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Archive for October, 2014

Rebounding (What’s Your Record?)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on October 31, 2014

Two days ago, I was giving an hour shooting lesson with a guy, a recreational player kind of guy, who is a pretty good shooter. It got to the stage of the session where I had him shooting a bunch of threes. He makes probably 60-70% of them, so the misses are a bit of a surprise. While rebounding the misses (and getting back the makes), I thought about something I often say: that assistant coaches are the best rebounders in the world. Because coaches rebound so many shots they become very good at a particular rebounding skill: predicting the direction of the carom by watching the flight of the shot. (For some reason I always think of Jeff Van Gundy when I’m on this topic; perhaps because I once read that Pat Riley said Van Gundy is never happier than when he is feeding someone shots.)

So, I decided to prove to myself that I am among the “greatest rebounders in the world”. I counted how many misses in a row I could get before the ball (or missed shot) hit the ground. I dove for #9 but had to settle for 8 straight rebounds. (That #9 landed at the three point arc by the way; but not over my head. Never let a rebound go over your head!) I plan to break my record at next week’s shooting lesson. FWIW, I think it is very satisfying to be able to move to the spot on the floor where the ball (rebound) will go and to do that while the ball is still on its way to the hoop; feels self-satisfyingly clever.

Posted in beautiful basketball, general improvement, rebounding | Tagged: , , | 1 Comment »

Out of Bounds Under the Hoop (Patience!)

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on October 29, 2014

At our NTL camps and clinics, we eschew the old playground tradition of checking the ball at the top of the key after fouls and after the ball goes out of bounds. Instead, we take the ball out underneath the hoop. The idea in our camps and clinics is to make the basketball as real an experience as possible and similar as possible to game and game-like situations. Friday night, Harvard at Princeton, Jadwin Gym, ball rolls out under the hoop off a Princeton player: Harvard ball.

Different teams have different takes and philosophies regarding the out of bounds play. Some look to run a play to score; some are content to get the ball in and let their half court offense do the work. At NTL, the idea is to teach and help players see and recognize what they hadn’t seen and recognized before. Left to their own devices, players always pass the ball to the first open player, usually someone who has popped to the wing or corner. This, to me, misses a great opportunity. Inbounds passers, the player passing the ball from out of bounds, should always look to pass the ball into the lane before making that pass to the perimeter. You can make that pass to the perimeter anytime; look for the layup or easy finish play in the lane for 3 or 3 1/2 seconds before passing the ball out.

All it usually takes is a player to screen away in the post, say block-to-block and then shape up after the screen. It’s that easy.

I remember playing a summer league game in Swampscott, MA long ago with Tom Thibodeau when we were assistants at Harvard. Thibodeau, who was a pretty tough player, better than his DIII all-league status suggests, scored 32 points, many of which came from OB Under plays; me passing into him, of course! We’d make eye contact; he’d fake away from an opening and come back (sealing strong) or he would do the aforementioned screen and shape. Easy as that! (When I was at his apartment a few days later, he had cut out and hung the local paper’s league write-up on his refrigerator, circling “Tom Thibodeau, 32 points”. I scribbled in below it: “Steve Bzomowski, 16 assists”.)

Posted in ballhandling, beautiful basketball, general improvement, passing, team offense | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

Has the Basketball World Changed?

Posted by Steve Bzomowski on October 14, 2014

Years ago when I played lots of pick-up ball, it was, as often as not, a disaster. Constant arguing about calls; guys who did nothing but chuck the ball up; nobody playing defense; an empty soulless attitude and game. Of course, you learned where to go to find the better games, the games where real basketball was played. (Pemberton Street in North Cambridge was usually pretty good; Conway Park on Somerville Ave with the square metal backboards with the holes in them was a good spot, too, almost any day and any time.) Still, even those places could slide into scenes like the weigh-ins the day before a championship fight. I pretty much gave up on it all.

A couple of weekends ago we were in NYC for the Climate Change March and afterward, we were going to meet some friends and their kids at a playground; maybe 43rd St between 8th and 9th Avenues. There was a small fenced in basketball court (typical NYC cage court) and there was a game going on: 4 on 4. Couple Asian kids; a couple black guys; couple others of this and that thrown in. I stood back and watched a bit, just wondering what the game would be like. And there it was: ball moving, players finding one another under the basket, even a backdoor cut and layup. Next thing I knew, I had my fingers laced through the chain link fence, up close to get a better look and feel.

How did this come to be and is it the norm? And if it is the new norm, where did this come from? Was it the NTL Weekly Practice Programs and Weekend Camps?

Or maybe it was the move-the-ball and ye will find the open player on the way to the NBA Championship, San Antonio Spurs basketball?

Whatever it is, I’ll happily be looking for more of it. This can only mean good things for basketball and the world!

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