30 second time outs

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Advantage/Disadvantage Redux

There needs to be more consistency in determining the fine line between advantage /disadvantage and what is called in one area of the floor should be called elsewhere, what is called at one point in the game should be called in all points of the game. But I'm not sure that, in the long run, it would be a free throw contest as is sometimes suggested. Don't you think that players (and coaches) would simply learn not to foul. They'd have to, or they wouldn't play. They'd get in foul trouble and have to sit. They'd start to give up points at the free throw line. So they would change.

In football changes were adopted to add action and tempo to games such as the extent of downfield contact a defender could have with an eligible receiver was restricted; wide receivers blocking back toward the ball within three yards of the line of scrimmage were prevented from blocking below the waist, the pass-blocking rule was interpreted to permit the extending of arms and open hand, defenders are now permitted to make contact with eligible receivers only once; a defender can now maintain contact with a receiver within five yards of the line of scrimmage, but restricted contact beyond that point, the head slap was outlawed; offensive linemen are prohibited from thrusting their hands to an opponent's neck, face, or head; and wide receivers were prohibited from clipping, even in the legal clipping zone, they extended the zone in which there could be no crackback blocks; and instructed officials to quickly whistle a play dead when a quarterback was clearly in the grasp of a tackler - all to open up the passing game and to cut down on injuries.

You know what? Now those things don't happen as often. After a flag ridden adjustment period, it always levels off.

I think that that could happen with hoops

Monday, May 23, 2005

Private/Public School Parents & Player Coach Relationships

Yahoo! Groups : Basketball-Coaching Messages :

Parents are parents. BUT, parents at private schools sometimes feel a little more entitlement because they pay tuition. Nip that early by letting everyone know where you stand, what is allowable and what is off-linmits. However, you MUST be willing to communicate them. Too many coaches have failed in private school settings by being 'unnaproachable'. Develop a relationship with parents/boosters that shows that you are working together.

An interesting way of looking at the player/coach relationship, is that players don�t play FOR us, but rather we work FOR our players to assist them in developing into the players and people that they are capable of becoming. Naturally, we need to do this within the team concept and keeping in mind what is also best for the group. Finding that balance is truly the one of the most important tasks that the basketball coach has.

We talk to staff all the time about coaching the way that we would want our son or daughter coached. We would expect the coach, first and foremost, to be fair. We would want the coach to display patience and understanding with our child and the team. We want to be clear and concise in how we teach, giving the player the know how to perform, and then help them towards improvement, encouraging them all the way. Most of all we want to treat the player with the same respect that we ask of them. Scold and discipline when necessary, but re-teach and praise immediately following. We never want a player to leave the gym with a negative impression of how the coaches feel about them.

As a coach you should be knowledgeable and organized. Love your players equally, unconditionally, and care about them off the floor. Work FOR them as hard as you expect them to work FOR you. Do these three things and your players will:
1) Listen and try to understand;
2) Show the desire to play as well as they can; and

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

NBA age limit, or simply job qualifications

NBA age limit: When debating the proposed 20 year old age limit in the NBA draft, I'm not certain that an age limit is what the NBA is really searching for. It is not really a certain age that they want, but rather a ceratin level of maturity and preparation. In both basketball and life. The league seems to be concerned with their "image" and how prepared their players are for life off of the court. Possibly they now see that being in the league carries some responsibility and is not all about basketball ability. It is also about being a representative and spokesperson for a multi-billion dollar industry. A high school diploma does not pepare most for that burden. Nor does simply reaching a certain age. Restrictions on age might even be considered unlawful or at the very least, unethical. But most jobs require certain qualifications.

Look in todays classified ads. Nearly every job lists qualifications. Most say a bachelors degree is necessary while some employers require masters degrees. The very basic jobs may say that they require an AA degree. Typically that's two years of college. Or taking an 18 year old high school graduate to the 20 year minimum that the NBA is proposing. Some employers will say".. or the equivelant" That could leave the door open for any players from overseas who have different educational systems than the USA and have played in professional leagues for a number of years. Their life experiences may have shown that they are able to handle the rigors of professional sports.

A lawyer must attend law school; a doctor-med school; most Fortune 500 busineses require an MBA; even school teachers must be credentialed. Someone might be the best basketball coach in the world but it is not their 'right' to be hired by a school district without the school's required qualifications. While some might debate the reasoning, it certainly is not litigated.

During a discussion on the proposed 20 year old age limit in the NBA draft, a response on the
SoCalHoops Message Board , kind if, summed things up: "All this thinking is what is wrong with basketball. Agents, greed, bad advice, etc... There are two schools of thought here. Do I play basketball solely to get paid? Or, am I trying to become the best basketball player that I can be? Read the rest of his comments here...

College is not only about developing the skills required for a profession. Other life lessons learned are just as important. Random college seniors have said,
  • They have to learn how to manage their time and money, and take responsibility for their own actions
  • By senior year you realize that life is more than just Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights
  • I have learned to have more control over myself and my emotions. I've learned that I can't control what other people do, but I can control how I let it affect me. By doing this, it makes the quality of life better, because you are not constantly worried about what other people are thinking or saying".

Much more can be found in an essay What I Really Learned in College.

Some will argue that other sports do not restrict entrance based on age. That doesn't make it right. I personally know of some baseball players, who passed on college scholarships when drafted out of high school that squandered their meager signing bonus, only to be cut loose shortly thereafter. That scholarship opportunity no longer existed and once in the "cycle of life" with bills and responsibiities, going back to school is difficult. So they find whatever work they can. With some college training other doors may have opened.

Others will argue that because basketball is primarily a minority sport, the restriction effects one race more than others. If that is the case, then all the rules of the game affect one race more than another. Every minority that is denied early entry saves another veteran minority from being released too soon. It works at both ends.

Bottom line is every for KG, Kobe, Jermain O'Neal, Rashard Lewis, Tracy McGrady or LeBron there is a Korleone Young, James Lang, Taj McDavid, Ellis Richardson, DeAngelo Collins, Leon Smith or a Donnell Harvey. Worse yet are those who never developed enough to be even mentioned in the latter category. Those who, as youth players, put all of their eggs in the proverbial "basketball basket" by neglecting their academic pursuits. The number of those who were not even good enough to declare increases exponentially and can be found across the playground of America, mumbling "woulda, coulda, shoulda...?"

REAL good advice

SoCalHoops Message Board:

This post came off of a message board and was written in response to an LA Times article titled Sporting behavior . It was written by a fellow (I presume) that has posted often over the last several years. Unfortunately his contributions have waned some over the past year or so (maybe his children have moved on beyond high school and its primarily a high school/youth board). He appears to be a very wise man - and his posts are almost always very insightful

"GREAT COACHES recognize that children are the most precious possession that families have and that FAMILIES WILL NOT TURN A DEAF EAR AND A BLIND EYE TO ANY ONE who comes into a child's life simply because you put on a coaches hat with NO training...NON PROFESSIONAL COACHES must stress growth and not winning...COACHES must not treat the best player like 'Prince Charming' and then treat the 'up and coming' player like they have a disease...Coaches must CARE about academics and not SHOE CONTRACTS...COACHES MUST set goals for EACH PLAYER and when those GOALS are reached celebrate like crazy...

In your example, if the coach would have communicated his goal to have the child learn to play the outfield and maybe..Hit the cutoff man'....When the child executes that task...The coach should be cheering and clapping and patting on the back ( whether or not the crowd understands what just happen)...

If the coach does not have that kind of personality...bring an assistant in that does...
And last, include the family in your goal setting for the team...stop focusing on the score and focus on making sure the players leave you...better than they came to you...EVERY PLAYER is a member of the team family...from the BEST PLAYER to the WORST PLAYER...

I submit, than when a family knows that Coaches care...and are not turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to 'self esteem issues' ( parents see the hurt in their child's eyes...why don't you see it first coach?)and Coaches treat AND COMMUNICATE GOALS TO PARENTS AND KIDS ALIKE...most problems go away...and the team's family structure will follow a kid for the rest of their life...

COACHING IS MORE THAN 'X's and O's'..it is nurturing and teaching and directing GROWTH..Train the Dads and Moms...let them in on your plan...losses become steps...wins become milepost...that everyone celebrates...GIVE BENCH PLAYERS ASSIGNMENTS even if it is pitch counts(baseball)..watching player tendancies( basketball)

(I) saw a game where the score was already settled..the coach pulled out all of his starters except his best player...I watched the best player pull down rebound after rebound and pass it to the other players so they could get a chance to score...at first the opposing coach got angry..then he watched and learned...that when a bench player shared the floor with the best player...the self confidence of the reserve went through the roof...and the best player was learning that success was more than personal goals...it was helping others reach their goals...the opposing coach smiled...and took a seat...and watched a MASTER COACH at work!!PEACE!"

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Question For Coach Lok? Does attending the summer circuit for club rather then playing with the high school Team A Must?

From SoCalHoops: Question For Coach Lok? Does attending the summer circuit for club rather then playing with the high school Team A Must?

When it comes time for summer basketball, everyone needs to work together in the best interest of the player and the HS team. An interesting way of looking at the player/coach relationship, is that players don’t play FOR the coach, but rather the coach works FOR the players to assist them in developing into the players and people that they are capable of becoming. Naturally, coaches need to do this within the team concept and keeping in mind what is also best for the group. Finding that balance is truly the one of the most important tasks that the basketball coach has. On the other hand, the players, and parents, need to commit some exclusive time to each side (club/HS). Most importantly, remember that the offseason is when players are made - not only seen. Players need to be first commited to their education and training as a basketball player, rather than just the competition and exposure that is really overemphasized in the offseason. Putting in the time to improve a players skills will prepare the players for any competition that they will face and that any subsequent exposure will really be the end result of that development.

That being said, it is crucial for a player to participate in "some exposure event" during the NCAA evaluation dates. This years NCAA evaluation periods are July 6-15 and July 22-31. The elite player with DI, DII aspirations needs to attend a camp/tournament during that time. The HS coach can use those times to give other players a little PT.

However, before July 6 and from July 16-21 is a Dead Period for the NCAA. That leaves plenty of "exclusive" time for the player to stay with the HS. The high school coaches are trying to bring together a new group of players to mold into their group for the following season. What each player chooses to do in the summer says to the rest of his teamates exactly what he thinks about them. When a group of players can count on each other and truly trust their teamates they can perform at a higher level. So it is just as crucial for the player to fully commit to his HS teamates during those times. That means that he may have to work it out with his travel/AAU coach in regards to practices to give the HS his totoal attention. A little give at both ends.

Playing in a couple of HS tournaments or a team camp before July 2 and another tournament the weekend of July 16 would allow a good number of games to be played with that recruitable player. Add a couple of summer league games a week and that should be plenty to set some groundwork for the upcoming high school season. Of course, the more competitive schools can take their team, or all of their recruitable players in the program and go play in one of the camps as a team. Killing two birds with one stone.

Keep in mind that the longest evaluation period on the NCAA calendar is from November to March - the HS basketball season. It is a misconception that coaches are only out in the summer. College coaches are allowed 40 evaluation days in the winter, selected at their discretion. The school's coaching staff shall not visit a prospect's school on more than one day per week during that period. If the NCAA's largest period is during the high school regular season, maybe we need to rethink which is "more important" and how coaches schedule. Single day events during the season where coaches can see multiple teams are probably more important to have on the schedule, and of course anytime the team can compete in a bigger tournament with quality teams, they should do so.

Players do need to also be a little concerned with "overexposure". Going to every showcase/camp/tournament that is available also increases the chance that the "red line" goes thru your name after a series of subpar performances. Make a splash, get on the radar, market yourself, and then make them come to you.

The best technique, again, is to be proactive and come up with a list of realistic schools that you want to look at you. Call or write ahead of time and let them know your summer schedule and where you will be at. They are more apt to track you down to take a look.
Players who are committed should really want to do it all. Plenty of players (with the support of wonderful parents) travel back and forth from their events at Dominguez Hills/Lynwood/Long Beach to the local high school summer tournament to be with their team. That is commitment. That is leadership. And that is the kind of player that a college coach will recruit.

But remember, the most important thing in the offseason is not the exposure, it is to become better - otherwise you really get exposed.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

See the Rim !

I think that proper shooting technique and successful shooting results are two different things. We've all seen those players with great form that can't buy a basket. Or those who are so unorthodox it's hard to determine how it could get so bad, but the shot goes in at an amazing rate. However, believing that the human body is an amazing thing, in my opinion the eyes and the brain have as much, or more, to do with the result of the shot as do proper fundamentals. Naturally, those that have everything working in a positive manner will be the best at what they do.

I believe that the most successful shooters are those who are truly able to focus on one small target spot to shoot for. Some say they do, but who can really tell what the eyes and mind are doing? If the eyes can focus on a spot and effectively send the message to the brain to tell the body what it needs to do to propel the ball toward the target, the shot has a pretty good chance of hitting that target, technique notwithstanding.

But we cannot throw those physical fundamentals out the window. So a technique that provides the most fluid and effortless stroke and gives the ball the best mathematical chance to go in is most desired. To me, fluid and effortless means the entire body is working together to create the necessary force. For this to happen there needs to be a continuous flow to the shot beginning with the toes and right on through the fingertip release.

We can break down the shot with all sorts of kinesthetic analysis to assist in developing a players' shooting stroke, in search of the "perfect form". And we need to teach those, particularly to our young players who are just learning to shoot. Proper mechanics can obviously lead to a more consistent shot. However seeing the myriad of great shooters using a variety of techniques it can only be determined that flaws in shooting form can be overcome by repetitions in practice and/or enhanced vision and focus. This being said, to break down shooting to its' simplest common denominators I might suggest the following to approach accomplishing all of the above mentioned goals.

1) See the Rim: No - really see the rim. Pick that spot and focus. Allow the eyes and the brain to assist to the fullest extent. May also speak to the shooters bodily alignment throughout the shot

2) Sixty degree arc: Not really sixty degrees. But close, give or take a few degrees in either direction. The point is - get the shot up in the air and give the ball a better mathematical chance of going in.

3) Hold your follow thru: This may only be the exclamation point of the shot, but a focus on that important aspect may actually encourage the shooter to use the fluid aspect of the entire shooting process. In turn, this will give the ball better rotation and a softer bounce on the rim, further increasing the mathematical chance of a made basket.

With the emphasis on these three aspects of the shot every time, it gives players and coaches the opportunity to work on the finer points of the shot on a regular basis in search of what we all strive for - the perfect shot.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Seven Basketball Rules Myths

Seven Basketball Rules Myths

A defensive player must be stationary to take a charge. Reality: Once a defensive player has obtained a legal guarding position, the defensive player may always move to maintain that guarding position and may even have one or both feet off the floor when contact occurs with the offensive player. Legal guarding position occurs when the defensive player has both feet on the floor and is facing the opponent. This applies to a defensive player who is defending the dribble.

A dribble that bounces above the dribbler's head is an illegal dribble violation. Reality: There is no restriction as to how high a player may bounce the ball, provided the ball does not come to rest in the player's hand.

A player in the backcourt who dribbles the ball across the midcourt line may not dribble it back into the backcourt. Reality: The ball and BOTH feet must be entirely in the front court to be deemed in the frontcourt. The line is considered in the backcourt. So until ALL THREE points are in the frontcourt, the ballhandler is still considered to be in the backcourt.

'Reaching in' is a foul. Reality: Reaching in is not a foul. The term is nowhere to be found in any rulebook. Why? There must be contact to have a foul. The mere act of 'reaching in,' by itself, is nothing. If contact does occur, it is either a holding foul or a pushing foul.

'Over the back' is a foul. Reality: Similar to the reaching in myth, there must be contact to have a foul. Coaches holler for over the back fouls when their shorter player has seemingly better inside rebounding position and the ball is snared by a taller opponent from behind. Penalize illegal contact; don't penalize a player for being tall.

If it looks funny, it must be traveling. Reality: The traveling rule is one of the most misunderstood in basketball. One of the basic tenets is that a player cannot travel unless that player is holding a live ball. A bobble or fumble is not 'control' of the ball, therefore, it cannot be a traveling violation. If you immediately identify the pivot foot when a player receives the ball, you're well on your way to judging traveling correctly.

The other misconception is regarding the speed of the steps. There is no mandate that the steps must be of a certain speed, and quite often a player who takes slow steps (or is a slower player) intices jeers of "traveling!"

After a player has ended a dribble and fumbled the ball, that player may not recover it without violating. Reality: A dribble ends when the dribbler catches the ball with one or both hands or simultaneously touches the ball with both hands. A fumble is the accidental loss of player control when the ball unintentionally drops or slips from a player's grasp. It is always legal to recover a fumble. The rules do not penalize clumsiness.

Referees should not make calls that decide the outcome of a game. Reality: Officials do not make calls that decide the outcomes of games. Players commit fouls and violations; officials view those infractions, judge the action and then apply the rules of the game to what they have viewed. The rules then determine the penalty. The officials do not decide the outcome of the game; the players do. If the rule results in the imposition of a penalty that determines the outcome of the game, such is life. Ask yourself this: If you would have called it in the second quarter, why not call it at the end of the game? You are a credit to the game when you are consistent from the opening tip to the final buzzer.

Actually by not calling a fouls or violation that they may normally might call - they are the ones deciding the game!

Monday, February 28, 2005

Advantage/Disadvantage Fallacy

The concept of Advantage/Disadvantage is a fallacy. It puts officials in the business of predicting the future. What may not seem like an advantage this millisecond, just may be in the next second. An advantage as the offensive player could be completely gone in the time lost by the littlest of bumps.

When the dribbler is fouled by a handcheck and an official CHOOSES not to call it, when the dribbler pushes off one dribble later to combat the handcheck, should the official call that one? Unfortunately, they often do. I've had an official tell me that if the dribbler had lost posession he would have called it. So now we'd be rewarded if we were WORSE and lost control. Then we'd have a foul called, shoot free throws, or maintain posession and be a foul closer to the bonus with one more foul on that particular defender - who may have to lessen his defensive pressure the next time. Advantage or disadvantage?

In the final minutes of yesterdays Kansas/Ok State game Kansas clearly pushed off on a rebound, causing the ball to go off of
OK State. Rather than calling the foul, the officials passed on the foul by Kansas and instead awarded the ball to OK State. This has become too a common occurence. Now everyone is happy. Right? "C'mon coach, you got the ball!", they'll say. Well, in this instance the outside official came running in to "get it right" and indicated the ball was off of hte OK State rebounder. Oops, now what. The 1st official can't go backwards and say that there was a foul. Who got the advantage? Disadvantage?

Mark Cuban writes on the topic that the "...guideline is that if the incidental contact doesn’t impact or impede the “Speed, Balance, Quickness or Rhythm” of the offensive player, then a foul will not be called. The logic of the guideline makes absolutely perfect sense. An offensive player may still have an advantage, even after the contact, and shouldn’t be penalized for the defensive contact. The league doesn’t want to blow the whistle stopping a layup over a little bump.

On the surface that is all well and good, and as I said makes perfect sense. HOWEVER, the concept of advantage is based only on the relationship between a single defender and the offensive player. If we were talking about a 1 on 1 tournament, the logic would hold up well. We aren’t. In the NBA today, advantage is gained and lost as a team.

Using the same example, if I beat my man off the dribble and have half a step on him and he has his arm on my stomach slowing me down just a tiny, tiny bit, I still have him beat. But in this era of help defense and zone defense, that tiny, tiny bit of time I was slowed or pushed a tiny bit off course might not have impacted my ability to get by my defender, but it may have given a weak side help defender just enough time to get in position to defend or impact me in some way....

...It also may have created enough time for a guard at the foul line to (drop) back in front of a teammate standing in front of the basket while that teammates defender jumped over to challenge my shot. My advantage as the offensive player could be completely gone in the time lost by the littlest of bumps....

...By making any such contact a foul, you completely remove the officials from having to make judgements about whether the offensive player or his team has an advantage. It’s an automatic foul. You open up lanes and you speed up action to the basket....

...guys push, pull, bump, slap just enough to put the pressure on the officials to make a call, knowing they will rarely call touch fouls. All creating just enough time for a helpside defender to come in, or for a defender to get through a pick, or for a shot blocker to get in the lane…Brilliant coaching. Take advantage of the rules as enforced"

read the rest of Cuban's thoughts on the topic at BlogMaverick

Friday, February 25, 2005

The caricature of ourselves is not always a pretty picture

We all tend to become caricatures of ourselves as time goes on. People go with the personality traits that make them successful or popular, sometimes taking things to the next level and going too far. You see this with entertainment figures and comediens all the time, and coaches like Abe Lemons took his humor to the extreme so that now he's remembered for that, rather than his coaching ability. Some coaches such as Woody Hayes, Bob Knight, and now John Chaney with his latest incident they, cross that line between passionate and intense to out of control. It doesn't make them bad people, but it does tend to erase (or at least cloud) all of the good that they do.

It is just as hard for people to define the line between "fan" and "fanatic". I'm a Laker fan, but I'm a basketball fan first. So right now I don't like them so much. I don't think that is "jumping on and off the bandwagon" it is simply enjoying and respecting a good basketball team and organization. When a team, or an individual, steps outside the boundaries of what sports, team, and competition is all about, that's when we need to speak out and be heard in an attempt to make things right.It's hard to look past our feelings of friendship(or being a fan) to realize when something is wrong. But, we would do that with our teams vthat we are coaching. Or our children that we are raising. We would not allow slippage, but rather we would scold and reinstruct so that it doesn't happen again. Blind support does not always work. Sometimes you need tough love. But , not too tough .

Monday, February 21, 2005

University of Memphis make huge strides using the ACE IntelliGym

If you are a regular reader, you know that Basketball4ALL endorses the ACE IntelliGym(tm). For those that don't know. ACE (Applied Cognitive Engineering) has developed a revolutionary training tool that enables basketball players to dramatically improve their game-intelligence skills. The ACE IntelliGym(tm) is available at Basketball4all and it directly stimulates the brain-functions responsible for basketball`s cognitive skills. By doing so, this unique trainer enables super-quick development of proficiencies that, until now, were considered an "instinct", something that the players either have or they don`t. Skills such as decision making and execution, shot selection and team play, movement anticipation and pattern recognition, peripheral vision and spatial awareness, unpredictability and overall court sense. Testing the system on real basketball teams has shown to improve their performance in 22% to 28%.
The University of Memphis began using the system,available at http://www.basketball4all.homestead.com/ACE.html,
at the beginning of this season. Head coach John Calipari said it was only going to take time for freshman DariusWashington Jr. to learn how to play at the collegiatelevel.(and I`d say,"plus diligent use of the IntelliGym!:?)
LOOK HERE AT THE AMAZING RESULTS directly from the Memphis Sports Information Department

For the second time in three weeks, Darius Washington Jr. was named Rivals.com National Freshman of the Week Feb. 15. The award is given for his play the week of Feb. 8-14. He previously earned the same honor Feb. 1 for his play Jan. 25-31. Washington also earned ESPN.com/Dick Vitale Diaper Dandy of the Week for the week of Feb. 8-14.Each year, a team or player has a game which turns it around for them. For freshman point guard Darius Washington Jr., it was the Dec. 11 game against Ole Miss.(I don`t think that it is a coincidence that this corresponds to the number of sessions on IntelliGym(tm).The following charts show the difference in his game (by stats) since Dec. 11 and also how his game has improved in the last 13 contests:
Up to D-11 Stat Post D-11
(1st 9 games) (last 16 games)
12.1 Scoring Avg. 16.4
3.1 Reb. Avg. 4.3
25/34 Asts/TO 70/53
17 Steals 29
40.6 FG Pct. 50.0
36.0 3P Pct. 42.9
50.0 FT Pct. 73.8
Darius Washington Jr. is not the only Tiger that has been playing well since mid-December. Senior Duane Erwin has raised his level of play the last 17 games.
Up to D-11 Stat Since D-11
(1st 8 games) (last 17 games)
4.4 Scoring Avg. 7.9
3.9 Reb. Avg. 7.0
8 Blocks 23
5/8 Assists/Steals 25/18
47.6 FG Pct. 46.9
88.2 FT Pct. 65.6
1 10+ Reb. Games 4
2 5+ Reb. Games 14
As they say, "the proof is in the pudding". Or "numbers don`t lie". Take your pick.For more information, or to order got to http://www.basketball4all.homestead.com/ACE.html

Saturday, February 05, 2005

D3hoops.com: The definitive resource for Division III men's and women's basketball

D3hoops.com: The definitive resource for Division III men's and women's basketball:
System loses, Beloit wins
Since there's been so much discussion, I thought I would just post the following from the front page of D3Hoops.com :

Grinnell never got on track.
Beloit scored with 2.9 seconds remaining and a last-ditch Grinnell shot never got off before the buzzer as the Buccaneers beat the Pioneers 86-85. Grinnell seemingly never got into the flow from three-point range and only made back-to-back threes on one occasion, but took an 85-84 lead after a steal at midcourt in the final minute. The
full game story.

If you're new to Division III and tuned in this game on TV, relax, this is not typical of Division III basketball! But it's an interesting look at Grinnell's unique style of ball. Division III fans, want to tell ESPN what you think of their broadcast choice?
Click here.

If you missed Grinnell coach David Arseneault's appearance on Hoopsville on Tuesday night, you can
listen to the archived interview. Just beware, it's a 2.2 MB file and could take some time for dial-up users to download. And if you're not familiar with the finer points of the System, you should review Mark Simon's Around the Nation column from last season on the subject.

Grinnell/Beloit-a case of bad timing

This was probably not the best season for ESPN to choose to promote Grinnell College and Coach Arseneault and his "Running to the Extremes System" of play. For being the first regular season all NCAA DIII game broadcasted, it certainly was not a great representation of the level of playoff caliber DIII basketball around the country. Grinnell seemed like they are very down this season. I'm certain that they'd admit that. They graduated alot after a pretty successful season. They've had some good years since implementing "The System", and went twenty-some years between league championships before "Running". That may say something about the value of the concept. I do wonder how much they would have lost by to a superior Beloit club had they played a more "conventional" style. I have to think that it would be by more than a point. So maybe the system did it's job in that regard.

But the system wasn't really implemented to win ballgames. It actually came to life from the very pure intentions of the idealism behind the "Division III Philosophy" of the educational benefits from participation and inclusion in co-curricular pusuits. So, rather than playing 8 out of 16 players and having half of his team leave the gym unhappy, Dave Arseneault from Grinnell College developed a style of play that would allow all players to play and still "get their moneys worth" in terms of the # of possessions.

To clear up a common misconception (that was perpetuated into "uban legend" by the somewhat ill-prepared ESPN announcers) the "System" that Grinnell runs is not the same as the LMU system. The only similiarity involves the frequency of shots. The Grinnell System is far more complex. That being said, it's the first time I've seen Grinnell, after seeing the University of Redlands, who also use the style, several times. Another ESPN perpetuated fallacy is that Grinnell is the nations top scoring team. At this time, that title would go to the UofR, who happen to be out "Grinnell-ing" Grinnell. Another misconception is that it is an "undisciplined" style of play. If disciplined is defined as "doing what has to be done, doing it as well as you can do it, doing it when it has to be done, doing it that way all the time." (Bob Knight), then Grinnell/Redlands are as disciplined as any team out there.

Their (very)Fast Break is extremely structured and flows into a secondary break that is equally disciplined. The sequence of curls, cuts, screens, slips, drives and shots are ALL well thought out,sequenced and yes, disciplined. The offense is far more structured than most teams that run a true "motion offense" as that allows for more freedom of movement than does this offense. But they do have freedom to shoot. Early and often. Ive seen Redlands score 172 points and not take a bad shot. Not one "contested" 3pt shot - all of them open ones. They are also very cognisant of who has the "hot hand" and will continue to try to get that player open 3pt looks with double screens and drive&kicks.Only wide open and uncontested drives to the basket and not one single "driveintothelaneleaveyourfeetandthrowupanykindof-BSoffbalanceshotyoucangetoffandhopeitgoesin".
You'll usually see 5-10 of those in any game you watch.They always have a positive assist/turnover ratio and their total number is relatively low for a team with that many possessions. I see much "sloppier" play from teams that play a more conventional style.

As a DIII guy at heart I was a little disappointed in the telecast, to say the least. I'll attribute some of the poor shooting to the setting (ESPN, hype, big game, etc) but there are several things that I noticed that had a great effect on this years Grinnell version in comparison to the University of Redlands edition of the "Grinnell System". If you watched or taped the game, maybe these things come to mind as well.

1)Grinnell was rarely "shot ready" on the catch. That led to contested shots and slowed down possessions. UofR does not need nearly the time to get off an open shot.

2)Grinnell seemed rather "indecisive" on the catch. They used more "rocker moves" and shot fakes than UofR will use in the entire season.

3)When Grinnell did put the ball on the floor, it did not seem as though they were very efficient with the dribble. They were taking 3 or 4 dribbles, when they could get to the basket or draw help with 2.

4)Grinnell screens, cuts, and curls were not as solid as they need to be. Therefore, players were either not open or not open quick enough to continue the desired pace. UofR sets better doubles and either fades or curls tight and very quickly. The screeners need to slip the screen or pop if the screen is curled. UofR gets several layups (which Grinnell missed several) off of the screeners slipping to the basket while the defense gets out on shooters.

5)After an opponents score the Grinnell inbounds pass must be quicker and further up the floor. Grinnell would catch substantially below the FT line after every made basket, thus wasting a few seconds each possession.

6) The PG must be more aggressive going to the basket and make his reads quicker. Either take it to the hole, pull up for the 3, explore the double screen action and make the correct decision, or hit the trailer and get involved in the cutting and screening himself. The Grinnell PG's looked rather tentative in those decisions.

7)Grinnell left something to be desired when it comes to their passing. Potential shooters rarely caught the basketball in a position to shoot.Each of these factors contributed to a less than successful possession or slowed the tempo a few seconds each time. This is crucial to their goals. 3 wasted seconds in 50 bad possesions would create 15 more possessions.

Defensively, I don't like the "get a steal or give up a layup" thing. Redlands at least attempts to take several charges a game. I might go a step further and demand that the defender either try to take a charge, run past the dribbler in an attempt to "strip" the dribbler, or attack the layup at the glass. I do understand that a foul is counterproductive, so you have to avoid those. Conference teams appear to have the press figured out by the time league rolls around and are disciplined enough to get the ball up the floor and have knocked off Redlands in a few close ones. The number of close games that are lost may be affected by this simple defensive adjustment.

As to players getting tired and the substitution pattern, all you need to do is look at track and field times to realize that if you are truly in a full sprint, your pace will slow after 100 meters(10-15 seconds) and it is really difficult to keep up that sprint beyond 400 meters (:45-1:30). There may be something more scientific than arbitrary to the :45 - 1:30 rotations.

All told, I'm not certain that I could play entirely this way but it does seem to be a viable alternative. And it does have a way of masking inferior players a little. It clearly is more effective if the players don't need as much masking. But no questioning that it does what it was created to do.

After giving it some thought, if I were to go AGAINST the system this is what I'm thinking. It's tough for all five guys to run the floor with teams that play this style. Especially for big guys. I saw a portion of a game where a 7'3" opponent spent most of his time running from top of the key to the top of the other key, just trying to catch up to the play. Try this on for size. How about keeping 1 big player at your offensive end and 1 big player at the defensive end. Then let your perimeter guys run the transition stuff. So you'd have a defender/inbounder, 3 transition guys, and a finsher. If you score your finisher can pressure and slow the inbounds pass, and you already have a big defender all the way back. 1 transition guy could deny the PG the ball and the other 2 could run and defend the weakside double. If they score your inbounder can throw deep to the finisher, who's already under your basket. And the cycle continues.

You might score 200!

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The "Transitive Property" in Basketball is NOT in effect

NCAA parity: "
I can't remember a season when the old "on any given night..." cliche was so evident. It is so difficult to truly "rank" teams that it seems fruitless to try. Or at least to put ANY stock in their importance. Here are a few examples

Kansas just lost to Villanova
does that make 'Nova better?
North Carolina lost to SANTA CLARA
should Santa Clara be ranked higher

Georgia Tech lost to Gonzaga and Virginia Tech
well USF and St Mary's beat the 'Zags,
but USF lost to LMU who lost to UCR and they lost to non-scholarship UC-Davis who's in the first year of DI
while Virginia Tech lost to Western Michigan who lost to USC who lost Rick Majerus after 5 days on the job.

Get where I'm going? There are examples of this all around the country across every division of basketball.

There simply is no
'transitive property' (If a > b and b > c, then a > c) in basketball. You just cannot use comparitive schedules and scores.
Just because Team A beat Team B and Team B beat Team C does not mean that Team A will beat Team C.

There was a season, when I coached at Pomona-Pitzer, that we had it figured (tongue in cheek) that we were as good as the #1 team in the nation, North Carolina.
We beat Cocordia(Irvine) and they beat Biola who beat Azusa Pacific who beat Cal Poly(Pomona) who beat UC Riverside who upset Iowa in the Maui Classic. Iowa beat Indiana who beat Michigan who beat North Carolina. Or something like that. Hence - we would beat the Tar Heels.

But this year is absolutely CRAZY.
Follow this one:
Duke narrowly beat Princeton by 8
UTEP beat Princeton and OXY by the same amount
Trinity(Cn) beat Oxy by 14
Pomona-Pitzer beat Trinity(Cn) by 13
La Sierra beat Pomona-Pitzer by 7
Life Pacific beat La Sierra by 15
CAL TECH beat Life Pacific by 2

so CAL-freakin-TECH is SEVENTEEN pts better than Duke! Right?

In the game of basketball today the gap has narrowed so much and it is such a fine line between levels. High DI, Mid-major, Low-DI, DII, NAIA, or even a quality DIII. Shoot, recently Occidental beat an injury riddled Cal State Fullerton squad and the University of Redlands gave suspension depleted Villanova a scare. Yes, the same Villanova that just beat Kansas. Bu the guys that played were STILL DI scholarship players. If a team decides to "phone it in" and not bring their "A game", almost anyone can beat anyone on a given day. But it does not necessarily mean that they should be ranked higher. It just means that they were better on that day.

So, worry less about rankings and standings, and more about getting better every day and every play. The great thing about basketball is that it is all decided during March Madness."

Wednesday, January 19, 2005

The Science of Shooting

In This doc could give Warriors a shot: Scot Ostler writes, "Most players learned to shoot on their own and their bad habits were never corrected, only compensated for. [Players think]A jump shot (or free throw) is way too personal to let a stranger tinker with it.
In golf, every pro has a coach who analyzes, critiques and tweaks every swing, even on the practice range. Golfers don't pick up a toothbrush without their coach correcting their grip.
The jump shot and the golf swing are cousins, mechanically, but golfers recognize certain basic laws of a good swing, and hoopsters cherish the idiosyncrasies of their jumpers. "

Baseball players are no different with their swing. Hands here, hips there, feet like this, head like that. Watch themselves on video, over and over again. I believe that THAT is the primary reason the increase in offensive statistics. Others point to the rampant performance enhancing drugs. Unless the drug also provides radar - there must be something else.
More teams so the dilution of pitching? No way! Not with the increase in population, number of youth players, earlier training and the influx of foreign scouting. There may be even more pitchers available now.

These athletes are aware of their inadequacies and they try to fix them. Basketball players need to do the same. Shot awareness is a theory provided by the Dr. that Ostler speaks of. He'll tell you the secrets to a great basketball shooting technique that will give you a consistent jump shot and the perfect shooting fundamentals that you have been looking for. Develop a follow thru and use of your legs that, with practice, will make you a great shooter.. Find out more from Dr. Tom Norland at Swish

Friday, January 14, 2005

Life in the Slow Lane

The Grinnell basketball coach David Arseneault fulfilled numerous coaches' requests by publishing a book entitled, "The Running Game- A Formula For Success" and an instructional video called "Running To Extremes."
That system has been the topic of discussion recently, with Redlands University running their version at the tune of over 140 ppg. Last night in high school basketball, we saw the complete antithesis. The story follows-

FOXSports.com - More Sports - Second quarter 3-pointer proves decisive: "Hard to imagine a 3-pointer in the second quarter of a high school boy's basketball game would turn out to be the winning basket , unless it's one of only three made in the entire game.
That basket, along with an earlier field goal, was all Bellows Free Academy-Fairfax needed to beat Milton on Wednesday night. The final score: 5-2.
To the teams' credit, the score was the result of an apparently deliberate stalling strategy.
It could not immediately be determined if the score was a state or national record low, but the contest certainly attracted attention.
we've been talking about it all morning over here,' said Bob Johnson, the director of student activities for the Vermont Principals' Association, which governs high school sports.
'It had to have been one of the most boring games in the world,' he said."...read the rest here

I'm guessing that it will lead to plenty of discussions regarding the use of a shot clock in Vermont, as is used in many states. Purists can now chime in about he shot clock being "the devil" and how teams need to be able to be patient, work the clock, and use clock management for the purpose of upsetting a superior opponent. Read the entry regarding UofR scoring 172 points and then tell me which game was more "pure" to the sport of basketball.

Thursday, January 13, 2005

Running is rarely the answer!!!

Coaching players is like raising kids. Raising my children, I did not only want them to do the right thing because "Dad said so" or for fear of being punished, but rather because it was the right thing to do. Their comes a time when "Dad"(or Mom or COACH) is not going to be there, and yet a correct decision must be made. In order for this to occur, they had to learn "why" it was the right thing, and "how" it was going to benefit them. I believe that a similiar approach must be taken in coaching. At Basketball-tips and Basketball4ALL we call it "Parenting the Program."
You want players to practice hard and focused because it is he right thing to do and, due to your well planned practice, is impossible NOT to do. You don't want them to practice hard for fear of running. You can't stop play in the middle of a game and tell them to "Get on the line!" They better be able to gain focus on their own - because it is a habit learned so that they know no other way.

A simple reminder or "attitude adjustment" time (sprint up and back, a lap, etc) is one thing to get their attention and recommit to the task. However, "punitive" running on a regular basis loses it's effectiveness and is counter productive over the long haul. They may straighten up for the next drill, but in reality down the line they are actually losing focus. Now when they practice, they may be thinking about "not running" as opposed to the real objective - to play the right way. Similiar to the "Pre-Game Speech" that everyone looks for. It's only good for about the time it takes to run down the hall from the locker room to the court - then you better have a pretty good warm up, some focused players, and a solid game plan.

Running at the very end of practice can also cause players to try to “save” themselves by not practicing as hard as they can. This can create a negative effect, and players may develop bad habits. Finally, if the last thing that players do at practice before they hit the locker room and go home is something that they do not enjoy (or even dislike!), that is what they will be talking about until the next practice comes around. A negative atmosphere may be brewing, without even knowing it. A much better method is to end practice on a positive note, and have everyone looking forward to getting back to work at the next practice.

Friday, January 07, 2005

The Redlands/Grinnell System


That is what some people have named the system that leads the nation in scoring over the past few seasons. At Basketball-tips.com, I recieve dozens of questions about the Grinnell(Redlands) System of play. So I thought that here may be a good spot to discuss the system, as I see it.

First off, I went to the Redlands/La Sierra game last night. 172-107 - Redlands. They had 93 at the half - and went thru a cold spell. Scored their 101st point at the 18:36 mark in the 2nd half. Played 21 guys - 14 of them over 10 minutes. Did not play most of their top ten in the final 10 minutes. Did not really press full court in the final 4 minutes. Probably could have scored 200. Honest.

After seeing them play a dozen or so times in the past 3 seasons, this is what I can discern from watching. At the end of the season I intend to sit down with Coach Gary Smith and pick his brain some. He is one of the true gentlemen in the game and having coached at a different league school with son that goes to another - I don't want to put him in an awkward position of thinking that I was trying to get some "inside info" to give to other league schools.

To start with here is a link to their game by game statistics as of this AM.
You can gather plenty of insight from that.

Here goes:

They sent 5 subs to the table at 19:38. Another 5 at 18:58. And it continued, 5 new at every whistle. If it's been longer than a minute, they foul to stop the clock and get subs in. They really use just 3 groups and the last 5 guys get sprinkled in and played more down the stretch. The groups are mixed sometimes and coach is writing things down on his clipboard the same way he did when they ran motion and played 45-43 games in the 80's or when they ran the triangle as early as 4 years ago. What he's keeping track of and how he does it that fast I don't know. You'd think that rapid fire subs would not allow a player to "get into the flow" or "develop a rhythm" but it appears to be just the opposite. They are never out of the game long enough to get out of rhythm.

They run a designated outlet to the point guard, 2 runs the right, 3 AND 4 run the left. They do not really look to throw it ahead to 2 but rather clear him thru off of a 3/4 double on the weakside. 5 trails. This clears the whole right side for the PG to drive full speed to the hoop, which is his mission - and he completes it often. If, by chance, he cannot he knows that 2 will be in the opposite corner and behind the double for a 3pt opportunity. If 2 does not receive a pass he does not stop, but rather curls the double to the basket. and 3 pops the stack in that double screen to the corner for his 3pt opportunity. This is a clear cut offense and is very precise and disciplined. This action of doubles, curls, pops, drive and kicks continues at a breakneck pace. Players never stop moving, all looking for "blow by" layups or kick outs to the 3 point line. The players truly seem in tune with who shooters are and who has the hot hand. If someone hits 2 in a row - you can be sure that they are going to get a 3rd and 4th opportunity.

When a shot goes up - all 5 players crash the boards and do not worry about getting back or defensive balance. They got 30 offensive boards last night, a number just over their seasonal average to date. You would think that he emphasis on the break and shooting 3's would negate opportunities to get to the FT Line - a goal that I think is worthwhile. But Redlands is averaging 24 of 30 from the line on the year. A respectable number of attempts per game, and a great team percentage.

After a score they get into what amounts to a full court 1-2-2 full court press. They have the 5 man on the ball and normally full front all opponents, daring you to throw over the top. They really leave anyone deep open, using their two deep guys to come up and intercept anything over the top to the front guards. They gave up the deep pass 4 or 5 times and only intercepted 2 , but it was thrown away a bundle and the deep defenders came up to get several steals.

On misses they jam and double the rebounder with the 2 closest players and get into a zone press as well, with the same principles. The double teams continue throughout the possession and into the half court, which would resemble a 1-3-1 matchup half court trap. This defensive pace and pressure has created over 30 turnovers a game for the opponents, while Redlands averages under 20 - pretty good for the pace that they play. If the opponent scores, 5 inbounds up court quickly and the process starts all over again.

Anyone that knows me, or has read enough of what I have to say , knows that I'm pretty old school and conservative. I don't know if I could coach it this way, but those who say that it is not "basketball" are dead wrong. Those who think that it is not disciplined are even more mistaken.

I'm trying to recuperate and gather my thoughts as to what would be the best way to approach playing a team using this style. So, more on that later.

As the years have gone on, Redlands seems to have made more of a commitment to fully implement the "Grinnell" style. Thus, they are getting more out of it. I think that, as with most things successul, if you "tinker" with it - you may lessen its effectiveness. It just may be all or nothing, if you really want to get it's full effect. Coach Smith is a traditionalist as well and I commend him for his courage to give this a crack. The past 2 times I've watched them are, maybe, the 2 most enjoyable games I've ever seen. I had a blast.

Now, breath deeply :?)

Saturday, January 01, 2005



Every year many people try to make New Years
Resolutions to change or
alter their behavior over the next year. In order
to truly follow thru
with a resolution, it must be one that you truly
believe in. Basketball
resolutions are no different. Before you commit
to changing a style of
play or improving on a skill, you must first know
that it is something
that you really believe to be important in the
game of basketball.
If any of you have seen the baseball movie, Bull
, The main
character (played by Kevin Costner) states the
things that he believes in,
in a little monologue.
Here`s my attempt at my "Basketball Beliefs" ala
"Crash Davis".


I believe in the basketball.
I believe in running the floor,
the first open man,
the ball reversal,
the open shot,
the jump stop,
and the pivot foot.
I believe in setting screens,
using screens,
dribbling for a reason,
good passing angles,
being "shot-ready"
and catching passes with two hands.
I believe in spacing, court vision,
the"assist/turnover ratio", and the
concept of "relative motion".
I believe that there oughtta be a constitutional
amendment outlawing the
dunk and the hand-check.
I believe in a good, defensive stance,
pressure on the basketball,
influencing to the sideline,
preventing penetration,
fronting the post in the "red-zone" and playing
behind in the "smile".
I believe in the "ball-man-line",
help-side defense,
checking cutters,
committing to the basketball,
taking the charge rather than blocking the shot,
team rebounding,
and I believe in the beauty of long, solid
possesions that always result
in a shot on offense and a contested shot on

Lok's Ledger