Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Too Close for Comfort!!!

Again referencing Clay Kallam's article, parents of recruits need to take heed for a different reason.

Some conferences are known for having a really physical style of play. When looking at options for your child, it is probably a good idea to study not only the fit of the school that is interested in your child but also the style of play that the teams in the conference typically play.

Occasionally, the glory days call upon me to hit the court and prove that I still got it. At 6'3 and 210 pounds, I swear that I can still go! That is until some young buck hits me with a double cross over and leaves me standing still. I saw the move, knew the proper reaction but the only recourse I could offer was the 'Derrick Haper' claw! For those of you unfamiliar with 1980's basketball, it was an era of super physical play, even on the perimeter. Former Dallas Maverick Derrick Harper would use his immensely strong hand to hand check and clamp down on the hips of an opposing dribbler. Etched in my brain are childhood memories of 6'9 Magic Johnson violently slapping away 'the claw', only to have Harper attached it to his hip again and again in a dual of wills. Fast forward to my current gym experiences against these lighting quick youngsters and they too know what it is like to get clawed by a very physical defender, way past his prime. It is not manly to call fouls in pick up ball and when these youngsters inevitably complain about the rough stuff, I remind them of such. It is the only way that I can still "compete". It seems that some college programs subscribe to this theory as the best way for them to "compete" as well.

When discussing the "ugly" brand of basketball in his piece, Callum speaks of unskilled athletes being able to negate the skill sets of polished players. The same goes for physical conferences that allow bully ball tactics to thrive. It does not matter how skilled a kid is if the defense is allowed to push and shove beyond the rules of the game. Proper footwork, ball fakes, deft ball handling will enable skilled kids to create opportunities on the offensive end but a quick jersey tug or well placed stiff arm to the hips can make all these skilled moves ineffective. Playing through some contact is part of the game at any level, but playing with excessive contact favors some and hinders certain players.

When attending a coaching clinic a few years back, West Virginia's HS Mike Carey was asked what was his strategy defending the pick and roll. I prepared myself for some pretty complicated insight since Carey's defense was known to be formidable. Coach Carey simply stated, "We do not let them set the screen". Huh? He went on to explain that he teaches his players to physically impede screeners by pushing them away the areas in which they want to go. I was sitting next to Bob Starkey, current Texas A&M assistant who was an assistant at LSU at that time. Coach Starkey, a serious note taker in the clinic, looked confused said, " We could never get away with that in the SEC". To put that comment into context, the common wisdom is that the SEC is a VERY physical league. To have a coach in the SEC say that those tactics were too physical for the very physical SEC, told me all I needed to know.

Do your research early and often when searching for the right style of play for your child!