30 second time outs

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

:D-WASH EARNS SECOND RIVALS.COM HONOR; ALSO VITALE ACCOLADE
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!

Lok's Ledger