Monday, 12 October 2015 22:32

The function of basketball is penetration

As he's done from time to time this season, DAL coach Rick Carlisle "hatched a surprise" recently against the Lakers -- a zone defense that "caused confusion" and "bog[ged] down the Lakers offense."

"We hadn't seen a zone for a long time and it came out of nowhere," Vujacic said Monday. "For 60 games teams played man-to-man against us. No team played zone."

LA won the game, but the zone worked for time, as "the Lakers offense went stagnant."

"When the zone got sprung on [the second unit], they had that hesitation and ended up shooting nine 3-pointers that didn't go in," Coach Phil Jackson said. "That was a loss of focus because they lost the function of basketball, which is penetration."

To prepare for the next time they face a zone, "the Lakers spent the majority of Monday's two-hour practice working on the principles of their zone offense. The focus was on the best ways to attack a zone, which include moving the basketball to make the zone shift, making sharp cuts without the ball, and maintaining proper spacing."

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Loved how Memphis coach John Calipari turned over practice to forward Robert Dozier the other day in a move designed to force the quiet senior to take more of a leadership role with the team.

As this article describes, "Calipari left the gym, leaving Dozier on his own to coach."

"He thinks I'm too quiet," Dozier says. "He wanted me to be vocal, get on guys and be more of a leader. I was mad at first, because I didn't want to do it. But I had fun with it. The guys enjoyed it. It wasn't a long practice." The usually subdued Dozier said he tried to get as animated as Calipari, a dynamic, demonstrative speechmaker never at a loss for words. "I had to tone it down," Dozier says, laughing. "There were a lot of people in there."

If you're wondering why, at a Memphis practice, "there were a lot of people in there," it's because Coach Cal opens nearly all of the Tigers' practices to the public.

Retired folks stop in with their grandchildren; a postman comes by after finishing his route. For many elite programs, open practices were long abandoned in an Internet age when word can spread fast to rivals about a team's offensive and defensive schemes or a frustrated coach can show up on YouTube for pitching a fit. Calipari shrugs off those possibilities but notes he keeps some practices closed during the NCAA tournament.

Says Coach Cal: "I don't have anything to hide. You've got people, their lives seem to be this basketball program. They come to practice four or five times a week. They're able to get on the phone and talk to friends about what we're working on."

After his team lost the national championship game last season, Coach Cal was criticized for not having his players properly prepared.

"Either you use an experience to help build you and make you better and stronger, or the experience breaks you," he says. "That experience ... it did nothing except good stuff for us. None of it was bad."
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Sunday, 06 September 2015 13:11

Learning the intricacies of the midrange game

How does it feel to go from "one of the go-to players on the 2008 NCAA Tournament runner-up to being an end-of-the-roster rookie in the NBA"?

Nets rookie Chris Douglas-Roberts, who averages a little more than nine minutes a game for NJ and has logged 40 DNPs this season, has worked with Nets assistant Doug Overton on "learning the intricacies of the midrange NBA game."

It paid off earlier this week in a win over the Knicks when Douglas-Roberts had 14 points and three steals in 27 minutes.

"We played a different type of game (at Memphis)," Douglas-Roberts said. "It was more open offense, and there's a lot more sets in the NBA. So I just go over everything. I watch a lot of film. This is my job now. So I spend the majority of my time on basketball. You have to be mentally strong, but I'm not the first rookie to go through this. There've been plenty of rookies who had to pay their dues and later in their career, they became stars. So I just look at it like that. I'm always positive. I stay positive."
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