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Archive for May, 2008

Real Players Don’t Say “Glass”

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on May 29, 2008

Last night, near the end of the first half of the Celtics thrilling 106-102 Game Five playoff victory over the Pistons, Kevin Garnett banked in a desperation three-pointer from straight out to beat the shot clock. The shot was replayed by ESPN numerous times. Lucky shot. Big three points. I’m pretty good at lip-reading KG and what he normally says is not reprintable here, but what he didn’t say after knocking in that shot was “glass”. Cuz he didn’t mean to bank it in. But you know what? Had he intended to bank in a shot (Tim Duncan anyone?) he would not say it then either. Real players don’t say “glass”.

In a previous post, “The Great Ones Use the Glass“, we tried to help players understand that shooting the ball off the backboard is an enormously worthwhile skill to develop. What we didn’t say was shoot the ball off the backboard and shout the word “glass” as if it was the first time you ever did it. Why, I mean, what an odd and totally insecure habit. Stop it now! The reason recreational level players shout glass when they put the ball off the board is they want to make sure that everyone knows it’s not a mistake. Lord. If your game up to that point hasn’t established that you are capable of shooting the ball with some clue as to how it’s gonna get in the hoop, then maybe you should be yelling “glass”. Or “I’m new at this game!”. Or “I’m pretty sure you think I’m not very good so let me try this gimmick of announcing what I am doing. Some day, when I grow up, I won’t have to do it”.

Bank it in. Run down court and play defense like you know that they know that you know exactly what to do and how to do it on the basketball court. 

Posted in general improvement, shooting | Tagged: , , , | 6 Comments »

The Impossible

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on May 27, 2008

At the Never Too Late Basketball camps and clinic, we work with recreational type basketball players. But just because they’re never going to be paid to play doesn’t mean we can’t give them pro moves. We work on dribble drop-step in the post; we drill spins and explosiveness off the between-the-legs dribble; we go up-and-under in the post; we go hard curling off screens and catch and shoot the moment the ball touches our hands. What we don’t work on is what-we-cannot-and-never-will-do. In other words, the impossible. 

We will not be working on this at the “Nov/Int Skills & Scrimmage Clinic” at Matignon HS in North Cambridge, MA this Thursday night:

So you don’t think this is a one time only Jason Maxiell deal:





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About Billups’ layup (again)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on May 23, 2008

If you watch Billups right after he catches the pass and just before he shoots it (see the post just previous to this), he glances over his left shoulder to check where defense is before he lays in the reverse. (Looking for Posey chasing or, maybe, Garnett had he switched?) Pretty cool. No panic in that fella. Not that defense would have mattered; it was, because of the rim, a basically unblockable shot.

Thank god the Pistons won. This makes for a great series and forces the Celts to have to prove themselves to themselves.

Winning a title without winning a road game would be like living at home until you’re thirty, thirty-five. Safe, comfortable, maybe your parents would even give you a ring. But, you’d likely miss out on a thrill or two. (Me? Raised by wolves. Out the door at twelve.) It’s all in the struggle. I believe KG, that noted philosopher, would agree.

Posted in notes: college & pro | 2 Comments »

Pistons’ Last -Minute OB Play. Good Offense or Bad Defense?

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on May 23, 2008

The last minute Baseline OB play the Pistons ran that the Celtics defended very poorly and that really hurt the Cs is a classic NBA-type play. How to guard that type play, the decisions made on the bench during the time-out, and how the defense (and offense) execute it, is a great lesson in basketball.

Before you watch, it’s helpful to understand that there are three possible options:

1. the play is really designed for the 2nd cutter, Hamilton, who has a choice of which way to go but clearly intends to use the Wallace screen (going to his right) in the right corner. Just as clearly, the Celtics anticipated that and every movement and positioning by the defense says so.

2. the obvious option is the 1st cutter, Billups, who ultimately scores here, coming off the staggered screens (one screen followed by another). As Jeff Van Gundy (definitely in my top 3 all-time analysts) says in the YouTube replay, the Celtics failed to cover this by not having Pierce, who was guarding the inbounder, take away the middle (which is absolutely fundamental). That much we can guess was a coaching decision;

3. if Garnett helps too much, Wallace shows himself for the catch and shoot.

By positioning Pierce shading corner, the Celtics showed what they anticipated to be the play: shot for Hamilton in the corner. Tom Thibodeau, (a Van Gundy disciple) clipboard in hand, days worth of watching film behind him, knew what the play was to be and got the Cs ready to defend it. The choice to shade the corner was a bad one. Especially if you don’t help on the Billups cut! Sorry Tom. Something went awry. You don’t give-up the possibility of a layup to defend a corner jumper. Let the perimeter defense adjust to the cutters but have Pierce guard the hoop!

It starts with Hamilton setting the 1st screen for Billups; Billups cuts right and catches another screen from Wallace. Garnett shows just a touch, not wanting to leave Wallace. Could he have bumped Billups and recovered? That would have helped. Posey was trailing Billups. What if Posey had gone under the screen and Garnett switched to Billups, Posey now on Wallace? Rondo could have still trailed Rip.

But that’s why you set screens, and that’s why you cut shoulder-to-shoulder, and that’s why you place your offensive personnel in optimal positioning, and, lastly, that’s why you always guard the hoop first.

Posted in notes: college & pro | 2 Comments »

LeBron: Unassisted

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on May 23, 2008

I was struck, amazed, really, by what the Cavs had to resort to in their recent series against the Celtics. As they had last year when they finished off the Pistons, what turned out to be the Cavs’ best offense was give the ball to LeBron, have guys cut and curl and not ever get open, here and there, and then let The King have his way. Worked last year, didn’t this.

I know, I know, this happens in the NBA. Great one-on-one offense trumps defense but what I was watching and, especially, the duration that it transpired – THE WHOLE GAME – is what shocked me.

Add to this spectacle the fact that Paul Pierce, Game 7, was matching LeBron’s production, hoop-for-hoop, and it got really interesting. At game’s end, I began to wonder how many of LeBron’s baskets came via an assist, and how many of Pierce’s had an assist attached. Looked up the box score on-line and then the play-by-play and there it was: none of LeBron’s 14 hoops were assisted while 7 of Pierce’s 13 were.

You don’t have to be the second coming of Hank Iba to want to grab your whistle and line the boys up and run some plays, tell them that ball movement and player movement will win you games. Especially, especially when it gets this extreme. No one else could be entrusted to find LeBron coming off a screen, going backdoor for a flush, even a simple catch and score post-up?

Lastly, I’m thinking this is a record. I’m thinking no one has ever scored more baskets in a playoff game, or maybe even a regular season game, where not even one hoop came via an assist from a teammate. Tell me who: Wilt? Nah, he had Guy Rodgers setting assist records. Michael? He knew how to come off screens (Bobby Knight had a rule on the 1984 Olympic team that said Jordan couldn’t get the ball unless he screened first, then shaped up). Kareem? No, he wasn’t going one-on-one. Well, he was, but he was delivered to. Maybe Rick Barry. He was pretty selfish and could – outta my way – score like mad.

Here’s what else: I think that LeBron may be the most unassisted scorer in NBA history. Last year’s Game 5 against the Pistons? The double OT thriller in which James scored the final 25 points for the Cavs? 18 hoops just 1 assisted (from Big Z; I want to see the re-play!).

Posted in notes: college & pro | Tagged: , , , , | 4 Comments »

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