The Used-to-Be No-nos that are Now Yes-yesses; Part Three: Dribbling in the Post
Posted by Steve Bzomowski on May 10, 2007
Earlier we wrote about the “one-handed pass” and “going one-on-one” as occurences in basketball that used to be considered no-nos but are now acceptable, and in many instances, desireable. The third in this series that reflects changes in the game is the idea of “dribbling the ball in the post”.
Generally speaking, it was always viewed as bad for very tall people to dribble the ball in the post (or anywhere) because when they dribbled the ball, it was, naturally, high off the floor, spending a lot of time in the air, unattended. Those high dribbles gave smaller quicker players the opportunity to come and swipe the ball away. Like taking a balloon from a child. Those high exposed dribbles just don’t cut it with coaches, not now and not ever. Nor does dribbling in a crowd; again, the ball is just too exposed. Both instances take away from the advantage that a tall player has: height, that space high off the floor where shorter players cannot quickly and easily reach. By putting the ball down, you enter the realm of the midgets. Giraffes do not bend down the limbs of tall trees to share with rodents.
But this idea of not dribbling in the post was before post players began to develop “post moves”, especially post moves that required manipulating the defender in the post, getting the defender to lean one way, so that with proper footwork, you could gain better position and territory in the post to score. The dribble drop-step: a staple of every post player for the past twenty-plus years. The danger comes when there is perimeter defense nearby. The danger comes when the post dribbler doesn’t s-p-r-e-a-d o-u-t enough so to keep the ball from being poked away by the defender in the post. (This happened to Yao Ming over and over in the recent completed series against Utah. Yao would catch low left post, his teammates would clear to give him space, and he’d turn, look middle and dribbe, dribble, dribble, standing UP TOO STRAIGHT and Mehmet Okur would evenually poke the exposed dribble away. “The way to cut down turnovers is to limit the dribble,” said Yao, who hit 10 of 17 shots. “You have to give them (the Pacers) credit. They have a good steal team, particularly stealing from the big guys.”) The danger comes, as it comes to every player everywhere on the court, when you show the ball to the defense.
In March, I was watching a college game and Rick Majerus, the best college basketball coach alive, commented that a post player brought the ball down, dribbled the ball in the post, and that that player should learn from Shaq and Tim Duncan, who, Majerus contended, never brought the ball below their shoulders. I, of course, worship every word Majerus speaks, but on this I humbly disagreed. Shaq and Duncan never hold the ball below their shoulders but they certainly dribble drop-step when defense has been cleared and when they spread out so that defense cannot then possibly disrupt the move with a poke-away.
Guards and perimeter players protect their dribbles by keeping the dribbles low, not exposing the ball to defense, and by utilizing quick hands. To a degree, and with the protection of isolation on the floor, post players can now do the same.