Bucks Diary

Friday, June 20, 2008

Win Score Win Tip of the Day (for rec leaguers)


Now that the NBA offseason is here, I'm going to periodically write a special column for the active basketballers who read Bucks Diary. These will be advice columns on how to play winning basketball in your rec league, noon scrums, pick-up games, whatever... and the tips will be based upon the statistical findings made by the Win Score researchers.

WTF? Why am I writing that, you say? Mainly for myself and all those like me who have spent their whole lives playing the "conventional" way... ie the wrong way. Indeed, I've played basketball most of my life, and for long stretches I did so successfully. But I always knew I had no clue how to play. That's right. No clue. I never had a set offensive philosophy, and I didn't really understand the proper objectives of defense.
For instance, on offense, I never knew the answers to the following: when should I look for my own shot? Everytime I touch it? Half the time? Only when no one's guarding me? Is dribbling okay? When should I pass off? How important is rebounding? Do I have to score to contribute? I had no real answers for any of those questions. I just sort of went out and played, really without any plan.

How did I get so confused? Easy. I was pumped full of the vagueness that I call "Basketball Conventional Wisdom". Meaning, basically, the overvaluation, and indeed idolization of, scoring. I was raised to believe scorers were the only "real" win contributors -- the rest of the guys were "garbage men" and role players. You know... scrubs. And I sure as hell never wanted to be that! So I felt like I had to score. I put pressure on myself to do so. Consequently, I had a habit of forcing my offense. Sure, that "approach" worked when I was quick and could get to the lane and then jump over everyone... but it did not work so well once I couldn't do those things. I was a gunfighter without any bullets. Following my conventional strategy turned me into a sucky player as soon as my knees gave out on me in college rec ball.

But now I think I've got a better approach figured out, or at least I think have a clue how to play the right way based upon the findings of the Win Score researchers. And I will try to condense my new found insights into specific rules you can follow or teach your kids (or ignore), and I will write about those rules whenever I have nothing NBA-specific on my mind that I deem worthy of analysis. Like today!!

So without further adieu, Win Score Win Tip numer eins:

Tip 1: Before attempting to score, know thyself, and stay therein!
If you want to play offense effectively, you must limit yourself to shots you are confident you can make more than half the time. Anything you cannot at least make once every two times you attempt it is a bad shot and should be avoided. That's because, according to Win Score research, if you are shooting anywhere below 50%, no matter how many points you score, you are hurting your team. Knowing this, here's my new approach. Whenever I go out on the court to pretend I'm still an athlete, I immediately test myself "Pepsi Hotshot" style: outside shots working my way in, moving from spot to spot. And I take note of my success. Whereever I'm hitting from, that's my offense for the day. In other words, if I can't get anything from way outside, that's off limits. So I take two steps in and test that spot, and so on. And if I'm not hitting at all, its gonna be layups only for that day. No shots under 50%!

Addendum to Tip 1: There's no such thing as a "must shoot" situation!
If guys are left wide open, they feel as though they are hurting the team if they don't attempt a shot. You've heard the phrase "He's gotta take that shot!" Bullfeathers! No such thing. If you can't make the shot, no matter how open you are, you can't take it. If you do, you're recklessly risking loss of possession for your team. And possession of the ball is everything in hoops So, Win Score tells you that you are never under any obligation to shoot any shot you do not feel you can make, and that goes for any spot on the floor. Your only obligation as far as your own scoring goes is to restrict yourself to shots you are confident you can make more than half the time.

That's all for today. Tune in periodically for more tips on how to play "The Win Score Way". I'll still be analyzing the NBA 98% of the time, by the way. These columns are just knowledge for the "Noon time" warrior that resides within all of us.

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