Over the last three games, my team could aptly be renamed the Gravediggers as we have conceded starts of 13-1, 15-0 and not to be topped 22-2. As far as bad habits go, it isn’t good. We have gone 1-2 during this stretch of play losing by a combined 7 points in the two losses. It is a strange dilemma begging for a solution. In all three games, my scouting report of the opponent proved accurate, and as a group we seemed energized and engaged as we left the locker room so what the hell is going on?
There is a difference between general knowledge and enthusiasm, and a lethal combination of both sheathed in execution. In all three games, the opponents execution on the defensive end was superior to our offensive execution. While I thought we were solid defensively, turnovers and poor shots on offense limited the possessions in which we were able to set our defense and force them to do more than attack our basket.
Our biggest offensive impediment was slow and sloppy ball movement. To a man, we held the ball too long allowing the defense to recover and re-establish it’s shape with each pass, and this was frequently compounded by soft and/or inaccurate passing requiring the recipient to wait for the pass and/or contort himself to catch the ball in such a way that he is not ready to attack the defense on the catch. Critically, this is not a function of game planning or motivation, but one of technique and positioning.
Obviously passes must be accurate and timely to the receiver, but the receiver must work hard to create a passing angle and show to the ball strong and on balance. The ball will move faster than any player and connecting a series of quick passes forces the defense to chase and scramble losing it’s shape and exposing it to clean shots. This requires an aggressive offensive mindset, and five man basketball. The players need to be focused on good shots over getting themselves involved individually. If the ball moves freely, everyone will be involved by default.
Ball movement releases pressure because it makes the defense re-orient itself and in doing so creates gaps that can be exploited. The release of pressure gives players more time to make a good basketball decision, and relieves the temptation to play hero ball.
Tonight, we will strive to move the ball with poise and aggression.