30 second time outs

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Pick & Roll D vs Pick & Roll O

Thank goodness for Tivo.

I just got finished watching the US/Greece debacle again. And repeatedly "rewinding". First time put it on in the background during some work. It was not necessarily the US inability to guard the P&R as it was Greek proficiency at executing it.

The US mixed up the manner in how they defended it (or couldn't decide-not sure which)

The screeners defender would step out-the screener would slip it and be open in the middle of the lane

The on ball defender would go under-the dribbler would pull and hit a 3

The defenders would switch-the Greeks would exploit the mismatch and go inside

The defenders would double the ball-the dribbler would back dribble to avoid pressure and hit the roll

The screener's defender would help until the on ball defender could recover-then the screener would Pick & Pop to hit a 3

The USA off ball defenders would help on the driver-and the open man would hit a 3

They'd try to deny-and get beat with a backdoor

At the other end....*ONE on FIVE AGAINST a ZONE* (But what should we expect-that's what we see all summer long at every "showcase" event around ! : ? )

Saturday, September 02, 2006

USA over Argentina

I guess that Bronze is better than the 6th place finish in the Athens 2004 Olympics.

As an end result-a little disappointing. However, looking at this as the first step in the journey to the Olympics in 2008, it may have been progress. The need to play in the qualifying tornament next summer may turn out to be a blessing, giving us another handful of games to come around. Taking the step to a "National Program" of 20 players making that 3 year commitment may, over time, enable us to adapt to a different style of offense that we face in international play.

In the 3rd place game, Argentina played a little more "American "style of offense with some staggerd screens, penetration and isolations. We handled the "short term offense" much better than the continuous moving, screening and cutting that other international teams play. Our defensive deficiencies are pretty easy to trace - but more difficult to fix.

The players that we have are young NBA players and were the youngest team in the FIBA Final Four. In the NBA and in the elite level AAU/Showcase events that has been the majority of their experience the offensive sets are short, terminal plays based on pick and rolls and isolations. This shows in the manner in which our guys defend. The next time ALL FIVE USA defenders are in defensive stance at the same time will probably be the first time. This hurts us when the opponent sustains their offense and causes the US to get impatient defensively. The players tend to gamble and go for steals, either on ball or in the passing lanes.

Defenses need to realize that the deeper they get in the shot clock the more pressure that is on the OFFENSE. I think that a more position oriented defense may be better. While it doesn't necessarily take advantage of our athleticism, it does cover for our impulsiveness in trying to cause a turnover and create a faster tempo. The better (read smarter) offensive international players take advantage of that gambling with penetrate and kick or draw and dish opportunities. It seems taht every time a USA defnder turned his head in the passing lanes he got beat backdoor, and sometimes that, or that deep 3, is as demoralizing as a USA dunk.

A more focused defensive effort, starting with something as simple as being in stance would enable us to contest nearly EVERY shot, and the less athletic opponents may be affected in their shooting percentage. Mix a little full court pressure now and then, with an active zone defense and that can put us on our way to our target - Gold in Beijing !

Now offense...that's another discussion for another day ! : ? )

Friday, September 01, 2006

Basketball in the USofA what has it become - and why.

The sport of basketball in the USA has changed. The game that is being played is some spiced up, yet watered down version of what Dr. James Naismith invented. Try that with a favorite soup recipe. Add a whole bunch of spices - then throw in an extra quart of water. Not too good, is it? The United States developed this game, and now they are destroying the game as we knew it. Maybe it is just evolving into something different. Something more resembling that old made-for-TV "SlamBall" than the game of skill, finesse and accuracy that Naismith`s game required to become successful. But ancient Greco-Roman wrestling evolved into WWF professional wrestling. That doesn`t make it better. Maybe it is more "entertaining" if you are not a thinking man. More "action" around the ball (I see less action away from the ball)and more "spectacular" plays (I see less intelligent decisions). I have to believe that their are still some people that appreciate the 2-1 baseball game or a football defensive struggle...or a Detroit Pistons NBA Championship, when they "played the right way". Contests are like a chess match, that require strategy and counter moves, something just as cerebral as it is physical. But certainly many games are now much less a "sport" and more an "event". More individual and less team. More "me" and less "we".

In the United States players, in general, no longer understand shot selection and team play, decision making and execution, movement anticipation and pattern recognition, using peripheral vision and spatial awareness, or have any general concept of relative motion and court sense. Game intelligence is at a minimum. Even when they win, they look worse doing it. At least in the eyes of a basketball purist. Players grow up playing so many games, that the games are less meaningful. Many people never even hear about the results of those games, so the end result is insignificant. Players do not necessarily compete with their friends and schoolmates, but a collection of talent from all over. The feeling of trust in and responsibility for their teammates is never fostered because everyone spreads out when it is all said and done..

Internationally the game is still a game of movement, passing, open shots, team creativity, and deception. The game as Naismith intended for it to be played. TEAMmates, playing TEAM basketball, for the TEAM. The game is about their teammates that they have lived with at the academies, practiced with and shared blood, sweat and tears with, over a long period of time. The teammates that they care about - and wouldn`t dare let them down.

American basketball players have become obsessed with bigger, faster, and stronger. The goal is to overpower - not to outsmart. Individual creativity is emphasized to battle the more prevelant (and often times legislated in youth games) man to man defense. Coaches get intoxicated with the athleticism that some players exhibit and the coach`s "basketball vision" get`s blurred. Coaches have turned to aggressive, attacking styles of play that are meant to cause turnovers and create easy shots. Fouling for profit, in hopes that the officials "can`t call all of them" is a common defensive strategy! However, what it has created is a generation of players that can only play that helter-skelter, individual style.
Now, how many times do you really look at the USA Olympic team , see a player and say, "he ...really has court sense"...sees the floor"...understands the game"...or...has a high basketball IQ"? Not many!

In the `60`s and `70`s basketball training was all about fundamental skill aquisition and footwork. In the `80`s and `90`s it was about physical training and getting bigger, stronger, faster. In this millenium, we need to address the final frontier...the brain!

Players, and coaches, need to return to the basketball concepts that make this game so great. The timing and synchronizing of player movement, the synergy that teamwork creates, and the perfection of offensive skills - with NO slippage allowed. Do not settle for mediocrity - demand perfection!

Lok's Ledger