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LEVELLAND, Texas — Steve Green, the men’s basketball coach at South Plains College, was recovering from an up-and-down season last summer when he decided he needed to make a change. So he planted himself in front of the television in his living room and began to study — really study — his favorite team.

Green scribbled down every cut, every back screen and every curl. In pursuit of a goal that was so ambitious that it bordered on audacious, he consulted with his assistants and overhauled his playbook. His wife, Teresa, discovered that she needed to make room for a new love in her husband’s life.

“He is obsessed,” she said, “with the Warriors.”

In his grand experiment to turn his team into the junior college version of the Golden State Warriors — yes, those Warriors — Green has coached the South Plains Texans to a 28-0 record as they enter the postseason.

South Plains, the top-ranked junior college team in the country, averages 98.4 points a game, shooting 52.2 percent from the field. They spread the floor, move the ball and shoot jumpers from Siberia, averaging 11.7 3-pointers a game.

If that all sounds familiar, it should: The Texans run the Warriors’ plays.

Green, 63, has never met Steve Kerr, the coach of the Warriors, nor has he had the chance to watch the NBA’s highest-octane team play in person. But the Warriors’ growing influence is apparent here in Levelland, a small city of 14,000 set amid cotton fields and oil rigs about 30 miles west of Lubbock.

South Plains plays its home games at the Texan Dome, a 3,300-seat arena that features championship rodeo banners and sometimes leaks in rainy weather. But before his team fires off one 3-pointer after another and dunks opponents to smithereens, Green meets with his assistants in a windowless conference room where, among more prosaic items of business, they watch the Warriors, discuss the Warriors and plagiarize the Warriors.

“We’re going to put this new one in today,” Green said on a recent morning as he fiddled with a short video clip on his iPhone. “They ran this against Memphis the other night, and I hadn’t seen them do this before.”

In the fourth quarter of a victory against the Memphis Grizzlies last month, the Warriors unveiled a play that excited Green. Shaun Livingston, the Warriors’ backup point guard, threw a pass to James Michael McAdoo at the right elbow. Over at the left elbow, Kevin Durant set a screen for Klay Thompson, who then took a handoff from McAdoo. As two defenders converged on him, Thompson slipped a bounce pass to a cutting McAdoo for a dunk.

The basket put the Warriors up by 24. In other words, the sequence was both forgettable and inconsequential — to everyone, perhaps, except Green, and only because he watches every second of every Warriors game.

Green has no idea what the Warriors actually call their plays — they keep them secret — so he just makes up his own names as he goes. The one involving McAdoo and Thompson would, in South Plains-ese, be “Horns 52.” Green described his creative process.

“We’ll put something new in, and the guys will be like, ‘What are you going to call it?'” he said. “And I’ll say: ‘I don’t know. What do you guys want to call it?’”


First round
Wednesday’s results

(8) Healdsburg 50,
(9) Kelseyville 25
(3) Marin Catholic 71,
(14) Fort Bragg 55

(1) Cloverdale 55,
(16) St. Vincent 53
(10) Urban 68,
(7) Sonoma Academy 38
(12) Clear Lake 63,
(5) Berean Christian 55
(4) Bentley 77, (13) St. Helena 31

(1) Rio Lindo Adventist 66,
(16) Patten Academy 16
(3) Laytonville 85,
(14) Archbishop Hanna 61
(4) Rincon Valley Christian 58,
(13) Summerfield Waldorf 44
(5) Point Arena 72,
(12) Cornerstone Christian 68
(6) Mendocino 84,
(11) Contra Costa Christian 73
(7) Anderson Valley 65,
(10) Round Valley 47

Friday’s games
(seedings in parentheses)

(3) Cardinal Newman) vs.
(6) Tamalpais, 7 p.m.
(7) Montgomery at
(2) Las Lomas, 7 p.m.

(3) Analy vs.
(6) Miramonte, 7 p.m.
Saturday’s games
(seedings in parentheses)

(1) St. Joseph Notre Dame vs.
(8) Healdsburg, 8 p.m.

(1) Cloverdale vs.
(8) Redwood Christian, 7 p.m.
(4) Bentley vs.
(12) Clear Lake, 7 p.m.

(1) Rio Lindo Adventist vs.
(8) St. Elizabeth, 7 p.m.
(2) Calif. School for the Deaf vs.
(7) Anderson Valley, 7 p.m.
(3) Laytonville vs.
(6) Mendocino, 7 p.m.
(4) Rincon Valley Christian vs.
(5) Point Arena, 6:30 p.m.


First round
Wednesday’s results

(7) Kelseyville vs. (10) Fortuna, late
(5) Marin Catholic 76,
(12) Lower Lake 65
(4) St. Patrick-St. Vincent 67,
(13) Willits 33
(3) Arcata 71, (14) Healdsburg 37

(6) Sonoma Academy 52,
(11) Oakland Military 36
(8) Clear Lake 61,
(9) Holy Names 28
(10) Cloverdale 75,
(7) Marin Academy 63
(16) Upper Lake 58,
(1) Convent of Sacred Heart 56

(1) Rincon Valley Christian 59,
(16) Patten Academy 37
(2) Mendocino 55,
(15) Pescadero 24
(7) Round Valley 55,
(10) Calistoga 30
(9) Tomales 46,
(8) Summerfield Waldorf 38
(11) Anderson Valley 47,
(6) Drew 42
(13) Laytonville 54,
(4) Ferndale 51

Friday’s games
(seedings in parentheses)

(2) Montgomery vs.
(10) Livermore, 7 p.m.
(8) Sonoma Valley at
(1) Bishop O’Dowd, 6 p.m.
Saturday’s games
(seedings in parentheses)

(1) Cardinal Newman vs.
(9) Del Norte, 5:30 p.m.

(2) St. Bernard’s vs.
(10) Cloverdale, 7 p.m.
(8) Clear Lake vs.
(16) Upper Lake, 7 p.m.
TBD: Sonoma Academy game

(1) Rincon Valley Christian vs.
(9) Tomales, 8 p.m.
(2) Mendocino vs.
(7) Round Valley, 7 p.m.
(3) Emery vs.
(11) Anderson Valley, 7 p.m.
(12) El Sobrante Christian vs.
(13) Laytonville, 6:30 p.m.

For complete schedules, see www.cifncs.org

It should be noted that not everything South Plains does comes straight from the Warriors’ playbook. The Texans run weaves in transition, and Green is fond of some principles of the motion offense.

Most of the time, though, he is channeling Golden State. That means fewer pick-and-rolls in favor of greater movement away from the ball, including flare screens and back screens designed to spring shooters free from defenders. The ball zips from teammate to teammate.

“For a long time in the NBA, people got away from the five-man game,” Kerr said in a telephone interview on Wednesday as he discussed the impact his team was having on college programs. “It was more of an isolation game. But people are going smaller and faster. And for us, I think the key is that we don’t hold the ball. We almost always have five playmakers on the floor. The ball moves, and nobody dominates it.”

In terms of getting his team to function like the Warriors, Green has found that it helps to have good players. (Kerr concurred.) Jordan Brangers, the starting shooting guard at South Plains, averages 21.8 points a game and shoots 48.7 percent from the 3-point line. In a lopsided victory last month, Brangers, who is 6 feet 2 inches, shot 14 of 19 from the field and sank 10 of 15 3-pointers.

His coach sees shades of the Warriors’ Stephen Curry. “The kid does not miss an open shot,” Green said.

If Brangers operates as a Curry-Thompson hybrid, Steve Green has shaped Jahlil Tripp, his starting power forward, into a facsimile of the Warriors’ Draymond Green: a versatile player who can handle the ball, shoot with range and defend multiple positions. Tripp, a product of Lincoln High in Brooklyn, New York, averages 11.4 points and 6.6 rebounds while playing just 17.3 minutes a game. The Texans spread the wealth: Ten players average at least 10 minutes a game.

Green, in his 17th season at South Plains, is a decorated coach. He guided his team to national championships in 2008 and 2012, and it was the runner-up in 2015. But last season was a relative struggle. South Plains finished 21-9 and out of the playoff picture. Something was amiss.

Green had already been thinking about how the game was evolving. As a young coach, he said, he was schooled on the importance of defense. In fact, his first college job was as a graduate assistant to Eddie Sutton at Arkansas, back when the Razorbacks were a grind-it-out, roll-up-your-sleeves squad of sturdy defenders.

But in recent years, Green had seen how players were becoming more skilled on offense: power forwards who could put the ball on the floor and shoot 3-pointers, guards who could stretch defenders like rubber bands by pulling up from 25 feet. He had one such player, Marshall Henderson, who led South Plains to its national title in 2012.

Green recalled a conversation he had a few years ago with a colleague.

“Do you think we’ve gotten to a point now where you can’t really stop anybody anymore, but you just decide, hey, we’re going to allow you to take this shot instead of that shot?” Green recalled asking him. “I think we’ve all begun to realize — especially in the pros — that nobody can stop anybody one on one. I just think it’s more about the offensive end now than it is about the defensive end.”

At South Plains, Green wants his players to be strategic on defense: Suffocate opponents along the 3-point line and make life difficult for them in the paint. He is more than willing to cede midrange jumpers, the least efficient shot in basketball. The Texans have limited opponents to 28.3 percent shooting from 3-point range and outscored them by an average of 35.4 points a game.

“They’re the best team in the country,” Brian Lohrey, the coach at New Mexico Junior College, said after watching South Plains drain 14 of 25 3-pointers in a 26-point win against his team last month. “There are a lot of good teams at this level. We’re good. But we are not good against them.”

In so many ways, the players at South Plains could not be more removed from the glamour of the NBA. They ride a bus to all their road games, a mode of transport that Tripp assessed as a “real experience.” They live in a no-frills dorm across the street from the Texan Dome. They amuse themselves with post-practice games of one on one.

But they adhere to what Kerr described as the Warriors’ mentality: a willingness to pass and create for others. At South Plains, miles from nowhere, they do it as well as anyone.