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Archive for January, 2007

“The One-Handed Off-the-Dribble Pass”

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on January 15, 2007

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Outdoor court in Sydney, Australia (NTL Media)

When I was a kid, going to camps and clinics, being coached on teams in school, CYO, and college, even learning the game by listening to pros and former pros (Cousy, Twyman, Russell) commentate on network tv, there were certain things that were considered no-nos: “going one-on-one”, cross-court passes, dribbling or “bringing the ball down” while in the post, one-handed passes. These were givens, cardinal rules: you did not break them. Gradually, students of the game noticed that certain players broke these rules and got away with, even flourished by breaking them. Players copied what the great players were doing and managed to be successful. Coaches then adapted. Take the one-handed pass. The problem with a one-handed pass was, and is, the wind-up. Again, as a kid, you were told not to do it because it “telegraphed” it, i.e., gave it away. The defense, because of the big(ger) wind-up has a chance to read it and react to it, then steal or deflect the pass. Gradually, and I don’t know who started it, but John Stockton was a major practitioner and Greg Anthony favored it as well, players would snap off quick, short wind-up, off-the-dribble one-handed passes. Typically they were made when defense wasn’t near in position to make a steal and typically it was on the break. Or from the top of the key: “DJ to Bird!” Of course, these days, Steve Nash is the player seen utilizing this most. He does it in the half-court on pick and rolls, he does it on the break. The technique: dribble the ball slightly backward and, simultaneous to that backward dribble step forward with the same or corresponding foot. As that foot is landing, the ball should be as far back as it’s going to go (not far, remember, quick, short wind-up) and then a snap quick baseball type pass, but with only a half wind-up at most. Don’t throw sidearm or put sidespin on the ball. Get your hand behind it and fire it quick! Snap it! Remember this: a big wind-up, one-handed pass is STILL a NO-NO!

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“The Backdoor Cut Pass”

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on January 8, 2007

When there’s a backdoor cut or about to be a backdoor cut, the cutter and the passer need to be in concert. The cutter reads the defender and starts setting up the defender for the unpleasant experience of giving up an easy lay-up and the passer has to recognize what is going on, the carnage that’s about to be wreaked. Remember: it’s all about deception. The cutter looks like he’s coming out to get the ball or coming to the ball to get it. The passer looks like he’s gonna deliver it. If you’re NOT dribbling, with two hands on the ball step (just as you would if you were passing) in the direction of where you would pass, faking a one-hand push pass. The cutter puts her hands up as if to receive. The MOMENT the cutter changes direction, not when they’re half way to the basket, but the MOMENT the change of direction happens, you flick off a bounce pass. If the passer is dribbling, and since dribbling obviously occurs with just one hand, there is no fake, and the pass is made one-handed, a la Nash, a la Stockton. Allah be praised! The bounce pass resembles and presents itself as a long dribble gone to the receiver just beyond the reach and attention of the hapless defender.

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“Ready to Shoot”

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on January 4, 2007

(This is the sort of thing that college players work on all the time.) When considering getting a shot off (without getting it blocked), shooters often think about (and ask me about) jumping over defenders, a “quick release” and other difficult-to-achieve, nebulous approaches. True, one hopes to be unfettered when shooting; you want separation – space – between you and the defender. However, the best way to accomplish this is to be ready to shoot, ready to shoot a quality shot. This is accomplished by being as far into the process of catching-and-shooting as is possible. I remember being almost reduced to tears watching Bird just catch and flick from the corner against Arkansas in the NCAA Regional Final in 1979. His hands were already up for the catch, his knees were bent for the jump, and he was squared to the hoop for accuracy. That guy was ready to shoot, and you can be too, if you prepare to shoot before you catch the ball. Once again: hands up (palms showing), knees bent so you don’t have to take the time to do that after catching, and pivot to square up while catching so you can eliminate time and motion on your shot. Hopefully, the tears shed watching you will be tears of admiration, as well.

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