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Friday, February 27, 2009

Michigan Game

I had the pleasure of going to the Michigan/Purdue game last night in Ann Arbor. We had great seats thanks to Zack Novak who hooked us up with some tickets. The game was very good. Purdue's big man JaJuan Johnson got in foul trouble and it hurt Purdue a lot. DeShawn Simms dominated the inside and had a career high.

After the game, my friends and I were waiting for Novak to get out of the locker. I saw Bill Raftery finishing gathering his equipment from announcing the game. So, I decided to go shake his hand because I am a fan. He was very nice and even introduced himself when he saw I was waiting to talk to him. That is why there is a picture of him above.

I also shook hands with Manny Harris and DeShawn Simms while we were standing around talking to Zack. We did not stay too long though because it took a little bit over 4 hours to get up there and then a little bit under 4 hours to get back. Overall, it was a good trip.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Stanley Robinson

Some players are better in the pros than they are in college. One player that stands out in my mind is Brad Miller. He had a mediocre college career at Purdue, but he has had a solid NBA career even making the all-star team. Robbie Hummel is excelling more at Purdue than he did in high school. Players occasionally excel at a higher level when they didn't necessarily dominate at a lower level. Usually it is a player that has a growth spurt and is getting used to his size or something along those lines.

Stanley Robinson has a chance to be a good NBA player I believe. He is so athletic at 6'8. If he can play the perimeter or at least guard the wing players in the NBA he will find a spot on a roster for many years. He might be the most athletic player in the Big East and that would be saying something with players like Terrence Williams in the league.

Robinson is a great story about taking time away from basketball to get his life together. He went and worked at a sheet metal factory. That will open your eyes pretty quickly. Maturity in a player is an underrated characteristic that is important to winning teams...championship quality teams.

I hope he continues to do well and maybe he will make it in the NBA one day.

Zebra Time

I'm going to follow in the footsteps of Ed Hightower and Steve Welmer. I plan on working some basketball games as a referee. I just hope I can make the two legends proud. I plan on doing outrageous charge calls by running the length of the court then making the call as Hightower would do. Mr. Hightower makes every game more fun to watch just by his antics.

Seriously though, I just hope I am decent. I should be because I will put a good effort for getting into position and that's why most refs are bad...they don't get in position to see the play. I never get on a ref if he is working and trying. It also helps if they understand the rules well.

I'll report back after I do a few games.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Basketball recruiting is a weird thing. There is no science to it. Some abilities transfer from high school to the college level. Some abilities do not. Everyone is quick at the college level. All the players can jump. All the players are strong. Most of the players at the college know the game very well. They don't go for fakes easily. For most players the transition from high school to college is a hard one.

First thing most college coaches look at when recruiting a player is height. It doesn't matter the position. Coaches cannot teach height and it is something that is hard to overcome in a lot of situations on the basketball court. That is not to say if you are short than you can't make it at the higher levels. There are players in the NBA under 6 feet even if they are listed at a taller height. Height can be a very overrated thing if players do not have skills to go with their height. Lots of college coaches write off players because of their height and they end up haunting them by going to a rival school and dominating.

Quickness is usually the next thing. Lateral quickness is a key to perimeter defense. To be able to defend at the collegiate level players need to be very quick laterally. Teams will have a scouting report to attack a slow player off the dribble and they will do it all game. That can put others in jeopardy of picking up fouls while trying to help the slower player out. Slower players can make up for their lack of quickness by anticipating very well...being one step ahead of the action.

Next is shooting/skill set. If a player can flat out shoot the basketball then coaches will notice. Then it will come down to if the coach thinks the player will be able to get shots off in a short window to get it off. Slow releases do not work in college and that goes for any level of college. People underestimate the speed of the game at Division II and NAIA. Basketball is not a game built for slow people. The less athletic you are the more skilled you need to be. It's a simple rule.

Recruiting is a strange game. After the top 20-30 players in America for any class...the next 200-300 are very similar to each other in potential and skill level. College fans get wrapped up in so and so as the 5th best recruiting class coming in next year...they are going to be great. Well most of the time that doesn't work. Work ethic separates a lot of people after they get in school. Some are happy to be at that level. Some would rather party and hang out with girls. Some are focused and want to better themselves and want to excel. Do you know what player will lose focus after they arrive on campus? Usually not, that's why it is so tough to recruit well.

I'll write about recruiting more in the future.

Monday, February 16, 2009

Close Outs

How many times have you seen a jump shooter get fouled this year? It seems like this year more than any other year that shooters are getting fouled on shots. They all seem to be legit fouls too. They aren't the Reggie Miller leg kick fouls. The fouls are body checks half the time. The cardinal sin of basketball is fouling a jump shooter.

First reason not to foul a shooter is that most of the time you are fouling a shooter that is going to make the '3' about 35% of the time on average. So on average every time that shooter takes a '3' he can expect to get 1 point of expected value. Now, you foul that same shooter and let's say he is a 75% free-throw shooter. He gets 3 free-throws and on average he will make 2 of them. You are literally giving the other team 1 point in expected value. Those points add up especially if you are the less talented team.

The other reason is because of the odds of actually blocking the shot itself. A player can probably count how many times they have blocked a jump shot on one hand. The chance of blocking the shot is very slim, but the chance of getting a foul on the attempt is very high.

Simply put the risk is not high enough or frequent enough for the reward of blocking a shooter. So just stay down and make the shooter hit a tough shot.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Overlooked Part of Rebounding

Every coach knows the importance of rebounding. All teams do rebounding drills. Coaches stress the importance of blocking out and pursuing the ball aggressively. Those are all important points of rebounding the basketball, but it is all wasted if the rebounder doesn't get the ball securely up the floor.

How many times have you seen a big man get a good rebound and then anxiously they try to get rid of the ball instead of being strong with it. I hate when big guys are afraid to chin the ball against pressure. They are so afraid of getting the ball stolen from them they end up making a bad outlet pass which results in a turnover.

I like rebounding drills that are live until a strong outlet is made to either a team or a coach depending on the drill. That enforces the importance of not only getting the ball, but also keeping possession of the basketball. They learn when they need to chin the ball and pivot against pressure and when they can just make a quick pass to a guard. Guards also learn when they can dribble the ball up and when they need to make a pass because a dribble could easily be stolen from behind.

Duke and UNC this week. Can life get better? :)

Monday, February 2, 2009

Young, Losing Teams

If you coach long enough, I think everyone will coach an extremely young team in terms of experience or maturity. A lot of young teams struggle to win. Experience is usually an underrated trait. The fact you have been through something before helps you grow and you learn how to handle it better the next time. As a coach you hope that learning comes through successes but a lot of the time it doesn't. Young teams often lose a lot of close games because they work hard but they just don't make enough good decisions to win the close game.

The main problem is when young teams lose a lot of close games and a lot of games overall. It is natural to lose some confidence and the only thing that truly builds confidence is success. I really do not think confidence can be built any other way. Encouragement or re-enforcing they are talented does not build confidence. Winning close games builds confidence, coming back when they were challenged creates confidence.

So, you have a young team with no confidence...what can you do to keep them working hard? Effort and determination to get better is key. They must see the big picture. I believe they must see a "real life" connection. Rough times in basketball is nothing compared to a man losing his job with kids to feed. That's true pressure. You can use basketball to help build mental toughness though which would help you in that position.

I think the team also needs to know what it means to respect the game. How the game is "supposed" to be played. That has nothing to do with zone defense or offensive schemes. It's about always running back to stop a easy basket. It's about sliding over to take a charge. It's about making the extra pass instead of taking a bad shot. It's about executing fundamentally. The game is bigger than they are. They need to be doing all the small things. Sprinting the floor on offense and defense will lead to good things especially if your man isn't sprinting. Some players will jog back on defense if the guy they are guarding is behind them instead they should be sprinting the floor and helping out their teammates by providing extra help until his guy gets into the half court set.

Cliff notes...I believe they must see the big picture in life. They must have a good mindset to get things done and they must be determined not to fail. They must know how to play the game correctly, fundamentally and in terms of effort and unselfishness. Many players fail in all these areas even great players.