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Saturday, January 31, 2009

Announcers

Basketball announcers can give a lot of insight into a game. They can make the viewing of a game a learning experience. Most just want to make it fun to watch which is truly their job. I prefer the announcers that see the little things...the pass that leads to the pass that leads to the basket type of thing. A lot just focus on the end of the play instead of what lead to the play.

Here are some of my favorites.
Jimmy Dykes
Jay Bilas
Steve Lavin
Fran Fraschilla

All of them are former coaches and bring a lot knowledge to the telecast. On the NBA side, I like the combo of Van Gundy and Mark Jackson. They bring insight and they have fun with it.

That also brings up of not always staring at the ball while watching a game. Watch away from the ball. Sometimes that is hard when watching on TV, but a lot of interesting things happen when people are trying to get open, the help side, the screening.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Blizzard

Indianapolis received about 13 inches of snow last night and into this morning. I did try to drive through an unplowed alley behind my house to get food. Needless to say I got stuck many times. I worked the forward-reverse-forward technique for a lot of it but in the end I need neighbor help who happened to be outside so I definitely got lucky there.

Duke and Wake Forest play tonight. I'm very excited for the game although I won't be rooting for either team. It should be a great game. I expect Wake to win...they definitely have more talent, but Duke plays so well together. Duke is almost a throwback team that does the little things right to win and win big.

Jeff Teague, the Wake point guard, is a Indianapolis native. He was underrated in high school. He sure would help Indiana right now. He is one of the best players in college basketball and he could prove that tonight. Wake Forest does have a huge height advantage though so they might have the ball go through the post every possession which might hurt Teague's numbers tonight. It would be interesting if Teague and Henderson guarded each other. Talk about athleticism, wow as Dickie V would say.

Side note, if Indiana University could shoot free-throws they would have 3 Big Ten wins right now. They have so many disadvantages with so many walk-ons and freshmen playing but they continue to fight. They have out rebounded each of their conference opponents so far...which is ridiculous if you ask me. Coach Crean has them playing incredibly hard though and if they cut down on a couple of unforced turnovers and knock down some free throws (especially in the clutch) then they will compete in their final conference games.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Effort

Effort and concentration can be a hard thing to teach. It usually comes do to if the player really wants to succeed or win. If the player doesn't care about getting better or helping the team win then they will not put out the maximum effort. A lot of players will say they want to win or they will say they want to get better but really they do not. They would rather take the easy road and have mediocre success then to push themselves everyday. The road less taken is usually that way for a reason. There are a lot of people that like to say "I could have been..." fill in the blank. To be honest no they could not have been because obviously they were missing something and that's why they didn't. Of course, they probably could have if they fully committed themselves to that thing but they probably lack that kind of work ethic or concentration.

Here is a clip of Kevin Garnett after their game Thursday night. He talks about playing with effort every night.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Random Thought

I really hate the idea of a conference tournament especially to decide who gets automatic bids to the NCAA tournament. In the big conferences, it doesn't matter much because the top regular season leaders of the conference will more than likely get at-large bids. If I was a mid-major though I would be strongly against it. A team like Oral Roberts could go undefeated in conference and then lose a heart breaker in the conference tournament and they would have no chance at the big dance.

Conferences will not be getting rid of conference tournaments anytime soon. They make extra money therefore athletic directors and what not love them. I would like more small conferences that get poor attendance at the conference tournaments to reward the teams that won the regular season.

Just a random thought as we are quickly approaching March. Basketball season goes by too fast especially in Indiana.

Thursday, January 15, 2009

I Wish I Was a Baller

"I wish I was a baller, I wish I was taller"

The famous Skee-Lo song says it all. Every basketball player growing up dreams of being tall. All basketball players wish they were taller. Players plead with coaches to list them on the roster a inch or two taller. To be a baller the rule is you must be tall. Obviously, this is not true but most people believe it.

The interesting thing is that the game needs to be played low to the ground. Ball-handling is better the closer the ball is to the ground. Moves are more explosive if you are low to the ground. Post players cannot be pushed around easily if the post player has a low center of gravity. Almost every player could improve their game by constantly being lower to the ground.

Standing straight-up is the opposite of being low and will rarely do any good on the basketball court. The only time where I can think of that standing straight is a good thing is when creating a wall for someone to shoot over in the post area. Most players catch while being straight up and down then have to get lower to make a move or to protect the ball. When every player catches with their knees bent it is a indicator that they are well coached and that they are probably pretty fundamentally sound.

One thing about being low when making a dribble move...you need to actually get even lower on the move. Even if the player's knees are bent, on the move itself, they should get a little bit lower to increase ball protection and to increase the explosiveness of the move. Players usually think they are lower than they actually are. They will also think bending at the waist counts as getting low. Exaggerate the knee bent/squat-like position in practice because we all know in games there will be some slippage.

GET LOW!

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Jodie Meeks

Jodie Meeks put together one of the greatest individual efforts in recent years in college basketball Tuesday night for the University of Kentucky. Meeks had 54 points to set the school record, which is not easy to do at a program like Kentucky. The most impressive thing was Meeks did it on only 22 shots. That is ridiculous efficiency.

I love great individual performances that lift a team to victory. If Meeks doesn't have a great game last night I doubt Kentucky wins that game. Whenever I go to a major league baseball game I hope to see a no-hitter. It is rare and it is a great individual effort that takes support from the whole team. It is what made Michael Jordan so special because any night you could see something spectacular like that. Jordan could get into a zone and put up 60 points any night.

Congrats to Jodie Meeks and thank you for the great performance!

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Indiana vs. Duke

Indiana and Duke are very different teams. They were both in basically the same situation last night though. One team handled it perfectly and the other did not. You can blame talent and experience, but it is basic basketball knowledge.

The situation
-Both teams up give or take 8 points
-3:30 left in the game
-Both teams use up the full shot clock
-Both teams take a tough shot and get the offensive rebound
-Both teams kick the ball out to an open, good 3-point shooter at the 3-point line

Devon Dumes receives the pass and shoots a 22 foot shot immediately. This is a classic case of not understanding or being aware of time and score. If he hits the shot, it doesn't make a huge difference. If he backs it out and uses another 30 seconds then it would make a huge difference and puts Michigan in a terrible spot. Michigan would rather be down a couple more points than have less time. Time is their biggest enemy.

Dumes takes a bad shot which leads to a quick Michigan basket. It swung the game in a huge way. Indiana never really regained their poise. Indiana was rattled and didn't know how to handle the game pressure. Michigan ended up winning the game in overtime.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, Jon Scheyer receives the kick out pass wide open on the 3-point line. Normally, this is an easy shot. Scheyer understands and is aware of the situation though and he backs the ball out immediately. Duke uses up more time and get a bucket after using clock. Davidson is now short on time and in a big hole. Davidson is the one that is pressing now and in a way they are rattled because they are paniced.

Little things make a big difference. Most wouldn't look at those situations as difference makers. Coaches spot those situations as a huge difference maker. It is something that you can absolutely control. Every player should know time and score situational strategy. Younger players will need to be reminded often but college players should know it like the back of their hand.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Balance

I have started to read Pete Newell's "Playing Big" guide to post play. One of the first things he talks about is balance. If anyone has ever worked with a young, big man then you know they usually lack balance as they haven't gotten used to their height yet. Balance is crucial to post player. Defenders are usually pushing and getting away with it. Therefore the post player must have a solid base to retain balance while finishing the play.

Teaching what balance feels and looks like is the starting place. Most players don't know how to start off balanced so how can they keep balance if they never have it to start with. The head dictates balance. If the head is leaning forward or to the side, the body will usually follow soon after that.

Once the balanced stance is taught then you can practice retaining balance. The way Coach Newell describes to teach this is to have the player get into a balance stance and then reach out one hand to shake the hand of a coach. Then the coach can pull on the player and player should try to remain still throughout the pull.

A player will struggle until they have great balance. Some referees let basically everything go in the post area so taking contact is critical. Balance should be worked on everyday even once it appears the player has mastered it because it is something that can be lost.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Random Thought

I believe the NBA age rule needs to be changed. The current rule is of course that each player has to be one year removed from high school in order to enter the NBA draft. In theory, it is a decent rule. The more skilled a player is when he enters the NBA the better for the league. It also helps the college game by having the best players play at least a year.

The one year and done player though can basically turn the term "student-athlete" into a joke because he definitely doesn't need to go to class the second semester and he can take ridiculously easy classes the first semester. It is just another example of the NCAA being hypocritical. We won't get into that for now.

I'm with Dick Vitale on having the college baseball rule. Which is basically you can enter the draft after high school, but if you go to college you must stay for 3 years. That would let the elite players go straight to the NBA but keep most players in college for a few years. I would also accept 2 years, but one year and done is just a sham. Let the players who are good enough go and make a living. The NBA and college games would be helped greatly by the rule change.

First Post of 20-09

I prefer twenty-O-nine. So, I would like more people to start doing the same. haha. I'm looking for 2009 to be a great year and not just a good year. I'm determined to get it done this year. I have gained a great perspective on things over the past year. I look to use that perspective to my advantage.

I do want to talk about great effort. Effort can be a hard thing to teach because people usually have a false self image of what they are actually doing. Video tape can help in that area. I think the best thing is calling the player out when you know they are giving 80%. An effort that they will believe is good enough. A level of effort they are comfortable with. Breaking the "comfort zone" is a key in doing anything well in life. Fighting to get more out of yourself in any spectrum is crucial. The fact you know you have to fight through fatigue and the fact you know you can get more out of yourself when you originally might think you are maxed out.

Bench time is another great option. Every player wants to play. Benching a few times usually gets the point across. If it doesn't improve things rather quickly then the player probably doesn't get it and may never. The player probably thinks they are bigger than the game but they find out they aren't down the road.