30 second time outs

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