Monday, December 10, 2012

Looked Good on Paper

I'm a huge Dick Bennett fan.  Does that surprise you?  It shouldn't, because he's the guy that produced the video, Pressure Defense: A System, back in the 1980's.  I loved that video, and his "Push" defense was the foundation of my philosophy in the pre-run'n'gun era.  Maybe I just like systems.

After I'd been using the defense somewhat successfully for several years, I finally got to see his UW-Green Bay team play on television.  Guess what?  He didn't use any of that stuff anymore.  Talk about being disillusioned!  Kind of like finding out St. Paul was really a Buddist.

What happened was that after taking the Green Bay job, he had gotten more conservative and developed what he called the "Pack" defense: tight sagging man to man.  His original Push defense had looked good on paper, had even been successful for him in a DIII program at UW-Stevens Point, but he didn't think he could make it work at the DI level.  So he came up with the Pack.

No, I'm not going to tell you that I've decided to abandon the System, take a DI job (I wish), and go back to conventional basketball.  What I am saying is that we all tinker with our approach.   John Wooden tinkered with his high post offense and press defense from 1932 until 1962 before he got it just the way he liked it... and the rest is history.  The moral of the story is that you can tinker with everything, as long as you have a consistent philosophy.  Think of it as scraping the barnacles off a speedboat.

Our current "tinkering" at NCC has to do with the Zone attack which I described several weeks ago, and even provided diagrams to those who requested them.  I still like the basic ideas of this cutting offense. It looked good on paper, but my gut is telling me that we need a new approach.

This Zone Offense has great player movement, but I recall another Wooden warning, "Don't confuse activity with accomplishment."  Well, right now we have so much player movement that we are in danger of becoming a "chess basketball" team (move a pawn...move your rook...capture a pawn... two hours later, checkmate.  What fun!)  And despite my best intentions when we put it in, the fact that this offense is a continuity means that our players are more intent on passing and cutting than they are on scoring.

As I've related before, Paul Westhead said that the problem with teaching System players a half-court offense is that, doggone it, they are going to try and run it.  And that's all we are doing against zones right now... we aren't attacking the defense, we're playing catch.

So today we introduced our old ONU zone attack (we call it "One-Guard"), which I basically stole from Coach A:  best decision-maker in the middle of the zone at the high post, three shooters spotted up on the arc, and a big kid in the short corner running the baseline behind the zone.  Move the ball quickly until you can punch it inside to your decision-maker, who must score or pass to an open shooter for a score.  That's it... no muss, no fuss.  Nothing to really learn except "Get the ball moving and shoot the sucker."

It looked pretty good... and Michelle liked the results.  So, if you happen to catch the webcast of our next game and we aren't using the Pass and Cut zone offense I described earlier, just remember...

It looked good on paper.

1 comment:

  1. That is so true. Years ago when I purchased Westhead's clinic videos and heard this, I was skeptical. But wouldn't you know that my team would always try to run the secondary option when they could've scored on the primary break. Love your stuff, read it every day.