teams have consistently produced elite offensive numbers.
A source said Spoelstra spent 5 ½ hours recently with Nova Southeastern University coach Jim Crutchfield, and Crutchfield confirmed that during a phone interview Monday.
Crutchfield was named Division II Coach of the Year in 2012 and 2013, and his 84.4 career winning percentage in Division II (405-75 record) tops those of legendary Division I coaches Mike Krzyzewski, John Wooden and Adolph Rupp.
He said his offense has averaged more than 100 points through 15 seasons as a Division II head coach — 13 at West Liberty in West Virginia and the past two at Nova Southeastern in Davie.
“I was pleasantly surprised and flattered when he called me,” Crutchfield said of Spoelstra. “He’s a well-respected coach, and he just cold-called me. He said, ‘You want to talk some basketball?’
“His interest [during their discussion] was offense and player development. Defensively they were strong this year. Offensively their efficiency was not where he wanted it to be. He gave some thoughts on what direction he wants to go there. He’s a thinking type of guy and weighing his options. He came across as a man on a mission.”
Did Crutchfield come away believing Spoelstra wants to make significant changes to his offensive approach?
“His mind-set is he’s wide open,” Crutchfield said. “You can tell he’s a very smart guy, and he needs to match his offense with his personnel. He’s going to formulate some ideas of what direction he wants to go. He’s looking at all options. He’s thinking, ‘How much of this offense do I control and how much is generated by players’ decisions?’”
Crutchfield apparently was on Spoelstra’s radar because of his team’s success and offensive efficiency.
“People know us because I coached the highest-scoring team in the country,” Crutchfield said. “Over 15 years, we are averaging 100 points a game. It’s not so much about points per game as efficiency and points per possession. We’re among the top in the country in points per possession. We do it via a motion offense. [Spoelstra has] looked in that direction in the past.”
Though his teams press and play up-tempo, Crutchfield said his approach “is not run and gun. We look for high-percentage shots and we do it aggressively.”
The Heat this season finished 26th in the league in offensive efficiency, 26th in points per game (105.7) and 22nd in field-goal percentage (45.0).
Spoelstra said after the season “we were able to build a respected defense,” but “I have to figure out [how to fix] lack of consistencies in offensive rhythm. I have to spend the next few weeks auditing that. That’s my job.”
He also spoke of helping players develop a “broader offensive skill set. It’s learning to make decisions in different coverages, learning to create better shots for your teammates.”
Spoelstra has picked the brains of numerous coaches during past offseasons — including former NFL and college coach Chip Kelly — but has always been reluctant to disclose the coaches with whom he meets.
At the meeting inside the basketball video office at Nova Southeastern, Spoelstra was accompanied by Heat video coordinator/player development coach Eric Glass (who coached the Heat’s summer league team last year) and one other team official. Crutchfield was accompanied by his assistant coaches, Jordan Fee and Devin Hoehn.
“I asked way more questions than he did and I learned way more than he did,” Crutchfield said.
Under Crutchfield, West Liberty made one national championship game and was the only team in the country to advance to the Elite Eight four consecutive years while ranking among the top four teams in points per game in Division II in all 13 of his seasons. He recently completed his second year at Nova Southeastern and has turned that program around, advancing this past spring to the Elite Eight to cap a 29-4 season.
The Heat has indicated it wants to bring in former UM 6-10 forward Dewan Hernandez (formerly known as Dewan Huell) for a workout in the coming weeks but hadn’t booked one as of early this week.
Hernandez turned pro after the NCAA ruled him ineligible for this past season and has had private workouts with Houston, Charlotte, Utah and Cleveland.
Heat officials have watched him work out in Miami in recent months. The 6-10 Hernandez is auditioning for teams at the NBA G League Elite Camp in Chicago early this week and will learn on Tuesday whether he receives an invitation to this week’s NBA Combine in Chicago.
Hernandez averaged 11.4 points and 6.7 rebounds and shot 57.6 percent from the field as a sophomore for the Hurricanes in 2017-18.
He was 0 for 5 in his college career on three-pointers but is working diligently on that part of his game.
Hernandez hopes to sneak into the second round of the June 20 draft.
The NBA draft lottery, which will determine the first-round draft position of the Heat and other lottery teams, will be held Tuesday night. Here’s how it works.
Here’s my Monday piece with lots of UM nuggets.
And please check back tonight for a Josh Rosen piece.